- - News

10 Advertising Myths About Streaming Audio Debunked

Streaming Audio Myths


  • Even in a pandemic, streaming audio adoption is pervasive and growing
  • Streaming audio campaigns can be highly targeted based on demographics and listening behaviors
  • You can now correlate audio campaign attribution with listener behavior similarly to how you would with a display or social media ad

Most people who stream are just kids looking to get their music for free. People who stream free content aren’t going to go out and spend any money, and it’s impossible to track that anyway, right?

For some reason or another, ideas like these persist about streaming audio. We’ll delve into the current audio landscape to dispel a few myths about streaming and show why brands should consider streaming audio as an integral part of their marketing approach. 

Myth No. 1: Streaming is just a fad

Audio streaming isn’t going anywhere. A year-end report from the RIAA showed revenues from streaming services grew nearly 20% in 2019 to $8.8 billion, which accounted for 79.5% of all recorded music revenues.

Another report shows streaming is growing even during the pandemic, up from 11% in 2014.

Myth No. 2: Streaming doesn’t generate revenue

How can a free service make any money? The same way TV used to: advertising.

By selling premium subscriptions as well as ad space, music streaming took in $26 billion worldwide in 2019. Music streaming is expected to grow to $46.9 billion by 2027, at a compound annual growth rate of 7.4%.

Myth No. 3: No one is streaming audio because of the pandemic

In terms of the COVID-19 pandemic, it hasn’t slowed down the rising popularity of audio streaming. In the last two weeks of March 2020, about a quarter of people added at least one new subscription service, and 38% of that group added a new music subscription service, according to MRC Data and Nielsen Music.

Myth No. 4: Remote workers don’t listen to streaming audio

Without driving an hour through traffic every morning and afternoon, who is still listening to music? Plenty of people, it turns out.

People may be working more remotely now, but they’re still looking for background noise to fill the space and the human connection you feel when you hear another person’s voice — and they’re getting that in part through streaming. Even as people were driving less, their audio activity rose higher by 6.2% from March 13 to July 2 compared with the same period a year ago, according to Nielsen.

Year-on-year, audio consumption is up 9.4% overall, according to Nielsen. And on-demand audio streaming grew by 13.8%, keeping year-to-date growth at 16.2%.

Myth No. 5: People are mostly streaming the news

It isn’t just news or talk programming that’s up. According to Nielsen data from August, 40% of remote workers are streaming music daily. Another 35% are streaming music at least once a week.

Myth no. 6: People only listen to new music

When faced with troubling times, perhaps we turn toward the familiar. People are listening to more catalog music this year (music older than 18 months), which saw a small increase from 62.5% in the first half of 2019 to 63.1% in 2020, according to Nielsen.

Myth no. 7: Only younger audiences stream audio

While people 55 and older listen to streaming audio less than younger groups, they’re the age group that has seen the biggest percentage increase in audio streaming. Marketing Charts reports that age group went from 33% streaming audio in 2018 to 40% in 2019.

Myth no. 8: You can’t target listeners by genre or audience

Compared with traditional broadcast, streaming audio actually lets you target listeners much more granularly. By working with an agency that specializes in streaming audio, you can target the exact audience you’re looking for.

Advertisers can target listeners based on the demographics of users who sign up for streaming services. A wine company looking to target women ages 25-39 will have an easy time hitting those exact demographics, compared with traditional radio.

Perhaps more interestingly, advertisers can target specific playlists, stations, artists and by other metrics to really get granular. For example, a weight-loss app startup can target users who are listening to workout music mixes.

Myth no. 9: Streaming audio is only for direct-to-consumer, eCommerce brands

Although the kind of direct-to-consumer companies you might see advertising on Instagram are a natural fit for streaming audio, so are companies of all stripes and sizes. At Veritone One, we’ve worked with smaller startups and large pharmaceutical companies alike and have been able to deliver highly effective campaigns to achieve brand lift as well as direct response.

Myth No. 10: You can’t directly attribute consumer behavior to streaming audio ads

This is perhaps the biggest myth of all when it comes to streaming audio. Because of innovations with attribution, we can now track commercial behavior of streaming audio listeners better than ever before.

Using an AI-enabled attribution solution, an agency that specializes in streaming audio can better track listener behavior and show the effectiveness of a client’s advertisements. In practice, it puts streaming audio direct response results closer to that of other digital media, such as display or social, where we can link ad exposures to conversions and revenue across multiple devices.

To that point, we’re able to accurately test the effectiveness of these campaigns and scale as needed. If our previous example of a health and fitness app is targeting women ages 18-35 on one hand and targeting all people who listen to workout mixes on the other, but sees better success with the latter approach, the client can allocate more dollars toward capturing workout mix listeners.

At Veritone One, we work to select the best channels for our clients’ message and plan media buys accordingly, from digital to streaming audio and podcasts to terrestrial radio and native YouTube. Learn more about our full suite of services here.

Further Reading

Streaming Audio Advertising Demystified

Taking Your Podcast Campaign to New Levels with Contextual Ad Targeting

The First Podcast Ad, Ever

Recapping the Top Podcast Industry Changes of 2019

Seven Takeaways from the IAB and PwC Annual Podcast Advertising Revenue Report

Photo by Fixelgraphy on Unsplash