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Two-thirds of European marketers rank audio’s ability to enhance wider media plans as the top driver for investment according to joint research from GroupM and IAB Europe

GroupM, WPP’s media investment group, has announced the findings of its Europe Digital Audio Advertising Report 2023 produced by GroupM Nexus, GroupM’s industry-leading performance marketing organisation, in partnership with IAB Europe. The report explores:

● The current level of digital audio campaign planning, buying, and selling knowledge amongst buy and sell-side stakeholders
● The current level of digital audio advertising investment, key formats for investment, and future growth expectations
● The key drivers and barriers to digital audio advertising investment

The report found two-thirds (66%) of buyers plan to invest more in audio in the next 12 months. The report is based on a survey, conducted by GroupM Nexus, that leveraged the national IAB network in Europe to survey 549 advertisers, agencies, and publishers across 29 markets between May and June 2023.

Almost half (47%) of the advertisers and agencies surveyed state that audio advertising is either their top or among their top media choices. Buyers’ three main drivers for audio ad spend include the channel’s ability to enhance wider media plans (65%), raise brand awareness (55%), and reach specific audiences (48%). Investment is also diversifying across a rich variety of audio channels and ad formats, with the majority of buyers surveyed directing their spend toward streaming (59%), podcast (59%), or online radio (57%).

Marketers are optimistic about digital audio
According to the survey, two-thirds (66%) of buyers plan to invest more in digital audio advertising specifically in the next 12 months with almost one-quarter (24%) expecting to increase spend between 11% and 30%. These forecasts indicate high levels of confidence in digital audio as a channel that can make an impact with target audiences.

Daniel Knapp, Chief Economist at IAB Europe commented: “From 2018 to 2022, digital audio has outpaced all other advertising channels in Europe in terms of compound annual growth rate**. The pandemic served as a cyclical catalyst for digital audio, particularly podcasts, due to a rise in consumption. However, structural enhancements like improved measurement, simplified buying and automation continue to advance the market. The advertising industry’s emphasis on attention in a screen saturated media environment, quality of reach and brand safety positions digital audio as a promising investment channel for advertisers and a potent platform for publishers to exploit context. We project the European digital audio market, which stood at €772 million in ad spend in 2022, to surpass the €1 billion mark by 2025.” *

Marketers surveyed ranked incremental reach (46%), innovative activation such as dynamic creative ads optimisation (DCO) (43%) and targeting efficiencies (42%) as the top three drivers for digital audio spend. These will play a significant role in attracting further investment over the next 18-24 months, with 76% of advertisers and agencies intending to increase their audio ad spend in this time period. Advertisers and agencies ranked smart speaker interactive ads to be the biggest opportunity for increasing digital audio budgets in the future, followed by dynamic audio ads. Cross-channel insights and activation technology, alongside advanced contextual targeting, also rank as significant opportunities to unlock digital audio growth. Capabilities that allow buyers to capture audience attention, drive consumer action, and execute informed cross-channel campaigns are critical for securing greater ad spend.

Audio ads reach audiences on the go through personal devices
Seven in 10 marketers surveyed expect to connect with their audiences via audio ads on mobile, followed by desktops and laptops (48%) and tablets (44%).

The prevalence of mobile as a key audio device implies that digital audio offers marketers a valuable opportunity to engage audiences throughout the day. Survey respondents also believe they connect with audiences via Connected TV, game consoles, and stand alone radio devices, demonstrating the pervasiveness of audio.

Harry Harcus, GroupM Nexus EMEA commented: “Audio is a channel buzzing with opportunity as buyers and publishers expect notable growth in the near future. As a medium that reaches highly engaged audiences at moments when its more visual counterparts cannot, audio is capable of complementing buyers’ wider plans and publishers’ media offerings. Advancing the technologies that enable audio advertising unlocks cross-channel optimisation and performance for buyers, making audio inventory even more attractive and driving revenue for publishers.”

For further insights into current audio investment, as well as key drivers and challenges for advertisers, agencies, and publishers, the full 2023 report is available here.