The demand for digital audio content is growing at a rapid rate. As audio continues to play a central role in our lives, sound has never been so influential in media, technology and business, suggests Oliver Deane.
In the UK today, 22.5 million people, or 44% of the adult population, listen to digital audio each week, with an estimated 31 million people predicted to be consuming digital audio by 2020. According to Gartner, 30% of web browsing will be voice activated by 2020.
What’s driving digital audio listening
One of the main factors driving the popularity of digital audio is the rise in voice-activated devices, which flew off the shelves on Black Friday.
Research from Radiocentre predicted that by late 2018, 40% of households will own an Amazon Echo. The research found that listening to radio or on-demand music services was the most widely reported use of Amazon Echo, with 71% of users saying that owning the device means they listen more. We’re also listening for longer. The MIDAS survey found that people are listening to audio through a connected device for more than 10.5 hours on average every week.
What the rise of voice means for marketers
We know from IPA Touchpoints data that digital has prompted a change in when and how people are consuming audio content. Now 92% of audio listening is done while participating in another activity.
At home, we’re consuming audio through voice-activated devices while getting ready, doing household chores or online shopping, making screenless devices central to our home lives, as well as when we’re on the go.
Devices like Amazon Echo have the potential to offer the fewest barriers to call to action, meaning that people will be able to listen to ads and buy products simply by instructing the device to do so. For marketers, this means that audio can be the point of entry at both ends of the funnel – pre-consideration and closer to the point of purchase.
Expectations for 2018
2017 was a big year for personalised advertising. Brands that ran personalised digital audio campaigns include Deliveroo, Nissan, Camelot, Pandora and Very.co.uk.
In the summer, we worked with Deliveroo to produce the first dynamic audio campaign across our Digital Audio Exchange platform, DAX. This allowed the brand to optimise ads for location, time, weather, and occasion. As a result, the brand deployed up to 50,000 potential creative executions.
Personalisation and targeting will become more common in 2018 and we expect to see advertisers deliver media plans with higher levels of sophistication. As marketers continue pushing the boundaries and exploring new ways to engage with consumers, we may hear ads created specifically for voice activated devices.
In the future, targeting may become so refined that brands could serve ads to consumers based on whether they’re in their living room or their bathroom. Imagine standing in your kitchen and hearing an ad from a cleaning brand, or being in the bathroom and listening to a shampoo ad. The possibilities for marketers in the digital audio space are endless.
 Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Predictions for 2017 and Beyond: Surviving the Storm Winds of Digital Disruption, October 2016
 Radiocentre Getting Vocal research by D.fferentology, June 2017
 RAJAR Audio MIDAS survey Autumn 2017