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Spotify’s Rakesh Patel asks what the future looks like for audio innovation and what marketers can do right now

By Rakesh Patel, head of sales UK and pan-EMEA at Spotify

Audio is the most innovative place an advertiser can be right now. Amid a transformative landscape, audio proves itself to be a formidable force in the space through its growing consumption, innovation and impact.

This is because audio provides creative opportunities for marketers that other mediums cannot. It can be taken anywhere with very little equipment and requirements, while audio ads can be created easily and efficiently outside of a studio, while still offering high-quality production and distribution.

Audio is the medium for 2020 and beyond. This has been accelerated by recent events, and I believe the momentum is just getting started.

Today, audio is present in our lives in more ways than we think. Smart speakers, cars and Bluetooth-powered wearables all support that growth. Further, now more than ever, the content itself is seeing an extraordinary increase in development with more music and podcasts (On Purpose with Jay Shetty is my top pick of the moment) being released by the minute. There truly is something for everyone. New technology and approaches also mean that the opportunity to discover new audio content and personalise listening is engaging audiences and keeping them hooked through the likes of Discover Weekly on Spotify, Daily Mixes, Release Radar, Your Daily Podcasts and much, much more.

With this in mind it is unquestionable that audio will continue to be a dominant force in the marketing space. And as its reach expands, we have more opportunity for relevant and timely advertising to benefit the customer and the advertiser. To that point and looking to the future, we expect to see programmatic audio advertising continue its rise. This approach allows advertisers to set up their own target markets on the platform and get the reach they are looking for, while the listener gets served ads that are more relevant and ideally more impactful. Investments in self-serve platforms, like our own Ad Studio, will play an important role here, too.

We can also find further clues about the future of the audio industry by looking back at the early days of video. There it was the evolution of the screen, followed by smart screens across all devices. This allowed new video experiences like Netflix and YouTube to emerge, introducing on-demand and personalised viewing experience. The result was the rise of digital video consumption – now 27 per cent of all watch time – but it took time for video monetisation to catch up. Ads went from forced to skippable and personable; broad delivery to narrow targeting; unmeasurable to measurable.

What quickly followed was an industry-wide investment in tools and resources that helped brands easily (and quickly) to create beautiful and effective video assets, made just for that platform. And now, today, digital video generates 34 per cent of all video ad revenue.

The same thing is happening in audio: consumption is rising and ad revenue is ticking up – and we are driving this innovation in streaming and digital audio.  Next is monetisation. We’re actively investing in a suite of audio creative tools, services and resources that will make it easier than ever to build for our platform – and native audio experiences that can only be found on Spotify. And for me, that’s the future.