How Audio OOH Can Withstand Emerging Privacy Regulations

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The world of digital advertising has grown significantly in the last two decades. In 2020, despite the pandemic, approximately $332.84 billion was spent on digital advertising worldwide. In contrast to this growth are privacy concerns within the ad industry about how marketers are using customer data.

In the U.S., no privacy laws distinctly prohibit targeted advertising based on electronically obtained consumer data. This leads marketers to question whether targeted advertising can withstand the emerging privacy regulations. The answer is probably — but with restrictions. Recently, Apple announced new IDFA updates that require apps to ask users for permission to collect and share data, leaving advertisers and marketers to hunt for other ways to gain insight into consumers and their behaviors. 

This puts Audio Out-of-Home (Audio OOH) technology at the forefront. Being location-specific rather than device-specific, Audio OOH focuses on enhancing the in-store customer experience while reaching shoppers who are directly in front of the products at the point of purchase, ultimately influencing buying decisions. It’s based less on individual customer data and more on commercial context.

As regulations continue to make it challenging for advertisers and marketers to access customer data, here are the changes taking place in the industry and why Audio OOH advertising is one way to scale marketing efforts and enhance the customer experience.  

The pivotal point of targeted advertising

Targeted advertising is a dated but efficient advertising strategy. It previously involved breaking consumers into defined segments in which each segment shares a similar characteristic, such as gender, age, buying power, demographics, and more. Then specific campaigns are designed based on those shared characteristics. 

Advertisers have been deploying an increasingly narrow approach to the point where they’re defining every individual consumer. This is forcing marketers to tread lightly to avoid finding themselves in violation of privacy regulations.

The rise of data privacy regulations

Last year, Google announced it’s saying goodbye to third-party-cookies in Chrome as a way to measure user interactions, which downgrades businesses’ ability to track users on other websites. Google then said recently that it will not invest in or build a behavioral tracking system to replace cookies.

Since the main issue is data collection practices, marketers and advertisers need to be more direct with consumers about data collection and the purpose behind it. They will have to be transparent and explain to consumers what data they need, why they need it, and which opportunities consumers may miss out on if brands are unable to gather any data. Giving clearer consent options to users will be crucial when looking to build trust with consumers.

Why Audio OOH tech is well suited for the privacy moment

Today, advertisers and marketers have new technology to reach consumers where it matters most, through voice and audio. Audio advertising is picking up steam because audio ads are contextually more appropriate, shorter, lighter, and less bothersome than their visual counterparts. Video giants like YouTube are hopping on the trend, too, announcing audio-only advertising as an option for people who use the site to listen but not watch. 

Both brands and advertisers are realizing the power of this medium and the ability to target consumers more creatively without invading listener privacy. The biggest differentiator of Audio OOH technology is that it cannot be blocked, skipped, or fast-forwarded because it’s not controlled by a newsfeed algorithm or afflicted with ad fraud.  

According to the Consumer Brands Association, 20% of shoppers change their minds at the point of purchase because of what they hear in-store. With this in mind, advertisers have a unique opportunity to powerfully influence behavior, convert investments into results, and increase sales performance. By combining ads with enjoyable music that speak back to a customer’s interests, advertisers increase the chances that consumers will listen to audio while making a purchase or taking advantage of a product or service. Additionally, with the exponential growth in retail media channels, there has never been a better time to dig deeper into the opportunities with Audio OOH advertising. 

Audio OOH enables advertisers to reach the right audience, and reporting tools can help them decipher how their audio ad influences a customer’s path to purchase. This type of product-level transactional data will be crucial as advertisers continue to clash with harsh but growing privacy regulations. 

Paul Brenner is President of Audio OOH and CSO at Vibenomics.