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Making a noise, by DMS’s Sally Makarem and Anghami’s Joubran Abdul Khalek

DMS’s Sally Makarem and Anghami’s Joubran Abdul Khalek explain how new thinking and technology are driving audio as a marketing medium.

Frequently accompanied by the phrase “the power of” (and for a good reason), audio is undeniably the next big thing in the media industry worldwide. The digital audio boom in the MENA region – mainly driven by the adoption of music streaming, podcasts, live radio, live concerts, social audio chatting and the huge increase in smartphone penetration rates – has put audio on the map. 

Globally, digital audio had been steadily growing before it witnessed a massive acceleration due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. With the radical changes, Covid imposed on our daily lives, both users and brands have been learning how to leverage the power of audio. According to Emarketer, digital audio ad spend is expected to reach $5.3bn by 2023 in the US alone, and the daily average time spent on digital audio is expected to reach 101.51 minutes.

MENA has also been witnessing this digital audio boom from 2012 when Anghami (the leading music streaming service) introduced music streaming to the region. This has led to a streaming revolution that accentuated the power of audio. The more users streamed, the more brands started seeing value in audio as a medium. A recent report from Ipsos showed that 50 per cent of music app users stream music spending from three to five hours daily. 

Power play

Digital audio utilises technological advancements in personalisation, targeting, real-time reach and measurement – unlocking a wide range of innovative experiences to both users and brands. 

One can look at audio as a modern elevator pitch between the brand and the consumer, in an extremely personal environment.

Sally Makarem, managing director, DMS UAE, says: “We do know the value that audio advertising delivers on. Audio is personal, it is a great form of one-to-one conversation with your customer based on mood, and it effectively creates an emotional connection with brands. Targeting opportunities do not stop there; the nature of streaming platforms allows for demographic, psychographic, geographic, and behavioural segmentation as well. Audio is measurable; we launched more than 20 brand lift studies in 2020 and we have seen the impact on media KPIs such as awareness, brand recall, consideration and footfall. It is an innovative medium: in 2020 Anghami launched ‘immersive audio’, a sound design technique that puts the listener at the heart of the action. It transports users to places, delivering on brand experiences all through the power of sound. In simple terms, it is virtual sound reality.”

Audio considerations 

According to Joubran Abdul Khalek, Anghami’s newly appointed head of sales, “Brands have to adopt an audio-centric approach to start with. This isn’t as alien as one would think, as the industry has already moved from text to visual and from visual to video, which makes audio the next obvious evolution.

“Planning for an audio campaign is quite simple. There are three main things to keep top of mind, which are: the ad itself, the context and measurement.

“When it comes to the ad, there are three core elements: the script, which is the main campaign message; the tone of voice, which is delivered through the voice-over talent recording the ad; and, finally, the background music, which sets the tone and makes sure the audio ad is in harmony with its context and is relevant to the target audience.”

Maximising impact 

Anghami’s Joubran Abdul Khalek says: “Traditionally, audio was mainly a radio format. Today, and with the digital boom, audio has truly earned its seat in the media mix. Hence why brands should be complementing radio with digital audio by using an audio-neutral planning (ANP) approach. This will allow brands to get the best of both worlds: radio audience reach and digital audio targeting and measurement capabilities while overlaying the time aspect to have a holistic strategy. We have been seeing a meteoric rise in streaming on the go in the car, where more and more users are hooking up their phones to car play. This where ANP comes to life.”

DMS Sally Makarem concludes: “The audio scene is constantly evolving in MENA. With more global players in the market and the investments shaping local brands, such as Anghami – The first Arab tech company to be listed on NASDAQ – we will be witnessing a beautiful audio revolution. So, will digital audio become the next king?”