Is digital advertising a direct response or brand medium? Many people have long assumed the correct answer was direct response. Yet, Media Post reported in December that, “The CMO Council’s latest take on where digital dollars are going shows big increases in digital branding versus direct marketing… marketers are running 33% more digital ad campaigns than direct response.” And, marketers ran 19% more digital ad brand campaigns than the previous year.
This would seem to settle the matter. Digital advertising is both, but branding has gained the upper hand. However, the article goes on to say that a “barrier element holding back a bigger digital spend is brand-relevant measurement capabilities. Ninety-five percent of respondents said the ability to verify ROI is causing resistance to bigger digital commitments.”
The visual web has more in-depth metrics for direct response than any other channel. However, brand advertisers want metrics beyond views and targeting to validate their benefits from digital channels.
Audio and Brand Measurement
On the surface, the desire for better engagement metrics would appear to be an issue for Internet radio and streaming services. The key tool they have for measurement is audio impressions. We know from research that visual creative is only seen about 21% of the time on mobile listening apps and that clearly limits the opportunity for click-throughs, which would be a solid metric to provide brand advertisers looking for proof of engagement. The question for the audio world is how to take advantage of this digital shift to brand advertising.
This need isn’t limited to Internet radio pure plays. Broadcast radio is also taking note. An Inside Radio article titled Radio 2015: Digital engagement becomes more critical sums it up this way, “Interactivity will be the name of the game for radio this year, as the industry deploys digital assets to deliver a more engaged audience to advertisers. Mobile apps that let listeners interact with content and advertising will become more common, digital experts say, with a goal of boosting engagement metrics.”
Brand Engagement is a new Metric for Internet Radio
Radio of all kinds already has the benefit of spotlight advertising. Unlike visual ads that compete simultaneously for attention, only one audio ad plays at a time. There is no aural clutter to contend with leaving the brand at center stage of consumer attention. Transforming this ad exposure into a measurable form of engagement can supplement the impression data and enable more marketer confidence in campaign effectiveness.
Advertisers using XAPP’s interactive audio ads are already taking advantage of these opportunities. Music labels have created engagements that allow consumers to say, “listen now” to immediately hear promoted music. Movie studios have used audio ads that prompt consumers to say, “watch video” to view a new movie trailer. Other marketers have enabled consumers to immediately access a branded web page. This only scratches the surface. Social engagement with branded content, trials of new digital products and many other actions that connect consumers with brands can be enabled, measured and reported.
XAPP Ads and Content Discovery formats are successful even during the 79% of the time that audio apps are playing when the screen is dark on mobile devices. Because consumers engage with the ad creative by voice, they can connect when visual media is not viewable or they are ultramobile and cannot touch the smartphone to interact.
Brand Advertisers Want Engagement, Internet Radio Delivers
New formats such as voice-activated interactive audio ads and content discoveries are already delivering brand engagement metrics for advertisers. The engagement rates are typically five to ten times higher than visual display ads on mobile apps. Based on what we have witnessed from recent advertiser activity, interest in these measurable engagement-style ads is likely to accelerate throughout 2015-16. This represents an opportunity for audio publishers to offer new metric driven results for brand advertisers at a time of renewed interest in radio.
You can see some examples of XAPP Ads and Content Discoveries that deliver the type of engagement metrics sought by brand marketers by visiting the ad gallery or by downloading the XAPP Ads app to your iPhone.