10 January 2020

2020: The prime time for audio

Expert comment
As each New Year comes around, it seems like the perfect occasion for marketing experts, industry professionals and brands alike to explore the trends and technology that are set to make a huge impact in the year ahead.

This year, audio content is the trend on everyone’s lips.

And it presents some of the greatest opportunities for brands to make their name heard in 2020. From the classic to the cutting-edge, we’re taking a look at some of the campaigns that are really capitalising on this, the prime time for audio content.


Making waves in radio advertising

The radio format is very much alive and kicking, which is mainly thanks to its accessibility to audiences on-the-go, at home, and just about anywhere in the world. As a result, many brands have tapped into its potential in recent months to reach a captive audience – creating ads that are inventive, attention-grabbing, and truly memorable.

In September, British crisps brand Tyrrells launched a ‘Tyrrellbly Tasty’ campaign for TV, print and radio to celebrate winning a Great Taste award. The scene of celebration created the perfect landscape for audio – with the noise of music, popped champagne corks and cheering forming the backdrop for the voiceover. And because the crunchiness of these crisps is so characteristic of the brand, it’s that satisfying sound that leaves a lasting impression as the spot comes to a close – leaving the listener with a craving that sends them to their nearest snack aisle.

But the most successful radio ads aren’t only the ones that bring a smile to the face of the listener or encourage product sales – there are also the campaigns that address the very real issues we face in today’s world.

Environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) released a powerful series of adverts in October, each using real deep-sea recordings of unknown creatures we may be killing through plastic pollution. The eerie sounds take centre stage in each ad, and are made even more impactful alongside the chilling final question; “are we killing what we’ve yet to discover?” Sound alone is enough to create the desired effect in this campaign, and it’s a message every person can’t help but listen to.


Smarter customer conversations

No discussion of audio content would be complete without a listen to the brands making the most of the continued smart speaker boom, and today, more and more companies are using this technology to create powerful conversations with their customers.

Global sport giant Nike has transformed the purchasing experience with the help of Good Assistant, allowing shoppers to chat with Nike’s digital performance expert, Nike Coach, to help find the perfect shoe for their individual workout routine. And in August, they went one step further by partnering with Apple’s voice assistant, Siri, to have the technology tighten and release the laces on Nike’s new Adapt Huarache sneakers – all without the wearer moving a muscle.

Some brands are choosing to integrate voice assistants into their products to make the conversation even more seamless, including car manufacturers Lamborghini and Rivian, who this month announced they’d be adding Amazon’s Alexa into some of their models. Drivers will be able to use Alexa for the standard music, news and navigation services, while also extending control to their smart home devices – allowing them to potentially unlock the door and turn on the lights from the comfort of their car.


Getting personal with podcasts

Audio content is making customers’ experiences with their favourite brands feel that bit more special, and one of the best ways companies are going the extra mile is through branded podcasts. Some of the world’s biggest businesses are capitalising on the success of this format to share messages with their customers – whether through product reviews, inspiring interviews, or honest conversations.

Leading retailer Sephora launched a new lipstick brand, #Lipstories, in 2019, and instead of having the products just land on shelves, the company initiated a multi-channel campaign to promote what they call ‘lipstick for real life’. One arm of this was a new branded podcast of the same name, created to tell real stories from the everyday lives of influential female founders and thought leaders. These empowering and uplifting stories have proved to be a hit with fans of the brand, and it currently has a five-star rating on iTunes.


Just as Sephora has had success telling real stories, eBay’s ‘Open for Business’ podcast focuses on the people building a business from scratch. Taking on an interview style, the show’s presenters focus on the entrepreneurs who took their company from the seed of an idea into a fully-fledged company – reinforcing eBay’s ethos of giving sellers the support they need to grow and thrive, while also hinting at the company’s own origin story.

Thanks to the abundance of content opportunities and compatibility with evolving technology, it’s safe to say audio is having more than just a moment. And with so much room for this medium to grow and change, the savviest brands are putting audio at the top of their agenda for 2020 – and will be rewarded with the attention of the most loyal, engaged audiences.

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