Predictions 2024: Audio

The industry buzz around digital audio just keeps getting louder, and it makes sense: research has shown that audio ads outperform video ads in grabbing attention and generating brand recall.

In 2023, on-demand audio overtook linear audio for the first time, largely due to the growth in popularity of podcasting, which has seen tremendous success over the past few years. Globally, podcasts amass 464.7 million listeners. Just on Spotify, there are now over 5 million podcast titles which users can tune into. 

Looking to the future, we can expect further growth for digital audio, with 62% of global marketers projecting an increased ad spend in podcasts in the coming years. As the advertising industry continues developing and advancing, this new year paves the way for more exciting opportunities in the world of audio. In the midst of this audio renaissance, what do industry experts predict for 2024? We gathered their insights… 

The podcast world is headed for a shake-up 

2024 is going to be a really interesting year for digital audio. It looks like the podcast world is heading for quite a significant shake-up with Google entering the UK market with Youtube Podcasts. Given their access to unique user data and insights, we could see the likes of Spotify and ACAST looking over their shoulders. In streaming audio, attention will continue to be the metric of the moment, however, it does require standardisation ensuring everyone sings from the same hymn sheet.

Lastly, looking through an industry-wide lens level: shifting towards a more sustainable media will be a key focus. Compared to Display's bloated programmatic ecosystem, digital audio should come out swinging, showcasing a greener route to market without sacrificing reach or quality. All in all, we should see a more mature, yet no less innovative Digital audio market in 2024.

Thomas McKay, head of product and strategy, Octave Audio

The demand for digital audio will continue to increase

Advertisers are searching for ways to offer a complete brand experience, which for creative is both audio and visual. That said, consumer behaviour, the rise of social media platforms and previous video standards for in-stream, disintermediated audio and visual for brands. The rise of programmatic audio platforms paved the way for brands to execute audio creative, engaging consumers in a meaningful way and in an environment where audio on is standard. Attractive because of the growth in listeners. eMarketer forecasts that in 2024, digital audio will make up a fifth of all time spent with digital media in the US, and that in 2023, almost 75% of US internet users listened to digital audio.

One of the key differentiators across audio first inventory is the quality of the content and the precision of the audience a brand can reach; from F1 to tequila connoisseurs, programmatic audio enables advertisers to reach niche audiences specific to their marketing needs, in brand safe environments, without the fear of MFA.

As a business we have seen a rise in demand for programmatic audio over the last 12 months, transcending audiences across podcasts, streaming and radio, curating a complete media plan, programmatically, for advertisers.

Fern Potter, VP of business and product strategy, Multilocal

We’ll see greater efforts to craft audio ads which blend more seamlessly with mobile gameplay 

Mobile game developers are constantly seeking new creative ways to monetise their inventory since growth from existing formats like display and video have somewhat stagnated. Meanwhile, because of mobile gaming's mass appeal, mobile game advertising continues to grow exponentially. In-game audio ad offers incremental revenue to game developers and a good ad experience, as it provides a non-intrusive way for brand advertisers to engage their audience. The enthusiastic feedback from our advertisers upon AlgoriX's initial pilot campaigns reaffirms this.

In 2024, there will be greater efforts on crafting audio ads that blend more seamlessly with the gameplay, enhancing rather than disrupting immersion into the gaming environment. We also expect better use of audience data for precise targeting, engaging players at the optimal moment, when they're fully immersed in the game. Overall, as audio ads transcend their roots in radio, music, and podcasts, there's thrilling potential for greater growth and innovation.

Frederic Liow, Revenue Growth & Strategy SVP , AlgoriX

More brands will recognise the benefits of audio for brand advertising

Much audio advertising typically falls into the direct response camp, but in 2024, we will see more brands recognise the benefits of audio for brand advertising. We have traditionally measured brand lift at scale for digital publishers across display, video and branded content, but in 2023, FD Mediagroep in The Netherlands asked us to replicate our approach, but for audio ads across their linear radio, digital radio and podcast channels. The study we carried out proved how well audio ads perform in driving brand perceptions. Advertisers combining radio, podcast and livestream advertising saw an average brand uplift of 17.3%. We also discovered some interesting insights around the optimum time length of audio campaigns to optimise brand lift against different metrics which will help to guide future campaign planning.

As we carry out more studies with both FD and other publishers to prove the efficacy of audio advertising, more brands will have tangible evidence to take audio seriously as a branding channel. 

Anette Hallgren, partner and client director, Brand Metrics

We can expect a surge in live and interactive content 

In 2024, one big shift I expect to see across the UK's digital audio scene will be the surge in live and interactive content. Podcasts and streaming platforms are increasingly incorporating live shows, interactive Q&A sessions, and real-time audience participation. This trend fosters a sense of community and immediacy, allowing users to engage with content creators and fellow listeners in a dynamic way.

The convergence of technology and live audio experiences is reshaping traditional broadcasting models, providing users with a more immersive and participatory form of entertainment. As a result, the UK's digital audio sphere is witnessing a vibrant shift towards real-time, interactive content.

Patrick Dolan, activation director, the7Stars

AI will make its mark in the audio market

The audio market is set for another stellar year. Commercial radio has made significant gains over the BBC in recent years. It’s reasonable to expect further high-profile commercial talent signings following the extraordinary success of Bauer’s acquisition of Ken Bruce from the BBC.

With commercial radio and music streaming platforms showing continual growth, it’s now the technological developments that are delivering the exciting opportunities in the market. Smart speaker integrations are continuing to mature and become more sophisticated, but 2024 will surely be the year that AI makes its mark. AI can make audio ads more engaging, using contextual data to obtain insights about a listener’s environment, such as where they are and what they might be doing. It’s dynamic audio on steroids and has applications across traditional radio, digital audio, streaming and podcasts. Agencies will no doubt be coming to market with their own proprietary AI products, so it will be an interesting space to watch this year.

Mike Lawrence, investment director at Spark Foundry UK