The Sound of Victory

Sean Duggan, VP Advertising Sales

The 2020 presidential election is in full swing. The campaigns that emerge triumphant next November will be the ones that successfully cut through the tsunami of political ads via TV, social media, audio streaming, yard signs, and direct mail to make a meaningful connection with voters.

It’s estimated that political ad spending for the election could reach $10 billion—a staggering amount that will leave many Americans feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of ads coming their way in 2020. With thousands of campaigns competing for voter attention, cutting through the political ad noise is essential.

Why Audio?

Increasingly, audio is capturing more attention as consumers escape their screen saturated world. Over 60% of Americans listen to online radio weekly, and especially among a younger audience, streaming audio now beats out traditional AM/FM radio.1 Campaign managers and consultants have recognized the explosion in digital audio consumption, and are seeing the benefits of reaching voters through streaming services. New audio technology is being used not just for candidate persuasion or to drive Get Out the Vote initiatives, but also to drive donations, such as via Amazon’s Alexa. This massive audience of potential voters is too significant to ignore.

The Winning Platform

As the largest ad-supported digital streaming platform in the U.S., at Pandora we’ve worked with thousands of campaigns, and witnessed a transformation in how campaigns utilize audio to gain an edge on their competition. Increasingly, audio is an essential platform to engage TV cord cutters and other hard to reach voters.

Stand Out and Keep It Short

With the noise of political ads only growing as 2020 approaches, it’s crucial to speak to voters in a way they’ll be receptive to. The foundation of effective audio creative is to use a conversational tone, address the individual listener, and deliver a concise message with a clear call to action (Vote Tomorrow, Click Here to Volunteer, etc).

The first step in this process is keeping it short. Among our political clients, we are seeing more campaigns run audio ads for thirty seconds or less. A shorter message is the best way to connect with voters while they navigate to their content, whether that’s music, podcasts, news, or other programming.

Like so many other aspects of voter outreach, audio spots are also becoming more personal. Campaigns can now speak each voter’s language, both literally and figuratively. This trend toward shorter and more creative ads manifests in a number of ways. Take, for instance, Sponsored Listening, one of our reward-based advertising solutions.

With Sponsored Listening, a client or advocacy group can sponsor between 30 minutes and 4 hours of commercial free music rather than running a traditional ad. This solution temporarily eliminates advertising for consumers. In noisy, competitive races, uninterrupted music is a welcomed relief and a tremendous opportunity for a candidate or advocacy group to build goodwill with voters. Campaigns and candidates who provide ad-free listening become the heroes of another peaceful hour of Bach or the latest drop from Lizzo.

Audio Matters

These trends will only become more pronounced as streaming audio continues to grow in popularity. Audio is going through this renaissance precisely because of the ubiquity of internet-connected devices. Over three-quarters of Americans own smartphones and over 47 million U.S. adults keep a smart speaker at home or at work.

Successful candidates have always been early adopters. Fireside chats brought the president’s voice directly into American homes. Television showed us who thrived on debate stages and who sweated it out. Social media and the internet spread awareness, news, and even controversy. Now, audio streaming has become a potent tool for organizing volunteers, driving donations, and persuading voters.

All this goes to show that the next wave of winners—the men and women who will celebrate victory on Election Night—will have to develop an audio strategy to succeed.

1. The Infinite Dial 2019, Share of Ear 2019- Edison Research