Sonic Revolution
The Sonic Revolution: 3 Tips Brands Need to Know

“How many people would rather lose their wallet than their phone?”

Attendees of our recent AMA in the PM may have laughed at Leon Van Gelder’s question, but seriously — which would they rather? It’s easier (and probably cheaper) to replace your wallet than it is to replace your phone. The technology in our lives has become essential to what we do at home, at work, and socially that it is traumatic to even think of anything happening to our devices.

At January’s AMA in the PM: Is Your Local Business Ready for the Sonic Revolution?, Leon Van Gelder, Vice President of Inside Sales and SMB Sales at Pandora, spoke to attendees about one aspect of how consumers interact with technology — audio. Like everything else, consumer listening habits have changed and evolved over the years. The rise in popularity of digital streaming, podcasts, audiobooks, and more have made a huge impact on the way people interact with audio from the media they consume to the way brands advertise.

If you missed the event or want to know more about the sonic revolution, here are our three takeaways from Leon’s presentation:


  1. People are always connected — especially with audio.

Remember the wallet/phone question? Well, that connectivity now extends past cell phones, tablets, and laptops. Smart speakers, connected cars, and voice activated devices (including appliances like refrigerators) are becoming common for most consumers. These devices allow mobility and the opportunity to interact without being tied to something. This means that people can listen to podcasts while driving, stream music at work or home, listen to an audiobook while doing chores, or enjoy any type of audio doing any number of tasks.

Video and reading require a level of commitment and attention that audio doesn’t need. It is a mobile type of media that can be enjoyed both on the move and stationary. Being connected to audio allows people to add a new level of entertainment to almost any activity.


  1. Personalization is key.

The “one-size-fits-all” model of audio is slowly becoming extinct for both the listeners and the advertisers. Everyone has a unique listening style — how often they listen, the type of audio they enjoy, engagement style, and more. Digital audio allows for personalization for both consumers and advertisers. Pandora wants to create a good user experience for the listener and adapts their delivery for the specific person using their platform. They curate a listening experience that reflects past streaming habits and analyze data to anticipate their consumers’ needs.

For advertisers, this means being able to be at the right place at the right time. Van Gelder says that Pandora has “data that delivers.” They have ad technology that can anticipate when a listener is active and is more receptive to hearing the ad. Traditional AM/FM Radio has a formula to everything they do, but it isn’t always brand friendly. Most users change the channel when the music stops, but digital streaming allows brands to target listeners  on a 1:1 basis when they are actively engaged and have a greater chance of hearing their message.


  1. Quality matters.

How many times have you clicked on a link in a social media channel, and the ads that were on that social media platform follow you to your next destination? Brands don’t always have control where ads go on social media, and the content where their ads appear may not align with their brand safety guidelines. Audio gives brands control. According to Van Gelder, brands embrace audio because they can avoid controversial content and create a brand-safe environment for their ads.

Advertising through audio also allows brands to get creative. They can create quality ads that break through the clutter and have listeners asking for more information. There are ways to create ads that allow for unique follow up experiences (i.e. swiping up on the screen or asking your smart speaker for information). For the brand that wants to stand out, advertising through audio or creating your own audio content may be a great solution.

The world of audio is going through a rapid and interesting revolution. As people remain connected and gain more control over their listening options, brands can become innovative and disrupt what it means to get your message across through audio.

Thank you Leon Van Gelder, Vice President of Inside Sales and SMB Sales at Pandora, for this engaging presentation. We also want to thank our event partners, Defacto Sound and Price Modern, for their help in making this event a huge success. For upcoming event information, please visit our events page.