GLOBAL: For several years the advertising industry has obsessed over viewability metrics, but it may need to be rather quicker in adjusting to a world in which these are irrelevant as people spend more of their time in screenless digital environments.

A trend that began with music streaming has gathered pace with the rapid penetration of smart speakers from Amazon and Google. Advertisers are having to pay greater attention to how they can communicate and be identified aurally, rather than just visually.

Writing for WARC, Pete Beeney, global agency lead at Spotify, highlights five ways brands and agencies can maintain resonance in environments where visual references to the brand are non-existent.

Few brands currently make use of sonic branding, he notes, despite the long-running, successful use of sonic signatures by tech brands like Apple, Intel and Microsoft Windows. Not only are these easily recognisable, they also enable the brand “to maintain a consistency between audiovisual and purely visual properties”.

Tech developments have opened up new avenues, notably the personalisation opportunities afforded by digital audio platforms, frequently accessed via mobile, which have the capacity to target their users by age, gender, location, time of day and day of week; the greater the personalisation the higher the engagement.

Beyond these possibilities, music streaming platforms can delve into users’ playlists for deeper insights. Since these are often aligned to genre, mood, mind-state or activity, researchers can “draw a richer picture of the consumer, thus allowing new opportunities for copywriters”.

While music streaming and digital radio make up much of users’ listening time, podcasts have become increasingly popular, as, unlike visual media, people can consume content while doing something else.

“Brands that understand how to help inform their consumers or enhance the experience in these moments can expect a deeper level of engagement,” says Beeney.

Finally, “a consistent voice can lend personality to a brand, humanising it in a way that is not possible through visual methods”. This will become increasingly important as voice technology makes interaction with brands more conversational in nature.

Brands really need to think about how they create a constant tone of voice with regard to audio, Beeney adds, and they need to integrate audio into brand guidelines.

Sourced from WARC