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Rise of the Chief Audio Officer — Four Leading Brands Tout Missing Ingredient to Unlock Power of Audio Advertising

Rise of the Chief Audio Officer — Four Leading Brands Tout Missing Ingredient to Unlock Power of Audio Advertising

Oxford Road

July 26, 2023

Oxford Road, the leading independent audio advertising agency, has just released its latest thought-leadership white paper, “Chief Audio Officer: The Champion Every Brand Needs to Win in Audio.”

The report highlights how to unlock the often-underestimated power of audio as a marketing tool through specialized dedication and features insights from leading marketers who fit the role of “Chief Audio Officers” (CAOs) at their respective companies, including seasoned practitioners: Nick Karrat (CMO, Tommy John), Shane Pittson (VP, Growth & Acting CMO, quip), Corey Eng (Senior Growth Lead, Shopify), and Morgan Ainsworth (Growth Marketing Manager, Indeed). Chief Audio Officer also includes context and commentary from Stew Redwine (VP Creative Services), Giles Martin (EVP Strategy & Insights), Spencer Semonson (Media Buyer & Planner), Steven Abraham (President), and Dan Granger (CEO/Founder) at Oxford Road.

These leaders make the case why audio is a transformative marketing opportunity within their brand’s channel portfolio and why a dedicated role is needed to take full advantage of this unique marketing channel. The white paper shares hard-won knowledge of how to manage and champion audio across all its nuanced formats (radio, podcast, streaming) while answering challenges and driving results.

“A Chief Audio Officer functions like an internal Center of Excellence. They’re responsible for communicating how audio works to the rest of the marketing organization,” observes Morgan Ainsworth of Indeed.

Why should brands pay attention? To begin with, the audio advertising industry is expected to reach $17.5B in 2023. As the white paper states, “while only 39% of Americans believe in the statement ‘most people can be trusted,’ 70% of podcast listeners mentioned feeling a sense of companionship or connection with a podcast host.”

That level of trust, argues the paper, more than justifies the Chief Audio Officer. “Audio is in a league of its own. There’s a lot more work that needs to be done,” says Corey Eng of Shopify. “You can’t rely on vanity metrics in audio because they are not a reliable indicator of success. You have to go a level deeper.”

While the term “Chief Audio Officer” may seem novel, this paper underlines several marketing leaders’ successful use of audio strategies, regardless of their official titles, to catapult their brands to new heights. From radio and podcasts to streaming audio, the capacity for audience engagement through audio is powerfully demonstrated. The efficacy of building a strong relationship with audio hosts who have a direct line to their audience is unmatched in marketing.

“Genuine endorsement is unique. It’s the most powerful channel for the consumer, but it’s also the most defendable for the brand,” said Nick Karrat, Tommy John’s CMO. “That’s why the audio channel is unique and why live endorsements within audio are the crown jewel.”

The white paper argues that the rise of the Chief Audio Officer is the next step in giving audio marketing the energy it deserves to unlock transformative growth for brands and the industry.

“For many brands, audio is an afterthought, or a box to be checked in media planning,” says Granger. “But for brands who accept its challenges and lean in, it can become their secret weapon for acquiring new customers at scale. Our new study explores this concept deeply, calling for a dedicated role to ensure the success of this channel. It’s not about rebranding an existing role, but understanding that audio needs a champion who can help the brand navigate and maximize its unique opportunities.”

Stew Redwine (VP of Creative, Oxford Road) emphasizes the point: “when your favorite audio host adds a personal connection to the product or service being advertised, they unleash the maximum power of audio.”

In the era of impersonal digital marketing, what sets audio apart from other kinds of advertising is the relationships forged between host and curious, passionate individuals, unleashing the channel’s full potential. Nick Karrat says it best: “Whether it’s on podcast, terrestrial, or satellite, you’re dealing with relationships and people.” In order to get the most from those host-to-audience connections, you need a Chief Audio Officer to bring it all together.

“Chief Audio Officer: The Champion Every Brand Needs to Win in Audio” by Oxford Road is available now for download at

About Oxford Road

As the leading independent audio advertising agency, Oxford Road helps brands around the world to harness the power of audio advertising to achieve best-in-market performance at maximum viable scale. Oxford Road leverages its proprietary data solutions, such as the Audiolytics™ Ad Scoring Algorithm platform and the Performance Index for media influence scoring, as well as brand safety and suitability solutions, to help its clients profitably reach millions of people each day through podcasts, radio, streaming, and smart speakers. Oxford Road clients include Fortune 500 brand advertisers and direct-to-consumer brands; the company has helped over a dozen of the latter to evolve from startups into global brand leaders valued at $1 Billion+.