How To Create Audio Ads [with 8 Important Tips]
Audio ads have quickly become a go-to form of digital advertising.
Studies indicate that audio ads may be more effective than any other form of media, including traditional radio.
An independently commissioned study by internet radio giant, Pandora, found that when audio ads were integrated with participants’ personal music playlists, the ads impacted long-term memory 49 percent better than radio, 36 percent better than television, and 29 percent better than mobile video ads.
Thanks to the availability of software, the affordability of professional recording equipment and the variety of places to host an online audio ad, it’s easier than ever to get your message out.
In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about audio ads including:
- Audio ad channels
- The benefits of advertising on audio streaming platforms
- How effective are audio ads?
- The top audio streaming services
- How to write a great audio ad script
- What creates a compelling audio ads
- 8 tips to creating effective audio ads
Audio Ad Distribution Channels
Audio ads are a flourishing ad format these days, particularly due to an array of audio and voice integrated devices weaving into almost every aspect of our lives.
Total digital audio ad revenue in the United States has grown to $2.3 billion, up 23% since 2017. In the UK, 22.3 million people listen to digital audio ads every week. That’s an increase of more than 40% since 2014 in the United Kingdom.
Brands can ride the wave of growth that the audio ad industry is experiencing, and take advantage of the booming space by creating their own audio ads.
There are many different channels and platforms that your audio ads can exist on. It’s estimated that 1.2 billion people used an audio streaming service across the globe in 2018.
However, before we get into how you make an audio ad, it would be good to get a proper understanding of the formats and platforms that will best serve your brand:
Media Formats for Audio Ads
Running your ad on a podcast or sponsoring a podcast is one of the best ways to gain direct and significant brand exposure to your target demographic. Podcasts can appear on Spotify, iTunes, Pandora, Buzzsprout, Podbean, SoundCloud and many other channels.
Music (In-stream or programmatic audio ads in between songs)
You can run your audio ad or campaign in between music on audio streaming platforms like Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music and more.
Flash Briefings for Amazon Alexa
Flash Briefings are one of two ways that brands can actually use audio advertising on Amazon Echo devices. Having your brand create, sponsor or advertise on an Alexa Flash Briefing is a creative way to bypass a growing but difficult technology to speak to consumers on.
Alexa Skills/ Google Home Action Audio Streaming
Having your brand create, sponsor or advertise on an Alexa ‘Skill’ or Google Home ‘Action’ is the second creative way to make sure your brand’s audio ads are making their way into the homes of millions of smart home device owners.
Yes, internet radio is still a thing. Although a lot of internet radio users have pivoted to use popular Spotify, Apple Music and Pandora stations or playlists, many are still listening to other internet radio players like NTS Radio, Worldwide FM and Dublab.
Audio Blog Posts
If you’re a brand creating an audio blog post, you can embed your brand’s own audio ads within the audio blog post. Check out this article we put together on how to create an audio blog post.
Audio Ad Distribution Platforms
1.5 billion now use Google’s video-sharing platform and many use YouTube to stream music. YouTube Red allows users to watch and listen to videos and music free of ads, but only 1.5 million users are paying to use the service every month. That means the rest are going to be hearing your audio ads. This makes YouTube one of the most powerful platforms for your brand to run an audio ad campaign.
One of the original internet radio services, Pandora (also known as Pandora Radio), started in 2000.
Pandora is still one of the top three most popular audio streaming platforms in the U.S.
Pandora offers the strongest lineup and variety of banner, video and audio ads for potential advertisers.
Spotify is an audio streaming platform that was started in Sweden in 2006.
Spotify is the most used audio streaming platform in the U.S., and has 217 million total users globally, with 100 million of those global users paying for subscriptions.
Google Play Music
Google Play Music is an audio streaming platform that Google launched in 2011. The platform had 21.9 million monthly users in the U.S., as of March 2018.
The platform is available in 63 countries and has a catalog of 40 million songs.
SoundCloud is an online audio distribution platform that lets users upload, share and promote their audio.
The platform was founded in 2007 and has 34.2 million monthly users in the U.S. as of March 2018.
TuneIn (also known as TuneIn Radio) is a U.S.-based audio streaming platform.
The platform was founded in 2002 and is based in San Francisco, California. As of 2019, TuneIn has 75 million global users.
WordPress or website hosting platform
You can also embed audio files into your website or in partnership with someone else’s site through WordPress or whatever other website hosting platform your brand is using. You can embed an audio ad directly within your website’s content, or sandwich the audio in between your own in-house audio content.
Other streaming platforms
iHeartRadio, Amazon Music, Shazam, SiriusXM and TuneIn Radio are also great options for your brand to run its audio ads on.
Purchasing Audio Ads with Google
While each of these companies may offer ad buy directly through the platform, advertisers can also use Google Display & Video 360 to buy audio ads on almost all of the popular streaming services mentioned above. Google Display & Video 360 is a one-stop hub to manage all your digital audio campaigns. Readers should also note that Apple Music doesn’t offer audio advertising.
3 benefits of advertising on audio streaming platforms
For advertisers, there are three main benefits to advertising on an audio streaming platform:
- Audio ads have been shown to be more effective than traditional radio advertisements. Like we mentioned earlier, a study by internet radio platform Pandora found that audio ads supplied into listener’s curated playlists increased information retention and ad recall.
- Audio streaming platforms drive business to you right off their platform or internet site, by providing audio advertisers with online placement too.
- Audio ads can help supply you with more qualified leads, as audio streaming platforms allow advertisers to embed their messaging among targeted audiences.
Audio Ad Effectiveness
Ok, so you’re sensing audio ads may be important for your brand to prioritize, but wondering where the concrete data is to indicate just how effective they are?
Here are five fast facts to solidify your trust that audio ads will deliver a return on investment:
- Spotify reports that its audio ads generate 60% higher ad recall than more than 1,600 comparable online campaigns.
- Podcast listeners are more likely to take action after hearing an ad in their favorite podcast. While 45% will visit the website, 42% consider a new product or service and 37% will gather more information about the product, according to The Interactive Advertising Bureau.
- 90 percent of audio streaming listeners choose ad-supported listening.
- Every single Spotify ad gets 100% share-of-voice. Also, 72% of weekly Spotify streams in the U.S. are by millennials.
- Butler University tested Spotify to connect with their target demographic. Butler achieved 1.6 million impressions, over 700,000 audio plays and an audio completion listen-rate of 92%.How
Top Audio Streaming Services
Here are the most listened to audio streaming services in the U.S. (all numbers are U.S. users):
- Apple Music: 49.5 million monthly users
- Spotify: 47.7 million monthly users
- Pandora: 36.8 million monthly users
- SoundCloud: 34.2 million monthly users
- Google Play Music: 21.9 million monthly users
- iHeartRadio: 19.9 million monthly users
- Amazon Music: 12.7 million monthly users
- Shazam: 10.6 million monthly users
- SiriusXM: 7.6 million monthly users
- TuneIn Radio: 6.6 million monthly users
How to Create Audio Ads
Write a Great Script
Every good audio ad campaign starts with a good script. Take a listen to this awesome and engaging audio ad:
[Embed 4David Thackara WINNER.mp3 from Mission Audition Episode 003 w/ Eric Wibbelsmann.]
Yes, the voice was incredibly strong and pulls you in. However, the script writing was incredibly sharp and to the point.
So what are the elements of a good audio ad script? We’ll highlight those below:
- Soft, Medium or Hard Sell: Determine what kind of sell you’re going to approach listeners with. Just like with a radio advertisement, you need to ask if it’s going to be a soft, medium or hard sell? A soft sell is suggestive without asking directly for their listeners business. A medium sell certainly asks for the business, but never in a forceful way. And a hard sell simply demands the listener’s business, as it always has a sense of urgency. Getting the sell right is imperative to ensure you’re connecting with your listeners in a manner they expect and will respond to positively.
- Length of the ad: The average Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music ad is 30 seconds long. However, there are some instances on some of the audio streaming platforms where audio ads run up to 60 seconds long. The length of the ad will determine what information you include and leave out of your spot. It’s important your script has clear and simple language that cuts to your brand’s value proposition as soon as it makes sense for your script.
- Conversational Tone: Every good audio ad campaign resonates with a brand’s target audience. A fundamental way of connecting with many audiences with an audio ad is by using a conversational tone in your script. Having a conversational voice almost always allows for listeners to feel more comfortable with your brand. Instead of talking down to a customer, a conversational tone helps the audience your brand and the message you’re communicating. Try out a conversational tone in your next audio ad campaign and see how it impacts your sales!
- Use a CTA: If you want to see your audio ads drive action or results, including a classy call-to-action in your script is essential.
Audio Ad and Radio Script Examples
If you are going to embark on creating your own audio ads, sometimes it helps to get a little inspiration.
Voices.com has assembled an extensive library of voice over sample scripts, including:
So, whether your audio ad is promoting a product, a service, or even an awareness campaign, you’ll have some examples to dig into, to help get the wheels of creativity rolling.
Three Elements of a Compelling Audio Ad
While the method of distribution for audio ads has changed, from radio to online radio ads and in-stream audio advertising, what hasn’t changed – is what makes a great audio ad.
Here are three components of great ads:
1. Your Audio Ad Script Matches Your Brand Voice
Depending on your brand and the goal of your advertising, you may integrate cheeky language into your script, or opt for a no-nonsense approach. In the end, what matters most is that the words, phrasing and tone you choose to include match your brand voice, making your ad come across as authentic.
Bonus! Get scriptwriting inspiration for a wide variety of industries, with these voice over sample scripts.
2. Your Audio Ad Sounds and Music Create a Mood
Without visuals to rely on, the music, background sounds (e.g. Foley) or special effects you select all need to work together to convey the mood and setting of your commercial. This careful attention to detail can mean the difference between catching a listener’s attention, or fading into background noise.
For instance, if you’re a company that sells vacation packages, imagine how your target audience might be captured by the grating sound of an ice scraper on a car windshield – especially when juxtaposed with the sound of ice cubes clinking together in a fresh cold drink, as waves crash in the background.
3. Your Audio Ad Voice Over Forms an Emotional Connection
Often, casting directors will say that as they’re listening through auditions, when they find the right voice, they “just know.”
While this might seem like an oversimplification of the casting process, when you consider how important emotional connection is to capturing attention, it makes sense. When it comes to our emotions, we’re often moved by what we hear simply by hearing it. We don’t need to think over ‘why’ we’ve reacted, all we know is that the performance connected on a visceral level.
Chances are, if the voice over has caused you to pause and take notice, it will do the same for your audience.
However, writing a great script for radio, as well as casting, are both an art and science. Learn more about how to cast the right voice.
8 Tips to Creating Effective Audio Ads
Before launching your first online audio ad campaign, it’s important to consider how advertising with sound differs from visual or text-based media. From learning how to write a radio script (which translates well to audio ads), to hiring the right voice over, it’s important to put yourself in the listeners’ shoes as you create your ad.
More and more listeners are switching from radio to audio streaming services like Spotify, Pandora and Google Play. Being able to create a crafty audio ad for these platforms will be vital to your success in this new age of audio.
These eight time-tested tips can help you to get into the right frame of mind, as well as yield the best results from your campaign.
Plus, we have a few awesome audio ad examples from Spotify and Pandora for you to listen to.
1. Keep Your Audio Ad Simple
If your listener remembered just one key message from your ad, what would you want it to be?
Choose one important message, and focus your effort on driving it home.
When listeners are hearing your audio ad, it’s likely that they’re multi-tasking – whether they’re driving, washing the dishes, or out for a run – their attention is already divided. So make your ad memorable by cutting back on the information that the listener has to remember. You only have around 30 seconds or less for a typical Spotify or Pandora audio spot, so your message has to be crystal clear.
2. Cut to Your Audio Ad’s Value Proposition as Early as Possible
Always lead with the most important information.
This goes right back to the point above on honing in on your key message. Now that you know what you want listeners to remember, cut to the chase and spend the rest of the time you have reinforcing that message.
Even if you feel like you’re repeating yourself, your listener is more likely to retain your message if they hear it more than once!
3. Appreciate the Difference Between Audio Ads and Radio
Even though some fundamentals, such as script writing and great voice over casting, are essential to both audio ads and radio commercials, some elements are different.
For instance, the listener isn’t likely in your geographic region, so you’ll have to consider a broader audience.
Further, the listener is much more mobile. Traditional radio tends to reach people in the car, at home, or at work. However, when it comes to online radio, listeners could be anywhere, as long as they have a connected device.
4. Conversational Tone in Your Audio Ad Voice Over Can Be Powerful
As Dale Carnegie aptly pointed out in his classic book, ‘How To Win Friends and Influence People,’ people like listening to friendly people, who speak clearly and in a conversational manner. This has never been truer in modern times, when the relatable voice over reads are dominating the advertising space.
When you post your voice over job for your audio ad, you can provide artistic direction to auditioning voice over actors that includes a read that’s conversational and friendly.
Read more about voice over trends in Voices.com’s Voice Over Industry Research Reports.
5. Slower Voice Over Delivery Forms a Connection with the Listener
When you’re writing a voice over script, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that the voice over talent only have a limited amount of time to deliver the whole read. You don’t want your audio ad to sound like the rapid chatter associated with disclaimer statements, such as those that appear at the end of a prescription drug commercial!
When you want your ad to be conversational, it pays to be sparing with the copy. By nature, conversations are much slower than ads you hear on television or on the radio.
Give time for the listener to mentally absorb what they’ve just heard and take action.
6. Loud Background Music is Distracting
You don’t necessarily need to eliminate background music, but rather, consider the volume level of the background music in comparison to the voice over, which should be heard front and center.
On the topic of background music, license a track from a music provider.
There are literally thousands of tracks to choose from online and you’ll be sure to find one that represents your brand and matches the performance style of the voice talent.
7. Create a Smooth Transition for the Listener
An audio ad isn’t listened to in isolation. Ads are inserted between songs, interviews and other audio content, so you’ll need to have a clean start and finish to your ad.
Avoid long pauses at the beginning of your ad, as it will give the impression that there’s dead air. On the tail end of your ad, avoid long fade-outs for the same reason.
Get creative! This is a savvy audience.
8. Make Your Call to Action Specific
When you embed a call-to-action (CTA), it’s important that it be as specific as possible. Drive traffic to your website or social media site by instructing listeners how and where they can learn more about your offering. Reference the exact next steps that you want your audience to take. You can even take it one step further by assigning a special landing page, URL, or code to offers that you promote in podcasts (e.g. Use promo code “PodcastListener” in the checkout cart!). That way, you’ll be able to track just how effective your audio ad is.
Record Your Audio Ad
Once you have your script completed, you need to now record the audio ad. Read our article on how to record an audio ad before you go any further in the process!
Pandora and Spotify Ad Examples
So now you have a framework to build an awesome online audio ad. However, you might want some real examples to sink your teeth into. Here are some of the best ad examples on Pandora and Spotify:
Kingsford and Dispatch – Spotify
Kingsford is the leading charcoal brand for barbeque grilling. Dispatch is a popular Indie-Roots band. Together they combined for a very unique Spotify ad campaign.
Kingsford came to Spotify to find out how to reach their core audience (male millennials interested in casual grilling) for a summer campaign.
Spotify used their streaming intelligence to discover the band Dispatch was at the top of the list of bands that male millennials interested in casual grilling listen to.
Dispatch recorded custom interviews and audio ads for Kingsford and put together a Spotify playlist of their favorite grilling and summer-related songs.
As a result, over half of listeners said the ads positively increased their interest in Kingsford Match Light charcoal. Kingsford also saw a 7% rise in brand consideration after the ad campaign.
Esurance – Pandora
Esurance partnered with the podcast Serial in a first-to-market sponsorship on Pandora. Esurance spokesperson, John Krasinski, recorded custom audio spots which welcomed the listeners to the Serial station on Pandora (click ‘view demo video’ within this link to listen to Krasinski’s voice over). There were 11.7 million streams of the Serial podcast, meaning huge time spent with the Esurance brand messaging.
Kraft – Pandora
Kraft used Pandora to advertise Velveeta Shells and Cheese. The campaign accounted for 9% of Velveeta Shells and Cheese’s total incremental sales for the year.
Truvia – Pandora
Truvia Nectar got super creative on Pandora. They incentivized the audience to interact with their ad for at least 15 seconds to unlock one hour of uninterrupted listening. The audio ad campaign had an average of 44 minutes time spent listening per user.
Samsung – Spotify
Samsung made a combo of audio and video ads to Spotify listeners about their M-series wireless audio systems. 40% of listeners planned to look for more info about the multiroom audio systems.
Ready to distribute your audio ad?
You can distribute your audio ad through many means (as we listed above). Be sure to visit each platform’s site to learn more about how to get your ad distributed, or start by visit our comprehensive article all about how to get your audio ads onto Pandora: one of the most exciting, diverse platforms for audio ads.
Do You Have Experience Creating Audio Ads?
Have you ever created, or voiced an audio ad? What worked well? What challenges did you have to overcome?
We’d love to hear all about it, in the comments below.