StackAdapt sat down with Michelle Melski, Communications Manager at Voices, to discuss the growing impact of programmatic audio and how to create audio ads. With over one million members, Voices is the largest marketplace for audio and voice over products and services in the world.
Why do you think audio ads are so important in the current media landscape?
At Voices, we like to say that we’re in the middle of a digital audio revolution, where sonic branding and audio assets are more critical than ever. People are oversaturated with visual content, and the rise of social media apps like Clubhouse demonstrate a changing pattern of content consumption that favours audio.
Audio content, like podcasts and Alexa Flash Briefings, are opt-in media, where listeners are actively choosing to absorb the content being provided. Audio advertising offers a direct way to reach those attentive listeners. Plus, audio in general feels more personal and can create an emotional connection with the listener.
How can a good audio ad level up a digital marketing strategy?
A good digital marketing strategy has a clearly defined target audience. When you have a thorough understanding of who you need to reach to achieve your campaign goals, then the next step is to figure out where that audience is already active. There’s a good chance that your target audience is consuming audio content—37% of Americans listen to podcasts monthly and 24% listen weekly, and that’s just podcasts. Audio advertising also allows you to target based on interest, allowing you to hone into a niche that wouldn’t be possible to target through traditional advertising.
The personal nature of audio content enables your brand to really connect with listeners through audio advertising, creating stronger relationships in the long run. And because you are able to target based on things like demographic, location, genres, and even the type of device being used to listen to the app, you are able to really hone in on messaging that would connect with this particular audience.
Why is it important to partner with the right platform for audio ad creation?
Bad audio is obvious. If the audio quality is off or the voice over delivery is not professional, it’s hard to take an ad seriously. It’s important to work with professionals to create an audio ad so that the experience of listening to your ad is engaging, and captures attention.
Beyond just a professional voice over, the voice actor you choose for your audio ad represents your brand and should be the exact right fit. Using a marketplace like Voices gives you access to thousands of voice actors who specialize in different vocal deliveries. Be specific about what voice age, accent, and style of delivery matches your brand when you are searching for that perfect voice actor.
What is Voices and what are your offerings when it comes to creating audio ads?
Voices is the world’s largest voice over marketplace. We connect brands and companies with voice actors in over 160 countries, who speak in over 100 languages, accents, and dialects. We offer a completely remote way of hiring professional voice talent for any type of project, including audio ads.
We often find brands want to localize their voice over for projects. By ensuring that everything from the word choices in the script to the dialect of the voice actor are considered in a project, a brand’s message can better resonate with a targeted audience. A marketplace like Voices allows brands to find that particular niche voice they are looking for to achieve that connection, bringing their words to life.
Your platform enables advertisers to cast voice actors for their ads. What tips do you have for casting the right voice for an ad?
The first thing you want to think about when casting a voice actor for your audio ad is who you are trying to reach with your ad. Is this a hyper-local campaign that would benefit from a voice that sounds familiar? Or is this an ad that will be heard across time zones and could use a global accent? Once you have that firmed up, it’s easy to craft a voice over job posting that matches your campaign needs.
A vocal delivery that is used in many audio ads is a conversational tone. This is not the announcer voice you’re used to hearing on the radio, but rather it’s a voice that makes your listeners feel comfortable and like they are being spoken to by a friend. The beneficial thing about audio ads is that they have the power to connect emotionally with your target audience, and a conversational tone often helps facilitate that connection.
At Voices, we match voice actors to your job posting based on the criteria you provide. So, if you’re asking for a conversational delivery from a female with a voice age of 35-54, only voice actors that fit that criteria will be invited to audition. When you’re listening to the auditions, you’ll often know the right voice for your campaign when you hear it. But if that special voice doesn’t jump out right away, you can also listen for things like audio quality, a delivery that resonates emotionally, and a voice that matches your brand.
Before casting for your ad, you need a script. What are your top tips for scripting audio ads?
The script you craft for your audio ad should reflect your overall brand. Pay attention to the words you choose, how you phrase things, and the tone of voice that you request in casting. You ultimately want your audio ad script to come across as authentic to both your audience and to your brand. We offer sample scripts that can help guide you through the process if you’re writing a script for the first time.
The length of your script really depends on the medium it will be aired on. Podcast ads, for example, are often host-read and can be included pre-roll, mid-roll, and/or post-roll, which means that their length varies based on how the host wants to speak about the topic. A fully-produced podcast ad can be 15-60 seconds long and are often more conversational and casual than a radio ad. The key to a successful podcast ad is really knowing the audience and writing an authentic script that suits their interests.
To stay authentic, a soft or medium sell is ideal. This means not asking for a listener’s business in an urgent way, but rather including a compelling CTA that invites them to learn more. Other important elements of an audio ad are staying true to your brand voice, making sure to include your brand name, incorporating compelling music, and finding the right voice to form an emotional connection with the listeners.
What are some must-know best practises for creating audio ads?
While audio ads are fantastic for targeting strategic audiences, their attention is fixated on the content and without a visual cue, so it’s important to keep things simple. If your ad is only 30 seconds long, like a typical Spotify ad, then you should focus on your key messaging and value points. We even recommend putting the value proposition right at the beginning of the ad to help your listeners understand the gist of what you want to tell them off the bat.
I’ve talked about this a few times now, but it’s important to find the right tone for the vocal delivery of the ad. Consider localization if the audio ad is targeted to a certain region or demographic. But a conversational, authentic voice over is usually the way to go for an audio ad that runs on a podcast, a voice assistant, or on a streaming platform.
How are audio ads differentiated from other ad formats—what do they have to offer that’s special?
Audio ads are often more effective than traditional advertising on television and radio, and certain studies have shown that they increase brand recall. For voice assistant advertisements in particular, the use of a human voice over a synthetic voice—like the built-in voice assistant voice—has also shown to increase brand recall. The leads a business gets from audio ads are also often qualified because of the targeting that’s possible.
The biggest benefit of audio ads, though, can be from the nature of the medium itself. Music and the human voice have the unique ability to form an emotional connection with listeners. And because things like podcasts and music streaming have opt-in listeners, meaning people are choosing to consume this content, there is already an inherent trust built into the content.
Why is execution, and having the right platform important for creating your audio advertising campaign?
Since targeting the right audience is vital for audio advertising, execution is critical for the success of your audio advertising campaign. You want to be able to trust that your audio ads are being inserted in the right places, reaching the right people for your brand. Working with experts, like those at StackAdapt, ensures that the messaging you have fine-tuned to strike a chord with your target audience finds the right ears. Further, you need to be able to trust that your branded content is complemented by content that fits your brand.
Reach out to your StackAdapt Representative to learn about Voices’ offering and how you can get started with programmatic audio.