The Digital Audio Industry Is Transforming and It’s Time Brands Tuned In

Audio is a powerful medium, and advancements in technology, alongside a deep understanding of your audience are key to standing out from the crowd. We hear from Christian Facey, CEO & Co-Founder, Audiomob, on how brands can capitalise on the digital audio boom.

As demand for digital audio ads grows, so does the demand for more and better solutions driven by technology. AI in particular is set to usher in a new era for digital audio across the board, one that raises as many exciting prospects as it does concerns. 

Ad spend within the industry is also increasing and is projected to have a market volume of $2.83 billion by 2027, with mobile gaming making up more than 77% of it. In short, mobile gaming is still set to be the largest and most profitable avenue for audio ads. However, as technological innovations continue to emerge, the wider ad tech industry is on the cusp of another transformation.

Non-intrusive ad experiences

Virtually anyone who has played a free mobile game for more than a few minutes is likely to have encountered an in-game video ad. While being accepted by most players as a necessary evil that helps keep the game alive, these ads disrupt the player's gaming experience, pausing gameplay anywhere from 30 seconds to three minutes on average.

Audio ads on the other hand do not disrupt the player's gaming experience. Players instead see a small icon or banner at the top screen as the audio ad plays. The player can then choose whether to engage with the ad banner all while remaining engaged with the game.

Non-intrusive audio ad solutions help build a better ad ecosystem that gives players more freedom while still allowing game developers and publishers to earn incremental revenue. A 2022 study by YouGov and GoLiveTest found that 75% of mobile users preferred audio ads over video ads. The remaining 25% felt indifferent towards either format. They also found that 100% of participants were able to recall the advert shown in the audio ad banner.

Speaking of brand recall, a 2023 study commissioned by Dentsu, found audio ads to be more effective at generating consumer brand recall and garnering attention when compared to video ads. 41% of audio ads led to positive brand recall compared to only 38% for video ads. When it comes to garnering attention, audio ads performed 50% better than video ads, producing an average of 10,126 attentive seconds per thousand impressions.

It's clear that from a consumer standpoint, non-intrusive ads are more favorable. Here at Audiomob, we’ve developed our own audio ad solution which is already being used 

by prominent game developers such as Lockwood Publishing, Mad Hook, and PlayValve. As well as, media brands such as Katz Media Group, Aleph Group, and Choueiri Group. By 2024, our audio solution is projected to reach over 1 billion mobile game players worldwide.

But where does the ad industry go next?

The slots used to deliver audio ads are essentially audio content delivery slots. So, when a player in a mobile game interacts with the in-game radio to trigger an ad, the player could instead hear an entire song, an excerpt of an audiobook, the local news, or even important government announcements. The potential for non-intrusive audio as a content delivery platform opens up the true potential of digital audio in the adtech industry.

Technological innovations

Technological advancements within the adtech industry exist to solve current problems in the industry and to push the medium forward. For example, there is a longstanding issue around accurately measuring impressions for audio ads. This issue has persisted since the advent of the radio itself.

Instability around the verification of audio ad impressions has extended to growing concerns around audio ad fraud. Earlier this year, the leading digital media safety body, Double Verify uncovered a large-scale audio ad scheme. The scheme, known as ‘BeatSting’,  involved faking ad requests and inflating ad impressions, all of which is believed to have cost ‘unprotected advertisers’ up to $1 million a month in 2022.

Fortunately, the adtech industry is taking better steps to reliably protect advertisers, developers, and publishers. At Audiomob we’ve developed our patented audibility technology. This technology allows us to ascertain the volume level of a user's mobile device before and during ad playback. This helps us to make sure that ads are always audible, playing only when the user’s device volume is high enough.

Ensuring that ads are audible allows for much better tracking and measuring of ad impressions. Advertisers can now run campaigns with more confidence in the verification of their measured ads as well as their budgets.

Alongside third-party ad verification and brand safety bodies such as MOAT and Integral Ad Science (IAS), continuous technological growth is vital to the longevity of the ad industry.

Developments in AI 

You’d be hard-pressed to find an industry that AI has not impacted in some manner. The same goes for consumers, whose day-to-day lives increasingly incorporate AI tools and services. A recent study by Tech Jury found that 97% of mobile users utilize AI-powered voice assistants like Siri and Google Assistant.

Within the industry, the scope for audio is massive and can impact nearly every branch of digital audio advertising. Used ethically and appropriately, it can also make the industry safer. Platforms such as Google Cloud have AI and machine capabilities that can review thousands of minutes of audio and images in multiple languages, faster and more reliably than doing so manually.

One emerging use of AI is around creating voiceovers. Licensed voices (of celebrities, public figures, etc.) can be utilized to create ads faster and at a far cheaper rate. This opens the door for advertisers of all sizes to compete within the industry. While voice imitation in the world of AI is not new, the benchmark of scope and quality has increased. 

Beyond more accurately imitating a human voice, AI voiceovers can be combined with machine learning to produce better results, such as the right voice tone, and inflection that best matches your user base. Contextual information can also play a key part, taking into consideration where the listener is (on the move, in a store, at home on the couch) to play ads the most relevant to the listener at that moment in time.

Of course, this is just scratching the surface of what AI is capable of. To spearhead our own development into AI and machine learning, we created our Audiomob Creative Lab. As well as research into AI voiceovers, we’re prioritising machine learning, using ‘audio intent signaling’ to identify the best times to deliver ads to users that are relevant without invading the users' privacy.