Audio In-Store: Another Strategy for the Retail Media Toolbox

In early 2020, shoppers turned to digital platforms when purchasing groceries.
paul brenner
Paul Brenner, president of Audio OOH and chief strategy officer at Vibenomics, is a contributing author for Retail Leader

Today, digital platforms still carry a role in grocery shopping; however, the majority of consumers visit brick and mortar stores to make their purchases. In fact, 84% of consumers still purchase their groceries at physical stores, and 70% still prefer in-person shopping.

With customers spending more time in stores, brands have a greater opportunity to use audio ads for messaging. Those leveraging retail media networks — particularly with programmatic in-store offerings like audio — become listening halls used to reinforce a retail media campaign’s messaging.

In-store media matters


There’s no shortage of digital out-of-home advertising. We see it connected to billboards, place-based displays and mobile. Each digital OOH campaign serves one function: to drive consumers to make a purchase, either online or in physical stores.

Retail media shouldn’t stop at the current solutions. With in-store audio, advertisers have an opportunity to increase the performance of campaigns. For example, brands used to promote SKUs in Sunday circulars. How much more effective is it to “talk” about specific products, highlighting them via audio in-store in conjunction with other digital activations? In short — very effective. 

  • The State of Consumer Behavior 2021 report says 33% of consumers prefer shopping at physical stores because they like to view, touch and interact with physical products, while 26% enjoy the overall shopping experience that a physical location provides. 
  • In-store shoppers can’t skip audio ads like they can digital ads on certain streaming platforms. 
  • Audio-out-of-home (AOOH) ads carry a 24% higher recall rate than display ads.

A retail media revolution


While retail media began as an ecommerce-only platform that retailers leveraged to advertise and promote products online, it’s become so much more. As consumer shopping behaviors evolve, we’ve witnessed the growth of a more omni-channel shopping journey. Those journeys vary, too, with some shoppers choosing to browse online prior to heading to a physical store. Other consumers may head straight to a retailer and use that brand’s mobile app to find and use digital coupons.

“Consumer expectations and needs have changed. People shop concurrently across digital and in-store touchpoints,” said Michael Schuh, vice president of media strategy at Kroger Precision Marketing at 84.51˚. “As a result, brands should be present at every relevant moment to drive product discovery. In-store audio – together with digital media – can enhance the retail experience and engage shoppers at an important moment of consideration.”

The definition of retail media is broadening. Multi- and omni-channel shopping journeys already expose customers to a wide variety of visual and audio, print and digital, and experiential communication via in-store merchandise displays. Evolving definitions are becoming inclusive of other digital in-store media, including video displays — and audio advertising.

Brands and advertisers are beginning to capitalize on the opportunity to speak directly to shoppers while they’re already in the store and prepared to make purchases. Layering AOOH as another effective layer to influence shoppers and impact the funnel via contextual audio has been a rapidly growing tactic used in addition to the more familiar retail media practices.

A shift in retail media definition


Embracing the shift in retail media’s definition to include digital advertising within the physical shopping environment boosts brand awareness, reaches hundreds of consumers daily and enables retailers to gather insights, monetize their data and improve ROI. 

“Brands that rely on retail media solutions to reach and influence shoppers at the point of purchase need to consider both the digital and physical storefronts,” said Mark Williamson, vice president of client development at CitrusAd. “To address omnichannel shopping realities, advertisers need to leverage tactics throughout the purchase funnel to ensure their target customers aren’t left unreached. Modern adtech solutions help advertisers connect the dots between full-funnel campaigns that activate in both digital and physical retail environments."

Consumers often hear the audio playing over the in-store speakers. Broadcasted ads can motivate listeners to purchase the featured items. The key to AOOH’s success is incorporating the right type of creative content to drive that motivation. The process involves using the brand’s input to develop copy capturing the essence of the brand’s goals to produce 30 seconds of attention-capturing audio that elicits a positive customer response. 

Connection cultivates loyalty and bottom-line growth. Inclusive media experiences like AOOH develop direct customer relationships, impacting them at the point of purchase and strengthening their brand loyalty to drive ROI. 


About the Author

Paul Brenner is president of Audio OOH and chief strategy officer at Vibenomics, and formerly served as president of NextRadio/TagStation and has more than 25 years of experience in media & entertainment and technology leadership.