Video, Meet the New Audio Star: Clubhouse
By Claire Russell, Head of Media, Fitzco

Nothing foreshadows success for a new digital technology better than when Facebook decides to purchase it outright (Instagram) or makes its own version.

Clubhouse, a new invite-only “drop-in audio chat” app available on iOS, is gaining momentum. Launched in March 2020, Clubhouse is the latest platform making brand marketers take notice of the power of audio as a communication channel.

Radio (and more broadly, audio) has been around since the late 1800s and continues to evolve with the emergence of Bluetooth-enabled cars, smart speakers, growing and ubiquitous mobile-device usage, and investments from players like Apple, Spotify and many others. The emergence of these digital formats has given audio another day in the sun.

It has a few distinct advantages. According to Nielsen, radio has a high audience reach at 88.6% and relatively high time spent at 13.1 hours per week, even with declines over the past decade. The creative opportunity is unique, the lead time is manageable, and production costs are low. Some may call audio channels limited because many lack accompanying visuals. But many top brands and agencies are taking the “theater of the mind” challenge head-on and finding ways to articulate their creative ideas through audio-only. And with digital formats growing, addressability and measurement are better as well.

One notable distinction is that radio is known for its organically local element. Ads are often voiced by trusted local announcers and appear in local segments, which is appealing for advertisers with brick-and-mortar locations or other local-market priorities. You can still find that a bit as stations work to transition these shows to digital on-demand formats. However, the growth of audio options like podcasts dilute the local advantages; you can scale but you sacrifice some of the community feel.

Challenges aside, growing listenership is pushing advertisers and partners to develop this space at warp speed. You see that with iHeartMedia Inc., which is in the process of acquiring Triton Digital in an effort to expand its audio-streaming and broadcast-radio advertising capabilities and reach.

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