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How Audio Takes Consumers Down the Funnel to Purchase

Audacy challenges an assumption held by many ad buyers

Stay in this business long enough and you’ll see the old become new again. 

The concept of the marketing funnel has returned in full force, and rather than fight ad agencies over the theory, Audacy has smartly delivered a report showing them how audio delivers at all levels of the funnel.

The “funnel” theory is commonly attributed to E. St. Elmo Lewis, who in 1889 posited that consumers move from awareness to interest to desire and then to action. Ridiculously, radio/audio somehow has been positioned recently by large agencies as a medium that only works at the “top of the funnel.”

In its “State of Audio: Fuel the Funnel” report, Audacy challenges that proposition by providing examples of how radio/audio works at every level. (Unfortunately, once dogma becomes embedded with ad agencies, especially with young buyers, it’s best to show how your medium works with the system, rather than debate the merits of the marketing theory du jour). 
“State of Audio” lays out audio’s effectiveness. This is important to address because according to Forrester, 61% of advertisers want to improve what they call “full-funnel media investment” and say it is “a high or critical priority over the next 12 months.” If ad buyers don’t believe audio can move consumers through the funnel, the medium will suffer. 

A graphic from “Fuel the Funnel” shows how radio, streaming audio and podcast ads compare with other platforms in terms of conversion success and CPMs.

Further, in this presentation, the industry gets a significant nomenclature upgrade that speaks to today’s media buyer.

 “Audio holds the title as the undisputed leader of brand-building channels — working its magic with the one-two punch of massive reach and beloved and trusted personalities,” according to Paul Suchman, chief marketing officer of Audacy. 

“But if you’re thinking of audio as just a top-of-funnel play — good for sparking a conversation but not driving conversion — think again. The truth is the game has expanded in recent years, and audio is now a truly multi-purpose platform.”

Thanks to precision targeting, authentic influencers whose listeners follow them across channels and advanced measurement, he said, “marketers are uncovering the best-kept secret in media: audio’s ability to drive impact at every funnel stage.”

I love how Paul positions on-air personalities as influencers, which is truly a fact. I’ve stated this numerous times, because this is the language of the day, understood by young buyers, who make decisions regarding hundreds of millions of spend.

Three takeaways about the top of the funnel:

  1. Radio is a reach machine. Audacy notes that audio reaches 95% of the U.S. population.
  2. Use storytelling over “call to action” — This is a much cooler way to reframe commercials to the advertising community. The study encourages “campaigns that warm hearts.”
  3. Podcasting at scale with addressable messaging works. Buyers listen to a lot of podcasts and hear talent doing live commercial reads. They know intuitively that this is effective.

“Mid-funnel” key takeaways include precision targeting, frequency, entertainment and trust. Finally, the “lower funnel” discussion focuses on audio being a true companion that travels with the consumer throughout the day, driving loyalty and delivering specific key performance indicators. 

It will not take you long to study “State of Audio,” and even if you feel strongly that the funnel theory doesn’t hold water, the presentation is an education for anyone who understands the need to update radio’s positioning to advertising agencies.

You can download it here

[Read More Columns by Mark Lapidus]