Can You Hear Me Now?

Originally posted on MediaPost

If you’re listening to WXYZ, Pandora, Spotify, or SiriusXM the answer is almost certainly ‘yes.’ That’s but one way audio advertising stands separate and apart from display.

Now, if I said, “Can you see me now?”, more than half of you would have to admit ‘no.’ That’s according to new research undertaken by Google to determine online ad-viewability. That report states that 56% of online display ads are not seen by consumers. Ever.

The good news is that the Gordian Knot that’s vexed CMOs forever has finally been cut. The answer to that age-old lament, “I know half of my advertising isn’t working. I’m just not sure which half,” is in. The half of the CMO’s ad budget that doesn’t work is the (more than) half that’s never even seen. The bad news is that like eggnog and mistletoe, Display is a hard habit to break.

There are too many damn ads on terrestrial radio. Many terrestrial broadcasters think there are several different tests in-market, decreasing the length of commercial breaks. The fact that this is an issue for listeners like me and broadcasters like them tells us we agree on one thing — audio ads, for better and worse, get noticed.

Whether radio has “too many” ads is a matter of taste and perspective. Twelve minutes of advertising in an hour is 20%. Maybe that’s a lot. Maybe it isn’t. While Web viewing isn’t as finite and linear as time, I feel confident that more than 20% of it is covered in ostentatious flashing, whirring, expanding display ads and click-bait passing itself off as content.

That’s just the 44% that’s viewable. God knows what lurks beneath the fold.

Audio advertising is always above the fold, always the only thing in the spotlight, and fits seamlessly in a mobile-powered world.

Google’s rightly called out a problem. Viewability, with its primary symptom, banner blindness, is very unhealthy for advertisers and audience alike. There’s just such a glut of display, the ghost of Darwin is rewiring our brains to kick back data from the optical cortex while browsing most sites. Then there are the parts our eyes never even get a chance to take in.

My advice to advertisers sick of waste is to crank up the tunes. It’s growing, mobile, targetable and accountable. It gives your brand and your message voice. Literally. Best of all it gives that voice what it desperately craves. Ears.