• May 7, 2024
  • By Arica McKinnon, vice president, commercial growth and strategy, Nielsen

Meeting the Audience Where They Are: Advertiser Strategies for a Multiplatform World

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The media landscape is ever-changing, and the mantra “audience is everything” has never been more pertinent. As consumers diversify their content consumption across an ever-expanding array of digital platforms and devices—from podcasts and social media to gaming and streaming platforms, they find themselves inundated with various choices for both consumers and marketers alike.

This shift in consumer behavior presents a unique challenge for marketers: determining where to place their media for maximum impact. It’s no longer just about the quantity of ad placements; the focus is increasingly shifting toward the quality and relevance of these placements. Understanding and adapting to these changes in audience behavior is crucial for advertisers aiming to effectively reach and engage with their target consumers where they are most active and receptive.

Reaching Consumers Where They Are 

By understanding where consumers are engaging with content and their intentions to continue using these channels, marketers can strategically position their advertising efforts. Nielsen recently published a report highlighting the platforms where consumers spend their time. 

Podcasts will see the most growth in the next 6 to 12 months in terms of consumers’ plans to increase their consumption habits (21 percent of all respondents increasing consumption). Generation Z is the most likely to increase how often they listen to podcasts (25 percent of Generation Z increasing consumption), with Millennials close behind (23 percent of Millennials increasing consumption). Other Nielsen reports show that overall, the number of podcast listeners in the U.S. has grown by 40 percent in the past three years, making podcasting an excellent platform for marketers and advertisers to reach their desired audience, particularly the younger generations, such as Generation Z and Millennials.

In addition to podcasts, there is a noticeable shift in consumer spending toward topic-specific content subscriptions across various interests. This includes a 12 percent increase in spending on gaming content and sports-specific content through both premium cable subscriptions and digital platforms like NFL+ or MLB TV. The diversification in content consumption habits reflects a broader trend where consumers are increasingly seeking personalized, niche content that aligns with their specific interests. Take YouTube; as of June 2022, there were more than 500 hours of new videos uploaded per minute on the platform—signaling a desire by YouTube’s massive audience for more personalized and niche content.  For advertisers, this trend represents a call to adapt and invest in these emerging platforms. By aligning their marketing strategies with these consumer preferences, brands can ensure they are not only reaching their audience but also engaging them in environments where they are most receptive.

The key takeaway for marketers is the importance of agility and responsiveness to these shifting consumer trends. In an era where content consumption patterns are rapidly evolving, staying ahead of the curve is vital. Marketers who can effectively identify and capitalize on these emerging trends will find themselves with a competitive advantage. This involves not just tracking consumer behavior but also understanding the nuances of each platform, whether it's the intimate and engaging nature of podcasts or the dedicated following of niche sports channels. In doing so, marketers can create more targeted, effective advertising campaigns that resonate with their audience and yield better returns on their advertising spend.

Ad Avoidance and the Importance of Brand Recall 

Ad avoidance has become a significant concern, particularly with the emergence of new platforms that offer ad-supported tiers, such as streaming services and podcasts. Nielsen’s recent survey sheds light on the public's attitudes toward advertisements and their willingness to avoid them. The findings are revealing: 73 percent of U.S. consumers believe that traditional cable or satellite TV is overloaded with ads. Interestingly, Gen Z is more inclined to pay extra for ad-free streaming services, with 75 percent likely to opt for such options. This trend underscores a pivotal shift in consumer preferences, indicating a growing intolerance for intrusive advertising.

To implement effective strategies, advertisers must keep brand recall top of mind. If consumers can’t remember a brand after encountering an ad, whether it be through influencer marketing, branded content, or podcast advertisements, achieving brand lift becomes a daunting task. 

There are four additional factors crucial for driving brand lift, or creating a positive shift in consumer perceptions of a brand: the enjoyment and captivation of the content, its relatability, and the avoidance of negativity. These elements play an equally vital role in the success of advertising campaigns in emerging media. Chasing virality or tolerating negativity is not necessary for successful campaigns. Instead, focusing on creating content that resonates with the audience, is enjoyable, and evokes positive associations with the brand can lead to more impactful advertising strategies in these new and dynamic media landscapes.

Advertisers must navigate through a wide range of digital platforms that can be quite complex to handle. Effective ad placement, tailored to combat ad avoidance and resonate with diverse audiences, is crucial. Success hinges on creating memorable, engaging content that aligns with consumer preferences, turning the challenges of this evolving environment into opportunities for brand engagement and growth.

The importance of strategic advertising cannot be overstated. Marketers must not only keep pace with the changing preferences and habits of their audience but also prioritize engagement and relevance over sheer volume. Ultimately, success in this dynamic environment hinges on the ability to accurately identify and utilize the platforms where desired audiences spend the most time and are most open to interaction.

Arica McKinnon is vice president, commercial growth and strategy, at Nielsen. 

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