Gayle Troberman

U.S. adults 18+ spent 11 hours, 54 minutes each day in third quarter 2019 connected to media, according to the latest Nielsen Total Audience Report. That means for half of their day – and most of their waking hours – they were being bombarded with advertising messages. To gain attention in an increasingly cluttered media world, advertisers are looking for more authentic, natural-sounding creative in their audio advertising. “We’re working more and more with brands to do less scripted and more human, conversational audio content as advertising,” says iHeartMedia Chief Marketing Officer Gayle Troberman.

As more marketers in the consumer packaged goods, beauty and pharma categories turn to audio to break through, there is a growing demand to understand the creative potential for audio advertising, Troberman explains. Brands are looking for effective ways to tell their story through audio, such as showing up naturally in live programming. “With podcast hosts and radio hosts, we’re seeing the power of our influencers to help brands authentically tell their story and tailor those stories in a way that’s appropriate for each show and relevant for the tribe of listeners for each program,” she says. In some cases, that involves brands collaborating directly with the hosts. That’s not only bringing more advertising investment to audio but more effective and efficient advertising spend, Troberman contends.

To market a new season of shows, Hulu recently handed copies of the new programs to hundreds of iHeartMedia personalities, who were asked to watch the shows that interested them and talk on the air about the ones they liked. In campaigns with other brands, iHeart has interviewed consumers and then used portions of the interviews to tell brand stories “in much more authentic and unscripted ways,” Troberman says.

Larger Share Of Voice

Other brands have turned to audio to gain a larger share of voice than they could afford with television. Wireless providers T-Mobile and Sprint have bought far more radio than their deeper-pocketed rivals AT&T and Verizon. Sprint was radio’s No. 8 advertiser in 2019, based on spot count, according to Media Monitors. T-Mobile was No. 34. “T-Mobile is a brand that has been consistently growing and making significant investments to have a real serious share of voice in audio and radio, where they may not have been able to outspend their competitors in the early years in TV or even digital video,” Troberman offers.

As ad-supported TV viewing continues to decline, Troberman says she expects to see more brands that have long depended on television turning to audio to replace the consumers they can no longer reach via TV, or to connect with light TV viewers. Live and time-shifted TV reach declined to 84% in third-quarter 2019 from 86% a year ago, according to Nielsen.

But it’s not just established brands that are awakening to audio. Thousands of entrepreneurs jammed the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City last week for the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit. Troberman gave a presentation there entitled “Your Customers Are Listening. Are You?” to a group that included both established brands and upstarts. “We talked a lot about the power of audio to break through for entrepreneurs and the ability to punch above your weight as a brand through the power of audio, with the reach of radio, the authenticity and engagement that broadcast radio and podcasting both have.” Troberman says the audience was “really engaged,” snapping pictures of the slides and hitting the iHeart booth afterwards to ask questions. “For entrepreneurs, this was a breakthrough moment in realizing the potential of audio to build their business.”