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Why sound will matter even more in 2021

Listen to this article:

Now let the music keep our spirits high

Jackson Browne, 1974

I won’t linger on the typical refrain about what a crazy year 2020 was. But it is part of my job to reflect on where our market fit into all that craziness and to think about how what we learned this year could move our industry forward in a fruitful way for everyone.

From a sheer business standpoint, audio, arguably more than any other channel or format (and with expectations obviously adjusted for the pandemic), thrived in 2020. Driven by podcasting and voice, perpetually anchored by radio, and constantly innovating technologically, sound proved its power everywhere. Think of some of the highlights:

  • Spotify continues to double down on podcastingpurchasing Megaphone for $235 million.
  • Agencies express similar enthusiasm, with, for example, Omnicom committing (relatively) big dollars upfront to Spotify podcasts.
  • SiriusXM makes sure it’s solidly in the game, buying Stitcher. 
  • The Insurance sector massively boosts its network radio spend, with, for example, Progressive devoting 44% more budget than in the year prior.
  • Different kinds of market players enhance their audio capabilities, as, for example, Shutterstock buys AI music platform Amper.

We count ourselves among those proof points as well, as we received new investment from forward-thinking VCs who understand both the power of audio and that meaningful data underpins all of the above. 

Maybe, more importantly, sound continually proved its ability to move people and comfort them through troubled times. 

A favorite song’s power to pull you through needs no quantifiable support — we’ve all called on it, no doubt more this year than ever before. But when we think more about the above Jackson Browne lyric, we understand that “music” can be about more than song alone. Voice, for example, as we all know, has tremendous power to drive emotion. In its purest form, that can come from hearing from an old friend. The business application is, of course, less significant in the grand scheme of things but powerful in its own context. And the marketing world is getting better at leveraging that power both effectively and responsibly. 

Rishad Tobaccowala, whom I interviewed last week for The Sonic Truth podcast (episode to air just after the new year), dropped more wisdom on the subject in one conversation than I think I’ve ever heard. We’ll save most of it for the episode, but one tidbit: building on the adage “music takes you where you want to go,” he added, “voice takes you to whom you want to go.” Nothing connects with and moves people like the right voice.

Taking it closer to the business application, Rishad continued: “People talk about the need to personalize at scale…voice allows you to scale intimacy.” There were plenty of signs this year that companies got it. Take Amazon, for example, which started enabling brands to create custom voices on Alexa. Why? Because they know that brands could, as described in Business Insider, “…experiment with voice emotion, resonance, and personability — data which in turn could develop Alexa’s abilities to engage with consumers.”

Related, looking more broadly at tone, I think about our own Audio Logo Index, which came out in May. In a special supplement to this year’s book, we looked at how certain brands — Liberty Mutual, State Farm, Home Depot, and others — demonstrated how much they understood this power. While their classic audio signatures were as omnipresent as ever through the year, when it came to advertising during the pandemic, they knew that tempering things — altering those legendary audio brands, softening voices, and more — would strike that right tone with consumers. The data supported the strategy: all of those modified ads were among the highest-scoring on the Veritonic platform. 

2020 reemphasized how the right sound makes a huge difference to people. 2021, which is happily already shaping up to be a way better year (think vaccines), is when that realization turns more to activation. We know the amazing potential of audio to move people, and the table has been (and continues to be) set to make that happen. Whether it comes from brands jumping more firmly into voice commerce or investing more deeply in audio marketing, we are, as always, ready to play our part by ensuring that every decision, grounded in data, comes with total confidence that they’re moving people the right way.

Click Here to See and hear the 10 Brands That Got Audio Right in 2020.

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Advertising Audience Insights

10 Brands That Got Audio Right in 2020

Picture this: it’s 2015, consumer spending is up almost 5% from last year, the job market is doing great, and with the rise of the gig economy, everyone is taking Ubers to their side hustles to finance their way to see Hamilton (…with the original cast.) Oh yeah, and the words “Baby Shark” mean NOTHING. As a brand marketer, the world is your oyster. Your campaigns could be humorous, serious, audacious, whatever your heart desires. 

Remember that? Good times.

The pandemic of 2020 rocked and changed the lives of nearly every person on earth. And being that a marketer’s job is to reach and engage those people, I’d say the task marketers were faced with this year has been harder than anything the industry has faced to date. 

How do you console, support, not offend, and ultimately sell to an entire world in crisis? It’s not easy. That’s why we’re calling out the brands that did it right this year on our 2020 Top Audio Advertisers List. 

Let’s start with podcasts. 

The investment in podcasts by platforms and brands alike has been monumental in 2020. From Spotify’s acquisition of Megaphone, to Omnicom spending $20M on the medium this year, podcasting has had a better 2020 than a lot of us.

Listen below to a couple ads that make it clear why some of our winners deserve their seats on top: 

Honey

How many brand mentions in an ad is too much? How do you feel about, oh I don’t know,  FIFTEEN? It seems to work for Honey, considering it has the highest overall recall of any of the brands on our list. Take a listen to one of Honey’s ads this year, detected and scored by the Veritonic platform. You can’t miss its unique style that helps make Honey ads so memorable:

Just a warning in case there are any kids in the room! There is some explicit language in this ad.

Salesforce

B2B really stepped it up in podcast advertising this year, with eMarketer estimating a nearly 23% increase in spend from 2019.1 The spend appears to be paying off for Salesforce, as their ads win for purchase intent:

Each & Every

Am I the only health nut that wants a Molecular and Developmental Biologist as the founder of my deodorant brand? Apparently not. Because Each & Every made our list. The authenticity of their brand message and voice helps them rank extremely high:

Now onto radio.

O’Reilly Auto Parts

While pretty standard in content for an auto parts brand, O’Reilly ads include sonic branding at both the start and the end of their ads. Only about 12% of ads include sonic branding, even though sonic brands are shown to improve brand recall, especially when they contain a brand mention. So, even though this ad doesn’t score very high for uniqueness, its inclusion of sonic branding across the ad is definitely something to emulate. 

Varo

Did you know that about 20% of ads use only female voice, while 50% use only male voice? And to add insult to injury, did you know female voices have been proven to be more trustworthy than male voices?2

Now that we have that depressing statistic out of the way, take a listen to this Varo ad. Varo is one of very few brands that give female voices the wide majority of airplay. Hopefully in 2021 scientific evidence will prevail and we’ll see many more brands jump on the female-voice bandwagon. 

And last but not least, Audio Branding:

Every year Veritonic releases its Audio Logo Index, which analyzes consumer response to audio signatures. This year, an additional analysis was done for brands that changed their sonic identities to be more appropriate and mindful of our current reality. 

Download the guide to read our findings and to see if your brand made the list. 

2020 has had its flaws, but in many ways marketers rose to the occasion. Even if it gets a bit redundant at times, it’s still nice to hear brands sharing the ways they are lending their support during a year like this.

Note from the author: 

The data and rankings included in this post were collected from the Veritonic platform, specifically Veritonic Competitive Intelligence. The platform analyzed over 10,000 radio and podcast ads that ran in 2020, which was then ranked by Veritonic Brand Score – a rating standard for audio creative which incorporates the overall emotional resonance, memorability (recall), purchase intent, and engagement of ads in a brand’s catalog. To learn more about Competitive Intelligence and how it can help you develop a winning audio strategy, contact us at info@veritonic.com.

1 eMarketer
2 NPR

Categories
Advertising News

Sleeping Soundly with Veritonic Competitive Intelligence

For better audio campaigns, listen to the market

Think of the last time you bought something substantial, say, a new mattress. If you’re like most people these days, in addition to investigating certain features and such to help you make a decision, you looked to guidance from the market — you read reviews (from both people and ‘experts’). You looked for five stars, a large volume of feedback (with an emphasis on the most recent), trends and stats on which mattresses are most popular, anecdotes about the mattress things that matter to you, and so on. 

A new bed is obviously not only an expensive purchase — it’s a meaningful one. Will it make a good ‘home desk’ in our current, bizarre reality? Will you have to re-engage with a chiropractor in three years? With that, making your decision based on quantifiable insight on what’s happening in the mattress market is just responsible buying. In modern times, it’s a required checklist item.

Buying a bed v. buying a ton of media

What’s at stake when you launch a huge consumer ad campaign? While many might argue that more diligence should go into choosing a mattress, if you’re a marketer, you likely disagree. It goes without saying that if your campaign bombs, and it comes out that you launched it without paying attention to what’s happening in the market … yeah, you’re declining that Zoom meeting. In that scenario, the repercussions of less-informed choices are bigger than wasted budget alone: losing market share, tainting an otherwise popular brand — they’re all on the table.

So, like all responsible buyers, you make sure you have clear intelligence before you make a move — where others like you are spending and why; which channels, creative elements and more are working best for them; how new activity is changing things, and more.

It matters more in audio marketing

If you’ve had a chance to read news beyond the pandemic and the election, here are some items you may have seen recently: 

  • Omnicom is doing a $20M upfront buy on Spotify podcasts
  • NBCU is running audio-only interstitials before many of its TV ads
  • By 2028, voice assistants are projected to be in 90% of new vehicles sold globally
  • 53% of people who hear a smart speaker ad buy the product 

The list goes on to continually prove the point: Audio’s primacy as the marketing channel to connect with people — from podcasts to voice activated ads to sonic branding — is only growing. Like all responsible marketers in the 21st century, you need to focus on where the eardrums are. 

Veritonic Competitive Intelligence makes it easy and effective

So you need clear insight into the landscape to make more responsible decisions about audio marketing, the most critical space right now. Veritonic Competitive Intelligence brings that insight. But its value goes even further. 

Let’s say you’re the mattress company marketer. You know buying podcast inventory is probably a smart move, so you validate it with competitive intelligence data and see what other mattress companies are doing in podcasts. But to glean campaign effectiveness more completely — and efficiently — you recognize that you also need:

  • A holistic view of the audio landscape, like a sense of how other mattress companies are marketing on other channels.  Is your competition also investing in streaming services, radio, etc., and which of those channels is working best for them?
  • An easy way to know when new competitor ads launch and how they’re influencing the market
  • Fast results 
  • A common rating system for understanding success

Veritonic Competitive Intelligence brings it all together on one platform — to not only provide the insight and marry it to other key metrics like creative effectiveness, but to make it easy to understand and act on all of it.

We hope you’re as excited about this launch as we are. With the confidence that your every move in audio marketing is the right move, backed by evidence, we’re guessing you’re going to start sleeping a little more soundly. 

To get a walkthrough of Veritonic Competitive Intelligence, click here.

Categories
Advertising Branding

Which consumer brands are winning audio?

“We’re now thinking about the sound [of a brand advert] first versus the look second. It’s a really interesting way of approaching that immersive consumer experience.”

– John Burke, global chief marketing officer of Bacardi and president of Bacardi Global Brands

The proof is now abundant: getting audio marketing right — powered by a methodical strategy — has never been more critical. If a global CMO testimonial like the above — declaring that audio now takes precedence over visual — doesn’t convince you, consider any of the latest realities about the audio market.

Continue reading on Mediatel News.