May 16 2019

The second ever Radio Audio Week in upon us. 

After having the pleasure of attending last years, seminal event, we've decided to take stock of everything that radio provides for our clients and, during the week, we'll be laying out the 'Radio Roadmap' describing exactly what radio advertisers can expect from radio.

Today we're looking forward to the future of radio and audio. 

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We tend not to notice how important sound is until it’s absent and, for advertisers looking to break into voice-activated tech, that absence is telling.

As ABI Research projects 120m voice-enabled devices are set to be shipped annually by 2021 in the UK.

Voice search stats

Audio-led user-interfaces are proliferating and search is being not just triggered but also delivered by audio, we’re seeing more and more advertisers tentatively put their hand up and say: “Maybe we should have some audio branding after all.”

But don’t be fooled into thinking this is all because of the technology. Consider this:

What if Alexa didn’t talk back? What if she replied with silence and sent the answer to your phone as a push notification? What if it wasn’t an auditory, conversational experience? No opportunities to inspire, to educate, to upsell.

Would that Alexa be as popular as the one we have now?

To attribute this shift entirely to the technology would be underselling the value of audio, and specifically voice conversation. A force that has, through the ages, been a significant part of all of our lives.


In one word? Convenience. 

Alexa and the Google Home complements a user's routine. It helps them do basic tasks. Serving as a digital butler. 

For advertisers, the opportunity lies here as well. 

Advertisers are always looking to align themselves and their product with what their customers are doing. 

Voice enabled software has quickly become habitual, part of your customers everyday life and, as such, has become closer to the parts of their routines that actually matter to advertisers. 


When Conversations Come First

If there is one thing we strive for in radio, it’s dialogue. Dialogue between listener, station and advertiser. We try our hardest to create a consistent narrative throughout our radio programming and we’ve seen great success in brand communications that focus on this.

If there’s one area that we haven’t quite been able to crack, it’s true context. That’s where voice-tech provides opportunities.

Consumers, subconsciously or not, look for control and voice-activated content sits at the heart of this. When advertising is delivered around the content the listener is asking for, and not as a search result, you’ll be one step closer to creating true contextual conversations.

And, in a connected world, audio has the power to cut through the clutter — often with a more emotionally resonant and intimate message than other forms of advertising. That’s why the opportunity for brands is so ripe in this voice-first, audio-led era.

But, if exchanges between fellow human beings have taught us anything, it’s that sometimes a conversation can be seen as prying – intrusive. Especially when it’s in our own homes.  

Naturally, consumers will be reticent to invite advertisers into what they will see as a personal space and, for now, that’s mirrored in the data coming out of smart speaker use.

Despite all the other functions available, radio dominates listening on Echo accounting for 72% of all Echo time spent with audio entertainment – aided by the improved user experience delivered through the UK Radioplayer skill.

Currently, your customers are mostly using their voice activated devices to listen to radio and audio. This means you can immediately break into this market with radio and audio ads. When the market is this nascent, it makes sense to arrive early and plan your marketing moves as the market develops.

But, that seems like a gross misuse of the technologies potential to deliver messages at relevant times, in relevant places and in a conversational format. So, as the market flourishes, we’ll see new ways to deliver messages that properly leverage the technologies potential. Perhaps it’ll be a bid system similar to the way PPC works. Maybe it’ll work in a similar fashion to radio sponsorships. As particular Alexa skills become popular, you’ll be to buy your way into a sponsorship. Either way, you need to create a relevant audio message.

That’s where we can help. 

5 tips for writing for voice

1. Writing for voice brings it's own brand of segmentation

Let’s take the word “Scone” as an example. Do you pronounce it as in “gone” or “stone”? There are two key factors in how people say the word – region and social grade. Those living in the North (60%) and Scotland (80%) overwhelmingly use the “gone” pronunciation, while those in the Midlands (56%) and London (50%) are much more likely to go with the “bone” option. Whichever you use, people will be making a judgement about you based on how you sound. Going into writing for sound and not considering the regionality of your chosen voice is like


2. Write with solutions in mind

Here’s what’s troubling marketers and product bods: when you’re searching for something with a screen, you’re given a plethora of results. With voice-activated devices, only one ad is heard at a time. Does Alexa care about brand power? No. Does she care about your commission? No. Does she care if your product solves a problem and that your ad delivers that solution in a respectful, caring manner? Definitely.

3. Routine and user experience

Like with all advertising, people aren’t going to go out of their way to do something new. So, you should be choosing something the target user is doing anyway, then make it easier for them. More importantly, it’s a question of whether marketers can add value to customers on these platforms. There is no place for disruption when the platform is seen as a personal assistant. Look at the backlash to ads like this one from Burger King that hijacked users devices. Ads must either add to the listeners experience or solve a problem. On the flip side, Dominos ran a very successful campaign when they launched their Alexa skill around the time the US Super Bowl. They promoted the idea of not needing to get out of their seat to order a pizza, just give Alexa a command and she’ll take care of everything

4. Put an emphasis on conversations

At the heart of voice assistant technology a very simply construct exists: the flow chart. If this then that. If not this, then it must be that. This conversational approach to problem solving puts you and your brand at the heart of a friendly discussion. Once you’re there you can understand customer requirements and position your product just right.

5. finally, remember the amazon formula for voice engagement

From our work with voice specialists at Amazon and Google while optimising our Sport's Social product we've been given unique access to their formula for voice engagement.


We've shared it all in our 'Writing For Voice-Enabled Devices"

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Radio Audio Week 2019

Radio Audio Week is a cross-industry initiative celebrating the best of UK radio and audio across 6 jam-packed days of conferences, seminars and network events. 

With radio's record breaking audience, the coming of age of podcasts and the breakout success of voice technology - we welcome you to the week of the audio revolution.

Learn more about Radio Audio Week 2019 here.