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Life after Cannes for Audio Advertising | #CannesLions2022

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This year at Cannes Lions, we saw a lot of key trends emerge, from the importance of sustainable advertising and steps towards more eco-conscious practices, to our place in the metaverse. But, as expected, audio advertising and the innovation the audio industry is seeing was rife among conversations. We now know that digital audio is the fastest-growing form of advertising, providing endless possibilities for advertisers to access their target audiences.

So as digital audio continues to grow at an exponential rate, what innovations are brands turning to supercharge their creative? Kim Aspelling, Director of Creative Production at A Million Ads, thinks she has some answers.

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Audio takes centre stage

The Lions Awards saw a raft of incredible winners in the audio categories this year. Pringles’ brilliant retro gaming campaign won a Silver Lion for Audio Led Creativity, while Vice World News and Dentsu claimed the Radio & Audio Grand Prix for their campaign ‘The Unfiltered History Tour’, featuring a new tour on the real history behind artefacts found in the British Museum. This campaign is a perfect example of the way audio can inspire audiences, transporting them away from their day to day and into an immersive and creative experience.

Another way that brands are immersing listeners is through smart devices, which have become a key tool advertisers can use to access their target audience in the comfort of their homes. With over 50% of UK households now owning a smart speaker device, advertisers have a captive audience as well as the facilities to get really creative, drawing listeners in with immersive experiences. 

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Talisker Whisky, for example, has developed a whisky-tasting experience that purchasers are able to access from the comfort of their own homes after buying the product. Brands can use an innovative ad experience such as this to connect with audiences and create a lasting impression.

Audio Champions

Artificial Intelligence (AI) was discussed widely at Cannes, in particular how audio advertisers can utilise the technology and data across buying and creative. In recent years, we have seen AI progress quickly in three key areas - making music, vocal tracks and AI voiceover. Advertisers are now looking to connect these areas for the first time. This is going to be a key future trend for innovation in audio advertising, and something that surfaced in some of the award winners this year at Cannes.

As an example, Dell Technologies and Intel - in partnership with Rolls-Royce and the MND Association - created the world’s first voice banking book. By reading a book entitled I Will Always Be Me out loud, those living with Motor Neurone Disease can continue sounding like themselves even after losing the ability to speak. 

The recordings are processed to create the user’s digital voice, which can then be projected via an assistive speech device. This impressive technological breakthrough was celebrated in four Lions, winning Gold for Excellence in Radio & Audio - Script, as well as Bronze for Use of Audio Technology. This campaign demonstrates the power of AI and how audio can be used to create real, important change for those in need.

Meanwhile, BMW created an incredible audio campaign which was shortlisted for Use of Audio Technology at the Lions. The campaign fused music of world-class composer Hans Zimmer with the engine and noises of BMW’s new sustainable vehicle. The emotional music highlighted the important message of the move towards electric vehicles, sharing an important sustainability missive and demonstrating how they are helping us all move towards a brighter future.

All about context

Context in advertising was also a hot topic throughout the week. As audio advertising is consistently being developed and pushed further, many are looking at the next steps that can be taken to boost contextual targeting. 

Now, geolocation data can be used to obtain granular insights about a listener’s environment, from where they are to what they are doing. From this, advertisers can glean people's habits to better target them in a personalised way. For example, geolocation data can also be used to track data points such as the weather - or even pollen count - to connect with consumers. Berocca recently used weather data points to promote its new product Berocca Boost tablets

The data allowed Berocca to tap into a captive audience whilst allowing them to order directly from Amazon during the ad. On an overcast or rainy day, for example, the script of the advert talked about having low energy on a grey day. The frictionless action resulted in 24% of listeners buying the product, with 42% asking for more information. Overall the ad resulted in an incredible 1.5% e-commerce conversion. The key here was matching the creative with the listener’s context, tapping into their world and making them feel seen. 

Additionally, geolocation data can be used to map out a listener’s day, from their activities to the pace of their schedule. If a person is often late for work, a brand should be thinking about how that impacts their purchasing behaviour - someone who is late needs quick, easy purchasing options. Actionable audio ads are the solution for this scenario. 

When a listener’s day doesn’t go to plan and they’re in a rush, a listener can buy products or find out more information by responding back to the ad. These simple and helpful interactions not only improve conversions, but also brand perception as listeners are given help when they need it, leaving them with a lasting positive view of the brand in question.

Consumer is king 

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Cannes 2022 has shown the true power of audio advertising. As the fastest-growing form of advertising, audio is consistently innovating and ensuring new trends are accommodated. No longer are audio ads simply targeting consumers with products and services, but campaigns are actively translating data to ensure they are making listeners’ lives easier. 

In the coming months, I predict we will see further developments in both AI and contextual targeting, particularly where smart devices are concerned. But the key takeaway from this year’s festival is this; creative needs to match the context of the listener’s environment. It’s time that audio ads were tailor made, with audiences at the heart of strategies.

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