Digital Audio has seen a meteoric rise in adoption, engagement, and groundbreaking innovations over the last few years that has propelled the medium to the forefront of mainstream media attention. While audio has become a safe haven for younger generations to escape the visual overload of other mediums, it has also become a feeding ground for advertising and investment dollars to continue reaching new forms of engagement and audience connection.
The past several years of digital audio development have been heavily targeted towards publisher tools and measurement technologies. These technologies have advanced content strategies and progressed the medium to new heights of audience adoption, understanding, and engagement. But as we saw in the 2022 Year In Review, there has been a very visible shift of focus towards the advancement of advertising technology and the use of AI to better understand, predict, and optimize advertising and publishing dollars in the world of audio. In this article, we’ll outline our predictions for what’s to come in new audio technologies and industry trends over the next 12 months. We will cover things like what the age of AI can do for media intelligence, new content and ad formats that span beyond traditional podcasting, and supporting audio campaigns at scale with precise targeting and powerful delivery.
Audio Intelligence and Media Intelligence
2023 has been widely coined as the beginning of the “age of artificial intelligence (AI)”. Experts have predicted that AI will have a transformative impact on humanity and society on all levels and across industries. This prediction is very relevant for 2023 innovations in the world of media, and specifically, audio. If we, at Backtracks, were to choose an umbrella term for our 2023 predictions in digital audio, it would be “media intelligence”.
Media intelligence is the collection, analysis, and reporting of extended sets of data and information across multiple media channels and data sources for the understanding of content and consumption behavior. This data can be used to power entire content production, content analysis, and marketing systems to allow for strategic creation and activation of data-driven audiences and cross-channel campaigns with the benefit of real-time granular behavior and performance data. This level of intelligence will open up entirely new possibilities for media strategies that were previously not believed to be possible.
Imagine knowing what advertising or content in audio, video, or text is truly about based on what is actually said. Contextually relevant matches of ads and content may be provided to users in a way that makes sense vs. random content and random ads. Think of media Intelligence as the ability to understand the meaning and context of what’s said in audio and video combined with audience consumption data at scale. Let’s explore what those possibilities may look like in 2023.
One of the most desired capabilities in audio advertising technologies has been the possibility of modeled audiences, where companies can use layers of data sets to accurately create and activate audiences to fit their specific campaign goals and audience specs. Media intelligence technologies open the door for different advertising capabilities, such as contextual and predictive audience targeting. This allows advertisers to reach audiences based on a multitude of different variables including mapped interests across millions of content sets, lifestyle, habits, behavior, and more.
As new ad capabilities are becoming available, brand safety and integrity are becoming more and more crucial in consideration. We expect 2023 to see a very strong focus of intent on brand identity alignment across audio advertisers and publishers. In that same vein, media monitoring will reach new heights with the use of more developed intelligence tools and speech-to-text capabilities that will allow for much deeper data insights and extended reach of monitoring across multiple media channels and platforms. These possibilities will broaden the level of audio insight and understanding that brands and companies can now have access to about their own campaigns, outside image, and third party opinions. Brands (advertisers, publishers, platforms, etc.) will be able to monitor, match, and exclude content that does not meet their particular brand safety guidelines and standards.
Voice Simulation and Narration Technologies
Another form of audio AI that has made waves in the media world lately has been the capabilities of voice cloning, voice simulation, and deep fakes of someone’s voice. These technologies can not only manipulate audio, but actually create and simulate a human’s voice in different contexts using as little as two sentences of audio data. Details such as different tones, accents, speech speed, and more are now achievable and seamlessly produced with the use of these AI technologies.
Although this technology does bring up privacy concerns around the idea of audio deep fakes, it also breaks down barriers to entry in different industries that were not previously possible. For example, this allows smaller creators and publishers to enter the world of audiobooks without the overhead costs and time traditionally associated with that medium. Another example of lower barriers to entry is an additional channel of accessibility for text-based publications. Publishers can now convert text to speech with a clear and accurate voice simulation to allow for audio consumption and wider distribution of their content.
All of these new capabilities being made possible by media intelligence technologies will naturally have an extended impact on the capabilities and availability of ad marketplaces for audio advertising. The increased accuracy of contextual and predictive targeting, partnered with the capabilities around modeled audiences and accurate audience mapping will allow advertisers to reach an unprecedented level of detail in their targeting strategies. All of that coupled with the deep intelligence data that can be pulled regarding performance measurement of ad campaigns at scale and direct conversion tracking across media channels, will bring audio to the same level as other media formats and simultaneously allow for deeper audio insights within other media formats as well, such as video.
With greater insights and deeper intelligence in the discovery, engagement and monetization of audio, comes the wider adoption of programmatic and dynamic ad capabilities. Those capabilities will further fuel the wider scale of audio usage in media strategies and campaigns across the board. With that, we will continue to see ad dollars and content dollars optimized to reach their full potential in performance and return on investment.
Trends in Progress
In addition to the predictions laid out above, we also have our eyes on two additional trends in audio to watch out for this year.
Immersive Audio Experiences (AR, VR)
Another area of growth in digital audio is likely to be in the field of immersive audio. With the popularity of virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR) on the rise, we can expect to see more audio content created specifically for these platforms. This could include things like 3D soundscapes for VR games and movies, or spatial audio for AR experiences.
Audio Codec Improvements
Another trend to watch is the development of advanced audio codecs that allow for high-quality audio to be streamed even on low-bandwidth connections. These codecs will be a game changer for people who live in areas with poor internet connectivity or speed, and will allow them to enjoy high-quality audio content without interruption.
Explore Backtracks Today!
Backtracks is continuing to build, optimize and release new products and platform capabilities that are shaping the future of audio and media intelligence. We invite you to explore Backtracks today to see how our media intelligence and measurement technologies can help you realize a deeper level of understanding in your media content, advertising strategies, and audience behaviors.