Ossia Studio | Five essential steps for effective audio advertising

Think about the last time you heard an audio advertisement. Think about the experience of that advertisement. How did it make you feel? Were you annoyed at the interruption and eager for it to finish? Or did the ad seamlessly slot into your listening experience and provide you with valuable information?

These questions are increasingly important for brands, advertisers and agencies. This is because there are more people listening to audio content than ever. In the UK alone, 7.1 million people stream and download podcasts every week – a year-on-year increase of 24%. Audio ads also appear to be more effective than display ads across radio and streaming services. One study found they drive 24% higher recall than display ads, and are twice as likely to increase purchase intent.

There are, therefore, significant benefits associated with powerful audio advertising creative. So, what steps can brands take to ensure their online audio advertising production is everything it can be? We've pulled together our tops tips for audio advertisers:

  1. Tell the right story

  2. Choose the right sound

  3. Think about the ad in context

  4. Tailor to your audience

  5. Be topical

1. Tell the right story

The script is the starting point for online audio advertising. Get it right and your ad stands a good chance of success.

Above all, it's important that your script be authentic. Authenticity means that it's both credible to listeners and consistent with your brand voice. For example, if your brand is generally known to be cool and edgy, a zany script will confuse listeners and distract from your message. Applying your brand voice will also help you decide whether you want to go for a hard or soft sell.

Next, you need to consider how best to appeal to both the hearts and the minds of listeners. This is because working on both emotion and reason stands the best chance of winning that person over to your viewpoint (although statistics suggest emotion just pips logic in terms of effectiveness - one study looked at advertising campaign performance and found that 31% of ads with emotional pull succeeded compared to the 16% success of ads that focused on rational messages). Your script may therefore start out with a message about how your product will make someone feel, but it should then focus on something more practical to give the listener that final push to make a purchase.

You also need to be direct and focused. The length of audio ads vary from format to format, service to service, but they're seldom longer than a minute, and usually just 30 seconds. You therefore need to get to the core of your value proposition fast, using simple language and including a clear call to action. Your listener needs to come away from the ad knowing exactly what they need to do next.

2. Choose the right sounds

Sounds are important for video and TV ads, but they're even more so for audio ads – particularly those listened to through smart speakers or headphones where there is no visual accompaniment. With these ads, soundbeds and soundtracks are the key branding elements when it comes to creating atmosphere and impact – perhaps even more so than the voice over itself.

Sounds have also traditionally been the hardest element of audio ads to get right. How do you find the perfect sonic mood music for your ad? Searching through soundtracks and soundbeds manually is an impossibly laborious affair and brands have often had to compromise with sounds that are OK rather than great.

The good news is that we're now in the era of AI, and smart algorithms can help advertisers find the ideal sounds every time. Using AI-enabled platforms like Ossia Studio, advertisers can find music that's a perfect fit for mood, the ideal tempo, or the right genre for every audience. In our case, the music is all created and edited in-house, so there's no licensing challenges to deal with and the music can be tailored to the exact needs of the brand.

3. Think about the ad in context

A big mistake to make with audio ad creative is to think of your ad in isolation. Your promotions will be listened to in the context of much loved content. If the experience is too abrupt, or divorced from that content, you risk alienating audiences.

One way to get around this is to directly link your ad with the content it appears in. This approach is used widely in podcasts, where programme hosts often read out sponsored messages. Indeed, some podcast production houses produce ads on behalf of brands to ensure a perfect fit with their content.

When it comes to music streaming services the ad experience has often been very jarring. Many a party has been interrupted by an unwanted ad popping up at just the wrong moment, slicing a song in two or breaking the flow of an otherwise great mix. Emerging technologies are solving this problem, however, by beat-matching the soundtracks of ads with the songs they appear next to or within. The result is a smooth transition, a vastly improved listening experience and better engagement with the brand message.

4. Tailor to your audience

Another benefit of the digital revolution is that brands are better able to tailor adverts to different people and around factors such as topical events, location and weather.

These capabilities are enabled by programmatic advertising and dynamic creative. Programmatic advertising automates the buying and selling of ad inventory in real-time, while dynamic creative leverages programmatic delivery to change creative elements according to parameters set by the advertiser.

So, for example, a brand may choose to run regional variants of a promotion which will be served to listeners based on their location data. Or an umbrella brand will set their ads to go out when it's raining. You can even set parameters by listener behaviour. A film production company could, for example, send the trailer for its new horror film to people listening to podcasts on the genre. Similarly, if a shoe brand knows its target audience loves indie music, it could target everyone listening to indie artists on platforms like Spotify.

What's important is that you can dynamically alter your audio ads to suit different contexts. You might, for instance, have an ad that you want to use to target two groups: hip hop lovers and grunge aficionados. Audio advertising platforms like Ossia Studio mean you can quickly (in a matter of minutes) and simply alter the soundtracks for the ads to make them suitable for each audience.

This is important because it helps make the ad relevant to the listener. The approach also makes the ad feel like an organic part of the listening experience, which means it's less likely to jarr with the listener and more likely be successful.

The key is to understand how different publishers identify audience segments. Test promotions with different publishers to find the one that's most effective in reaching the audiences that matter most to you.

5. Be topical

Another benefit of the flexible and fast online audio ad production enabled by modern AI-enabled platforms is that you can very quickly produce ads that relate to topical events.

Of course, advertisers have been using shared experiences to sell goods for as long as there's been an advertising sector. Anyone who's listened to a Christmas ad or back-to-school promotion can pay testament to that fact. However, AI-enabled production techniques and programmatic delivery means brands can now tailor creative in real-time, providing a level of responsiveness that's simply unprecedented.

If you want to link your brand to a major news story as it breaks, you can now do so in as long as it takes to record a voice over. Powerful production platforms like Ossia Studio automate the drudgery of the audio production process, streamlining processes so that brands can craft unique ads that tap into a cultural moment within minutes of that moment arriving.

6. Get creating

Audio content is having a renaissance. Quite rightly, advertisers are looking to make the most of this and reach audiences when they are at their most engaged. However, get the creative wrong and your ad may end up causing more harm than good. Fortunately, advances in technology are empowering creatives with a new set of tools to make their ads more relevant to their customers, a better fit with their brands and better suited to audio contexts. The result will be a new golden age for audio advertising – and one that we're excited to be part of.

See for yourself the possibilities of AI-enabled audio ad creative – sign up for a demo of Ossia Studio.