Marco Bertozzi, VP Head of Sales, EMEA, Spotify
Marco Bertozzi, VP Head of Sales, EMEA, Spotify
A view from Marco Bertozzi

Will audio kill the video star in 2018? The competition is hotting up

Audio technology can challenge and compliment video, according to Spotify's Marco Bertozzi.

In 1979 the Buggles recorded the iconic record, and undisputed earworm, Video Killed the Radio Star, the original version of which has been listened to around tens of millions of times on the new generation of streaming plaforms.

TV and video have now long been the biggest players in advertising, with radio and audio a bit of a poor relation. Come 2018, will it be time for audio to kill the video star (or at least give him a run for his money)? 

In 2016, the latest major shift in media consumption was cemented as digital ad spend overtook linear TV in the US for the first time, although the UK had already crossed this rubicon as many as 10 years prior.

Much of this digital ad spend growth came from video, a medium that marries the reach and emotional engagement of TV with the targeting capabilities of digital. Video is without a doubt an extremely powerful medium for delivering a premium brand message. 

"If we really are facing a 'screenless' future (as some predict), audio ad spend can only grow in line with consumption"

But audio seems set to challenge and further complement video’s global domination in 2018. Why?

To start with audio is the only "out of focus" advertising product, meaning the only one that doesn’t need your eyes. (After all, it is easy to close your eyes… but not your ears!)

Why is this important? Increasingly we will engage with media via voice and consume more media through our ears. Just look at the rapid growth in podcast listening.

24% of Brits have listened to a podcast, and those numbers are growing, with most listeners increasing podcast consumption year on year. It is estimated that 40% of UK households will have an Amazon Echo by early next year as voice-activated devices will surely top the leaderboard for most popular Christmas gift of 2017.

Most new automobiles are ready-equipped with  voice-activated technology. Increasingly voice-activation will become a significant habit in our daily lives. Audio is the only format that can truly follow you throughout your day - from bed to shower, on your commute to work, throughout your work day and even as you climb into bed to sleep.

If we really are facing a "screenless" future (as some predict), audio ad spend can only grow in line with consumption. 

"If your brand doesn’t have an audio strategy then it is definitely time you are reminded of the power of both Sound & Vision"

Audio is also extremely effective as an advertising medium and has become a highly accountable and measurable medium.

In June last year, Nielsen Catalina showed that Spotify delivered 25% higher incremental sales per 1,000 impressions vs. average industry benchmarks.

This performance was largely driven by inclusion of audio in media plans. Audio has long been recognised as an extremely cost-effective advertising medium, so it’s hardly surprising that overlaying the data available in a 100% logged-in, in-app experience takes the effectiveness of audio to even greater heights.

Finally, in an era of increased concern about brand safety, viewability and fraud, in-app digital audio offers brands peace of mind and proven results.

Fraud is almost unheard of in the medium; brands only pay for ads that are heard by users; and advertising appears in the context of premium music/podcasts, not user generated content.

Spotify knows a huge amount about the context in which a listener is hearing an ad and can therefore ensure that advertising is matched to listening - ensuring an excellent experience for listener and advertiser.

So will audio kill the video star? Probably not, but we fully expect audio to compete on equal terms with video for brand advertising investment in 2018.

If your brand doesn’t have an audio strategy then it is definitely time you are reminded of the power of both Sound & Vision (thanks Bowie!).

Marco Bertozzi is vice-president and head of sales for Spotify in EMEA