Sound Logic

What do you tell a packed audience of agency people intent on delivering every living, breathing impression to their clients to justify ROI?

“It’s not about scale.”

That was one soundbite that could have sent attendees squirming at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s 2017 Audio Day in New York. The event provides education to agencies on the impact of audio and its integration into client campaigns. The “scale” remark, by Anjali Martin, VP/Strategy Director at Mediavest/Spark, occurred during a discussion about podcasts as a marketing strategy.

“In the podcast space, you’re talking about a different audience,” she said, “a very niche audience that actually is more efficient.”

While the niche logic has been lauded as an advantage of podcast audiences, the issue of scale – or lack thereof – hasn’t been quite as clear. While some advertisers have had success targeting a relevant niche without dependence on sheer numbers, others have mandated a critical mass of listeners before jumping in.

“It’s not just precision targeting, it’s storytelling,” Martin added. “The nature of the [host] endorsements provides for more engagement. The power of podcasting is in the influencer, the native integration and the content.”

Martin said podcasting is not necessarily for the brand that has an immediate need or special retail offer requiring urgency. She used the example of New York Life, which she estimated had a 16-month buying cycle. With podcasts, “you can build a brand over an extended period, finding a highly-qualified audience.”

Doug Keith, President of Future Research Consulting, seconded the theory on podcast marketing. “Right now in media, there are insane amounts of clutter, which leads to limited engagement,” he said. “What we have is shrinking audiences with shrinking attention spans and many distractions.”

Keith said research indicates one-third of people say ads in podcasts actually increase their enjoyment of the show – because they are entertaining.”

Perhaps the best example of the “non-scale” thinking was provided by Greg Roseto, Associate Audio Group Manager at Horizon Media, who cited a podcast with only 600 downloads “but the content aligned perfectly with the client messaging. In this case, the right content was more important than size.”

“It’s all about connection points – how we connect with consumers and evoke a reason for them to purchase our brands or share information about them,” said Tamara Alesi, Managing Partner (Integrated Planning Strategy) at MediaCom. The on-demand nature of podcasts works perfectly in today’s world because “consumers are time-starved.”

For anyone in attendance doubting the impact of sound, all you needed was the opening presentation from Dr. Amy Belfi, Cognitive Neuroscientist in NYU’s Department of Psychology. “Audio keeps you company and creates a soundtrack of your life,” she said, adding that sound is stronger than vision when it comes to arousing memories, generating emotions, and delivering impact. As an example, she showed the scene from the movie, “Rocky,” when Sylvester Stallone jogs in the early morning through the streets of Philadelphia and finishes atop the steps of the Institute of Art, arms pumping over his head like a champion. But she showed the scene without the music, and the lack of sound dramatically decreased the impact.

It’s sound logic. Thanks to IAB, more marketers are listening.



For more information, contact:
Jim Alkon, CRN, Marketing Director,, 203-407-3341