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audio campaign media buying

How to Launch Your First Audio Campaign

Alesia Commisso is a Digital Marketing Manager at StackAdapt, focused on bringing the StackAdapt brand to life through paid and organic strategies, using targeted ad placements and real-time optimizations to maximize growth.

Programmatic audio is programmatic advertising technology that automates the selling and insertion of ads into audio content. With a programmatic audio campaign you can buy targeted ads from all the major audio publishers with one system, using a process similar to other channels, like display. 

In recent years there’s been rapid growth in audio content that’s available for streaming, making now the perfect moment to introduce audio advertising into your media mix! We wanted to learn about the process of implementing a programmatic audio campaign, so we caught up with Alesia Commisso, Digital Marketing Manager at StackAdapt. Read on to learn the basics of creating your first audio campaign!

What should you consider before you create your first audio ad campaign?

Before diving into your first audio campaign, it’s important to understand where this channel fits within your entire digital campaign strategy, and the best way to incorporate it into the customer journey. My campaigns usually consist of display banners, native, and video. Now I’m incorporating audio, which opens a greater opportunity to capture my audience in different mindsets throughout their day.

You’ll also want to think about how you will deliver your campaign. I find that demand-side platforms (DSPs) are great for programmatic campaigns because they offer multi-channel solutions and precise targeting, which makes it easy to align with other campaigns as well. This makes DSPs a one-stop shop!

Can you share with us your process for planning an audio campaign?

I always start with campaign planning. When beginning to brainstorm for any campaign, I start by clearly outlining what I want to say to customers and then, how I want to say it. Once I’ve established these two points, I build a demographic profile and think about where this audience may be consuming content. With most ad platforms, targeting capabilities are endless. Aside from the basics like geo and demo targeting, I try to narrow in on custom segments, 3rd-party, lookalikes and sophisticated retargeting and exclusion tactics.

Once I’ve nailed down the targeting, general messaging and CTA, it’s time to lay out the language I’ll be using to speak to my target demo across each channel. To do this, I make a creative messaging copy document. In it, I draft the copy I’ll use for each channel. Simply repurposing assets across different channels and placements just doesn’t cut it anymore. The messaging should be tweaked to speak to the audience you’ll find on each individual channel. 

Audio ads are unique because they don’t rely on visual cues or graphics to convey a message. My strategy is to tie in elements of the copy from my more visual ads, like display banners. By doing this I can ensure that my campaign goals and branding are uncompromised across the campaigns I run.  

How did you approach developing the creative for your audio ads?

Planning the creative for an audio ad is definitely different from other ad formats! For audio, most spots are 15 or 30 seconds—there are longer audio ad options but it’s best to choose between the two for scale and inventory purposes as well as general user experience. With these ad lengths in mind, I then worked on the script for the ad. 

After working through a few audio scripts, I’ve learned that for a 30 second ad I should keep the script between 475 – 550 characters. For a 15 second spot, no more than 250 characters. Of course this depends on the style, intonation of the voice actor and complexity of the script. To test the lengths, I spend a few minutes reading my script and timing myself before finalizing. I also like to have someone else read it as well, since we all read at different speeds. 

Then, I had to find a voice actor. I opted to leverage Voices, because they have a large repository and the process of hiring an actor through this platform is totally seamless! After providing the details of the job and the ask—such as where will this audio be used, the language or accent you prefer and the speaking-style of the speaker—the platform provides options. Voices is also transparent about how much you should be paying for the work based on a few parameters—fairly compensating creators is really important.

Within hours of posting a script, there’s usually dozens of bids on the job! Most of the creators will even record themselves reading a portion of my script, which really helps me get a sense of who is the right fit for the brand’s tone. Once you’ve got your voice actor, you can go ahead with actually creating the audio ad

It’s time to run the campaign! What capabilities should media buyers be looking for in a DSP when running audio?

I don’t run direct publisher deals or isolate my media buys—a majority of my ad spend goes toward programmatic and search. When budget or targeting calls for it, I supplement with social as well. I focus my prospecting efforts on the top and middle of the funnel, and programmatic is my main volume driver. Closing on the sale or conversion typically comes from a programmatic retargeting tactic or search, for hand raisers. Spending most of your digital budget in programmatic allows you to target appropriately, and ensure that frequency can be capped at a campaign level versus at a channel level where you can’t guarantee a lack of audience overlap.

Most DSPs offer similar targeting at a basic level—but not all platforms provide you with robust and customized targeting at an audience level. A DSP that has 1st- and 3rd-party targeting options, custom audience capabilities, and offers an alternative to behavioural targeting, like contextual targeting, is what I use most, and I’m glad the DSP I use offers them all. 

When you’re spending a bulk of your marketing budget within programmatic, media metrics are key to gauging performance. They enable you to tell the full story of how your marketing efforts drove business results. And, media metrics will tell you what is currently driving business results and how to double-down on that tactic in real-time. It’s not helpful to understand ROAS after I’ve spent half of my budget on a channel or targeting tactic that underperformed or didn’t add to the bigger picture. So I know I’m in good hands since my DSP allows me to pivot immediately.

What metrics did you focus on tracking for reporting on your audio campaigns?

Although audio reporting is not as measurable as other digital channels, it is far more detailed than terrestrial radio. Within my DSP, I’m able to see the cost per completed listen, the audio completion rate as well the absolute completes, quartile completions (to help understand if and when users dropped off) and more. 

I am less concerned with those metrics since users are really unlikely to close a music streaming app just because an ad came up—the same way people don’t turn off their TVs when they see a commercial. What I’m most interested in is the attribution in the buying journey. Using a DSP that can provide you with a brand lift study, or connect your campaign with a leading attribution partner like comScore or Upwave can give you a sense of how your one channel contributed to the entire customer journey.

Did you have any other tips that first-timers should know?

Scale can be tricky—it’s best to start broad and slowly narrow in on your audience, whether that’s from a geo perspective, or demo. If you’re setting up a specific deal, try not to include demo targeting—the right DSP partner will guide you so you can target the content your audience is consuming without having to get too specific about their attributes as customers.

Interested in trying programmatic audio? Reach out to your StackAdapt Representative to get started.

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