Smart speakers and voice-enabled devices are helping spur new interest in audio mediums according to Kantar Media which is out with its annual menu of predictions about the year to come. For podcasts and other audio media in 2020, the media research company says the year could usher in a “new age of audio advertising.” 

Behind that bold statement are the results of a Kantar study which found 63% of marketers plan to increase their spending in podcast advertising during the next 12 months. “We expect podcasts to be one of the fastest growing channels for ad spend,” said Kantar North America EVP Heather O’Shea. The survey found that three-quarters of ad agencies plan to increase their spending on podcasts, with 47% of advertisers themselves saying that.

“The intimate and highly personal nature of podcasts offers advertisers a highly receptive audience. And being one of the least cluttered channels, they are also one of the most engaging,” said O’Shea. “Our measurement of podcast advertising shows above average lifts on metrics such as purchase intent when compared to our norms data.” But she thinks in order to drive this growth, podcasts will need to become more measurable to help advertisers and brands understand the return they are getting on their investments in the medium.

The rediscovery of audio is also being driven by what Kantar says are moves by broadcast radio to diversify its business beyond FM or AM programming to also make content available online. And that will enable more niche programming to thrive, it predicts. “Radio is also reinventing itself, tapping into the broader resurgence of audio as a marketing channel,” said O’Shea. But in the year ahead she thinks radio must continue to modernize in a way that helps brands reach new audiences in order to reinforce radio’s position as a relevant and reliable advertising medium. “Over the next 12 months, aligning brands with these audio moments will need to evolve to a new level for marketers,” she said.

Among audio technologies, smart speakers and voice are generating the most buzz, O’Shea believes. And although they are both growing swiftly, neither has yet to achieve ubiquity, according to Kantar’s ComTech panel. “While only a quarter of U.S. adults own a smart speaker, newer generations will grow up with audio seamlessly embedded into their lives; they will voice their commands, questions and desires and expect speedy responses from a variety of voice-enabled devices,” she says. 

Even so, most people only use their smart speakers for the purposes of playing music and checking the weather because there is a general lack of confidence that such devices are truly capable of answering questions or performing more specific tasks correctly.

O’Shea thinks 2020 could be the “make-or-break” moment for newer audio channels. “Brands could lose interest in voice commerce if smart speaker manufacturers fail to improve their functionality,” she said.

Kantar’s predictions also cover topics from cookies to influencer marketing to climate change. Read the full report HERE