Long Read - The outlook for radio and the acceleration of audio

Jason Pollock
By Jason Pollock | 18 April 2023
Photo by Soulful Pizza via Pexels.

Australia’s radio industry, and the audio space more broadly, is expecting more growth this year despite coming off a strong 2022.

Metropolitan commercial radio networks registered a 5% increase to $701.402 million in advertising revenue last year, with radio holding a 74% share of total daily commercial audio listening, according to industry body Commercial Radio & Audio (CRA).

Australians listening to commercial radio across the five major metropolitan markets increased 6.7% year on year, with the GfK Survey 1 of this year showing nearly 12.2 million people listen to commercial radio each week, up from 11.4 million in GfK Survey 1 of last year.

SMI (Standard Media Index) figures show that the digital audio market was the fastest-growing digital market related to traditional content, up 30% in December 2022, while PwC’s Australia Entertainment and Media Outlook 2022 found that digital audio revenue (including streaming) is forecast to reach A$3.7 billion by 2026.

What does all of this mean for 2023? Industry bodies, the major radio networks, and a raft of media agencies believe this year will be one of both resilience and growth for radio and audio despite economic headwinds and global uncertainty. 

Ford Ennals, CEO of CRA, says that value for money, effectiveness and data will be at the forefront for marketers in 2023. 

“We project that the first half of the year will be tough with inflation peaking and consumers being careful about their spending,” said Ennals.

“Nevertheless, brands will want to invest in their businesses and they will look for the best return on their money. Radio has always performed well in this environment and the explosive growth in digital listening over the past 12 months will be sustained.”

Networks optimistic through Q1 of 2023

SCA, which in its half year results to December reported audio revenue rising 3.5% to $200.4 million, saw digital audio revenue grow 37.5% to $10.5 million, significantly exceeding digital audio market growth of 11%. 

Metro radio revenue also grew 6.8% during the half, increasing its share of revenue when compared to 4.6% market growth.

SCA CEO Grant Blackley (pictured below right) says the company expects to see a continued recovery in the radio market to pre-pandemic levels, with consumption of radio remaining resilient and favouring growth. 

Grant Blackley

“The rate and volume of supply chain issues are constantly being resolved to the upside, while several key advertising categories will return with stronger investment including but not limited to Government, Automotive, Banking and Telecommunications,” said Blackley. 

“Regarding digital audio, radio operators have invested heavily into new products, services, data and analytics. SCA has led this investment with the successful design, launch and now scaling of LiSTNR – a wholly owned and operated digital audio ecosystem.”

Summed up in a sentence by Blackley: “The digital audio market is on fire and growing at pace.”

Peter Charlton, CEO of NOVA Entertainment, said that while many media sectors will be cautious in their outlook and nervous about their short-term ambitions for growth due to economic uncertainty, audio businesses are buoyed by the fact that during the GFC of 2009, both radio and outdoor increased their share of advertising expenditure as marketers sought out the most cost effective, robust audiences with their reduced budgets. 

He sees this happening again in 2023.

“At last, like the rest of the world, investment will shift away from Linear TV with its decreasing audiences and increasing costs and towards BVOD, streamed TV channels, outdoor and the ever-increasing audiences offered by all of audio,” said Charlton.

“As I have said before, the challenge for brand marketers in the face of uncertainty in 2023 is for them to hold their nerve, maintain their investment and make audio creative.”

Ciaran Davis, ARN’s CEO, said that the network has begun the year in an “incredibly strong position” because of “foundational growth” in 2022. ARN radio revenue surged 53% to $344.9 million in the year to December.

“We started the year completing the acquisition of a regional radio network and moved really fast to integrate the metro and regional parts of our business,” said Davis. “We’re now set up to capitalise on that with the right structures in place, a powerful network of localised brands and content that is integral to the communities we serve, backed by a clear and simple range of ways for clients to works with us.” 

More broadly across the industry, Davis said he’s excited about the advancements and collaboration that have occurred, mentioning that the CRA has “entered a new era” and has spent a lot of time understanding what advertisers want from audio in general. 

Part of this is driven by CRA revamping its radio audience measurement and the upcoming launch of Radio360, which will for the first time use a hybrid data system from multiple sources to validate radio listening and provide detailed data on the size and demography of radio’s live streaming audiences.

“It’s seen the individual audio networks work together to amplify our medium and help buyers to see the benefit of investing in audio and, in particular, Australian live and local content,” said Davis.

“With a new audience measurement system well nearing the completion of its development, it’s an exciting year ahead as we look to further grow our share of revenue in the booming world of audio.”

Ashley Earnshaw (pictured right), Nine's director of sales for total audio, said that from a commercial perspective, 2023 is looking bright as radio will prove itself as a resilient medium, continuing to accelerate across both linear radio, but also digital stream radio and podcasts. 

“Audio has always been cost effective, high reaching and innovative and effective for clients, which will stand radio in good health for the coming year,” said Earnshaw.

“More people are listening to radio than ever before, more people are listening to talk radio and more people are listening than ever on a digital device.

“The changes in technology in the home through COVID, as well as growth of mobile devices, means there are more listening occasions than ever, driving uptake in radio as well as podcast content.”

Media agencies share the positive outlook

The media agencies AdNews spoke to echoed these sentiments by the networks, saying that the resilience of traditional radio audiences – and their ability to either maintain or grow their audience throughout time - as well as the continued proliferation of digital audio into the lives of everyday Australians means that the only way is up for the sector.

Caitlin Mills

Caitlin Mills (pictured right), partnerships director for the Australian government at UM Australia, said that with personal audio consumption increasing at unprecedented levels thanks to the rise of podcasting, new car entertainment systems and smart speakers, the volume of content Australians consume on these formats is where the biggest growth will lie. 

“Aussies are getting more used to the new streaming platforms (exemplified in the growth of iHeart Radio and LiSTNR), and networks are (cleverly) investing millions into promoting their content across their whole portfolio,” said Mills. “This is a win for media planners and advertisers as there is more inventory which brings increased opportunity for cross-platform partnerships.

“Thanks to the Boomtown initiative, we know that investment in regional Australia is significantly disproportionate compared to its population size. Lack of accountability of radio audience measurement across most regional markets needs to be tackled – particularly as population sizes grow and market inflation kicks in. While I’m not holding my breath, I would love to see a shift in investment towards these key markets in 2023.”

Daniela Rocchi, head of partnerships for Sydney at Initiative, said that while the agency’s overall prediction for the Total Audio space in 2023 is relatively flat, steady growth across 2023 and beyond will continue to be observed due the number of podcast listeners in Australia growing year on year, the average time spent listening increasing, the rise of smart speakers, the growing popularity of on-demand content, and the increase of streaming and podcasting platforms. 

“Radio has always been a highly competitive channel and I can’t see this year being any different - in fact it might even escalate given the economic unpredictability’s forecast across 2023,” said Rocchi.

Huong Nguyen, Alchemy One group business director, said Alchemy One is relying on broadcasters attracting new listeners - particularly Gen Z – along with ongoing investment in content production and quality, innovation in new formats and better measurement solutions to see the audio sector maintain its consistent growth.

Paul Hutchison, CEO of Bohemia, said that while economic uncertainty may mean some marketers may be attracted by the cost efficiency radio offers, for others radio may well be perceived as an ‘optional’ channel rather than ‘must have’.

“Data informed targeting opportunities across competitor channels are appealing along with copy tailored to audiences and to thrive, I believe the radio sector has to capitalise on advancements in audience signal informed dynamic messaging and dynamic copy,” said Hutchison. 

Paul Wilkinson, commercial director of Half Dome, said that the digitisation of radio continues to gather momentum, opening many avenues for advertisers to integrate audio into planning – which could include programmatic, audio stacking, and utilising podcasts or smart speakers.

“Despite the rapid shift in consumers switching from traditional radio to digital, advertiser investment in the space has yet to follow suit,” said Wilkinson. “For a long time, investment into this area has paced well behind consumer adoption. Filling this gap in digital audio is undoubtedly a big focus for audio publishers this year, which is evident based on some of the senior hires in this space.

“Cost inflation means advertisers and agencies will naturally seek to drive efficiencies across plans, something that audio can deliver relative to other channels whilst maintaining and/or improving overall effectiveness.”

Dan O'Brien

Daniel O'Brien (pictured right), MD of Frontier Australia, was the lone dissenter in the optimism shared by media agencies AdNews received commentary from, saying that despite decent momentum over the last 12-24 months, there is still “significant confusion and hesitation surrounding investment into audio advertising”. 

“Not from a consumer perspective - I’m talking about hesitance from brands, marketers and agencies on the streaming side of the audio equation,” said O’Brien.  

“According to the 2022 Infinite Dial report, 40% of Australians 18+ now listen to podcasts each month and 71% of people aged 12+ listen to some form of digital audio each week. These are big numbers and no doubt these numbers will continue to grow into 2023, yet advertising investment doesn’t yet come close to reflecting consumption trends.

“Barriers to entry such as complicated planning and buying processes and lack of robust measurement at an industry level are a couple of major factors here.  

“Saying this, I predict things will improve in 2023 as publishers continue to refine how they take audio to market alongside linear radio and as brands continue to look for new ways to reach audiences living more of their lives on-demand, across all formats.”

Audio advertising market looking healthy to begin the year

Davis said that despite the ad market returning to pre-COVID norms in some categories, it’s still “incredibly short”, as the memory of COVID is still fresh and the threat of recession and global economic downturn means many brands are positively cautious making it a challenge to forecast how the year will progress. 

“On the flip side, audio is an incredibly fast medium and our ability to turn around a campaign within hours or even minutes, sees us benefit from this short-termism,” he said.

“Many sectors have now reinstated budgets that were cut during the pandemic and with improvement to supply chains, they are prioritising retail campaigns which look to capitalise on the immediacy and frequency that the audio medium can offer. 

“Domestic travel, entertainment and auto are three of the categories we’re seeing improvement from, while we continue to see solid investment from the needs-based categories like retail and consumables as brands battle to reinforce their value offering with customers.

Charlton (pictured below right) said that early indications seem to show that after a slow start, revenue will continue to follow audience growth in audio as the daily habit of audiences connecting with their favourite radio show has bounced back.

Peter Charlton

“Advertising revenue will follow increasing audiences to curated streamed music, radio stations on demand and new radio brand extension,” said Charlton. “At NOVA Entertainment, we expect to see the continued ad investment that has followed a 25% increase in connected radio station listening this year and the 50% increase in listening to Smooth’s digital brand extensions.

“In these times when marketing investment has to work harder, what we have seen is a growing investment trend in commercial integration into shows with live, well known broadcast talent. There has been a 30% increase in investment in our partnership association (sponsorship) with local breakfast shows and key on air talent compared to the same time last year. 

“Putting live content into an established, successful radio brand, with the right marketing has not only doubled the audience for Smooth on DAB in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, but the advertising investment that has followed has been phenomenal.”

Blackley said that while the radio market’s recovery was not as strong as television, he sees audio growing and TV declining in 2023, due to radio enjoying a more diverse and, by association, resilient income stream. 

“The fact that the SME market is now recovering strongly was both expected and welcome. We believe this market will continue to grow over the next 12 months, as small to medium sized advertisers return to a more normalised state of operating,” he said.

“During the pandemic, several sectors over indexed typical spending including Government, Healthcare, Gambling, Food and Alcohol, Technology and select retail (namely digitally motivated retailors) - the reason being was that they were critical to communication and the recovery phase. 

“Conversely, Auto, Telecommunications, Banking, Insurance, Travel and Government (normal campaign spends) will rebound and drive a stronger market. Of course, new and existing Digital Audio media is growing exponentially, and this will continue as markets scale, data access improves, and consumers demand and receive more engaging and diverse content on demand.

“In the immediate term, we expect markets will remain short but healthy. In the medium to longer term, we expect radio and audio markets will rise, driven by a compelling entertainment offer and expanding appetite for more Audio.”

Rocchi said that a short market could be seen as a positive for radio given its short-term nature as a medium with its booking flexibility, quick creative turnaround, and quick dispatch. 

“Radio is one channel that has always been questioned over its measurement methodology and outdated data collection process, but one positive to come out of the pandemic for the audio industry was the fast-tracking and recalibration of data collection and measurement,” said Rocchi.

“Growth over the next few years will be determined on how quickly advertisers can plan, buy, and measure cross-platform.”

O'Brien said that it’s tricky to predict exactly how 2023 will play out, as the impact of tougher economic conditions is always going to mean advertising dollars are scrutinised more heavily and booking lead times become shorter as brands and agencies become reluctant to plan or book too far in advance.

“Regarding radio and audio specifically, let’s not forget that it’s been a relatively short market for a few years now and I don’t see that changing any time soon given the macroeconomic conditions at play,” said O’Brien.

“Radio listenership overall is consistent and audio consumption continues to grow across the board, so this should continue to attract advertiser attention, as it always has done. The question is how will the sector make it easier to trade and harder to not leave off a media plan? 

“Perhaps one could speculate that if we don’t see a softening across demand for TV, radio may even benefit from this as a way to execute campaigns quickly, cost efficiently – maybe - and without having to navigate to longer lead times, larger budget commitments and limited avails scenarios that we have all become accustomed to with TV advertising for a couple of years now.”

Paul Hutchison

Hutchison (pictured right) said that while listeners are clear on how audio complements their lifestyle, the industry needs to do more to translate this into a product proposition that is easy to translate. 

“The ongoing divide in sales teams between broadcast and digital presents challenges for planners and buyers and an audience-first approach would, I believe, be a significant step forward for all,” said Hutchison.

“The archaic diary system of measurement - in place since 1973 - is so far away from cross device listener behaviours it has to be inaccurate, and transforming this has to be a growth lever for the industry and bring in ‘lost’ revenue.  

“The hybrid measurement system of using e-diaries and electronic wearables proposed by Radio360 is the industry's likely saviour.”

The opportunities and challenges ahead

The most exciting opportunity for the radio and audio space mentioned repeatedly by both the networks and the media agencies is the introduction of CRA’s Radio360.

Executives of the various networks AdNews spoke to said that among the key benefits of Radio360 – expected to launch in the next few months - will be allowing audio providers to move from a passive “unknown user” model to an active “known user” operating stance; adding significant levels of sophistication, providing more accuracy, reliability and robustness due to its use of four separate data sources; delivering more granular listening data and a deeper view of streaming audiences; and optimising reach and targeting across devices.

Elsewhere, Josh Butt, founder and executive producer at audio content company Ampel, said that he sees a number of key possible occurrences in the year ahead for the audio sector - sponsorships and sponsored content increasing to gain reach, along with audio ads becoming a focus for marketers and original audio storytellers of all styles due to a push for less screen time, among others.

“Tech dominates conversations around how easy it is now to produce video and audio work,” said Butt. 

“There will be resistance to the change because craftspeople don’t want to use new tech because the tools are designed to be quick and easy to use from templates, but this will help speed up the process and improve the quality of what is delivered - if you know how to make the work sing creatively and your sound has personality. 

“Having AI help to script or deliver audio content will mean we’re quickly hearing lots of the same old stuff - so standing out will be a better approach for brands to reach their audience. 

“Audio strategy will become part of comms/marketing/brand/UX strategy. It’s easier to communicate to people who work on their feet, in their car or who aren’t near a computer via audio. QR codes will link to audio as part of the norm.”

Ciaran Davis

Davis (pictured right) said that the continued migration of audiences from linear to digital audio formats will be an opportunity for radio and audio businesses, given the different need states each medium serves. 

“For instance, the likes of L’Oreal, who aren’t traditional audio advertisers but have seen the benefit of influencer-led campaigns in social, have worked with us to implement a similar approach to unlocking influence with our talent Brittney Hockley & Laura Byrne across the Life Uncut podcast, digital communities and radio show,” said Davis. 

“From a regulatory perspective, the issue of prominence of radio on car dashboards is a key priority and something the industry is very focused on. Our role to entertain and inform Australia continues to play a critical role especially during emergency periods like recent floods and bush fires. Australian radio is the lifeblood of the community and must be protected for the good of all.”

Blackley said that the key opportunity for radio, and audio more broadly, is to continue to educate and grow an already expanding audio market, given consumers are highly engaged and constantly active with both live and on-demand audio content, and the data and analytics on offer is exponentially increasing.

“The Radio and Audio market is in good health and has demonstrated its willingness to invest,” said Blackley. “Of course, all investment is modelled with a return-on-investment business case. 

“To that end, the onus of education, simplicity, and scale rests at our feet. We must, as an industry and as a participant, ensure we are organised, courageous, innovative, collaborative and act with integrity.”

The prospering power of podcasts

Podcasts have taken centre stage in the audio sector, with the 2022 Infinite Dial study finding that average time spent listening to podcasts surged to seven hours and six minutes per week, up from five hours in 2021. 

Insights from the Australian Podcast Ranker, released by CRA and Triton Digital, show that Australians downloaded 755 million podcasts in 2022; total downloads among participating publishers increased by 39% over the year before.

Ford Ennals, chief executive officer of Commercial Radio Australia.

CRA and IAB Australia figures show podcasting attracted $82.5 million in ad spend in Australia in 2022, while the IAB Audio State of the Nation report found that podcast advertising will continue to grow strongly in 2023 with 78% of media agencies intending to increase investment.

Ennals (pictured right) said that Australia is already one of the leading podcast markets in the world, with 40% of people listening to a podcast every month and the average listener each week downloading 4.3 podcasts and listening to 2.5 hours of content in 2022.

“We know media agencies want more information on podcast audiences and podcast advertising effectiveness and this year we are putting more metrics around podcasting working with both Triton and GFK,” said Ennals.

Hutchison said that podcasts provide excellent contextual targeting opportunities, but he believes the format needs to be experimented with creatively to understand how to drive memorability. 

“The current host read model underwhelms - listeners know hosts are reading a script and being paid to do so and a couple of days later the host will be promoting another brand or product and possibly even a competitor,” said Hutchison.

Butt (pictured below right) said that shows that speak to a specific audience enjoy the most success, as more brands will promote their podcasts in media and create content off the back of it.

“We’re in a big audio ad growth phase – ‘wherever you get your podcasts’. Programmatic ad creative needs to evolve and with a creative attitude, global companies should be speaking in local voices if not already,” said Butt.

“In podcasting -- we’ll hear more brand theme songs, jingles, audio logos. Radio ads will follow and while I don’t predict we will hear many ads that are short soap operas or audio sketches, we can live in hope.

Josh Butt

“With plenty of people producing in-house podcasts who aren’t seeing much value, a trend in 2023 will be to make podcasts work better for the business, but expect to seek external help to deliver a podcast that links to a strategy.

“We’re seeing lots of companies who tried podcasts once and it didn’t work or they made something very expensive and it didn’t work. We’re seeing podcasts fail to generate huge audiences because there’s no promotion, or the audience isn’t interested or the returns on investment have unrealistic goals. We’d like to see them giving it patience and thinking long term.”

Nguyen said that while the nature of audio means that there will always be an opportunity for short-term activation, audio is now very much a strategic upfront consideration for AlchemyOne's clients, whether it's looking at establishing distinctive audio brand assets or working to deliver deep integration with content producers and partners. 

“In particular, audio-only series and podcasts are no longer niche pieces of content that emerging content creators are testing out but a valid and established environment that is a core component of any big brand's integrated marketing mix,” said Nguyen.

The trends to watch as the year progresses, according to the networks

Unsurprisingly, the positivity that the major radio networks possess to start the year is set to carry through the rest of 2023. From personalisation, AI and contextual alignments to intertwining audiences, the growth of digital audio and the rise of smart speakers, radio and audio looks set for a triumphant second half.

Charlton said that as listening habits have changed as audiences seek out more types of audio in more places on more platforms, radio businesses of the past have all evolved into all of audio businesses to serve this increase in listening. 

“Distribution is key and all our audio content not only exists but excels in a competitive digital world as we cater to the many ways audiences now listen to audio content throughout the day, be it radio, music or podcast via mobile, desktop, in car, smart speakers and on DAB,” said Charlton.

“The exponential increase in digital device listening will lead to the AirPod generation of 2023 increasing the time spent with audio. In turn, it means we have increased our ability to provide advertisers with more data and allows us to more efficiently engage with our audience so they spend more time with us than most other media.”

Davis said that commercial opportunities across all forms of audio will evolve, providing brands contextual alignments and heavily integrated partnerships that capitalise on listener communities. 

“Content creators such as ARN will leverage this trend by experimenting with innovative formats and video amplification as more of the leading global platforms lean into audio,” said Davis. “ARN’s new youth brand, CADA, targeting 18–25-year-olds is a great example of how content and commercial partners are successfully working together across multiple platforms - including Radio.

“This focus on intertwining audiences across all audio platforms will continue to grow. Podcasts, in particular, will see an increase in popularity and new talent will emerge through strategies such as ARN's podcast to broadcast model, led by the introduction of Life Uncut into the KIIS Networks weekday line-up. 

“Attribution tools and the accessibility of enhanced listener insights will also continue to advance, dispelling the myth that you can’t measure podcasts.”

Ashley Earnshaw

Earnshaw (pictured right) said that some things will remain a constant, with audiences and brands wanting to partner across live and local content and the relationship that audio content has with the listener. 

“Radio will continue to be widely accessible through the growth of smart speakers and mobile listening,” said Earnshaw.

“We'll also see further growth of digital audio, both podcast and streaming, especially data-led products and better targeting and attribution. This will also mean further advances in programmatic and automation of audio, making the medium easier to buy and with deeper insights. Trends are also showing there will be deeper personalisation, through data and enhanced creative to make the medium even more effective.

“I think clients will continue to reassess audio and the multiple opportunities to align to a brands marketing requirements. From brand building, driving more immediate response and in multiple formats and environments, we anticipate it being a year when more partners are evolving how they work across audio as a marketing platform.

“Clients are also continuing to want to access premium advertising environments, especially across sporting codes like NRL/AFL and this trend will continue.”

Blackley said that substantial investment in content and marketing is evident across all live and on-demand markets - for example, SCA is now producing twice the volume of content per annum than just four years ago, driven by on-demand content through LiSTNR.

“Consumers will seek more personalisation of their Audio choices. They will increasingly want intuitive, trustworthy, exciting and premium content to be available to them,” said Blackley.

“At the same time - in certain parts of their day – they will continue to prefer a highly curated audio feeds as they engage in an entertaining, lean back consumption behaviour. Audio’s ability to reach into consumers’ daily moments is unparalleled.

“There’s a lot of excitement around the use of AI across a great many sectors, and audio is no different. We’re actively using AI-based tools from a number of partners to enhance content discovery for audiences through personalised recommendations; gain production workflow efficiency through transcription, editing and voice synthesis tools; and increase commercial outcomes through topic analysis and contextual ad insertion. 

“Audio will become more visual in nature.  With more audio being consumed on video platforms like YouTube and TikTok there’ll be increased demand to visualise audio in a compelling way. In-studio video will play a major role, but animation will also play a part.  The key will be providing a visual offering that serves to complement and enhance the audio, not replace it.

“The big and bold will prosper. Consumers will seek out the best technology platforms, with the most engaging yet diverse content libraries rather than scroll through multiple apps and libraries in search of fulfilling their needs. Consolidation is likely as many other markets have demonstrated.  

“We anticipate that advertisers too will see the inherent and perennial value of live radio, coupled with the benefits of addressable audiences and bespoke, innovative advertising solutions, such as the unique ‘LiSTNR Voice’ host-read opportunities, live and dynamic messaging on broadcast and digital radio, real time audience targeting based on mood and activity, and interactive ‘shake me’ technology that drives consumers in real time to engage directly with brands and products.”

What media agencies are keeping their eye on for 2023

Huong Nguyen

Media agencies are similarly bullish about how the rest of the year will play out for the radio and audio sector, with a focus on much of the same themes as those at the networks.

Nguyen (pictured right) said that she sees three key areas to focus on moving forward – formats, branded funded podcasts and measurement and attribution.

“Advertisers will continue to test and learn, and we will see programmatic audio and emerging formats (such as in-game, CTV, and voice-activated ads) grow in adoption and investment,” said Nguyen.

“The appetite for deep content integration will continue to grow as brands make more ambitious plays at co-creating and funding content, allowing them to deliver on more top-of-the-funnel objectives such as impact, brand fame and broad reach. 

“A continued emphasis and evolution of attribution solutions, including (hopefully) more collaboration between Audio players for a more consistent and holistic  approach to measurement across the audio ecosystem, will continue to see the performance of audio become increasingly more achievable.”

Mills said that she’s most excited about the long-awaited introduction of Radio360, noting that a format that was quite progressive in terms of transitioning into the digital era, radio measurement remains one of the most archaic of all – with the paper notebook survey system being the industry’s source of truth since 1947.

“Radio360 will allow buyers to have more confidence in the depth of streaming audiences, as well as drive granular targeting opportunities – which is getting more and more important for advertisers,” said Mills.

“In the digital space, Spotify’s acquisition of Podsights, a leading podcast advertising measurement service, shows that digital audio providers are also looking to propel the maturity of their measurement infrastructure and advance podcast measurement for advertisers and publishers.

“With more measurement data available, audio providers are able to more accurately predict audiences and prepare advertisers for the rapid growth of the audio landscape. This means consideration to new formats such as Spotify’s introduction of Call-To-Action cards which aims to create opportunities for advertisers to drive lower funnel objectives such as page visits, conversion rate and cost per lead. With this, advertisers will soon have the ability to run full funnel audio campaigns with clearer end-to-end insights on a user’s digital audio journey. 

Daniela Rocchi

“The focus on CALD media and advertisers uniquely targeting these audiences in Australia seems to be getting stronger each year which is fantastic to see, particularly with recent census results showing that almost one in four Aussies speak a language other than English at home. In response to this trend, SBS are actually expanding their digital audio inventory, offering inventory to reach the culturally and linguistically diverse. This is an amazing way for advertisers to reach an underutilised audience on a trusted format, and will create further opportunities for publishers and creators to not only increase advertising revenue but grow the podcast’s production.”

Rocchi (pictured above right) said that the Australian radio market will continue to see growth across digital and online platforms, as well as an increased focus on personalised and targeted content. 

“The integration of smart speakers and other internet of things (IoT) devices into the home has changed and will continue to shift the way people consume and interact with audio content,” said Rocchi.

“Personalised and targeted content that is specifically tailored to the interests and preferences of individual listeners will also be a focus for advertisers as we shift into the Attention world. The use of AI and machine learning technology should also play a role in optimisations in the audio this year.

“Again, marketers will be under immense pressure across 2023 to deliver a return for their brands, so anything that can be measured and proven to drive sales or brand uplift will win.” 

Paul Wilkinson

Wilkinson (pictured right) said that the transition of audio consumption from linear to digital will continue, driving momentum in ad-supported digital audio streaming and investment.

“Podcasting will likely continue to evolve and create further opportunities for growth as advertisers build on their learnings in this space over the last few years,” said Wilkinson.

“As we see across other channels, audio has an interesting role to play in the retail media space. Whilst this is not a new opportunity as such, the obvious rising of the tide in retail media more broadly will have an organic and positive impact on audio as a whole.”

Hutchison said that the growth in smart speaker penetration, podcasts and streaming audio content will continue along with growth in regional markets. 

“The audio landscape has never been more exciting for media planners to hand craft memorable audio solutions. It is now down to agencies, clients and content creators to seize the opportunity to create platform appropriate content to maximise impact,” said Hutchison.

O'Brien said that what he hopes happens is a decisive and collective industry move away from looking at radio vs streaming audio separately to enabling an informed conversation with regard to ‘Total Audio’.  

“We hear the term “Total TV” often and have done so for some time; I believe this is something the audio sector needs to take a cue from in order to take the next step in its evolution,” said O’Brien.  

“2023 feels like an opportunity for audio to gain momentum, having experienced increased demand from both consumers and advertisers over the last couple of years. I believe that the key to audio sector success lies in the sector’s ability to make it easy to understand and to trade.

“We saw the same thing happen with BVOD advertising and we are only just getting to a point where it’s becoming easier to navigate, plan and buy alongside linear TV or as part of a broader video strategy.  

“Measurement is something that also needs to improve across the board, so brands can see outcomes attached to audio investment, which I think has lagged a little outside of Podsights and the like.  

“In summary, I think the future is bright for audio and I believe we will start to see ad dollars flow alongside increasing consumption; however, ease of planning, buying and measuring needs to improve before the sector attracts the more traditional advertisers who are yet to dive in or yet to invest significant ad dollars.”

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