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As technology continues to evolve toward a screen-less world and consumers’ reliance on voice assistants grows, marketers and brands will be more effective by prioritizing audio messaging than visual communications. So says the Interactive Advertising Bureau in a new white paper.

The digital audio rebirth, powered in large part by the advent of smart speakers, has consumers listening to more audio; and a connected world has the masses listening anywhere at any time. That means it’s never been more important for advertisers to be on point with their audio message, the IAB contends.

“A world where consumer touchpoints are increasingly screen-less is rapidly approaching, and it is imperative for brands to represent themselves without visuals,” the whitepaper suggests. 

The growth of screen-less options shows no signs of slowing and, along with the various devices to access audio, the “next generation of consumption habits” is developing before our eyes… or ears. 

The report, “Recommendations for Marketers in a Screenless World,” warns that brands that don’t educate themselves on the screen-less device marketplace could miss out on reaching new and untapped audiences, or risk losing relevance as the space gets inundated with others aiming to reach the same ears. 

And it’s not just smart speakers. Audio messaging can reach consumers through connected vehicles, smart TVs, gaming consoles and smartwatches, among an array of other devices. The key is to treat each device on its own merit and leverage each one’s unique benefits. 

The white paper urges brands to learn about the creative opportunities and limits each device may have, along with their measurement capabilities and how their marketing message may impact the user experience. Understanding these nuances will also help further understand how Gen Z and Millennials will consume audio for years to come, the IAB says. For instance, 40% of consumers agree that ads on smart speakers are less intrusive and more engaging than in other places.

The new screen-less world requires a shift toward audio-first creative, or at least equal parts audio and visual. Much like companies have created brands recognizable to the consumer eye (think the Nike swoosh logo), now “the immediate point of access for marketers is to be creating the same recognition sonically,” the IAB postulates. 

Sonic branding is not new, but brands that have long relied on visual now have a new opportunity to market their product through audio. Having a sonic identity helps brands stay top of mind as audio consumption grows. 

Some actionable steps outlined in the whitepaper include activating media in existing audio content by using the full array of options: recorded audio spots, host-read commercials, sonic branding and custom branded content. Branded content is a key cog in the audio marketing wheel, as it provides a tool for storytelling for brands to create individualized connections with consumers. 

The IAB report was assembled with contributions from iHeartMedia’s Erin Reich, NPR’s Bryan Moffett, Spotify’s Les Hollander, Kendra Tal and Priscilla Valls at Pandora, DAX’s Ryan Rose, Charitable’s Dave Zohrob, Mindshare’s Rachel Lowenstein and Sambit Patnaik of the Rubicon Project. 

The full whitepaper can be viewed HERE