At the Future of Audio Europe 2023, the majority of attendees chose improving audience measurement as the top priority for the audio industry to boost the inclusion of audio on media plans.
In the first and last sessions of the day, editor Omar Oakes conducted live polls asking what “the number one thing” is that will boost audio’s presence on media plans.
In the first poll, “improving how we measure audiences” was chosen by 83% of the audience, followed by “changing the way audio is traded” (10%), increasing “brand safety on digital audio” (3%), “making the audio industry more diverse and inclusive” (3%) and “making audio more sustainable environmentally” (1%).
Throughout the day, measurement was a hot topic, ranging from measurement across different audio media owners and channels, to transparency in podcast and digital audio, specific pre- and post-campaign measurement, and European progress on cross-media measurement.
Sam Austin, head of audio at Goodstuff Communications, stated the problem in her panel on the future of audio measurement: “There isn’t currently a measurement tool that gives advertisers a holistic view of the different audio channels.”
She said agencies were needing to wait several weeks after a campaign had finished to get audio reports, and that agencies and clients would prefer “immediate reporting”.
However, she warned against “over-scrutinising” audio channel performance as this can lead advertisers to “lose sight of the overall reach”.
Gemma Lee, partner for AV delivery at Dentsu, echoed this sentiment and called on media owners “to come together to discuss how we can do better with audio measurement”, and for media agencies to unite to “push for a universal solution.”
In the final panel of the day, the live poll still found “improving how measure audiences” as the top priority for audience members, though the share of the audience agreeing dropped slightly to 71%.
“Changing the way audio is traded” and “making the audio industry more diverse and inclusive” both increased its share in this poll compared to the one conducted earlier in the morning, while “increasing brand safety in digital audio” and “making audio more sustainable environmentally” remained fairly steady as lower priority considerations.
Digitalisation a risk and an opportunity
Another topic of the conference was the increasing digitalisation of audio.
Matt Payton, CEO of Radiocentre, the trade body for commercial radio, told attendees: “Advances in technology and consumer behaviour present both opportunities and risks.”
Opportunities could be better targeting and new formats on different devices, while risks could be tech giants acting as gatekeepers for audio channels, he described.
Payton also highlighted that the share of UK radio listening on a connected device was four and a half years ahead of forecast, currently making up 24% of actual listening.
On the risks involved in digital audio, Demi Abiola, investment business director at m/Six&partners said: “As we become more digitised we don’t want to fall in the traps some others have, and not let things like misinformation creep into audio.”
On brand safety risks in the podcast and digital audio space, Brieuc Verwilghen, AdsWizz VP, head of commercial partnerships and strategy, EMEA and APAC made the case for technology to address the issue by saying: “Technologies are starting to be developed, everyone is developing their own, and there will need to be some kind of standardisation to make it more scalable.”
In the final debate session of the day, Michelle Sarpong, head of audio, display and OOH activation at indie agency the7stars added: “Digital runs through all channels now, so we want to bring all these silos together to make the conversation easier, focusing on audiences rather than the platform.”
What is the future of audio?
Abiola also predicted that 3D spatial audio, interactive ads, personalisation and contextualisation “will be big coming up in the future”.
Programmatic audio advertising was also pointed to as a major growth area by Verwilghen and Sarpong, with the capabilities to be both brand safe and scalable.
A more unified way of buying audio or a single audio buying platform, similar to what Ozone has done for publishing, was also discussed. On this, Ollie Chadwick, regional director for UK & Ireland at Adswizz said: “There’s a fundamental disconnect between how people buy other media compared to audio — there needs to be more communication between buyers and sellers to determine how it should be done.”
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