John McGee: ‘Digital audio’s growth comes at a good time for media’


John McGee: ‘Digital audio’s growth comes at a good time for media’

Tourism Ireland is showcasing Ireland as the 'Home of the Champions' , as it bids to woo high-spending golfers
Tourism Ireland is showcasing Ireland as the ‘Home of the Champions’ , as it bids to woo high-spending golfers

One of the fastest growing media channels in recent years has been digital audio. Often seen as the preserve of media-streaming services, it has grown significantly in recent years and opened up a range of content options for publishers and broadcasters keen to target often fickle audiences while at the same time providing them with new revenue streams.

For advertisers, meanwhile, digital audio is providing them with yet another, more personal, channel in what has been a hard-to-figure-out marketplace up until recently.

In a nutshell, the digital audio realm spans streaming music services like Spotify, the hundreds of podcasts that are produced by traditional and specialist media companies and digital-only radio services that are accessed online. The last category includes catch-up radio – or programmes through an app like the Irish Radio Player.

So how big is the Irish market?

Research on the Irish digital audio marketplace – the first of its kind – was recently carried out by RedC and launched at last week’s IAB Ireland Connect conference. It shows that 66pc of all Irish adults – or 2.3 million people – listen to some form of digital audio on a weekly basis. This is up by a staggering 53pc on 2017.

Not surprisingly, the biggest growth, 68pc, was among 18- to 24-year-olds, while it amounted to 60pc among the 25 to 34-year-old cohort.

As much as 75pc of all digital audio is also consumed on a mobile phone while the research also shows that 44pc of those who listen to digital audio tune in to an on-demand music service such as Spotify while another 44pc listen to live radio stations online. Another 28pc, meanwhile, listen to podcasts while 26pc listen to catch-up radio.

Digital audio fans also spend a lot of time listening to their audio of choice with the average amount of time spent listening standing at around 13.6 hours a week. Of this, on-demand music streaming accounts for around 5.4 hours, online radio around 3.4 hours while 1.8 hours is given over to podcasts.

Given that technology is front and centre of digital audio, it’s not surprising to learn that people aged 18- to 24-year-olds are the heaviest users, consuming around 25 hours per week, followed by those in the 35-44 cohort who consume around 17.8 hours.

In case people think that digital audio is the preserve of a younger tech-savvy cohort, the RedC research also shows that those aged between 55-64 listen to some form of digital audio for around 6.4 hours per week while for those over the age of 65, it’s an average of 8.3 hours.

When it comes to our daily content consumption habits, streaming music services come out on top with 48pc. This was followed by news and politics (27pc), sports (10pc), and lifestyle and health content (6pc).


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As a result of the research, “marketers now have a handle on how pervasive digital audio listening is and the role it plays in the context of the wider media mix”, says Lee Thompson, managing director of AudioOne, the digital audio arm of i-Believe.

“The research also confirms the inherent strengths of the medium: good incremental reach when viewed alongside FM listenership, especially for 18 to 24-year-olds. Digital audio also commands almost half as much time as is currently being spent on FM and provides a listening pattern that spans the entire day.

“While the research also shows the undisputed draw of on-demand music, it highlights the real emergence of podcasts, with almost half a million people listening weekly,” Thompson adds.

From an advertiser’s perspective, digital audio also provides a more intimate appointment-to-listen environment.

“The direct-to-ear listening environment you get, where smartphones and headphones are the predominant mode of consumption, also goes a long way towards explaining the high scores for ad recall and effectiveness,” he says.

Digital audio’s growth has also been helped by advances in technology that facilitate things like in-stream advertising. Indeed, international adtech companies like Acast and AdsWizz have been active in the Irish marketplace in recent months. At the moment, however, the digital audio advertising market is still relatively small but one which is expected to grow to around €6m over the next two years. Putting this in context, the Irish radio market is likely to be worth between €110m and €120m in 2019.

But like any new market or channel, growth has to start from somewhere.

While the tipping point may not have been reached just yet, digital audio’s growth could provide publishers and broadcasters with additional and much-needed revenue streams. In the current climate, what’s not to like about that?



The Irish advertising community will be rooting for BBDO Dublin and its client RSA, which have been nominated for best branded 360-video in the prestigious Webby awards in New York in two weeks’ time. The agency created a virtual reality campaign called ‘Consequences’ that puts the user in the shoes of a drink driver. With four storylines, participants experience the full extent of the agonising consequences of drink driving, from injury to prosecution.



With the golfing world focused on the 83rd US Masters in Augusta, Georgia this weekend, Tourism Ireland took the opportunity to showcase Ireland as the ‘Home of the Champions’ , as it bids to woo high-spending golfers. As part of the campaign, a 30-second ad – featuring courses such as Co Cork’s Old Head, pictured – was broadcast to an estimated 16 million people on the NBC Golf Channel while another 1.2 million are estimated to have seen brand messages about Ireland on

Sunday Indo Business


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