Interview: WARC x CG Audio Report

What are the key criteria that make them choose a streaming platform?

Ashik : Globally, most audio streaming platforms have seen a meteoric rise over the past few years. Yet a few platforms naturally stand out to both creators and marketers for 3 reasons. Firstly, the size of the user base is a crucial consideration. The larger the base, the wider the net for capturing the minds and hearts of listeners. Secondly, they look for a presence of measurement systems on the part of the audio platforms. These play an important role in helping advertisers understand the success of their audio campaigns. Being able to understand engagement rates and other metrics is necessary for marketers to optimize their campaigns. Thirdly, brand safety is something that marketers are learning to not overlook. In recent times, we have seen the industry shy away from ad platforms if there is a risk of their campaigns coming in the way of inappropriate content. Even tech giants like Google and Facebook have not been spared from such considerations. An audio platform that provides a safe consumption environment is crucial both for brands and their audiences.

Mathieu: in the media planning and strategy world, two foundational metrics we look at when considering a platform, being digital or traditional, are the volume or what we call reach (what Ashik mentioned in terms of user base) and the target audience fit. If we add them all together with what Ashik stated, these criteria are universal, not bound by geographies. Yes, in our region, and when planning or putting a strategy, reach, the measurement being on media and brand impact level and brand safety are a must-have. There are few exceptions if we are talking about niche audiences, where reach does not play. BUT a few additional things are unique to our region. Having a brand personality that shares the similar values as its listeners, a brand that feels relatable and feels like home and recognizes its listeners' identity is a brand (music platforms), a brand that brings exclusivity for major singers that are well recognized and listened to, increases its lifetime users and engagement. So what does it mean for marketers? It brings high time spent, continuous consumption, and the halo effect of the platform to the advertiser. These are important to drive higher performance for their advertisers, from upper to lower-funnel metrics.

In terms of creativity, what are the best practices when using audio?

Ashik: The lack of visual stimuli on audio platforms can more than often be a blessing to marketers. Listeners are more actively tuned in and audio has a proven track record of striking more resonance with the emotive connection. The primary step to creativity on audio platforms is to lean in with storytelling and emotion. From the primitive man to the modern-day city dweller, the common thread is a fascination with stories. Human beings love to connect with each other through stories and emotions; marketers should not forget this universal insight. When creating content, take a more emotional approach than a functional one. Steer away from describing just the operational benefits of a product - start building a bond with your consumer with a narrative around how the product makes them feel. Also, look for deep-seated cultural truths that consumers can associate with and embed them in your content.

Where do audio streaming platforms stand in comparison to radio?

Ashik: Radio is still an important tool in the arsenal of advertising platforms in many parts of the world. Most radio networks have also started operating like digital audio platforms - offering marketing support and new content formats for advertisers. Therefore, the lines between radio and digital audio have increasingly become blurred. However, the key standout for audio streaming platforms is the ability to consume content on-demand and a wider selection of content. These 2 reasons explain the rise of digital audio platforms even as they start charging a premium. In many markets, we are starting to see listenership on digital platforms far exceed the ones on the radio. And generally, this is skewed towards younger audiences as well. With emerging formats like podcasts becoming a hit amongst the masses, digital audio platforms seem to be a more shiny option for marketers. Nevertheless, it is always important to weigh channels according to the presence of your target audience, suitable formats, and your success metrics.


Mathieu: the pandemic accelerated the consumption/adoption of music streaming platforms. Played on demand and based on your mood and the activity you are doing. However, it played a reversed role for Radio in its traditional form. But that does not mean Radio is phased out. Each of these platforms, being Music Streaming or Radio, found its place in the time-of-day consumption of listeners and generations. Music Streaming nowadays is consumed continuously across the day, at a high level of time spent and frequency, across different devices, and with different peak times as opposed to Radio where it peaks in 2 major day times, with less frequency of listenership and time spent. At the same time, music streaming platforms offer a wider range of advertising formats and activation for advertisers to use when addressing their audiences, along with the rise of podcasts that we are seeing in our region, and that offers a new venue for marketers to tap into. On top of it, each of these platforms, being Radio or Music streaming platforms, attracts different generations at higher affinities. When doing an audio campaign, we use to start with Radio and complement it with digital audio. Nowadays, I believe it is the other side of the coin, yet more research is to be conducted and more incrementality to be calculated and looked at.

With a wealth of Data points, how can advertisers tap into Music Streaming Platforms' first-party data while keeping Privacy concerns in mind?

Mathieu: if you are not privacy proofed, you are doomed. The changes that are happening in our industry and the rise of privacy concerns pushed us to look for different solutions where you can transact media while keeping the privacy of your users at the heart of it. Means? Cleanroom concepts emerged and became the safe haven for advertisers and music streaming platforms to connect and activate their first-party data. These cleanroom works as vaults for both parties where first-party data is pushed from both sides in a neutral place, matched (usually on hashed emails), and pushed back towards the music streaming platform to activate. None of the parties have visibility on any of the other's first-party data. Once done, the music streaming platform can uncover a lot of insights about the common users (anonymously). Their behavior throughout the day, the mood, the music genre they consume, the activities done, and many more, and start building valuable segments/audiences for the advertisers to first enhance their audience composition, and second create relevant creatives that address each of the segments, moving towards precision marketing at scale.