There’s a Sound for That: The Competitive Advantage Tech Advertisers Have Forgotten

You hear that? It's the sweet sound of a massive ROAS.

The tech landscape is extremely competitive; developing, marketing, and selling the newest must-have product is a sport in and of itself. Every year, the top players tout new capabilities and specs in their latest products. But with every new rollout, whether it’s smartphones or laptops, one consideration remains key for both brands and consumers alike: sound.

Although companies place a premium on making sure their products satisfy these consumer needs during the production phase, the marketing phase is far less top-of-mind; the importance of sound all but goes out the window when the time comes to get the newest gadget or offering in front of buyers. The disconnect between these two points of the product introduction life cycle is baffling, to say the least, and it represents an unaddressed need for audio inclusion in advertising planning.

The Role of Sound in Tech Design

When a tech brand introduces a new offering (often at an increased price point), there are some improvements we just expect to see: higher display resolution, better camera quality, faster service, and smart assistant capabilities. But over the years, the audio and sound experience of these products have become important like never before. Without even realizing it, consumers have come to expect a higher standard of audio offerings with their tech devices. Think: noise cancellation, spatial audio, HD quality, surround sound…you get the gist.

And this isn’t just true of the sound-centered products like speakers, sound bars, and headphones. Even offerings like washers and dryers are created with attention paid to what consumers hear. Brands like Samsung and Google have teams fully dedicated to how audio plays a role in what their products do, dedicating substantial time and resources to ensuring a dynamic experience.

Product designers pay close attention to how audio drives the consumer experience at every touchpoint; everything from sound distribution to branded harmonies are considered during the development phase, with no aspect left unaddressed. They aren’t just focusing on making their speakers better or their headphones higher quality—they’re incorporating sound design into every interaction, from a computer restart notification to a smart watch alert. Sound is both subtle and prevalent in the relationship between consumers and tech usage, and it receives ample consideration during the development phase.

Why, then, do we see such a significant drop-off in attention to audio when the time comes to market these latest developments?

Missing a Beat—the Lack of Audio Inclusion in Tech Ad Planning

For all the emphasis placed on audio and sound experience in the developmental phase, you wouldn’t realize how important they are when you look at how these products are advertised and introduced to the market. The largest share of tech media spend remains in television, social, and other visual digital channels, even though we’re seeing an increase in the migration of content consumption to

audio-based channels (podcasts, streaming, and radio).

Tech developers understand well enough the role audio plays in their consumers’ lives—that’s evidenced by the importance they place on design. It stands to reason, then, that tech marketers should also understand the importance of audio in creative storytelling.  The sound your product makes can be a competitive advantage as much as the next product feature because it evokes emotion and creates connection to the brand. Why not extrapolate that same learning to media creative? If advertising within podcasts or on streaming services is a second thought, brands should absolutely find ways to bump their channels to the top of the priority list.

If your brand still needs a bit of convincing, consider these stats:

  • Streaming digital audio reaches 87% of people between the ages of 12 to 34 per month. 1

  • A blind case study by Nielsen found that Pandora outperformed other forms of media (traditional and digital) when it came to return on ad spend with an astonishing $1.90 compared to $0.53 and $0.86, respectively. 2

  • 65% of podcast listeners say time traditionally spent watching TV is now being replaced with time listening to their favorite podcasts. 3

Embrace the Sound of Innovation With Audio Advertising

Tech has been, and will continue to be, one of the most innovative verticals out there. It's in that innovation that brands have become so consumed with the visual features and functions of their particular product that they have lost the emotion their product team worked so hard to create. It’s important to remember that every day, consumers are engaging with the exact products these companies have poured their hearts and souls into, all while consuming audio. And with these early adopters most often being younger Millennials and Gen Zs, who prioritize music and audio more than anything else, the opportunity to further drive positive brand sentiment and engagement using audio advertising has never been clearer.

Sources

1. SXM Media, Gen Z & Millennial Study, March 2022, Gen Z Listeners P13-24 who listen to podcasts;

2. Nielsen study prepared for Pandora Syndicated Category Mix

3. SXM Media, GroupM, and Edison Research study, Audio Content Day in the Life