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Audio & Influencer Advertiser’s Top Five Challenges and Opportunities During COVID-19


We’re well into month two of the world shut down and we’re certainly seeing some trends emergeboth in terms of validated research now available for March and April, and with our agency performance data. Here are five opportunities and points to consider which might help if you’re considering changes to your media or messaging strategy.

1. Streaming Audio Listening is Up

As demonstrated by data from Nielsen’s March 2020 Audio Client webinar, AM/FM streaming is up significantly as people look to new and flexible consumption sources to get their radio content. The coupling effect of fewer advertisers and increased inventory means rates are opportunistic. This is a great time to capitalize on the opportunity and increase market share for advertisers with messaging that makes sense right now.

So if your brand message can speak to: 1) How it can assist or 2) Re-emphasize how you are providing for consumers without disruption during this time, then do not miss the opportunity to grow your reach and expand your audience through streaming audio.

2. YouTube Viewing Jumped

As an agency, we negotiate YouTube influencer advertising based on flat-rate pricing so any increase in views goes to the advertiser’s bottom line. As the world turns to YouTube for answers to new problems like, “how to work from home,” “how to entertain my kids while under quarantine,” and “how to set up a standing desk,” back episodes are seeing incredible lift. This means seriously decreased CPMs for our advertisers and significant return on ad spend (ROAS) gains.

If you’ve been considering strategic investments with popular YouTube influencers, now is certainly an opportunistic time to do so. As always, we will partner with you to ensure your message is organic and authentic in this medium.

3. Many Broadcast Formats and Podcast Genres Have Increased Listeners and Downloads 

Anything news and talkbe it in podcasts, on the radio, on YouTube, or streamingis seeing a large increase in audience.  As a performance audio advertising agency, we have always targeted active listening environments for high engagement, regardless of how those formats ‘rank’ against more passive listening environments (with sometimes larger audiences). So now, at a time when consumers’ demand for information is at an all-time high, these channels are providing advertisers with an increased investment opportunity and even more efficient rates of return. 

As shown by the Neilsen study summarized by Westwood One and Podtrac data below, news and talk radio have seen steep gains in reach and audience growth year-to-date and since March 2020.

Podtrac Weekly Download Report

4. Trust and Authenticity are the Keys

Now more than ever people are turning to trusted voices for truth and information; or simply for escape and normalcy during these quickly-changing news cycles and rapid-fire life-altering announcements.  

Advertisers can significantly benefit from being endorsed by trusted voices when they have found the right fit: Positioning their brand carefully and authentically. For example, Hello Fresh has had a significant impact on My Favorite Murder host, Georgia Hardstark’s home life during the lockdown.

This real-life connection to the brand cannot be manufactured. And shouldn’t be.

Authenticity. Connecting your brand story with the host’s personality, and with the listening audience, has never been more important for marketers. Finding this fit can yield incredible results, both for brand awareness and return on ad spend. Even for existing relationships, connecting with talent over the phone to make sure you’re both on the same page regarding tone and message points is vital in developing the most successful ad reads. 

As the survey results above from Nielsen outline, it’s the host that listeners are loyal to. The rapport and trust that is built between the host and their audiences over time is what loyal audiences count on and tune back in for, day after day.   

5. Market Share in a Time of Crisis 

It’s important to understand the opportunity and threats with regard to market share. As the Westwood One slide summarizes below, advertisers who increase ad spend by about 20% during a crisis can see up to 4.5 times market share growth compared with brands that decrease ad spend. 

Westwood One

We saw this during and after the 2008 crisis. Advertisers who maintained or increased advertising throughout the crisis reaped long-term advertising partnership and significant brand lift. 

As a performance agency, we will always let data dictate investment and optimization, but if you can sustain a presence now, it will no doubt impact your bottom line in the long run. Additionally, and from a talent-relationship perspective, sticking by hosts in times of crisis is invaluable for your brand’s long term relationship, on both personal and professional levels. 


In summary, it’s imperative that advertisers continue to meet audiences when they are highly engaged and with authenticity. In some cases, this might mean shifting your plan around a littleor a lot. While it is hard to think beyond the immediate situation, we must not lose sight of the long-term performance advertising strategy. Those who are able to refine messaging and stay in front of audiences through this time, especially with higher reach and engagement rates than normal, will continue to see strong performance.

Your Veritone One executive, strategic, and account teams are here and ready to support you. Contact us