Video may have killed the radio star, but mobile has brought back radio in a big way with podcasts like This American Life and Serial and apps like Soundcloud, iHeartRadio, and Tunein. And with radio, comes audio ads, a revived ad format that’s surprisingly effective. Not only can it reach the listener wherever they go, it’s the most likely ad to be heard in its entirety. Think of the untapped potential of audio ads, especially for U.S. politicians, who are desperate to have constituents hear their last ditch efforts to win their vote this coming November.
The Use of Audio & Radio Ads
Political groups already spent over $400 million just on television advertising for various campaigns during the primaries. That’s 122% more than in the 2012 and 2008 presidential elections. And the total political ad spend is expected to reach more than $11 billion, a huge chunk of the which is going to radio and audio ads.
During the primaries, former presidential hopefuls Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Bernie Sanders, and our leading contenders Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump aired radio ads. As of May 2016, Hillary for America aired at least 15 types of radio ads with various messages in both English and Spanish throughout the primary elections with topics ranging from fighting against racial discrimination, gun violence, the auto industry, health care, and the economy.
Increasing Popularity of Audio Advertising
According to market researcher, Borrell Associates, the expected political radio spend has increased from $827 million to $916 million. A majority of that spend is focused on targeting conservative and minority constituents, who have shown to be more avid fans of their favorite radio broadcasts, listening in on a regular basis, such as the 97% of adult Hispanic Americans who listen to radio each week.
The Secret Influence of Audio Ads
The real question is, do audio ads really have an impact? NPR started testing audio ads in 2014, with their VP of Digital Strategy & Ad Operations, Bryan Moffett, saying at the time, “We’re finding that much of the audio listening is happening while phones are in background mode, or in circumstances where the user is focused on other tasks.”
In other words, this isn’t the radio of old – this is hands-free engagement. As many listeners are tuning in while going for a run, commuting to work, exercising at the gym, cooking dinner, sitting at their desk at work…they’re not making the effort to ignore a 10 to 15 second audio ad – they’re listening to audio ads in full.
And it could be that one audio ad blasting Trump’s misogynistic tendencies, Hillary’s private email server scandal, or any number of positive or negative messages that will tip the scales at the last minute is all a voter needs to make up their mind on the way to the ballot box. It certainly worked in the primaries.
Radio, More Effective than Other Ads?
Back in February, radio had an increasing impact on undecided voters – which made up approximately a third of voters in Texas, Colorado, and Virginia, especially in the latter two states (both of which are considered swing states). A Nielsen Audio study found that radio had the greatest reach among these voters, reaching 93.2% of them, impacting them more than broadcast TV, cable TV, internet, or mobile web.
But what about the rest of the population? According to research by Kelly Scott Madison and ORC International earlier this year, while banner blindness might be frustrating advertisers across the board, it doesn’t apply to audio ads which have proven to be more effective than online banners, outdoor billboards, letters, and email marketing for all age groups. When broken down to just baby boomers (aged 51 to 69), radio ads are even more ear and eye-catching than social media ads and online video ads, which rank the highest among millennials.
Combining these revelations with the targeting capabilities of reaching mobile voters by device ID, by city and even more localized (GPS) targeting, think how useful audio ads can be compared to in-your-face television ads, or banners that you can easily ignore. With an election as monumental as the upcoming US presidential election, it’s too important not to utilize an ad format as successful and influential as audio.
Interested in audio ads? For more information on audio ads or our audio inventory, please contact Alex Lyhovez at [email protected]