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Why marketers see audio as a ‘strong format’ worth investing in next year

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Why marketers see audio as a ‘strong format’ worth investing in next year

At a time when advertising across many sectors is slowing down, podcast and audio investments might remain strong in the next year.

The audio business is continuing to grow on platforms, from live streams to exclusive shows, with varying success. Players from Spotify to Pandora owner SiriusXM saw ad revenue grow in the second quarter, whereas tech giants like Meta saw dips. Additionally, with Twitter and YouTube recently introducing podcast features, there are growing options for brands and creators to generate additional revenue and reach another demographic.

Experts say podcast listeners are a sticky audience, and the content offers more flexible ad formats. That might explain why the podcast advertising spend has grown from $806 million in 2018 globally to $2.6 billion this year, according to research firm WARC. In 2023, it is projected to reach nearly $2.8 billion globally, accounting for 26.8% of all online audio investments. By comparison, global ad investments in radio will drop an estimated 2.4% next year.

“Most people are running or driving or doing something while listening, and I don’t think they’re skipping through the ads,” said Nadia Gonzalez, CMO at Scibids. “Audio ads are a strong format at the moment.”

The variety in ad formats and devices to reach consumers is helping drive interest to this medium – from earbuds and speakers to smart home devices and car listening. The podcast format is effective, especially if you have an audience that likes a show or its creator, said James McDonald, director of data, intelligence and forecasting at WARC.

Many shows integrate host-read ads, for instance, which currently account for the largest share of ad spend in audio, according to WARC. One downside to host-read content is the fact that it’s not easily scalable. But to believers in the medium, that’s not an obstacle.

“Listeners have been found to not only understand but accept the value exchange of podcast advertising when it supports the content, and this can be a potent draw for brands as audiences often have a deep engagement and affinity with shows,” McDonald said.

And with more devices for listening available, more adoption will lead to newer audio ad formats, such as shoppable or interactive ads. Paul Kelly, chief revenue officer of A Million Ads, believes podcasting as an ad-supported medium is “currently under-monetized.”

“Adding to cart [or] saving to a bookmarking list creates an entirely net new advertising surface for those moments where we are not actively consuming media,” Kelly said.

In fact, independent agency Ocean Media recently started a new podcasting team as more of its clients expand into that media. CEO Jay Langan said streaming and podcasting are by far their biggest areas of growth now. Ocean Media worked with car platform Vroom, for instance, aiming for a younger, tech-savvy audience with new media channels. After investing in a mix of podcasts and talk shows, such as “First Things First” and “Conan O’Brien,” the brand achieved 10% more efficiency in its upper funnel metrics and 43% more efficiency in the lower funnel.

“We’re pretty bullish on just the continued growth around podcasts,” Langan told Digiday. “It seems like something that at first people weren’t adopting as quickly and… in the last couple years, a lot of the audience members have just gone through the roof.”

Jared Lake, head of media investments at Ocean Media, explained that brands are very interested in the “high degree of affinity audiences have with shows.” He said compared to other channels, listeners find podcasts have less ad clutter. Brands also find that podcast content offers more creative flexibility than other ad formats elsewhere.

“Given the number of ads in most shows, there is ample opportunity for brands to leverage that affinity,” Lake said. “Podcasts are an excellent environment to experiment with messaging and storytelling and not be constrained to a 30-second ad format. When you combine that flexibility with the affinity audiences have for the shows they love using with host-read ads, you have a winning formula.”

The other upside to podcasts is their potential to tap into a younger demographic as their consumption increases. In March 2022, Triton Digital and Edison Research found that Spotify was the No. 1 digital audio service for teens and adults in the U.S., with 35% of listeners age 12 and older using the service most. In turn, Spotify saw about a 40% increase in average podcast listening for Gen Z in Q1 2022 compared to the previous year.

This year, more than a quarter of digital audio ad revenues will come from podcasts, according to Adludio, a firm that produces mobile ads for agencies and brands. But Adludio CEO Paul Coggins contends that companies like Spotify still have “a long way to go” in convincing advertisers their platforms are effective at reaching younger people.

“More and more tech giants are offering podcasts, but the likes of YouTube still need to prepare holistic ad solutions within their platforms in order to cement the trust of privacy-conscious audiences,” Coggins said.

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FIFA 23 lets you turn off commentary pointing out how bad you are

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FIFA 23 lets you turn off commentary pointing out how bad you are
A player shouldering the ball



(Image credit: EA)

FIFA 23 might be the best game soccer game yet for terrible sports fans, as it lets you turn off commentary that criticizes your bad playing.

Now that the early access FIFA 23 release time has passed, EA Play and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers can hop into the game ahead of its full release. But as Eurogamer (opens in new tab) spotted, they’ll find a peculiar option waiting for them.

FIFA 23 includes a toggle to turn off ‘Critical Commentary’. The setting lets you silence all negative in-match comments made about your technique, so you can protect your precious ego even when you miss an open goal or commit an obvious foul. The more positive commentary won’t be affected. 

Spare your feelings

A player dribbling the ball in FIFA 23

(Image credit: EA)

The feature looks tailored toward children and new players, who don’t want to have their confidence wrecked within mere minutes of picking up the controller. But even experienced players who just so happen to be terrible at the game might benefit.

It’s not perfect, though. According to Eurogamer, the feature didn’t seem to work during a FIFA Ultimate Team Division Rivals match, with critical comments slipping through the filter. Still, who hasn’t benefited from a light grilling every now and then?

Polite commentary isn’t the only new addition in FIFA 23. It’s the first game in the series to include women’s club football teams, and fancy overhauled animations that take advantage of the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S’s new-gen hardware. EA will be hoping to end on a high, as FIFA 23 will be the last of its soccer games to release with the official FIFA licence.

If disabling critical commentary doesn’t improve your soccer skills, maybe building a squad of Marvel superheroes will. Although you might not do much better with Ted Lasso wandering the pitch.

FIFA 23 is set to fully release this Friday, September 30.

Callum is TechRadar Gaming’s News Writer. You’ll find him whipping up stories about all the latest happenings in the gaming world, as well as penning the odd feature and review. Before coming to TechRadar, he wrote freelance for various sites, including Clash, The Telegraph, and Gamesindustry.biz, and worked as a Staff Writer at Wargamer. Strategy games and RPGs are his bread and butter, but he’ll eat anything that spins a captivating narrative. He also loves tabletop games, and will happily chew your ear off about TTRPGs and board games. 

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Google Pixel 7 price leak suggests Google is totally out of touch

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Google Pixel 7 price leak suggests Google is totally out of touch
The backs of the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro



(Image credit: Google)

We’re starting to hear more and more Google Pixel 7 leaks, with the launch of the phone just a week away, but tech fans might be getting a lot of déjà vu, with the leaks all listing near-identical specs to what we heard about the Pixel 6 a year ago.

It sounds like the new phones – a successor to the Pixel 6 Pro is also expected – could be very similar to their 2021 predecessors. And a new price leak has suggested that the phones’ costs could be the same too, as a Twitter user spotted the Pixel 7 briefly listed on Amazon (before being promptly taken down, of course).

Google pixel 7 on Amazon US. $599.99.It is still showing up in search cache but the listing gives an error if you click on it. We have the B0 number to keep track of though!#teampixel pic.twitter.com/w5Z09D28YESeptember 27, 2022

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According to these listings, the Pixel 7 will cost $599 while the Pixel 7 Pro will cost $899, both of which are identical to the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro starting prices. The leak doesn’t include any other region prices, but in the UK the current models cost £599 and £849, while in Australia they went for AU$999 and AU$1,299.

So it sounds like Google is planning on retaining the same prices for its new phones as it sold the old ones for, a move which doesn’t make much sense.


Analysis: same price, new world

Google’s choice to keep the same price points is a little curious when you consider that the specs leaks suggest these phones are virtually unchanged from their predecessors. You’re buying year-old tech for the same price as before.

Do bear in mind that the price of tech generally lowers over time, so you can readily pick up a cheaper Pixel 6 or 6 Pro right now, and after the launch of the new ones, the older models will very likely get even cheaper.

But there’s another key factor to consider in the price: $599 might be the same number in 2022 as it was in 2021, but with the changing global climate, like wars and flailing currencies and cost of living crises, it’s a very different amount of money.

Some people just won’t be willing to shell out the amount this year, that they may have been able to last year. But this speaks to a wider issue in consumer tech.

Google isn’t the only tech company to completely neglect the challenging global climate when pricing its gadgets: Samsung is still releasing super-pricey folding phones, and the iPhone 14 is, for some incomprehensible reason, even pricier than the iPhone 13 in some regions. 

Too few brands are actually catering to the tough economic times many are facing right now, with companies increasing the price of their premium offerings to counter rising costs, instead of just designing more affordable alternatives to flagships.

These high and rising prices suggest that companies are totally out of touch with their buyers, and don’t understand the economic hardship troubling many.

We’ll have to reach a breaking point sooner or later, either with brands finally clueing into the fact that they need to release cheaper phones, or with customers voting with their wallets by sticking to second-hand or refurbished devices. But until then, you can buy the best cheap phones to show that cost is important to you.

Tom’s role in the TechRadar team is to specialize in phones and tablets, but he also takes on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working in TechRadar freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. Outside of TechRadar he works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.

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DisplayMate awards the “Best Smartphone Display” title to the iPhone 14 Pro Max

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DisplayMate awards the “Best Smartphone Display” title to the iPhone 14 Pro Max

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