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How to Create Audio Ads: 8 Tips for Digital Advertising

Audio ads have become one of the most prominent forms of digital advertising in the world today. Served to listeners through a range of distribution channels, including podcasts, smart speakers, audio search, music streaming services, and traditional radio, audio ads are a central component of the audio revolution that has taken the world of advertising by storm. 

According to Statista, the digital audio advertising space is anticipated to grow by more than 23.5% in 2021. Some studies also indicate that audio ads may be more effective than any other form of media, including old-school radio.

A study commissioned by Pandora found that when audio ads were integrated with participants’ personal music playlists, these ads impacted long-term memory 49% better than radio, 36% better than television, and 29% better than mobile video ads.

Due to the easy availability of voice recording software, the affordability of professional-grade recording equipment, and the variety of digital platforms that now host audio ads, it has never been easier to get your message out there.

In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about audio ads, including:

Audio Ad Distribution Channels

Audio ads are a flourishing ad format these days, particularly due to an array of audio and voice-integrated devices that weave 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% in the United Kingdom in under a decade. 

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. According to Edison Research’s 2021 Infinite Dial study, an estimated 193 million Americans listened to online audio in the last month.

However, before we get into how you make an audio ad, it’s good to lay the groundwork for the range of the formats and platforms that will best serve your brand:

Media Formats for Audio Ads

Podcasts

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 be distributed through all of the major audio streaming platforms, including Spotify, iTunes, Pandora, Buzzsprout, Podbean, SoundCloud, and many other channels.

Music (In-stream or programmatic audio ads 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 via 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 Assistant 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. 

Internet Radio

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 such as 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. Learn how to turn your regular blog into an audio blog with these five easy steps.

Audio Ad Distribution Platforms

YouTube

Over two billion people now use Google’s video-sharing platform, and many also use YouTube to stream music. YouTube Premium allows users to watch and listen to videos and music free of ads, and about 30 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. 

Pandora

One of the original internet radio services, Pandora (also known as Pandora Radio), launched in 2000.  

Over two decades later, Pandora remains one of the top three most popular audio streaming platforms in the United States.

Pandora offers one of the strongest lineups and variety of banner, video, and audio ads for potential advertisers.

Spotify

Spotify is an audio streaming platform that was founded in Sweden in 2006.

Spotify is the most-used audio streaming platform in the United States, and will have over 400 million active monthly listeners in 2021.

SoundCloud

SoundCloud is an online audio distribution platform that lets users upload, share and promote their audio.

The platform was founded in 2007 and has over 175 million unique monthly users as of March 2019.

TuneIn

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 whichever 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, and SiriusXM are also great options for your brand to use to run its audio ads. 

3 Benefits of Advertising on Audio Streaming Platforms

For advertisers, there are three main benefits to advertising on an audio streaming platform:

  1. Audio ads have been shown to be more effective than traditional radio advertisements. Like we mentioned earlier, a study by Pandora found that audio ads supplied into listener’s curated playlists increased information retention and ad recall.
  2. Audio streaming platforms drive business to you right off of their platform or site by providing audio advertisers with online placement as well.
  3. Audio ads can supply you with more qualified leads, as audio streaming platforms allow advertisers to embed their messaging among targeted audiences.

Audio Ad Effectiveness

Okay, so you’re sensing audio ads may be important for your brand to prioritize, yet you’re wondering where to find the concrete data that indicates just how effective they are.

Here are five fast facts to solidify your trust that audio ads will deliver a return on investment:

  1. Spotify reports that its audio ads generate 60% higher ad recall than more than 1,600 comparable online campaigns.
  2. 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.
  3. 90 percent of audio streaming listeners choose ad-supported listening.
  4. Every single Spotify ad gets 100% share-of-voice. Also, 72% of weekly Spotify streams in the U.S. are by millennials.
  5. 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 to Create Audio Ads

Write a Great Script

Every good audio ad campaign starts with a good script. So, what are the elements of a strong audio ad script? Let’s take a look:

  1. 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 listener’s 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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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 causes 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!
  4. 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 set out and create your own audio ads, sometimes it helps to get a little inspiration.

Voices has an extensive library of original voice over 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.

3 Elements of a Compelling Audio Ad

While the method of distribution for audio ads has changed, from radio to online radio ads, to 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 either 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.

Get scriptwriting inspiration for a wide variety of industries, with this collection of voice over scripts.

2. Your Audio Ad Music and Sound Effects Create a Mood

Without visuals to rely on, the music and sounds effects, or the inclusion of a sonic logo 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. The Voice Over in Your Audio Ad Forms an Emotional Connection

Casting directors will often 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 overanalyze why we’ve reacted—all we know is that the performance connected on a visceral level.

Chances are, if a voice over delivery has caused you to pause and take notice, it will do the same for your audience.

However, casting the right voice for a voice over script is both an art and a science. Learn more about how to cast the right voice.

8 Tips for 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, to hiring the right voice actor, it’s important to put yourself in the listener’s shoes as you create your ad.

More and more listeners are switching from radio to audio streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, and Amazon Music. The ability 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 scriptwriting and voice over casting are essential elements of both audio ads and radio commercials, other elements are different.

For instance, when you create an audio ad, the listener may not be in your geographic region, so you’ll have to consider a broader audience.

Furthermore, 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 than in present day, when 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 our 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 actor may 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, like 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, you can 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 channels 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, your next step is to record the audio ad.

Audio Ad Examples

You now have a framework to build an awesome digital 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:

Calvin Klein (Spotify)

American fashion house Calvin Klein teamed up with Spotify to launch their one future, #ckone campaign targeted at an audience of engaged Gen Z listeners.

The ad posed one question to Spotify users: “What do you hope for?” It then prompted listeners to add one song to a collaborative playlist that captures the collective future dreams of Gen Z.

“Through audio,” said Calvin Klein’s executive VP of global creative, “we were able to directly tie our brand campaign to the songs and artists that inspire our audience and establish a new kind of connection.”

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.

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 of time spent listening per user.

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 visiting our comprehensive article that covers how to get your audio ads onto Pandora.

To launch your ad using programmatic audio advertising, check out StackAdapt’s self-serve programmatic ad platform.

Once you’re ready to give it a go, subscribe to a Voices membership to find the right voice for your next audio ad.

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Comments

  • Skylar Williams
    August 30, 2019, 12:06 pm

    Thank you for your tip to make sure that the background music isn’t so loud that it is distracting. My father owns a car dealership and he wants to make an ad for the radio. I will tell him to make sure that the background music isn’t too distracting.

    Reply
  • Joanna Miles
    September 20, 2019, 6:09 am

    Voice recording can be really tricky. There are things you should consider before starting your audio recording, like what settings and material needed. Thank you for sharing these tips.

    Reply
  • Mike Brown
    November 20, 2019, 1:32 am

    Hello there, Thanks for writing about audio ads distribution platforms. I strongly agree with your point that audio ads and audio marketing are very important these days.

    Reply
    • oliver
      November 20, 2019, 10:19 am

      Hey Mike,

      It’s our pleasure. Thanks for the comment!

      Reply
  • Ravali
    September 1, 2020, 1:26 pm

    Good, excellent.

    Reply
  • Chris Land
    May 2, 2021, 8:13 am

    Hi David,
    Great post! Pandora is one of my favorites on this list!
    It is a very powerful platform but too often overlooked by marketers. With brand awareness in the U.S. at the level of 83% of the total population, it beats Spotify, iHeartRadio, and Apple Music.

    After Spotify, Pandora is the second most used audio brand in the U.S., so definitely a marketplace worth looking into if you are looking for a wide audience. At the same time, Spotify’s CPM is around $5-$30, while Pandora’s is roughly $8-$12, so with a well-targeted campaign, you can get a great ROI.

    With decent Pandora targetting and the fact that 60% of Pandora listeners are over 35 years old, I love their marketing potential.

    Have you experimented with advertising on Pandora? What did you find working better – awareness campaigns or sales ads?

    Cheers,
    Chris from

    Reply
  • Kseniia
    June 15, 2021, 5:06 am

    Thanks for your advice! We are currently working on our YouTube channel and your articles are extremely useful.

    Reply
  • Barbara
    July 1, 2021, 9:32 am

    Hi David! I found your article very helpful and detailed, and also complementary to something we have written (and vice-versa) at Aflorithmic.
    I just missed the synthetic and dynamic options in here 🙂 Happy to continue talking about it with you.
    Thank you! Best, Barbara.

    Reply