Why Retail Media Needs Audio OOH

a person standing in front of a brick building

Brands have spent the last 18 months weathering the pandemic-induced swings in consumer behavior, the economy and their brands’ businesses. In 2022, advertisers and retailers will look for ways to match consumers’ willingness to experiment with new brands and products. 

Retail media has generated buzz in the past year for its big-name entrants, including Best Buy, Dollar General and Kroger. It’s positioned to top $50 billion in global revenue next year, surpassing the bottom line of media giants like Netflix and YouTube. As zero- and first-party data become critical for marketers in 2022, data-rich retail media networks will rise to the occasion, as will another medium: audio out-of-home (AOOH) technology. 

In 2020, the pandemic struck and with it, a dramatic increase in online shopping. E-commerce generated an additional $105 billion, with online sales exceeding $790 billion — a nearly 33% increase from 2019. Yet, a 2021 Raydian study of U.S. consumer behavior found consumers are still split about their shopping preferences. Fifty-four percent prefer shopping online whereas 46% would rather shop in person.

Regardless of where they shop, consumers expect physical retail locations to deliver similar experiences to digital, online shopping. To meet these expectations and deliver a seamless customer experience across all advertising channels — including brick-and-mortar — retailers should consider adding AOOH to complement their retail media strategy. 

Four advantages of AOOH

Unless you’re giving out samples at the grocery store, cookies won’t work to draw in more consumers. While brands’ digital platforms have more customers and visitors to monetize, brick-and-mortar stores can monetize their foot traffic. You can, however, use audio to reach shoppers at the point of purchase.

AOOH technology offers a strong environmental cue by reaching every shopper in every aisle, creating an effective “last mile” advertising strategy. 

Programmatic audio advertising, or AOOH, enables brands to reach audiences in-store and offers several advantages:

  • It engages consumers immersivity, unlike visual advertising. Music triggers emotional responses, and when digital ads play over store audio, they command shoppers’ full attention. For example, Edison Research found that 70% of listeners focus completely on the audio when people listen to podcasts. 
  • AOOH sets the stage for connecting consumers to brands. Stores can change music and messaging to align with ads running in other media channels. Shoppers become more receptive to ads, driving engagement and creating a memorable, lasting impact. 

Because consumers are not distracted by personal entertainment media while shopping in the store, they become easier targets for AOOH. They’re less likely to be distracted when ads play over the sound system. Brands can capitalize on less distracted shoppers by delivering personalized messaging designed to increase brand awareness, engagement, and loyalty.

Plus, unlike online platforms or streaming video, AOOH doesn’t give in-person shoppers the ability to fast-forward through audio ads. Without an ad-block tool (which doesn’t exist for AOOH), brands receive a higher exposure rate and take full advantage of their campaign budgets.

AOOH allows brands to fine-tune their targeting, using data to hone in on specific demographics, genres and niches. This marketing approach is scalable, specific and applicable, because it captures consumers’ attention where — and when — they’re already prepared to spend. Brands can tweak what ads play based on product availability, time of day, and more.

Stores can match ads to different topics and genres to ensure their ads reach — and the messages they deliver are heard by — each specific audience. This flexibility helps advertisers target potential buyers and understand how the ad campaign influences the buyer’s journey. AOOH technology empowers marketers to use those consumer insights for curating tailored relevant campaigns designed to resonate with their audience.

AOOH elevates buying behavior and brand recognition because it enables brands to integrate ads throughout shoppers’ areas of interest. Marketers can insert ads into premium audio content aligned to a particular store’s buyer demographic. For example, teaming up with large retailers like Kroger, Walmart and CVS Pharmacy to automate the audio buying process to current programmatic standards allows users to target customers at the right time, depending on weather, local events and more. AOOH enables the store to enhance its customer experience and verifies customer interest and engagement with the ads. 

Because AOOH platforms provide analytics tracking audibility, engagement, impressions and more, brands gain deeper insight into their shoppers. It’s a much better option than other data collection strategies, which customers oftentimes find invasive and a breach of trust. AOOH doesn’t request or need personal data because it focuses solely on in-store customer experiences.  

Riding the audio wave of buying behavior

By monetizing AOOH, brands and marketers increase their ability to influence how consumers spend their money. It’s easy for a shopper to walk past a physical advertising display without taking notice. More shoppers are likely to hear special promotions broadcasted through a store’s audio system and act on them. Connecting ads to shoppers’ interests further increases impulse buying. 

According to an insights report from The Harris Poll and OAAA, consumer optimism is growing into 2022, with 86% of respondents planning to visit grocery stores, 57% visiting retail stores and 43% visiting drug stores/pharmacies in person.

Brands incorporating AOOH into their marketing mix can lead the next wave of buying behavior, targeting and engaging specific audiences, improving in-person shopping experiences, and witnessing significant revenue growth as a result.

About the Author: With more than 25 years of experience in media & entertainment and technology leadership, Paul Brenner has served in several c-suite roles, including division president at Emmis Operating Company and president of NextRadio/TagStation. In 2019, Brenner joined Vibenomics as chief strategy officer to help develop the go-to-market strategy for the company’s first-to-market Audio Out-of-Home advertising solution. After a successful launch, Brenner was promoted to president of AOOH to oversee all efforts surrounding revenue-generating activity and related partnerships. He also recently joined the DPAA research committee and new IAB retail media committee.