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Creative Testing Is the Key to Audio Ad Performance

phone playing a podcast

Creative drives 50% of audio ad effectiveness. With this in mind, it’s no longer enough for brands to solely ask themselves if they should be using audio and on which channels. The question that needs to immediately follow those answers is, What should my audio sound like to ensure it resonates with my audience and results in the ROI I need it to? This is where creative testing comes in.

Spending on U.S. podcast advertising alone is expected to surpass $2 billion in 2023, accounting for nearly a third of digital audio services advertising spending. Whatsmore, audio advertising has a tangible impact that shouldn’t be overlooked by brands, with research consistently showing that audio is a powerful complement to other marketing channels including display, video, and social.

Brands seeking assurance that their audio and podcast advertising dollars are being optimally spent would benefit from creative testing data. This details pre-market and in-market success metrics. Brands can then use this actionable data to optimize their audio creative and ensure that what they are putting in the market will provide the performance, return, and competitive differentiation that they are seeking as part of their unique KPIs.

One of the most insightful elements of creative testing is the audio score. An audio score means a numerical representation of an audio asset’s overall resonance.

What Creative Testing Can Provide

With a mix of AI/machine learning (ML) and human-validated panel measurement, third-party measurement providers can determine the impact of an ad. This is as it relates to emotional resonance, memorability, purchase intent, and engagement and assigns a numerical score to it.

When aggregating scores that comprise each separate category, an overall resonance score generates. This can be benchmarked in relation to the performance by vertical or industry at large. Further, creative testing can be customized to audiences of a brand’s choosing, from the general population to specific segments, depending on the reach of a podcast, stream, or broadcast.

Additionally, second-by-second human response data can be layered in. This provides a brand with specific and actionable insights. These insights relate to the unique script points within an ad that elicits the greatest response from an audience. The combination of the audio score and second-by-second engagement data enables a brand to optimize every possible creative element of its audio asset. This allows users to gain full confidence in the medium. Other advertising mediums rarely achieve this.

Testing Helps Brands Connect with their Audiences

In addition to creative content, brands should also be looking at other factors in their audio ads, such as length. Ads of 60 seconds or more are the most common, constituting just over half of podcast ads. Creative testing has shown that 30-second ads garner the best results, particularly for established brands. Marketers can utilize creative testing. This determines if an ad is taking too long to introduce an audio logo, brand name, or special offer. For example, recent studies have determined that it’s best to state a brand name early and often in podcast ads. This allows for the highest efficacy and intent.

Another measure worth paying attention to is the effectiveness of audio logos. This is an area where creative testing can reveal both surprising and insightful results. For example, Tostito’s audio logo—being that of a drumstick, a jar of salsa being opened, and a crunch of a chip as opposed to a jingle or slogan—lasts only 1.5 seconds, yet it has proven incredibly effective. Additionally, Liberty Mutual’s “Liberty, Liberty, Liberty” audio logo lacks a melody but rates at the top.

Testing also serves to alert brands when their campaigns aren’t working. At a recent audio summit, Cassandra LaPrairie, performance marketing lead for Wise, cited a study conducted by their team that reported less than 30% of listeners converted due to the wrong target audience. “I’m making peace with that as a marketer,” she said. “Had we not done that brand-lift study, we might not have figured that out.”

Creative testing can serve as a powerful brand tool for identifying the do’s and don’ts of audio ads, leading to increasingly optimized ads that resonate meaningfully with the target audience, allowing brands to attract loyal customers more efficiently, and for lower costs.

Future Audio Performance: Built on Testing

Moving forward, brands need to regularly test their audio creative through third-party partners. An increasing number of respective, global brands are paving the way. This demonstrates the indispensable value of dedicating spend to testing audio creativity. Brands will not only need testing to remain competitive. But they also need the best use of their marketing dollars as companies tighten their budgets. Especially this is the case in light of a looming recession. Rather than taking an educated guess, testing provides the competitive edge brands need. They also ensure that their ad spend has a greater chance of producing the ROI they desire.

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