Why Audio Out-Of-Home Is Attracting Brand Marketers

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Nothing is normal in 2021. As brand marketers grapple with constant changes in privacy regulations, cookie crackdowns, and pandemic protocols, they’re looking for newer media channels to drive awareness and sales. 

Pent-up demand among consumers has caused spending to grow 20% to 30% year-over-year in 2021. Despite spending now reaching 4% to 7% above pre-pandemic levels, marketers are finding it harder to engage consumers than ever before. With advertising flying at them from every direction, shoppers online and in-store are tuning out even most personalized offers and promotions.

What’s the solution? According to Paul Brenner, CSO and president of audio-out-of-home at Vibenomics, audio out-of-home (AOOH) advertising is the key to creating memorable in-store experiences that shoppers can’t ignore.

How AOOH Works

Vibenomics works with retailers like Kroger to develop in-store experiences that foster brand loyalty through audio advertising. While music and messaging playing over the speakers in retail stores isn’t a new concept, AOOH advertising takes it a step further by placing programmatic audio advertising messages within premium content environments and allowing advertisers to target specific audiences based on product availability in-store, time of day, and shopper demographics. Vibenomics also partners with Safegraph, a retail venue and mobile location data provider, to define its shopper audience profiles and venue-by-venue foot traffic for accurate impressions. 

“While pandemic restrictions change each day and people continue to take necessary and recommended precautions, consumers frequent brick-and-mortar essential businesses like grocery stores to buy food and essential household items,” Brenner says. “With 86% of consumers traveling to traditional brick-and-mortar locations and e-commerce shoppers going in-store for follow-up purchases, retailers must ensure they’re reflecting the same experiential and personalized shopping experiences consumers are getting online.”

Audio as a medium has seen mixed results during the pandemic. Advertising on podcasts has taken off—the percentage of monthly listeners increased 16% last year alone—but radio advertising has stumbled, as fewer Americans spend time in their cars commuting to and from work. Brenner says car radio is no longer the last place brands can reach consumers. With 70% of purchase decisions now made after customers enter a store, brands have decided to get more creative in their audio campaigns.

“AOOH provides brands a unique opportunity to reach and talk to consumers in-store while they’re directly in front of their products, placing influence on consumers’ purchasing behaviors and decisions,” he says.

For pandemic shoppers, audio advertising is both touchless and fast. Brenner says that consumers who want hands-off experiences are more apt to engage with retailers when they’re being served audio content, especially with the Delta variant surging and people spending less time casually browsing store aisles in person.

“Brands must catch consumers’ attention in the moment while they’re directly in front of products in-store. This presents a real opportunity for brands to capitalize on the advantages of AOOH since it’s a touchless, in-the-moment reminder for consumers,” he says. 

According to new research by McKinsey, consumers are beginning to adjust their behaviors once again, and as many as 30% to 40% of shoppers will continue to switch brands or retailers. This is driven primarily by younger consumers seeking value, combined with greater emphasis on purpose-driven alignment and quality.

Brenner says AOOH puts brands trying to reach these younger consumers at an advantage by delivering targeted messages based on consumer demographics and buying behaviors, and giving brands the ability to frame themselves in the way they want customers to perceive them. 

“Between Covid-19 altering consumer buying behaviors and accelerating the growth of e-commerce, specifically in retail media, consumers have higher expectations than ever when it comes to customer experience,” Brenner says. “Implementing AOOH into retail media plans allows retailers to deliver a personalized, one-to-few shopping experience consumers now expect.”

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.