There is an inherent mistrust of the advertising industry over some less than scrupulous tactics and methods employed by a handful of advertisers down the years. It’s fairly clear people don’t feel they can trust anyone who is trying to sell them something, if they are aware of it. Unfortunately, adverts, though by no means the only, are by their very nature the most ostentatious of these methods. When you consider people bemoaning adverts what is it that springs to mind? Maybe its parents complaining about unsuitable adverts on Saturday morning tv, it could be people on your commute groaning about how their periodical is now more ad than news, or possibly muttering in the cinema about the fact the popcorns almost gone but the film has yet to start. In my (a relatively ‘young’ British observer’s) experience the one media with advertising that is infrequently maligned for it, is the audio industries. In recent times, audio advertising has been given something of a boost via the introduction of new forms of auditory output both physical and digital. The creation of music streaming services, a massive growth in the podcast market and a digitally enhanced resurgence in radio listeners have all made their own contributions.
It’s often stated that the sense most linked to memory and therefore best able to create emotional attachment is smell. Frequently cited is the ability to remember long gone events from one’s childhood via a familiar smell. If this is true, perhaps we can suggest sound to be the strong second place. I’m certain we have all created an emotional connection with some audio, be it a piece of music, certain radio stations, or even the voice of certain celebrities, be they in the sphere of audio-media or another. This creates an ideal opportunity for marketers to use the desire for these connections to introduce their product to listeners in a manner they find hard to distinguish as even having been subjected to far easier than a pictorial advert in a written work or video ad midway through a gripping sports contest even.
The blog aims to look at the latest trends in audio advertising across three major fronts: radio, streaming and podcasts and vocal assistants
In the earlier part of this millennium there were a lot of people who believed they would be witness to the quick and unceremonious killing of the radio stars by not only video but more importantly by the ability to have video when and wherever we liked via the internet and digitisation. Perhaps this was naivety on the part of those people, or maybe it just has yet to pass but the first truly global media broadcast system is if anything in the midst of a resurgence in popularity. It may have been the overlooking of the quiet progress of the audio industries, often lost in the wake of visual systems, but the radio boom shows no signs of slowing growing as it has in the UK, though also elsewhere, by an eyewatering £170mil in revenue in the last few years from its admirable 2016 high of £526mil.
In reference to the earlier discussion about the amount of people moaning about audio adverts it also does to discuss the safety of radio adverts. Given the current culture surrounding fake news, social media spats and general media distrust it stands to reason that the radio, oldest, de facto wisest and most deeply legislated of all the available mediums is trusted far and above any other. This does extend even beyond the mainstays of the BBC channels to the new wave of commercial stations. Over the past decade several high-profile presenting teams and back room staff from the publicly funded organisation have made the move to privately owned enterprises with great success a sure sign, were there any doubt, that the market exists.
The creation of this competition in the market as it does with most any such conflict leads to innovation. This includes associations with new forms of digital media, of course they use social media to great effect, both on and off air but are also coming more to enter the world of podcasts both as a form of highlighted catch-up service, should they not have one, and also as extra branded content cheaper and easier to produce than regular programming.
While radio has not been considered a usual go to for advertising in recent times, its continuing growth is hard to overlook. Given its, let’s not over egg the pudding here, super-liminal way to affect people’s thoughts the power of voice and song is not something to be taken lightly.
Streaming and Podcasts
One thing is certain in the world of new media, broadcast television is no longer king. The amount of people taking up streaming services such as Amazon Prime, YouTube Premium, Netflix, Spotify or even using television catch up services has grown exponentially over the past several years and far outstrips those using paid television services on a regular basis.
Currently Spotify boasts nearly 217 million concurrent users, Around 100 million of these pay for the privilege of an ad free membership. The others get given a couple of ads every 30 minutes of listening time as well as on app start-up. Most other audio streaming services like SoundCloud and Google Play Music have followed suit, creating financial models based around receiving advertising in varying quantity for a certain fee.
Many of these companies most notably due to its vast reach Spotify determine user data, their age, gender and listening habits, its usability on mobile devices producing even more in-depth audience analysis such as listening locations and social media usage. Combine this with information readily available based around their financial information and the picture of each member is quite a rounded one. This all means as opposed to less interactive forms of audio like radio, advertisers are able to target extremely effectively, making use of analytical and reporting tools to determine the efficacy of their message.
Podcasts are booming in the UK, with around 6 million adults listening to at least one a week. The volume of weekly listeners has grown dramatically in the last five years – from 3.2m in 2013 to the current over 6 million. Of that number 76% said that they have followed up on an ad or sponsored message from the show, very promising engagement figures. Almost all podcast listeners tune into radio too. Radio and TV broadcasters are embracing the medium featuring regularly in the iTunes podcast chart. TV broadcasters are increasingly interested in podcasts as a source of material for TV shows, or as an extension of established series
Research carried out by Ofcom shows that UK listeners access podcasts from the BBC, YouTube and iTunes. Other sources included online and streaming services such as Spotify, Google and news sites. These continue to invest in podcast firms to help diversify their audio offerings, a plan expected to take Spotify’s paid subscribers past 100 million in the near future.
Effectiveness of advertising in this medium must not be understated. The increase of uptake of podcasts is across all age and social ranges, but the fastest growth is among young adults, 15-24 years old, well-educated and with higher earnings. This target demographic can often be one of the toughest to crack for advertisers but frequently the most highly prized, being as they are, possibly lifelong liquid consumers. The biggest advantage of the systems in place for podcast advertising is the low chance of listeners being distracted by activities as they tune in. While this may be a detriment, the savviest listeners more readily identifying marketing tactics, it does allow, brand messages conveyed over the medium to be far more likely to be absorbed by the audience.
Very much the newbie of the group in terms of time on the market vocal assistants, have had an unprecedented speed of up-take. Vocal tech is developing rapidly, understandable given that the more interaction with the customer base effectively gives rise to new innovation in recognition and move towards true artificial intelligence. Amazon has said that 100 million Alexa driven devices have been sold since their introduction to the market in November 2014. Even more importantly Apple has said the use of Siri on over half a billion devices, having been shipped with the application in well over 1 billion iPhone handsets since its adoption in late 2011.
Experts speculate that within the coming year, voice searches could make up around 50% of all searches, the figure is hotly debated but most agree that around 55% of teenagers and 44% of adults use some voice search feature on a daily basis.
Obviously this is a huge potential market for advertisers to exploit, luckily for the most part it takes little to adapt marketing strategy to be usable in this new environment. While google, amazon and the other big tech giants are doing most of the work creating the ability for the software to ‘read’ and listen marketers only need to come to consensus (hasn’t happened on most things yet!) as to how people will search vocally. For a long time, search engine searches have not been driven so much by the searcher but more by conventions put in place by the engine’s creator or advertisers. If you want to search fast and efficiently for something cut down your request to its constituent parts, remove conjunctions, the questioning phrase and any surplus information and type the resultant jumble of words into your search engine. No one talks that way, so in future voice assistants will have to learn to not only search for the important parts of the request but also to remove extraneous elements that could be as simple as the word ‘in’ or as complicated as replacing localised slang terms.
It’s unlikely from the evidence above that audio advertising is something that can remain in the background of the marketing communities’ thoughts for the foreseeable future. Whatever form it takes the inherent trust and gravitas put upon, and provided by, the human voice is too important a tool to be consigned to the scrap-heap of advertising history. Best to stay abreast and keep your ears open for the coming of the audio revolution.
In the digital world one activity tends to rule over any other, at least as a starting point. Long gone are the days of finding the address of a new page from a friend in the know or just guessing the obvious, today search is king. Naturally in a world where almost everyone is carrying a camera it makes perfect sense to migrate your searches from the world of a few well-chosen words to that of a single picture … I hear they are worth quite a few words anyway! Visual search uses images be they photos, screen captures or digitised impressions as the basis for an online search either via direct comparison or detection and dissemination.
This has some great practical implications, don’t know what something is? Take a picture of it and search for its name online. Got someone in police custody who won’t tell you their name? get that mugshot online and find their Facebook page. Trying to sell something and want as much advertising reach as possible? … you get the idea.
Lots of big platforms have taken on the challenge of creating and curating their own visual search engines. Most notable being Google, Amazon and Bing, big hitters in the all-round and product search world. However, one of the visual searches gaining the most popularity, and in the news for its continuing enhancements of its visual search, is the online memo-board Pinterest.
The most modern visual search technology uses AI to understand the content and context of its input images and returns a list of not only related results but results with some synergy to the original. This has a veritable raft of uses in eCommerce, especially for interior design and fashion retailers. Visual search allows the seller to suggest items related by style, theme or even material to the shoppers search giving them a broader power to influence sales across ranges rather than just on a specific line.
Pinterest has gone through several iterations of visual search tools beginning in 2017 with Lens, fairly swiftly followed by the introduction of Shop the Look. This became an automated service capable of recommending beyond the initial purchasers findings, for the first time removing human input from the process of buying associated items on Pinterest. Soon after, personalised results for Lens Your Look arrived automatically creating lists of items that matched your style.
In June Pinterest released news about the new form of its visual search engine. Complete the Look, a new search tool created specifically for the Home Decor and Fashion categories, makes style recommendations for multiple items in a photo; clothing and accessories or paints and soft furnishings. It’s recommendations consider the full suite of surrounding objects and details in a photo such as; season and weather, subjects body and measurements, simple aesthetic elements like colour and cut, and even images locations relative to available light.
Unfortunately computer models for fashion design and suitability can be very subjective, in the end it’s the person who wears the clothes or decorates the room who knows what style they like best and its impossible to negotiate the entire spectrum of taste but early usage and testing by Pinterest has apparently been very promising, and more accurate with its recommendations than previous versions.
Pinterest’s tools compete with the likes of Google Assistant’s Lens, which can identify certain objects, translate and detect text, find similarly styled clothes and much more. Earlier, Amazon introduced StyleSnap for ideas based on user submitted pictures from social media, camera shots or even online magazine articles.
As you can imagine this sort of unbroken ground has sparked quite a lot of interest in the marketing sphere. Below you can find some important information about the efficacy of Pinterest and its advertising: There are over 600 million visual searches on Pinterest every month. Pinterest are on course to make over $1 billion in ad revenue per annum by 2020. Brands can target 5,000+ categories via visual search advertising on Pinterest. Pictorial Pinterest Ads have around an 8.5% conversion rate; 21% of Pinterest users use text searching less when they can instead use visual search.
Pinterest so far hasn’t shared when Complete the Look searches will be made available for normal Pinterest devotees but I’m sure we all agree, looking at the figures, it’s an amazing step that could have some interesting ramifications in the world of digital advertising should it become a more mainstream process.
One of the most common problems you’re likely to face before you begin a marketing campaign is deciding exactly what your campaign is going to ‘be’. Sometimes its hard enough deciding what it is your business does never mind how you want to present that to your target audience. Over the epochs marketing strategy hasn’t just evolved, it’s grown, almost exponentially since the advent of the technology age. Given that now you have so many options as to what the goal of your campaign should be; are you convincing people to have more contact with you? trying to find people interested in an offer you’re promoting? only attempting to increase your sales periodically or produce recurrent user spending? should you be promoting your business as matter of principal whatever you do? A lot of those questions can be a yes for just one campaign, and for another, none of them may be relevant. So how do you know what the aim of your campaign should be?
Developed, designed and extensively tested by the team at Seelocal, Local Awareness Score, LAS, is a proprietary algorithm to help determine and eventually enhance regional awareness of your business. LAS allows our marketing specialists to assess and explain the best form for your advertising campaign to take. It means the performance of all SeeLocal campaigns are to the exacting standard we have become exemplified by. More than that, it means all our customer’s budgets are employed in a way that will deliver great results.
So, how does it work? Well, we take quantifiable key performance indicators, from web data and previous campaigns, including but not limited to: previous campaign click-through rates; target location domain authority; overall site visits; and target audience interaction frequency rates. The LAS is calculated using our unique formula which will create a score between 1 and 100, this we can then use to decide the best course of action for your companies needs. The score produced by the algorithm will show your online visibility in your target location and based on this our campaign managers will recommend the type of campaign you should run to give you the best ROI. Scores under 50 would likely mean we suggest you run a brand awareness campaign to help develop a closer relationship and a greater number of contacts related to your brand in your target market, meaning your next campaign should have a much greater uptake and engagement. Scoring over 50 means it’s likely time to start lead generation campaigns. Your brand is well established in the local area and now is the time to pursue potential customers using offers and incentives to generate relevant conversions.
For most customers all we need is access to your Google Analytics records, we can take it from there. The best bit? With every Seelocal campaign you run your LAS updates monthly giving you a real-time impression of how your business is becoming more recognised in your target market. Meaning every campaign you run will increase your LAS, effectively, directly increasing your ability to engage with your target audience.
You’ll be able to access your LAS as well as all your collated data on the Seelocal Platform, wherever and whenever you like. It will allow you to see how your campaign outcomes affect your LAS and just how well your project is progressing. With a Local Awareness Score aiding your campaigns you know you’ll be reaching the right people, in the right way, to get the results you need.
The business of targeting in advertising, as I’m sure many reading this realise, is an ever evolving and complex concept. How can we determine that the marketing we create is going to most efficiently reach those most likely to be susceptible to it? In the past, I’m afraid to say this was both more simple and much harder than the present, 100 years ago you marketed directly and physically where you thought people would acknowledge it and having such a physical presence it either worked or it didn’t, continuous investment was just paying the printer again if you didn’t get the response you wanted last time. In 2019, with everyone in the developed world, and most in the developing, having some sort of digital footprint, the complexities of marketing correctly have grown hyper-exponentially and if you want to get the most bang for your buck you need to personalise all of your marketing from blog content, products, emails, ads and much more.
The advent of a vast network of growing data spanning the world has meant the reserves of relevant information to marketers has greatly increased. Touch points such as consumer behaviours, purchase histories, review submissions and retail links clicked, mean content, fully personalised to even specific individuals, never mind demographics and groups, has never been easier to conceive and create.
A study conducted by One Spot, (2017) questioned 350 marketing execs, found that around 65% of those using email marketing as a primary tool in their campaigns thought dynamic personalised content was the most effective tactic in they could employ. Around 60% of marketers said real-time data in emails such as: context sensitive signals like the recipient’s location or relevancy to known purchasing habits, was deemed effective/highly effective in their experience. Furthermore engagement rates for those who incorporated personalised content in their email campaigns is shown to be higher than those who refrained. In the studies’ analysis, average order value was found to increase by 5%, and conversion rates by 6% in those with personalised programs. Far more significant, at least to the CFO’s eyes, companies using personally targeted emails had an income of around 17% more through their campaigns than a non-personalising marketer.
It doesn’t have to be necessarily related to direct contact in one form or another between business person and client either. With the growth of intelligent computing systems more and more businesses are creating bespoke automated ways to interact with those they service. Businesses like Netflix, a whole handful of social media platforms and Amazon are already using automated processes and the power of personalisation to get ahead in their fields. Logging on to your account, at almost any media service or social media website, instantly renders a page full of the banners, carousels, advertising posts, design combinations and more that can all, with minimal or no human input (besides all the information you have plugged into the account and others!) over the years are all personalised for you.
Undoubtedly personalisation of your marketing can have a large impact on how effective your campaigns can be. So next time you template an emailer, put the finishing touch on that html ad, or even create some informative blog content remember: Relevancy begets Relatability begets Revenue.