Audio Active Group 220

A recent Advertiser Perceptions survey found one third of ad buyers that use audio in their media mix are relatively new to the space. As more audio newbies look to navigate radio, streaming and podcasting, Cumulus Media is pivoting its Insights division to the newly branded Audio Active Group. Under the leadership of Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard, the unit is shifting from merely performing creative testing and conducting ROI studies to making recommendations and offering audio best practices as a creative advisory group.

When Cumulus dove headfirst into providing research to its clients five years ago, the questions it fielded from advertisers were along the lines of, “Do people still listen to radio?” and “Why can't radio measure impact?” But after conducting hundreds of brand and ROI studies, new questions have emerged.

“People now say, ‘how much should I devote to streaming? How much do I to devote to podcasts?” says Bouvard. “We now have enough tools and insights to be able to say, tell me who you're looking for, and then we can give you a recommended mix.”

He says the questions today are also more likely to revolve around more specific topics like audio creative, sonic branding and how to get the optimum weight level. “People don't want research binders, they want conclusions and recommendations,” says Bouvard. “So we have to focus more on being seen as someone that you can trust to give you creative strategy and media strategy for audio. And we're getting pulled that way by clients.”

Shifting More Dollars To Audio

Advertisers from pharmaceutical, consumer packaged goods and other categories may have decades of norms and best practices for TV and magazines. But many of them are just starting to feel their way around audio. Often times it is digital audio options like podcasting that are leading the way.

“There’s so many brands that aren't in audio yet. But podcasting is getting them in, smart speakers are getting them in,” Bouvard says. “People come in through the podcast door, and they're blown away. And then they're saying, ‘Okay, how do I get more scale with audio?’ We introduce them to streaming and over-the-air.”

Cumulus and Westwood One were among the first clients of Nielsen Media Impact when audio was added to the media planning tool. It has also worked with a long list of research companies including MARU/Matchbox, Nielsen, ABX, SpotQ, and Veritonic, among others. Bouvard says its relaunched Audio Active Group will help marketers with how to include audio in a media plan. That could range from how much to devote to broadcast radio, streaming and podcasts to how many GRPs are needed to get a reach of 50%.

Clients in categories the company is currently working with include prescription drug manufacturers, which only recently began to include radio in their media plans, and auto manufacturers, which disproportionately spend their billions of marketing dollars on television despite its shrinking reach.

With a new WARC study showing 25% of advertisers don’t use audio at all, the hope is the new unit will help bring more marketers into audio. And maybe get advertisers to divvy their budgets more proportionately to consumption. For example, the QSR fast food category allocates 96% of its budget to TV and just 4% to audio. “Our inspiration is to get people to use the media correctly, to use it to get the most optimal impact for their brand,” says Bouvard.

The Audio Active Group will partner with clients to measure the impact of their entire audio campaign, not just what they are spending with Cumulus or Westwood One. “The advertiser doesn't need a study on vendor 17,” Bouvard adds. “They want to know, did audio move the needle?”

The Audio Active Group will also publish weekly audio insights, advertiser case studies and sales videos. AAG’s weekly reports and up-to-date audio insights can be viewed HERE. The group’s library of weekly sales videos is available HERE.