Audio advertising in need of a shake-up: IAB MeasureUp Conference

When the IAB Australia’s Audio Council went looking for a cross-platform audio-advertising campaign to demonstrate what best practice sounds like, they couldn’t find one.

So the Audio Council, and the team at Eardrum, an Audio Council member, went about creating their own example. They related the experience at last week’s IAB MeasureUp Conference.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) partnered with Eardrum’s client Choosi, an insurance comparison site, to create a suite of ads that demonstrate the possibilities for audio advertising across a range of different mediums.

In a panel discussion alongside fellow marketers, Eardrum founder Ralph Van Dijk said advertisers are failing to create consistent ‘brand voices’ for audio advertisement:

“I think that there are books five inches thick of the visual guidelines that a brand has to adhere to – the font, the pantone colours the position of the logo, but when it comes to audio, just about every campaign seems to start from scratch. So there’s no consistency, no long term sort of branding and no audio assets that they can leverage.”

This lack of consistency means audio campaigns aren’t making the impact they could if advertisers focused on creating a ‘brand voice’ which carries through different campaigns. Given the surging popularity of podcasts and other on demand audio, this is an opportunity going to waste.

Audio presents a unique way to connect with potential customers, involving the listener in a way that visual advertisement can’t, says Van Dijk:

“The right audio should have the listener as the co-author, so you give images and you create characters, and the listeners participate, and as a result they’re creating their own version of what they’re hearing, and creating their own pictures, and those are very long lasting.”

These sentiments were echoed by Nicole Papoutsis, head of brand and marketing at Genea, an IVF company. Partnering with Nova Entertainment, they produced the Modern Babies podcast, a ten part series about trying to conceive, and fertility treatment. The personal nature of audio made a podcast the obvious choice for promoting such a personal service:

“It was a no-brainer for us, it was a really, really emotionally connected audience, and to be able to have a platform to tell stories and and hear stories of people going through exactly what they were potentially going through at the time in a really intimate way, you didn’t need to be watching a video on the train or on the ferry or the bus, and everyone seeing what you’re watching, it was a very private moment that people could have.”

Technological developments have brought new opportunities for audio advertising as well.

Jade Tran, strategic marketing manager for Micro & SMB at Australia Post, spoke about how the ability to slip ads for Australia Post into American podcasts allowed the company to specifically target Australian small business owners:

“We wanted to integrate with the US podcast because there was a very strong Australian listenership, in that a lot of the podcasts were very business-related, so Business Wars, How I Built This and all in the series that have a very strong following.”

By teaming up with Wooshkaa to embed the ads in American podcasts, Australia Post was able to access a previously untapped market.

But while opportunities for advertisement in podcasting are expanding, there are caveats: “It’s not enough to just carry radio ads over into podcasts.”

This was a concern in the Australia Post campaign, which Jade Tran says they addressed with platform-specific advertising: “We used our customer stories and we had our customers speak on the ads, we had unscripted sort of chats with them and we used those clips and had a much more authentic way because the podcasts themselves are quite authentic conversations, so it a really captive environment when you’re speaking to the listener.”

It’s this customisation that’s so crucial to creating an effective audio campaign, taking into account the different nature of podcast and radio listening. When done right, advertisers can tap into a medium that listeners are in frequent and habitual contact with, according to Van Dijk:

“You listen to the same station, on the same day of the week, usually in the same place, and podcasts you’ll listen to the same podcast you’ll listen to your streaming service maybe at the same time, so brands are able to have a very regular almost daily conversation, a brand conversation with listeners. Brands can actually become part of their life in a way that maybe it’s harder to do with TV.”

Audio advertising can present some specific challenges when it comes to measuring audience response to ads. According to Van Dijk, while clients often want custom phone numbers in radio ads to measure the response to specific campaigns, this isn’t an effective measure. Consumers are more likely to take note of the brand and search for it online later than they are to call a number immediately upon hearing an ad. With developments in voice command technology, such as Alexa and Google Voice, he says ad audiences may soon be able to respond to ads immediately in this manner, and the Choosi campaign includes an Alexa program which allows customers to have a conversation with their device and get a ‘guesstimate’ insurance quote from the Choosi website, no typing required.

The Choosi capaign is a trail blazer for what can be done witb AI and interactive voice devices.

At the end of the day, no matter the medium, it’s having a consistent voice that consumers associate your brand with that matters most, says Mr. Van Dijk:

“Define the audio assets in your brand and stick with them. Because then no matter what creative you’ve used you’re at least building your brand, you’re gonna get this brand response. You’ve got podcasts, you’ve got long form content, to help a brand become famous for what you do, then you’ve got a radio commercial which is like a daily reminder, and making it top of mind.”

Reporting: Caitlin McHugh.


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