Social Audio Advertising:
A New Opportunity or Just a Fad?
Social Audio Advertising has started to pick up steam. According to SmartInsights, since the beginning of the pandemic, 37% of internet users have reported an increase in the time they spend streaming music and 15% report an increase in time spent listening to podcasts.
YouTube is now offering a new ad format for their advertisers. One that is specifically targeting those who are only consuming audio content. But we have seen social trends come and go, and advertising trends too. Is social audio here to stay, and worth your business taking the time to learn and optimize, or is it another passing fad?
What Are Social Audio Ads?
Social media is typically viewed as a visual medium. Images, text, and video make up the majority of social media content. Podcasts have been around for some time and have seen a steady increase in popularity. However, podcasts are a one-way medium, there is no conversation taking place in real-time.
In contrast, social audio allows users to actively participate and have a real-time conversation with each other and the content publisher. Clubhouse is a key example of this, making use of voice chatrooms. It’s really taken off this past year and has over 10 million users. One of the appeals of social audio is that it is less aesthetic than other social mediums. Unlike Instagram you don’t need to be gorgeously camera-friendly, you need to be a good conversationalist.
Social audio ads are set to bring a new challenge to the ambitious marketer. Due to the real-time nature of social audio, there are some questions to be raised about how to monetize these platforms. The most likely outcome will be radio-esque type ads that will be delivered to users before they enter a chat room.
Another viable option for advertising on these platforms would be influencer marketing or sponsorships like we see on many podcasts.
What Social Media Platform Are Currently Using Audio Ads?
As a major player in the social media game, with the second-largest number of users (behind Facebook), it has the resources and reputation to experiment with new ideas. This is why it is currently one of the only social networks running audio ads.
YouTube launched the beta for its audio ads back in late 2020. The pandemic increased the number of active users on YouTube and also the content that was being consumed. Audio style lectures, classes, and interviews have risen in popularity. This new ad format could be far more impactful for audiences consuming content in this way.
Currently, audio ads on YouTube are available in beta through an auction on the Google Ads platform. They are purchased on a CPM basis and advertisers have access to the same targeting options, bidding strategies and other capabilities as a regular YouTube video ad campaign.
Clubhouse is a drop-in social media network that is audio-based. Hosts launch live discussions and invite users to join their chatroom (that can currently accommodate up to 5,000 users.
As of this moment, there are no ads on Clubhouse. However, with the fast jump to success and the huge user base it currently has, we can expect it to follow suit with other major social media platforms and try to monetize through adding the functionality for audio ads.
While not technically a social media platform (although allowing for some social aspects), Spotify’s place in social audio is worth noting. Their platform supports audio ads for music streaming and podcasts. Overall, audio ads are already flourishing in the podcast medium, and they have been one of the programmatic advertising trends this year.
In addition, they have recently acquired Betty Labs, the maker of Locker Room, an app that focuses on live music, cultural, and sports conversations.
While not currently set up for monetization, it is probable that Spotify will be looking into ways to offer advertisements on this platform. The fact that Spotify purchased the company and its app mean that they see a future for social audio and a way to profit from it through advertising.
Twitter is an existing player in the social media game. It doesn’t want its users to jump ship to other platforms and decided that what its users want is social audio. This year Twitter launched Spaces.
Spaces allow Twitter users to have an audio conversation on the Twitter platform. Anyone can start, listen, join and speak in Spaces on the app and we can expect desktop functionality to come soon. While there is currently no advertising on Spaces, as Twitter already delivers other forms of social ads to its users, we can expect to see social audio ads to come soon.
Are Audio Ads the Future of Social Advertising?
As with any new trend, advisers and publishers approach it with speciesism. Many smaller platforms will wait and look to the giants such as YouTube and jump on board with adding social ad functionality when there is more certainty about demand and deliverables.
With platforms like YouTube already running beta social audio ads and Spotify buying up the app Locker Room, it is clear that they are betting social audio ads will take off and want to be at the head of the charge.
With big brands putting big sums of money behind their social ads implementation, it is possible this won’t just be another passing fad. Pretty soon you may expect to have to listen to an ad (or pay not to) to access social platforms such as ClubHouse and Locker Room.