At MAD//Fest earlier this summer, Richard Williams, Commercial Director at AMA hosted a panel discussion to discuss the digital audio revolution that’s underway, and explore what advertisers can do to embrace the new opportunities - such as ‘dynamic creative’ - that digital audio opens up.

Williams was joined on stage by Thomas Balaam, AV Business Director at Mindshare, and Sam Austin, Head of Audio at Goodstuff, for an expansive chat covering the evolution of digital radio, the boom in podcasting and the potential of dynamic digital audio ads.

Austin opened the chat with a mention of some of the “really cool, groundbreaking” audio campaigns she has worked on, including the world’s first dynamic poem, created in a collaboration with AMA.

She said: “We try to challenge the norm and utilise the benefits of digital audio to come up with something a bit different. Audio has gone from strength to strength as more clients start to understand more about the channel’s capabilities. 

“We recently ran a campaign for Which? to raise awareness of the sheer range of areas they can offer advice on and reach a family audience. To deliver multiple creatives across audio would have cost them a significant amount of money, so they lent into dynamic audio where we could layer on different targeting criteria that minimised wastage and improved impact by delivering different messages to listeners at a relevant time.”

Austin added: “There are more success stories out there now with digital audio, so clients are becoming a bit braver in terms of embracing it.” 

The podcast explosion

According to Balaam, the rise in popularity of podcasts has been nothing short of remarkable, but achieving the scale required by advertisers may also require the use of dynamic audio. 

“Ten years ago, you couldn't sell a podcast advert for love nor money. Today, things are very different. The ‘host-read ad’ has traditionally been the bread-and-butter ad format for podcasts, but, from an advertiser’s point of view, one host on one podcast isn’t going to shift the needle on your brand metrics. From a publisher perspective, that format of ad is very difficult to scale.

“Dynamic audio provides the opportunity to reach people listening to their favourite podcast via their smart speaker or preferred streaming platform with ads specifically designed for them. This enables a level of scale than most other mediums whilst connecting with the listener on an individual level.”

The difference with digital audio

Balaam believes that the capability of digital audio to deliver cookieless campaigns on a localised basis could become “massively important”.

He explained: “Commercial radio is arguably in the best shape it's ever been. It sounds great, it has more listeners than ever. It's in a really buoyant place. What advertisers need to be aware of is that, in 2023, 17% of commercial radio listeners are ‘tuning in’ via a smart speaker, which obviously opens up more targeting and creative opportunities.

“A lot of work with AMA and dynamic audio is powered by radio networks in terms of delivering localised dynamic audio campaigns. So, we’re reaching people listening to their favourite radio station via their smart speaker or their mobile app and delivering campaigns with slight nuances based on the local audience, such as using the local accent.” 

Austin also pointed to the potential for sequential messaging as another huge opportunity for advertisers to embrace the potential of  digital audio and dynamic audio. 

“The generic ad length is 30 seconds and there’s only so much you can get in there. Research has shown that if you try to cram in too many words or ideas in a single ad, you turn people off. So, to be able to target the same listeners with a sequence of ads, telling a story, rather than delivering the same ad over and over again, is really powerful.

“The media owners are already geared up for this stuff. They’re ready and I’d argue that digital audio is potentially in a much better place than some other channels to do well in the cookieless world. My message to advertisers would be ‘Let’s go!’”