Audio branding in the mobile age
Smartphones are our pocket-sized traveling companions pretty much wherever we go. While branding and advertising through phone has traditionally been based on controlling and reacting to visual cues, there are places and moments in our daily lives where even the screen must turn off. Enter audio.
Smartphones take audio to places where screens stay off
Audio’s advantage over visual is that it removes obstacles of viewability. It can be consumed even when your smartphone’s screen is completely off. Digital audio, therefore, is the only source of customer impressions when the device is out of the user’s sight.
In fact, smartphones have made consuming audio possible in situations where users are otherwise occupied, such as commuting, working out, cooking, socializing or driving. Consuming visual ads in these circumstances is inconvenient. Audio can be consumed anywhere regardless of time and place – thanks to the smartphone.
Smartphones have lifted digital audio into mainstream
The smartphone is a natural habitat for audio streaming. According to some studies smartphones are already replacing computers as the main device for music listening around the world. In 2016, United States (29 %), Japan (26 %) and France (12 %) were the top three fastest growing markets per year in music consumption via smartphone. In the same year over half of the world’s population had listened to music on smartphones.
Along with music, other forms of digital audio have wiggled their way into our ears and daily lives. Podcast listening rates have grown by half and 24 % of Americans are now listening to podcasts every month. In the United Kingdom, podcasts, digital music services and audiobooks were the top three growing forms of audio consumed in 2017.
The marriage between smartphone and audio streaming has proved to be a match made in heaven as 53 % of Americans are consuming streamed audio weekly. This number has been continuously on the rise for years and there’s no end in sight, as people between the ages of 18 and 64 are now spending 17 to 20 hours a week using smartphone apps.
Speaking of apps, people are starting to catch on with utilizing the smartphones’ voice assist functions, with Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home leading the way. In the United States 55% of voice assistant users on smartphones reported they were using the feature either on daily or weekly basis. 43 % of the users reported they were using it in their homes and 36 % in their cars.
Gartner predicts that in the next few decades people will start to shift away from the screen altogether and, instead, engage in dialog with their devices.
Audio through smartphones is the pathway to profound customer connections
Since the phone acts as a remote control to a growing number of connected devices, listening to audio is no longer revolving around the phone itself. Devices like wireless headphones, smart speakers and cars with USB and Bluetooth capabilities provide audio advertisers and brands growing access to the most personal listening spaces.
While data from streaming can reveal insights about intimate experiences like moods and moments, the voice search and assistant apps allow advertisers and brands to engage and interact with their potential customers. Ultimately, they will be able to fine-tune the customer experience to match even more specific demand. The full-scale creativity of audio is leading us further down a road with many discoveries yet to be made. We have only been treated with small glimpses of where this will eventually take us. Ticketmaster have found a way to incorporate audio into selling music festival tickets and the BBC recently did an experiment in interactive audio drama.
The time for influencing customers choices through visual interruption and repetition is starting to pass. By connecting the dots between statistics and audio consumption data, advertisers and brands can cater to their target audience’s personal needs fluently and engage in deeper interaction.
As audio is liberating us from looking at our phones, it is becoming an integral part of our daily life. Because of this shift off the screen and beyond, having an audio identity will be the key to interacting with customers in the coming future.