In an effort to keep up with evolving consumer media consumption habits, an increasing number of brands and agencies are gravitating toward audio and podcast advertising. And for good reason. Those that aren’t adding audio and podcasts to their marketing mix are running the risk of becoming irrelevant and missing out on a plethora of ears that are willing and waiting to hear their message. Learn from the brands that failed to embrace social media fifteen years ago. Follow your audience!
Pitfalls of Not Embracing the Medium
The pitfalls of not embracing this powerful medium are significant for brands that must build stronger, stickier connections to their most coveted consumer demographics. If brands delay their audio marketing plans, they will miss out on opportunities to associate with popular content that engages their key audiences on a regular basis. Plus, they will fail to nurture passionate communities while dramatically improving the cost efficiencies and overall reach of their marketing and media spending.
Consider some recently released statistics on podcast listeners. A large majority of individuals in the U.S. (79%) said they were familiar with podcasting, according to Edison Research’s 2022 Infinite Dial survey of more than 1,500 U.S. consumers. That was up from 78% from the previous year and 60% from 2017.
More than half of the respondents (62%) said they had listened to a podcast, and the average number of podcast shows consumers had listened to in the previous week was 8, up from 5.1 podcasts per week in 2021. The report demonstrates that podcasting had grown significantly, particularly with weekly listeners. Moreover, the demographics of podcast listeners continue to diversify.
There are several strategic benefits to moving toward audio and podcast advertising. For one, audio and podcasts can unlock new audience segments to expand a brand’s reach. For another, leveraging audio and podcasts supports the long-term omnichannel strategies of brands as digital and display advertising continues to evolve. Audio is simply another leg to that strategy, as consumers expand their media consumption habits to screenless, always-on mediums.
In addition, podcasting has a much more intimate relationship with its listeners, which brings in an element of trust. For example, a beloved podcast host can have a big impact and influence on consumers. And this is an opportunity for brands to leverage that.
A key to success with audio and podcast ads is determining which creative approaches will yield the best results. Oftentimes, this depends on several key factors. This includes the brand’s market share and penetration, the amount of ad budget at its disposal, the industry, audience, style of podcast, and more.
Sometimes even the most tried and true ads can fail when the ad creative is actually in-market. That’s why pre-market testing to a specific audience, in the right environment and channel, is critical.
Sticking to one product within a single ad is important. However, different audiences respond to different messages. Using a variety of ad creative with slight differences in tone and messaging can work together to provide optimal results as an aggregate performance.
Because of the more intimate experience of audio and specifically podcasting, sincerity and trust tend to perform well, specifically with host-read ads. Consumers can tell when an ad is scripted and not spoken from a genuine endorsement. If it’s going to be highly scripted and read by a host, you might be better off going with voiceover talent for an ad.
Brands also need to consider the most effective ways to reach multi-cultural audiences with audio and podcast ads. SXM Media and Studio Resonate released a study supported by Veritonic data around the power of black voices. The research showed that Black listeners found Black voices to be the most resonant. While white voices seemed indifferent to any race. This is despite the fact that the majority of voice representation in audio to date has been white.
Research and Testing
It’s important to understand what resonates with the audience you are reaching. The best way to do that is through research and testing.
Brands need to know what messages are resonating with their core audience before going live—or at least shortly into going live. Many marketers make the mistake of repurposing the same creative from radio or other channels on podcasts. Yet, this does not always stick. And most often, they either learn this too late (when the campaign is over). Or not at all.
By executing a quick creative measurement study against their target audience (or to mirror their target audience prior to the campaign) through Veritonic, marketers will be able to see a wealth of performance data. This includes second-by-second engagement by script point. This enables them to understand exactly what is resonating (or not!) with their audience. And how that ties to expected performance against key performance indicators (KPIs) such as recall, memorability, and intent. This also provides an opportunity to adjust the creative early on if needed, inform distribution levers for impressions, and even project performance of the campaign.
Best Practices for Measuring Audio & Podcast Ads
Effective marketing is more than just driving a conversion. Building brand equity is just as important for potential future consumers as it is for today’s consumers. Brand lift is a phenomenal way to measure that, empowering advertisers to understand how their campaigns are having an impact throughout the entire funnel – top to bottom – looking at metrics such as brand awareness, consideration, and intent.
We know all advertisers (and specifically podcast advertisers) need to know the immediate impact of their campaigns. This is where attribution comes in. Attribution solutions allow you to measure bottom-of-the-funnel activity including impressions, site visits, cart activity, incremental lift, conversions, and more.
It’s important to remember that campaign performance is not just tied to where the ads are placed. The creative, and most importantly the competitive activity around your campaign, can impact the overall performance significantly.
If your largest competitor has a major campaign live around yours and your results come back flat, that can actually be considered a positive. You protected your brand from being negatively impacted by your competitor. On the other hand, it can be helpful for managing expectations of future campaigns, if all of your competitors were silent during your campaign and you saw strong results.
Last, if your creative is not resonating with your audience, that’s likely a driver of less than favorable performance as well. Everyone wants to see positive performance. But, there might be larger contextual elements in play to consider before jumping to any conclusions.
How can brands and agencies make sure that they are measuring the right things correctly? It’s a good idea to start simple. Know what your KPI is before starting. Then test against that before you go to market.
Also, it’s important to avoid common mistakes such as treating audio and podcast ad measurement like other media. It’s unique and should not be treated as an afterthought. In addition, don’t just look at any one metric. Build context to understand what else could be impacting performance, such as competitors and creativity. And don’t hold back on budgets for testing.
By taking these steps, companies can leverage audio and podcast advertising to deliver powerful brand lift and big returns.