NEW YORK: The increasing use of mobile capabilities such as voice search and voice messaging is leading brands to explore new ways of engaging users of these devices via audio content.

Podcasts and native audio ads are already gaining traction while voice-driven engagement is likely to be the next area of interest for marketers seeking an effective and cheaper alternative to mobile video.

Slacker Radio already offers interactive audio services based around app navigation and content discovery – users can respond with "listen now" to a teaser for related programming for example – and the internet radio station is planning to build that into its advertising products as well.

Pat Higbie, co-founder and CEO of Xappmedia, which supplies the technology making this possible, told Mobile Marketer that the service enhanced the listener experience.

"[Users] don't need to pull a smart phone out of a pocket or purse or glance away from the road to access the content," he said. "Slacker started with content discovery and the voice interaction conversion capability will be extended to brands in the near future."

The potential effectiveness of the audio-vocal route was highlighted in the results that Slacker has reported for its initial Content Discovery campaigns.

These started in November last year and have delivered an average response rate more than 11 times higher than those mobile audio promotions reliant on touch for listener interaction.

Further, Mobile Marketer reported 15% of the targeted Slacker audience had actively engaged with at least one promotion within the first five impressions.

"Brands and audio publishers have always thought about radio as a one-way communication channel," Higbie said. "That is changing – tools like interactive audio enable two-way communication that delivers instant consumer engagement and feedback."

"There is an immediacy of conversion and measurability that has piqued the interest of advertisers and publishers alike," he added.

Data sourced from Mobile Marketer; additional content by Warc staff