LONDON: Digital audio accounts for only a small part of UK advertising expenditure but it is growing as more consumers listen to music and podcasts on smartphones and as media owners seek to take advantage of cross-media opportunities.

"We've found audio is the new video," Ed Keohane, director/audio at Bauer Media told Digiday. And in some respects it's even better than video: "With audio you have 100% listenability; it's guaranteed to go to the intended person."

Bauer Media is, of course, a major player in UK digital radio, with RAJAR data indicating that more than half of digital listening takes place on its brands, which include national radio station Absolute and specialist music stations such as Kiss and Kerrang! And since Bauer also has logged-in users it is able to target them with relevant advertising.

The company's confidence in the outlook for the medium is such that it has just created a new 'head of digital audio' role.

Other media owners also see opportunities, with Bloomberg having recently launched a digital radio station in London and News Corp adding Wireless Group – owner of talkSPORT and Vigrin Radio – to its portfolio.

"Audio today is attractive to young demographics — 25-35 years — often males, who are urban dwellers and are time-poor," said Douglas McCabe, CEO of Ender Analysis.

"Consumers are filling what used to be dead time," he added. "The strategies of News UK, Bloomberg, Bauer, even Monocle, all reflect these trends."

Earlier this year, Ollie Deane, commercial and digital director at Global Radio, told an industry conference that digital audio now makes up 19% of all app time. "For any advertiser who wants to target people on mobile, I would say that you should consider a mobile audio strategy," he declared.

Agencies have noted that "clients are beginning to understand the value", according to Emma Moorhead, head of audio-visual planning at media agency MEC. "It's a different type of listening because it's with headphones, personal and intimate, so it's a different type of buy."

She added that digital audio currently accounts for only 5% of ad spend at MEC, "but the key thing is that it's growing".

Data sourced from Digiday; additional content by Warc staff