AdTonos CEO and Founder, Michal Marcinik, writes for Advertising Week on how digital audio advertising can support industries hard-hit by the pandemic.
In the wake of the global pandemic, many who missed out on seeing friends, relatives, and distant sights were keen to get back on the travel train. On the supply side, brands are eager to reconnect with their audiences after years of near-silence, and advertising spend has increased accordingly.
But tune into travel news today and you are bound to see headlines of travellers stranded, cancelled flights, and missed holidays: instead of a problem-free post-COVID boom, enduring staffing difficulties and COVID-related absenteeism is causing more chaos.
Amidst uncertainty and frustration, consumers are unsure of how to proceed: risk flying out or stay at home? And how can advertisers inspire the confidence in customers to get back into booking?
COVID: Grounded for Two Years
Travelling has not been an enjoyable experience for anyone in the past couple of years. Forking out money for PCR or antigen tests, nervously awaiting results, hoping said results will show in time, self-isolation mandates, or getting stuck in foreign countries after sudden changes in travel regulations: it’s been a strange ride.
In the last few months, however, as countries have reopened their borders and the severity of COVID has decreased, the industry has been getting back on its feet (and up in the air). Advertising is up, with budgets reaching $623 million, sending hopes soaring that the worst is finally over.
Unfortunately, it seems COVID has not quite left us: now that masks are no longer mandatory, COVID-cases among TSA employees are up by 50% – a level that sick leave policies and hitherto widely accepted ways of working simply aren’t cut out for. As a result, unscheduled absences and a reduced workforce are throwing a spanner in the works for those wanting to return back to normal, see their loved ones, or experience life abroad.
The Will Is There
As it stands, flights are still running (albeit at reduced rates), and consumers still want to travel – but many are overwhelmed by the current situation. How can brands and advertisers cut through the noise and reach their target audience?
Restoring confidence and inspiring Wanderlust will take some creativity, especially in a world where most bookings happen online, alone, in front of screens. However, the process now is probably more complicated and overwhelming than ever before – American travellers already spend 29% more time on research now than they did in 2019, despite nearly half (43%) disliking the process – with most travellers visiting an average of 38 sites before finalising and booking their travel plans.
It’s clear that brands need to put customer experience front and centre of their strategies if they want to convince them to trust their services. Communicating the right message at the right time will be key in this respect, and audio advertising can help brands take a step in that direction.
Audio Leads the Way
Interactive audio advertising is a medium that is growing in importance and one that taps into an already engaged audience. AdTonos predicted an interactive future for audio before the COVID-19 pandemic through our interactive smart speaker advertising solution YoursTruly, as did streaming giant Spotify through their Sonic Science research.
Interactive audio ads have the power to accomplish two core features of successful advertising: firstly, when done right, audio ads can not only connect to listeners in a completely unique way – awaking memory and creating an emotional impact – but they can also build a story to truly transport the listener to a different location.
Audio brings a different dimension to advertising – as a subconscious mechanism that has the ability to trigger a range of reactions, from tapping into fear, changing the perception of time, and increasing strength – it’s important to take the process seriously. Think about the feelings you hope to inspire in your customers, and think carefully how you would translate this into an auditory soundscape, which voice you would use, which background noise – every element matters.
Secondly, it both speeds up and simplifies the booking process, as customers can easily action a request as soon as their interest is sparked, taking them from the planning stages through to booking. Whether it’s activating an offer that is sent straight through to a customer’s phone, an appointment with a sales representative, or just additional information on certain travel destinations or availabilities, interactive ads have the power to make the booking process that much easier.
Spreading Your Wings
It is clear that while everyone wants to return to the way things were pre-pandemic, it will take time to get to the new normal. Companies, employees, and the general public are still negotiating continuous challenges in the world of work, finances, and leisure, be it by navigating different prices, staff shortages, absences, or a change in services available.
For these reasons, it’s more important than ever for brands and advertisers to connect with their audiences in a way that is creative, engaging, and inspires confidence. Using interactive audio advertising can provide the latitude to reassure consumers by being as easy-to-use, accessible, and responsive as possible, as well as firing up their excitement for their next adventure.