Audio, our constant companion


As we WFH and observe social distancing and social isolation, digital audio consumption has become more central to all of our lives. Audio has been identified as one of the key digital growth drivers with predictions that the European digital audio market will grow to €1.5 m by 2023. Infographic is available here and a recording and longer deck is here.

Our guest Blogger, Carole O’Dwyer, Sales Director for Spotify Ireland, has shared how Audio can be our constant companion in these strange times we’re living through and the opportunity this presents our Irish advertising Industry.

We’re full time working from home for over a week now, the world is changing as we grow accustomed to life in isolation and practice social distancing. Some people are struggling a bit more than others, I think this has pushed Madonna over the edge! I grew up in the country so I know isolation and frankly as I get older I very much enjoy spending time by myself. The one thing I always have by my side however is music; my constant companion, the friend I always love to spend time with and never tire of.

Multiple studies have shown that people use music to regulate their moods and emotions more than any other purpose. Music has the unique power to evoke emotions and memories, it is the closest we have to a time machine. A single song can transport you back in time and revive a vivid memory and feeling. It is pure magic, it consistently comes out on top of things people can’t live without. It entertains, it comforts, it distracts and amplifies moments. Audio is personal and intimate, we have formed close relationships with our favourite artists and podcast hosts. We see that those who listen to the many personalised Spotify playlists are listening for longer and tend to be more hands off, meaning they skip and are on-screen less. The rise of podcasts and popularity of the hosts is another example of how intimate Audio is, people spend hours listening to their thoughts and opinions and now pay good money to attend live recordings. In the digital age podcast hosts have emerged as the most authentic influencers.

Audio is arguably more important now that ever, it is a terribly worrying historic moment we’re currently living through. Social media and the news can be very overwhelming, in the last week alone my screentime has increased significantly and I’m feeling the worse for it. 56% of Gen Z and Millennials agree that audio offers them a welcomed escape from too much visual stimulation. The good news for advertisers is that there are more opportunities than ever to reach users in these moments. As Ireland’s workforce set up their new home office and form new habits, streams have grown and shifted towards desktop and connected devices. Audio’s ubiquity means it can go wherever you’re going (or staying) and fills in the screenless gaps helping advertisers reach these highly engaged listeners.

In the last week the importance of audio is clear to see. We all saw the heart warming videos from Italy showing neighbours singing, reaching out to connect and comfort each other. Some A-list celebs sang Imagine together and Rita Wilson asked her Twitter followers to help build a Spotify playlist for herself and husband Tom Hanks to enjoy in quarantine. Music brings the world together, it helps us connect and transcends language barriers and borders. With so much false information being circulated in texts and on social, podcasts from trusted sources are helping people to educate themselves on the facts and developments around the world.

As a member of IAB Ireland’s Mobile & Audio Council, I was involved last year in commissioning of Red C Research to conduct Research into the Digital Audio Opportunity in Ireland, seeking to establish the usage of Digital Audio in Ireland across demographics, the channels used, time spent listening, devices used, time of day listening, content, activities whilst listening etc. The research showed how ubiquitous digital audio is, with 2 in 3 of the population listening to Digital Audio, equating to 2.3m people. We had planned to track these findings and go into field again now, however we have delayed this given the Covid-19 pandemic. We’re ready to go once we return to normal habits and look forward to sharing that with you then!

In conclusion, Ireland loves audio and there is something for everyone as technology has improved variety and access, we’re huge consumers of music, podcasts, talk radio and audiobooks. Audio is a powerful, important, comforting force in our lives, our constant companion and friend we can rely on to always be there.

Carole O’Dwyer is Spotify Ireland’s Sales Director and a member of IAB Ireland’s Mobile & Audio Council