Audio Recording – Creating Your Own Ads

With the ability to target specific demographics, and reach around the world, online audio advertising is an obvious pick for many marketers. Its ability to be traced and verified also makes it appealing, as it’s easier to track your return on investment, when compared with older forms of advertising.

Online Audio Ads

Here are some considerations to keep in mind when it comes to formatting and broadcasting your online audio ads.

Format Your Audio Ad Files into MP3s

The standard digital audio format for audio ads and podcasts is MP3. There are different measures of quality within an MP3 file. As a marketer, you will want to select the audio quality that sounds great but also plays quickly for listeners.

If your audio ad is mostly voice with no background music or musical segments, you may want to consider using a mono file as this will reduce the MP3’s file size and as a result, minimize your ad’s download time even more.

Test Your Audio Quality by Listening to Your Ad Across Multiple Devices

To ensure your ad comes across well, regardless of what your audience uses when listening, see if your mixed down MP3 sounds good on a variety of stereo systems such as your computer speakers, headphones, mobile phones and and mobile phones with the speakerphone enabled.

This can be incredibly helpful to ensuring that you have your edited version up to a standard of quality that will represent your brand well, no matter where your messages are heard.

File Conversion – Converting to MP3

Generally, you will have the option to save or export your recording as an MP3. If the only option is to export as a WAV file, that’s OK too. You’ll just have to complete one extra step to convert the WAV file to an MP3 file.

Digital Audio File Sizes – File Tips

A WAV (or an AIFF, if you’re a MAC user) is an uncompressed audio file. They tend to be larger files, but they are of better quality than other file formats.

With an MP3 or AAC files, you sacrifice quality but the file size is much smaller.

While the duration for audio ads may vary, but regardless of the length, the audio clips must be exactly the specified length or they will be declined by the advertising system.

Audio Recording Software

Recording software allows users to easily layer, mix, and transform audio recordings into songs featuring a variety of instruments and effects. The same software often also has the ability to merge elements into audio ads.

There are a variety of recording software options on the market, both for free and for a cost. Take stock of what your needs are, and investigate the options available to you to make sure they’ll meet your needs before you invest time and/or money.

Some popular programs include Audacity, Garageband, Anvil Studio and Kristal.

Planning Your Audio Mix

Balancing your mix just right, is crucial to making sure that all the elements of your ad come together as intended. The goal of your audio mix is to maintain your vision for the sound from the beginning to the end.

Soloing Specific Sounds In Your Mix

As an editing tip, it can be helpful to first hear each track, one at at time. By using the Solo feature, all other tracks will be muted allowing you to only hear the track you have designated. As a rule of thumb, the voice over should be the loudest and clearest element of your mix.

As you’re listening, you can apply special effects, like volume faders, compressors, and normalization, as well as control the threshold and ratio. More on these below:

Volume Faders – Control the Volume

Each track in your mix has it own fader that controls the volume level.  Increase and decrease the levels to make a particular track sound louder or quieter.  

Compressors – Reduce Dynamic Ranges

A compressor’s basic function is to reduce the dynamic range of an audio recording, which is the difference between the loudest and softest sounds in a recording.

By reducing the volume of the loudest sounds, a compressor lets you raise the level of the entire audio track, making it all sound louder than it actually is. Compression can be a big help in achieving intelligible audio tracks with a more uniform volume that will sound great on any stereo system.

A compressor consists of a level detector that measures the incoming signal, and an amplifier that controls the gain by the level detector.

The Threshold

A Threshold control sets the level at which compression begins. Below the Threshold, the compressor acts like a straight piece of wire. But when the input level reaches the Threshold, then the compressor begins reducing its output level by an amount determined by the Ratio control.

The Ratio

The Ratio control establishes the proportion of change between the input and output levels. If you set the compression Ratio to 2:1, then when the input signal gets twice as loud, the output signal will increase by only half.

If you set the Ratio to its maximum (10:1 or more), the compressor becomes a limiter that locks the maximum level at the Threshold.

While a compressor can level out a recording, high levels of compression can also introduce artifacts (unwanted sound from editing) including pumping, in which there is an audible up and down change in volume of a track, or breathing, which sounds like someone breathing as the background noise level goes up and down.

Normalization – Clarify audio and reduce distortion

Normalizing increases the gain of the audio file until its loudest point is at maximum level. The overall signal level is now higher, which makes for clearer audio, and also gives the encoder more bits of data to work with and reduces encoding distortion.

The only downside of normalizing is that it increases the noise as well as the audio signal so it should be used carefully. It should be your last step before encoding, and you may not need it at all.

With these tips in mind, and with endless other resources available, creating your own ads for use on various platforms is within your reach.

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