As media planners look to the new year, many find themselves juggling resources, budgets, and channels. Planning for the future is no small task, but there’s a wealth of developments to get excited about in 2024. 

The American economy appears to be headed for a soft landing in 2024—with modest growth anticipated in Q1. Meanwhile, opportunities are emerging in many corners of the digital advertising industry, including in audio and video channels where brands can access new ways to build brand and reputation loyalty. 

In anticipation of new beginnings, we assessed the latest research and marketing trends and polled industry experts to create a list of what marketers are focusing on in the new year. These insights provide a peek into the future of audio and ideas for how brands can build impactful ads that connect with the right audiences. 

Audio continues its ascent

Listener growth is increasing for all audio formats, and in 2024, audiences will be bigger than ever. Insider Intelligence projects that digital audio will claim 2 hours and 20 minutes daily from U.S. listeners—that’s more than Netflix (1:02). Thanks to the unique advantages of the medium and how it works as part of an omnichannel strategy, audio will claim more ad dollars and produce solid ROI for investors in 2024.  

“All research indicates the power of audio, the deep connections created between content and their audiences,” says Mainardo de Nardis, ARM board member and all-around marketing guru. He’s not the only one who is bullish on audio in the new year. “Audio has evolved,” says David Cohn, Westwood One’s Senior Vice President of Sales & Digital Partnerships. “It’s a $2 billion business—and it’s on track to keep growing.” 

Despite this tremendous growth, many brands have thus far failed to capitalize on the channel’s momentum. “Consumers spend over 30% of their day engaging with audio, yet marketers are spending under 10% of their budgets,” observes Teresa Elliott, Chief Revenue Officer at ARM. “Now is the time for brands to get involved. Your target audience is listening. Can they hear you?”

Video takes its place as audio’s companion

Video podcasting, or vodcasting, is changing the face of audio-visual content, adding distinct visual appeal to audio-based content while expanding consumption channels. In essence, a vodcast is a podcast that is filmed and distributed via channels like YouTube. Vodcasts offer a trusted and effective advertising option for brands to add to their audio strategy, and vodcasting grows in popularity in 2024, we expect to see greater advertising investment. 

Elliott notes that “more people are saying they are ‘watching’ their podcasts than ‘listening’ to them for the first time ever.” With the growth of this medium, new opportunities to connect with audiences and showcase products will emerge. Jordan Bick, Vice President of DTC Podcasting Sales at SiriusXM is also bullish on vodcasting.  “Video is a trusted and proven companion along for the audio ride,” he notes. Cohn also points out, “Brands can get a great audio piece plus have video as an extension, which will resonate with brands and agencies because they’re so used to buying video. Selling brands an extension into YouTube is becoming more and more popular. It’s still evolving and it's getting bigger and bigger.”

Spotify has already confirmed there are more than 100,000 vodcasts on the platform, and in some countries, they represent more than 50% of total podcast consumption. In 2024, there will be continued adoption of this dynamic format. As the channel gains prominence, there’s never been a better time to test the waters and capitalize on its potential to support your brand. 

A mass migration from linear

In 2024, linear TV advertising will continue to shrink. Linear was once the default advertising tactic, yet as options proliferated, advertising channels with more growth and better ROI have taken ad dollars from linear. That trend will continue into 2024. While linear TV ad prices become more expensive, viewership will decline, further driving brands away from linear TV. The 2024 presidential election and Paris Summer Olympics may provide a temporary boon to linear TV, but on the whole, brands will continue to migrate to more effective ad channels like audio in the new year.  

“Our Chief Insights Officer likes to say TV is on death’s door. I think that's a little extreme, but we’re certainly seeing lots of deterioration there,” says Cohn. While a post-mortem may be immature, all signs point to its devaluation. “With declining ad-supported viewing hours, advertisers have to find reach elsewhere, and audio is ready to play a bigger role,” de Nardis observes. 

Diversity grows in podcasting

Demographics of podcast listeners generally match the demographics of the United States,  In recent years—and continuing into 2024—listening options and advertising will finally match that diversity. In addition to more racially diverse creators and culturally expansive topics, we’re seeing growth in multiple sectors and creator types such as athletes. This growing diversity is a much-needed aspect of the medium’s maturation. 

“Around three years ago, we recognized that there was a very real underrepresentation problem in podcasting,” says Will Pearson, President, iHeart Podcasts at iHeartMedia. “It's an ongoing effort to make sure we are bringing in diverse talent, production teams, and listeners. It’s really exciting knowing that more people are coming in as we create new content for broader audiences. When you look at different demographics from ethnicity and community standpoints, you see audiences like Black podcast listeners and Hispanic podcast listeners outpacing almost every other group when it comes to podcast listening, and certainly outperforming the population as a whole.”

This more expansive, inclusive audio environment is made possible in part by advertisers funding more creators from all backgrounds. “Thanks to improvements in programmatic audio, brands can reach diverse creators and their audiences better than ever. I believe this will open the door for even more endorsement deals as brands continue to support these voices with their advertising dollars,” Elliott observes. 

Audio’s flexibility wins ad dollars

Audio—whether streaming, podcasts, or radio—has full-funnel power. Its penetration into the daily routine of a significant percentage of Americans allows brands to connect with the right demographics and create brand affinity and recognition without being intrusive. In addition, audio ads are often quick to launch and easy to optimize. Compared to other channels, audio’s flexibility will contribute to its meteoric rise. 

“In audio, you can pivot. It doesn’t take much,” Cohn says. “Making ads is relatively simple. We change the copy, we get the voices right. After a week or two of research, we can pivot and not break the bank for brands. That is an important lever to pull with big brands and is one of the things that makes what we do exciting and efficient. 

Capitalize on 2024 trends

The ad industry is on track for exciting changes in 2024, and the importance of audio advertising will become undeniable. In a media landscape that changes almost daily, audio’s adaptability and unique ability to connect with people in intimate, tuned-in moments will continue to set it apart from other channels. 

At ARM, we couldn’t be more excited to continue this work. After more than 25 years at the forefront of audio advertising, we’ve seen lots of changes in the industry—and we believe 2024 will be a landmark year. Our audio campaigns have propelled savvy brands like AllBirds, Grammarly, and more, and they can do the same for your brand. We’re here to support your audio success every step of the way. 

Let’s start the new year together. Contact us to get started.