Digital Audio

Research Shows CTV Campaigns Do Better with Digital Audio

Melissa Paris, Vice President, Sales Research & AnalyticsOct 11, 2023

Linear TV ratings continue to decline as viewers flock to streaming alternatives. And ad dollars have similarly shifted from traditional TV to connected TV (CTV). CTV offers more sophisticated targeting and measurement than the TV buys of yore, yet it comes with new challenges, namely an increasingly fragmented market for viewers and buyers alike. 

At the same time, digital audio continues to rise in popularity among consumers. And while it also offers more sophisticated targeting and measurement options than the radio buys of yesteryear, brand investments in audio in general continue to pale in comparison to other media types. According to WARC, even though 31% of consumer time is spent with audio, it only accounts for 9% of advertising spend. 

CTV + Digital Audio = Better Together

It's possible that many advertisers are evaluating different media types in a silo, wondering: "Should I be advertising on CTV or digital audio?" A recent study that SXM Media conducted with Nielsen shows that brands shouldn’t be choosing just one or the other—leveraging both as part of their media mix has even greater benefits.

This new research compares the impact of digital audio (specifically, streaming music and podcasts) and CTV advertising—both individually and in combination—on brand metrics. A total of 600 US respondents ages 18 to 54 took part in the study and were exposed to media content and advertising in a realistic environment that aligned with their actual media behaviors. The ad loads were also realistic to the platforms (but more on that later). The ads tested were from a retail brand and a CPG brand that spend on these platforms and had creatives across formats with similar messaging points and calls to action. 

Spoiler alert: The results were clear—CTV and Digital Audio are better together.

Uncluttered Ad Environments FTW

For listeners and advertisers alike, one of the key benefits of digital audio environments is a much lighter ad load compared to other media. In podcasts and streaming audio, listeners are often exposed to just one or two brand messages per ad break, much lower than what they would see or hear in other platforms like TV, broadcast radio, and online video. This is also true for CTV, and we found in our most recent study that digital audio’s ad load is much lower than CTV, allowing ads to effectively break through to listeners. 

For both brands, streaming audio and podcast ad exposure drove much higher top-of-mind unaided recall than CTV ad exposure.

The Perfect Pairing: CTV + Digital Audio

While we find that digital audio ads drive strong top of mind recall on their own, we know that advertisers often leverage multiple media types in their campaigns to build incremental reach, find new consumers, and expose them to their messages multiple times across formats. Multiple exposures to a brand’s advertisements not only builds frequency and memorability, but also reinforces messaging points and product benefits. 

This proved out in our study, as well. Audiences exposed to both CTV and digital audio ads showed higher lifts in key metrics than those exposed to ads in just one of these environments.  

Unique Strengths of CTV + Audio Combinations for Retail

While we found that pairing CTV with digital audio works well in general, in the case of the retail brand we tested, we saw that different combinations of audio formats with CTV showed unique strengths in moving brand metrics. When looking at upper-funnel metrics like unaided and aided recall, the streaming audio and CTV combination stood out. And when moving down to the mid-funnel range, in metrics like brand familiarity, message association, and brand favorability, the podcasts with CTV combination excelled. 

By leveraging different combinations of platforms, brands can utilize their unique strengths and maximize their impact across the funnel. 

Make Your Next CTV Campaign Better with Audio

Streaming audio and podcasts offer uncluttered ad loads, giving brands the opportunity to have their messages break through and be remembered. And when they’re paired with other popular media channels like CTV, they drive additional increases in brand metrics. We know that digital audio is increasingly where consumers are choosing to spend their time and attention—and it’s time that advertising budgets follow suit. Let’s Talk.

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