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One Audio World, Different Activation Approaches.

As more brands gravitate to audio advertising, best practices for audio creative are needed to help advertisers optimize their campaigns and keep clients happy, industry experts say. More rigorous testing of ad creative is needed, according to Scott Simonelli, CEO of audio analytics provider Veritonic. “There's no silver bullet on this stuff,” he says. “We're not anywhere near people running the right ad to the right person at the right time, although some have started to scratch the surface."

Without benchmarks, the worry is a brand will come to audio for the first time, run an ineffective campaign or use creative that doesn’t align with the target audience and conclude that audio is not scalable.

Veritonic has identified four general best practices that apply across the audio spectrum. First, have a clearly understood call to action that the listener will remember. Ideally, it’s included at the beginning and end of the ad, depending on the spot length. Secondly, mention the brand’s name. “Saying your brand clearly or having a sonic logo is a great best practice,” Simonelli says. Third, ads with music beds generally perform better than dry reads. Fourth, use a well-produced ad with a good sound design.

These are just the fundamentals; audio best practices often vary from category to category and can change over time. “What works this month might not work next month,” Simonelli says. “And what works on Pandora might not work on Spotify.” NPR, meanwhile, has entirely different ad formats.

Audio Through The Sales Funnel

Getting the most out of audio involves leveraging each audio channel differently, experts say. Adam Pleiman, Sonic Strategist and Creative Director at Cincinnati-based Play Audio Agency, says he uses AM/FM radio to “paint with a broad brush,” harnessing its mass reach to drive brand awareness while employing local radio to promote store openings and other regional touchpoints.

Because it is often consumed via earbuds or headphones, digital audio can take advantage of new advances in audio technology for a more immersive ad experience. Sports Clips, a Play Audio client that specializes in men’s and boy’s haircuts, created a sensory experience that mimics the haircut experience. “We're able to give them something that swirls around in their head and has a more immersive opportunity,” Pleiman explains.” Digital also allows brands to get more nuanced with their creative. “You're able to hit them the way they expect to be spoken to from your brand each time so you don't have to paint with that broad brush; you can get into the psychographic nature of who they are.”

While produced ads are becoming more popular in podcasting, its bread and butter remains host-read ads. “You're going to see a better uptick in acceptance and brand lift when it comes from the trusted voice of the host,” Pleiman says. When produced ads are needed in podcasts, make sure they align with the tone and context of the specific show, he adds.

Consistency of messaging and branding across audio ad platforms is crucial for Detroit-based agency amp sound branding, says its CEO Vijay Iyer.

That starts with the client’s media agency, which determines where ads will be placed and what the brand is trying to convey in those respective spaces. Drivetime radio may be used to grow brand awareness and digital audio might be tapped to create engagement moments.

“We come in and work with them to figure out how best to create audible storytelling and what is the best execution for that placement,” Iyer explains. That may involve A-B testing of creative to determine what works best in a specific space. Keeping the key melodies and harmonies of that brand consistent across all audio messaging is important, says Iyer. “While the narrative or the storytelling might be slightly different in each of these audio assets, you still have audible consistency across all of them that is always recognized as that specific brand,” he says.

Iyer, who comes from an automotive background, has been working with General Motors on sonic branding for several of its models. The goal is to ensure the specific brand’s sound is consistent across all audio touchpoints. That includes in an app, when an owner approaches the vehicle, gets behind the wheel, and in audio advertising. That consistency is trickling down to the local level. Amp is working with automotive clients to include the brand’s audio logo in dealer advertising to help differentiate them from other brands. Dealers for whom radio is a core medium get access to “audio toolboxes that make it sound like Cadillac or Buick, but at the same time also convey the message of the dealer,” Iyer says. “For many of our clients, not just automotive, radio and podcasts continue to be key high impact tools.”

– Paul Heine

Read part one, Why More Brands Are Gravitating To Audio Advertising. HERE

In Wednesday’s Inside Radio: The Growing Importance Of Sonic Branding

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