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Internet Radio’s Viewability Problem

Digital Ad Viewability ProblemsA few weeks ago, my comment to Adexchanger wound up as a headline, “Audio Doesn’t Have the Viewability Problem of Display.” I’m sure that made a few people in the audio industry happy. The problem is that it’s only true for awareness audio campaigns. For any campaign hoping to drive engagement or conversion metrics, audio today faces higher hurdles than display about 79% of the time. That is, unless you use voice for engagement instead of relying on touch. Let’s unpack this.

Audio is Linear – there is no competition for “hearability”

An under-recognized asset of audio advertising is its linear delivery structure – one audio ad is served at a time and it is wedged between other audio content. This means the consumer’s attention isn’t divided.

The advertising display approach frequently serves ads so that multiple are in view and simultaneously competing for a consumer’s attention. An even more common occurrence is when a display ad is actually competing with core visual content for consumer attention. Audio ads never compete directly with core audio content or other advertisements because they are served in sequence.

Visual display also has the challenge of “viewability” which defines how much of the ad is actually visible to the consumer. After many years of serving display ads that no one ever saw, emerging industry standards from MRC are requiring at least 50% of the pixels to be visible for an ad to count as an impression. Audio doesn’t face this challenge. The audio ad is either played or it is not. Page layouts and scrolling have no impact. If the consumer is present, they hear the ad. From this perspective, the Adexchanger headline has some merit. However, we also need to consider the 79% factor.

Audio by Definition is Not a Viewable Media

Consumer Linear Audio Consumption We know from user data that 79% of the time an ad is served on mobile Internet radio, the screen is dark. There is nothing for the user to see because the screen is in power save mode or another app is active in the foreground of the device. Typically, the user is engaged in another activity that requires their visual attention, such as walking, exercising, driving or working. The audio is still heard by the consumer, but four out of five ad impressions on Internet radio have no chance for visual impact. This also means there is nearly zero chance for engagement or conversion when relying on touch interaction.

XAPP’s CEO Pat Higbie commented on this phenomenon in a post last week that outlined the $4.7 billion penalty Internet radio pays by not having a suitable engagement method. If Internet radio had a content interaction model that was as strong as its content consumption experience, advertisers would see far higher engagement and conversion rates than they do in display.

The thesis is fairly simple. Too many advertisers and publishers are treating mobile audio as if it is a visual media that can succeed with a touch interaction model. Audio has a unique interaction model where sight and touch are not effective 79% of the time. There is simply too much friction between the consumer motivation and their ability to interact digitally. Advertisers will put more revenue spend behind audio campaigns when they can see consistently high engagement rates. When implemented, this zero-friction engagement model for audio has driven CPMs in excess of $20 – about four times higher than current Internet radio rates.

Using Voice to Drive Engagement

The secret (as readers of this blog know), is using voice. Even when your hands and eyes are otherwise unavailable to interact with audio content or advertising offers, using your voice is simple, spontaneous and convenient. XAPP provides the best of both worlds for advertisers. They get the benefit of linear advertising that has sole command of a listener’s attention and XAPP enables voice interaction that drives ten times higher conversion rates on mobile audio. In turn, publishers get higher CPMs and the ability to more effectively promote their own content.

Getting back to my Adexchanger comment, the quote was, “We don’t have the viewability problem that digital display has.” The “We” referred to XAPPmedia. When you are using XAPP Ads you don’t have the viewabilty problem of display or the interaction friction of mobile audio because all of your awareness and engagement activity can be driven by audio and voice. It’s all hands free and eyes free, which drives higher conversions and ROI.

For an in-depth explanation of this concept, watch Pat Higbie presenting live at the Hivio Audio Future Festival tomorrow, Friday June 5th in Los Angeles. To access the livestream at 1:30pm EST / 10:30am PST, go here:

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