Audio is having a moment. According to a recent Ipsos-iHeartRadio survey, radio reaches more consumers than any other audio channel, with 85 percent of consumers listening to a radio broadcast at least once per week, outpacing social media at 68 percent and live television at 56 percent. This year at Cannes, people everywhere were talking about music intelligence, mogos (musical logos), and audio brand identity. But looking at audio as the latest trend misses its power.
Power of Intimacy and Community: During an iHeartRadio session, we were reminded that radio isn’t just about audio, similarly as influencers aren’t just about video – they are both about people looking to connect with one another. Ryan Seacrest read a transcript of a call he received during his radio show, where one of his listeners shared that he had no one else to talk to. He was going through a very difficult time and didn’t have anyone to accompany him to chemotherapy treatments. As the caller was on the line, the switchboard started lighting up with other listeners offering to drive him to treatment, or to just be a shoulder to lean on.
Moving Beyond Music and Podcasts: Audio has transformed into musical logos and sound that contribute to the overall brand’s user experience. For example, in advance of Cannes, Pandora launched an audio brand consultancy called Studio Resonate that seeks to help brands think through an end-to-end audio strategy. Visa is also another brand honing in on this concept, integrating sound as part of the brand experience by adding tones and haptic responses to their transaction ecosystem.
Audio Not Just a Channel: The more marketers can understand with precision the tastes of our consumers, the better we can reflect their identities. Spotify announced a new intelligence product coming later this summer, allowing brands to understand nuanced listening behavior as part of their overall holistic audio approach, moving beyond music and pushing into podcasts to own the full audio journey.
One thing is abundantly clear: “audio” is more than just a form factor. What audio really represents is a community, comfort and assurance, familiarity and connection. For brands to succeed, audio should be handled strategically, not just as a “channel.” It is an opportunity to engage with frequency to build your brand’s story in a variety of ways.
View the full Publicis Media Cannes Lions 2019 Trends & Insights Report here.

 Author: Steve Bonner, EVP, Strategic Innovation and Ideas, Starcom