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Advertising avenues to consider for business growth in 2024

Advertising avenues 2024

Brand visibility is critical and in a digital age, there are hundreds of ways to choose from to get your message in front of a potential consumer.

As we welcome a brand-spanking new year, we highlight some advertising avenues to think about in 2024.

Podcast advertising

With over 4 million podcast shows available and 53,000 of those produced in the UK alone, podcast listenership has exploded in the last decade. A recent YouGov survey found that 50% of British adults had listened to a podcast in the past year. This audio medium is a prime spot for businesses large and small alike. “Podcast advertising is an attractive option for a few reasons,” says Roger Jackson, the founder and CEO of marketing advice platform SenseCheck. “Firstly, it allows businesses to target specific audiences and niche topics, even if the audiences are relatively small. This type of advertising can be cost-effective and offers different advertising formats, including endorsements.”

There is a plethora of advertising options when it comes to podcasts, including Acast. Launched in 2014, the company hosts over 100,000 podcasts, including juggernauts Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place, Chris and Rosie Ramsey’s Shagged, Married, Annoyed and WTF with Marc Maron. The platform garners more than 430 million listens per month across the globe and launched a self-serve advertising platform in 2022 to make podcast advertising more accessible for SMEs and large brands alike.

Acast’s advertising platform allows companies to target ads to specific content genres, geographic regions, and audience demographics. It also allows businesses to go beyond the traditional pre-recorded ad message. Instead, you can engage directly with podcasters to do a ‘live read’, which is more personal and engaging, and what Acast refer to as “the real jewel in the crown of podcast advertising”. Detailed analytics allow companies to track ROI and optimise their campaigns over time to improve results. Lizzy Pollott, chief communications & brand officer at Acast adds, “Any advertiser using our self-serve advertising platform gets access to exactly the same options that advertisers through our sales team do. Those which Acast has become famous for.”

Compromising brand safety is a concern for many companies considering podcast advertising. The freedom of expression so beautifully synonymous with the medium can also see your brand associated with polarising themes. Acast’s advertising platform helps with this issue, but it still needs to be considered when contemplating this option. Jackson points to another downside being “the fact the podcast market is fragmented, and it is challenging to discover the true size of a podcast’s audience”. He also questions the “absence of hard data on who the audience actually is”.

Jackson concludes, “Overall, podcast advertising is a good way to build reputation and familiarity of a brand alongside other media, but it may not be the best standalone advertising platform, especially when wanting to achieve immediate action and results.”

Reddit

Referred to as “the front page of the internet”, Reddit has an undeniable presence. Founded in 2005, the platform is a melting pot of the latest trends, niche communities, unique subcultures, and a collection of inside jokes and internet memes. However, it has emerged as a go-to platform for companies looking to tap into specific communities and engage with their target audience.

“People on Reddit are actively seeking out information, not aimlessly scrolling through it,” says Stephen Riad, Reddit’s global vice president of SMB and mid-market sales. “There’s no other place online where you can find such a highly engaged and intentional audience. This presents a really strong opportunity for advertisers across the funnel, but especially SMEs. What’s more, people on Reddit are more likely to take action – whether that’s on a purchase decision or signing up to learn more.”

Reddit has over 100,000 communities, or subreddits, ranging from /r/travel/ and r/entrepreneur to r/chairsunderwater and r/amitheasshole. As of October 2023, the platform boasts over 70 million+ Daily Active uniques, representing a 20% increase year-on-year. This growing but microscopic breakdown of the audience is both the platform’s biggest asset and the biggest hindrance when it comes to advertising. Jackson explains, “Reddit consists of passionate communities with their own unwritten rules, and the blowback can be serious if advertising is deemed inauthentic, disrespectful, or annoying. Like podcasts, sub-reddits are best utilised to build a dialogue and understanding, rather than ‘go for broke’ to win immediate action. This is not a community to be ‘sold at’.”

Reddit has around 100 employees in the UK and works with large companies such as Samsung and the UK government. It’s making a keen play to help more SMEs advertise on the platform. Riad says, “Earlier this year we launched our ‘Simple Create’ campaign tool – which makes it easier for advertisers to experiment with a smaller budget and test out our automated targeting capabilities, as well as automated bidding strategies to make bidding a breeze for traffic, conversions and app installs objectives.”

So, what’s the verdict for SMEs? “Reddit is becoming a more interesting place for companies to advertise as, like podcasting, it is possible to target specific audiences on the platform,” says Jackson. “While Reddit is attracting more attention now, many companies haven’t taken the plunge, so there could be a first-mover advantage. However, there is a reason why many larger brands haven’t gone down this route – they have seen its challenges.”

Jackson concludes, “There is no doubt Reddit could be another cost-effective platform to advertise on at the moment, but you will likely have to take some risk with it to see results.”

Television advertising

When I say, “TV ad”, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? The Old Spice man? The Christmasy red Coca-Cola truck? The Dairy Milk drumming gorilla? Regardless, this shows the true power and ‘stickiness’ of TV advertising. Despite the rise of streaming services, over 57 million people watch an average of 2 hours and 26 minutes of linear TV a day. Jackson says, “TV advertising has the merit of impact – it gets more eye and brain attention if executed well, and can reach a wide audience, both of which are crucial.”

In years gone by, this advertising avenue was completely unattainable for your average SME, but this has changed. Sky introduced AdSmart in 2014 with a mission to make TV advertising more relevant to more brands. Sky’s proposition uses first- and third-party data (such as Experian) to isolate households and dynamically serve ads to 10 million homes and 24 million adults throughout the country. Instead of paying hundreds of thousands of pounds to advertise to the whole country, you can target a specific audience based on geography (postcode, catchment area), age and gender demographic, financial profile, purchasing history and more.

Overall, there are over a thousand different target options available to customise campaigns. With campaigns starting at £3,000, it’s an affordable arrow to add to your quiver. Jackson warns that to make the most of this advertising avenue, you need to keep in mind that your advert is shown alongside all other brands and TV content. He says, “Cheap and cheerful is unlikely to cut it unless your creative idea is unbelievably good. This is one issue that makes TV tough for a small business. It can be hard to swallow even the lower end of TV production costs, and if you have a poor ad, it’s a lot of money to waste. Perhaps it could be argued that television advertising is more for the ‘M’ and not the ‘S’ of SMEs – those with a more established and proven message.”

While this may not be a good option for all SMEs, David Sanderson, director of AdSmart Local & Development at Sky, is proud of the role his company is playing in growing businesses. He says, “We are expanding the breadth of SMEs that we work with through the successes existing clients are seeing. Many companies that have moved on from ‘start-ups’ to being ‘growth stage’ businesses are seeing how what we have to offer is the next step for developing their marketing mix and comms journey.”

Spotify

The Swedish streaming giant is one of the most influential companies of the 21st century. With a sizable catalogue of over 100 million songs, 5 million podcasts (including 100,000+ video podcasts), and 350,000 audiobooks, Spotify is reported to have 361 million ad-supported active monthly users and 226 million paying customers across the globe. “From 2018 to 2023,” says Sam Bevan, global head of SMB Advertising at Spotify, “there has been a 30% increase in daily time spent listening to digital audio across the UK population (source: eMarketer 2023) and brands are taking note.”

The number of SMEs advertising on Spotify is growing, according to Bevan, up almost 30% year-on-year. The company offers a self-serve ad manager, offering targeting tools to hone in on the people you’d like to see your ad. Targeting can be done by demographic (age, gender, location), interests and contexts (genres, music etc). Gen Z is the fastest-growing cohort in music and podcast listening on Spotify, according to Bevan: “In fact, 44% of Gen Zs in the UK say they trust ads more if they hear them on Spotify, rather than see them on social media.”

“The main advantages of Spotify advertising are about scale,” says Jackson, “you can get to a lot of ears and, because your audience can’t ‘switch off’, you are, in theory, almost guaranteed that audience.” This is where to true art and creativity of advertising is essential. Jackson continues, “Although one must be aware that Spotify is often used as ‘background’ to other tasks, so attention levels might be quite or very low. Therefore, it’s a key task for your creative idea to get noticed.”

Jackson also points out that Spotify is a passive medium with little chance to click on anything, so it may be best considered an avenue for brand awareness. He continues, “Overall, Spotify ads could be a nice complement to other, more actionable media. It seems to me a risky play, unless part of a bigger and wider strategy, and therefore it’s not very well suited for the smallest budgets.”

What do you need to keep in mind when advertising in 2024?

The man we’ve quoted throughout this article has founded an innovative ‘phone a friend’ marketing platform designed to provide business owners with objective feedback. Besides being a keen marketing enthusiast, Roger Jackson has worked in sales and marketing at Unilever, United Biscuits, and Kraft Foods in a career spanning almost four decades. He is quick to point out that a business’ choice of advertising media should be driven by its wider strategy.

Jackson points out three key considerations:

  1. Who and where?

Companies should ask themselves: “Who is my audience, and where are they most likely to be in the right mindset for me to advertise to them?” Certain channels have very specific characteristics which should affect not only how much money you put towards them, but also how you approach your messaging.

For example, LinkedIn is more business-like, Instagram is more visual, TikTok is more entertaining, and Reddit is more in-depth. Having said that, the priority should always be reaching as many prospects’ eyes as possible for the lowest cost per opportunity.

  1. Don’t get distracted, get creative

Don’t let decisions about media investment override the importance of your creative thinking. A good advertising concept will work three times, 10 times or even 100 times harder, no matter which channel you choose to put it on.

Too often we think using a cheap medium means it’s acceptable to put out poor-quality advertising (it’s cheap so why bother?). Of course, online media can be tackled using relatively cheap material, but that’s not an excuse not to give adequate thought to make your message interesting, different and entertaining.

  1. The importance of ‘when’

Businesses need to think about which stage of the buying process they expect their audience to be in. Some channels, such as television, lend themselves to very broad brand building, while others like social media are best utilised for longer-term engagement.

A business’ marketing task is a journey from first exposure to closure – it rarely happens in one go. This is one way that influencers help – they bring that crucial element of trust as well as “reach” and can therefore speed up the process.

The rules of marketing show that your first task is to get in front of as many people as possible, and the second is to reach them repeatedly, so they notice and remember your brand.

In summary

“The medium that gives you the most eyeballs for the lowest cost is probably the wisest choice,” says Jackson. “For SMEs, the rule is ‘test and learn’. Marketing is not a topic that has a great deal of certainty. Therefore, there are real merits to using media that make it easy to start small and measure outcomes (defining true, realistic measures is a crucial step!)”

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