Luxury brand audio storytelling

In a bid to move away from simply promoting the look and feel of a new product, luxury brands like Chanel and Estée Lauder have begun to focus on values-based marketing and creative audio storytelling. 

In Estée Lauder’s new ad campaign for the fragrance ‘Beautiful Magnolia’, the focus is on four love stories.

Chanel is also among the handful of luxury brands experimenting with the new style of audio advertising, as audio-based content gains popularity through podcasts and audio apps like Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces.

Today, audio ad formats have evolved from the typical spots read by hosts on ad breaks, to include digital ad insertion, programmatic offerings and branded podcasts. 

Audio ads allow brands to tap into a programme’s loyal listenership and reach them via creative storytelling that feels more natural for the format.

The medium is also more cost effective than TV, or print advertising campaigns, but does require willingness to take creative risks. To get it right, brands must be willing to get personal and tie their branded audio content in with their values.

Ad market growth predicted to surpass pre-pandemic levels

The ad industry is in the middle of a strong December quarter, and market analysts suggest the advertising market will continue to grow beyond pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year.

Metro TV was down 8% in October however, the TV networks are upbeat, with Nine expecting metropolitan television advertising revenue to grow 15% in the December quarter, which highlights the resilience of traditional media platforms and the potential for further growth in digital.

Goldman Sachs analysts see the TV market remaining strong in the short term, with financial year growth forecasts expected to see +4%, from +3%. Results expected to be driven from travel, international and government segments.

Analysts also suggest the Out Of Home (OOH) market is expected to recover strongly as Melbourne and Sydney audiences return post lockdown.

Broadcast Video On Demand (BVOD) will also see further improvement over the next 24 months, benefiting from the subscriber base following the Summer Olympics and the scheduling of the Winter olympics next February.

Christmas ads hit the small screen

We’re officially on the countdown to Christmas, and once again hear the sounds of Mariah Carey and Michael Bublé burst forth from shopping centres across the country.

In the U.K, Christmas ads have become somewhat of a national institution, with every brand across the land trying to come up with the best offering.

The John Lewis Christmas ad is often named the best of the best, but the retailer always faces stiff competition from its high street counterparts.

Two of the big brands to have already hit the small screen this year are Disney and of course John Lewis.

We can always count on Disney to make us feel warm and fuzzy inside. 

This year, Disney expanded upon their festive campaign ‘From Our Family To Yours’, in support of Make-A-Wish.

This year, John Lewis have employed a tried-and-tested Christmas ad formula, with an unusual twist. 

The ‘Unexpected Guest’ Christmas ad is set to a soundtrack of the 1985 hit Together in Electric Dreams.

In a world smashed by a pandemic and billionaires shooting off into space, perhaps the bizzare ad has hit the mark again?

Advertising in the lead up to Christmas

After a Christmas like no other in 2020, there are still a few things to consider when advertising this year, because consumer behaviour will continue to be influenced by pandemic related issues like supply shortages and demand on postal services.

Start early

This year, some brands started to roll out Christmas advertising as early as August, due to predictions of supply chain issues over the festive season. Last year consumers even started Christmas grocery shopping much earlier than usual to beat the rush.

Phase campaigns

From October through to Black Friday (26 November) we will see online sales start to increase. After the Black Friday peak, consumer demand then builds again from early December until after Christmas. 

Understanding your customer’s spending habits will enable you to attract your core audience while also targeting other shoppers looking for Christmas gifts.

Focus on festive content

As people look ahead to Christmas, online festive-related content will be essential when consumers switch into ‘Christmas mode’. Some brands see a rapid scaling of consumer interest in Christmas content as early as October. 

Take note of trends

Even though we are now seeing lock-downs ease across Australia, things aren’t quite back to normal, so keep an eye on trends that may influence consumers behavior over the short term.

The Ethics of AI & Deepfake

The documentary Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain, is a chronicle of the late television star’s life, which begins when Bourdain entered the public eye in 2000, with his bestselling memoir Kitchen Confidential.

To make the film, Director Morgan Neville drew on thousands of hours of video footage and audio archives, as well engaging a software company to make an AI generated version of Bourdain’s voice. A move that struck a degree of anger and unease among Bourdain fans. 

Using artificial intelligence in the film, Bourdain improbably reads aloud an email that he sent to a friend, artist David Choe.

Neville suggests that “If you watch the film… you probably don’t know what the other lines are that were spoken by the AI, and you’re not going to know.”

The Director said that creating a synthetic Bourdain voice over seemed far less crass than, say, a C.G.I. Fred Astaire to sell vacuum cleaners, or a holographic Tupac Shakur.

But at a time when deepfake and computer-generated AI have troubling connections with fake news and deception, it’s probably quite natural for viewers and filmmakers to question the boundaries of its responsible use. And Neville’s creation certainly raises fundamental questions about how we define ethical use of synthetic media.

Spotify Audience Network Hits Australia

Following a successful U.S. launch of the Spotify Audience Network in April, Spotify is expanding its audio advertising marketplace to Australian advertisers and podcast publishers.

The Spotify Audience Network aims to make the podcast ad experience more personalised, by delivering a full digital suite of planning, reporting, and measurement capabilities to make podcast ads targetable, measurable and interactive. 

The Spotify Audience Network was launched off the back of their Streaming Ad Insertion (SAI), in what they described as ‘a new era for podcast advertising’.

Spotify advertisers have historically bought podcast ads on a title by title basis, which has limited their ability to reach listeners at scale. 

SAI introduced performance metrics for advertisers, and allowed creators to better monetise their content and make money off their work.

The Spotify Audience Network leverages the SAI technology to give advertisers the ability to reach listeners at scale, on and off Spotify.

Advertisers can connect with listeners consuming a broad range of content, from Spotify Originals and Exclusive podcasts, as well as via Megaphone and Anchor, and ad-supported music.

The Spotify Audience Network currently includes the audience’s listening to podcasts from Spotify’s four studios (Spotify Studios, The Ringer, Gimlet, Parcast), plus leading third-party podcasts from off-platform publishers such as ViacomCBS and The Wall Street Journal, and podcasts by local Australian publishers.

Real-Time Engagement with Interactive Voice Ads


Traditional audio marketing often focuses on reach and frequency however, brands like Spotify and Pandora are shaking up engagement with interactive, or dialogue ads.

An interactive voice ad, is a voice-enabled ad that prompts the consumer to engage directly with the advertisement using their own voice.

Interactive voice ads allow the consumer to offer affirmative, or negative responses, which the ad has the capacity to recognise and respond to – a little like a real-life conversation.

For example, a local cafe might run an audio ad that asks if you are interested in jumping the queue to beat the rush tomorrow morning? The ad then turns on your device microphone to listen for your response. If you say, “no, I don’t like coffee,” the ad thanks you and returns to the content. Genius or creepy? We’ll let you decide.

Another benefit of interactive voice ads is the fact that people’s responses allow for brand feedback. Unlike traditional radio spots, interactive voice ads allow brands to track engagement i.e. positive responses, or negative responses.

Conversational marketing is also emerging in video, delivering a similar user experience and the data is rapidly evolving to more accurately measure things like age, gender, and even consumer mood.

So will we see the end of ads that talk at people, and instead talk to people?

IAB/PwC: Strong Growth in Digital Advertising

The latest IAB/PwC Australia data shows digital advertising has continued to demonstrate strong growth, which bodes well for current consumer confidence and the overall health of the Australian economy.

The data shows digital advertising was up 25.8% year on year for the March quarter 2021, with a total digital advertising spend of $2.883 billion for the 3 months to 31 March 2021. This comes after a solid Q4, 2020, which saw total digital advertising spend reach $2.9 billion.

Search and directory advertising increased 26.5%, while general display increased by 28.9% and classifieds increased by 28.5%.

Retail advertising was a particularly strong performer, up 16.4% year on year, with finance advertising also up 9.3% year on year. However, automotive advertising was down 12.5% and technology was also down 2.4% year on year.

Thankfully, the travel sector has begun its recovery due to a boom in domestic tourism, with both travel and automotive advertising up slightly in comparison to the second half of 2020.

Video advertising represented the largest share of ad spend with 54% growth, followed by infeed/native advertising with 31% growth and standard display with 14% growth.

IAB Australia CEO, Gai Le Roy said, “There’s no doubt the Australian market is bouncing back, but there’s still plenty of room for further growth, with expectations that as borders reopen and supply chains improve, both the travel and automotive categories will increase investment in digital advertising.”

Neuroscience study into audio advertising

The iab Australia ‘Advertising Audio State of the Nation: Wave 5 Report’, suggests that streaming audio and podcast advertising continues to play a significant, or regular part of advertising activities for marketing agencies across Australia.

As such, to understand how consumers’ brains respond to the different ad formats, and the subsequent brand message impact, new research was conducted by neuroscience specialist, Dr Shannon Bosshard in partnership with Australian Radio Network’s Neuro Lab.

The research mapped brain activity and analysed more than 40,000 data points across radio, podcasting and streaming ads.

The research suggests radio demonstrated the strongest ability to engage listeners for extended periods of time, with 60% more neural engagement than other audio formats. Podcasts led to higher levels of memory encoding, while music streaming advertising showed the strongest impact in promoting positive attitudes towards brands.

“This is the first time anyone has demonstrated from the perspective of the brain, that radio, podcasting and music streaming are processed differently and should be treated differently, in the same manner that audio and audio-visual mediums have been.” said Dr Bosshard.

Positioned as the first go-to-market research which measures attention, engagement, attitude and memory, the new research will form part of an ongoing initiative to better understand audio’s role and impact for brands.

You can view the full iab report here.

Facebook Unveils New Audio Tools

Facebook has announced a list of new audio tools for soundbites, in-app podcasts and live audio rooms.

The audio tools will feature audio quality enhancements, captions, speech translations, and sound effects.

The new tools follow the rise of podcasts, audio messages and the more recent fame of Clubhouse, which has attracted big names like Elon Musk.

SoundBites will be a new format for short-form audio, a little like TikTok for audio. The tool will let you change your sound via filters and other effects.

Facebook’s long-form audio will feature in-app podcasts, which means users won’t have to leave the app. An expanded partnership with Spotify will bring the audio player to Facebook’s app as well, allowing users to listen to both music and podcasts. 

Facebook expects its new Clubhouse-style Live Audio Rooms will be popular with Groups. Participants will be able to tip creators with Facebook’s digital currency.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, suggests the tools will play a big part in the creative economy, enabling individuals and shifting power from traditional institutions to enable individuals to exercise their own creativity. But he also acknowledges the debate over the degree to which audio, particularly live audio, should be moderated. If misinformation is shared in Facebook audio rooms, should moderators shut it down? 

Facebook is currently setting up an Audio Creator Fund to pay users to create content for SoundBites and working on podcast features that will allow users to discover, share and listen to podcasts.