A Guide to Writing Your Interactive Voice Ad Script
Interactive voice ads are an inventive way for advertisers to capitalize on the new golden age of audio by reaching their audiences exactly where they spend most of their time: listening to music and podcasts, or interacting with a voice-activated device, whether at home or on the go.
In today’s marketing landscape, advertisers have found that it is no longer sufficient for a brand to talk at its audience—because audiences want to talk back. In the days of yore, consumers were at the whim of the programming decisions of traditional media outlets, but now they consume bespoke cross-platform content that addresses their niche needs and interests. Modern marketing should seek to reflect this increasingly one-on-one exchange by developing more innovative, individualistic, and interactive ways of showing up in their audience’s lives than ever before.
Audio consumption rates are through the roof. Beyond the proliferation of podcast listening and the enduring popularity of radio, a 2020 Nielsen report found that 44% of the U.S. population now use a voice assistant, while one-third of U.S. households own a smart speaker. Voice-activated devices already offer their users the ability to order products, receive educational instruction, and apply for jobs using simple voice commands. Purchases made via voice, otherwise known as ‘voice commerce,’ are “predicted to grow more than $80 billion by 2023.”
Voice Ads Offer Frictionless Engagement and New Measurement Opportunities
One of the most attractive aspects of interactive voice ads is their hands-free nature. Whether your listener is driving, cooking dinner, or briskly responding to emails, an interactive voice ad has the power to frictionlessly filter into the listener’s audio channel without requiring the listener to stop what they’re doing or even lift their head.
Listeners have even reported that they find interactive voice ads to be less disruptive than radio spots or traditional display ads, because if the product being advertised has no interest to them, then they can simply vocalize their disinterest, and the ad will promptly end.
Interactive voice ads also have the potential to provide deeper insights into a listener’s preferences. When a listener responds positively to an ad, that interaction can be recorded so that similar ads or styles of advertising may be delivered to that listener in the future.
This metric has been dubbed a ‘say-through-rate,’ as opposed to the click-through rate employed to track web advertising. A say-through-rate “can capture verbal engagement, both positive and negative, which excites advertisers who want a fresh way to reach consumers — and measure the effectiveness of that reach.”
Now that you understand the myriad benefits interactive voice ads can bring to your marketing efforts, you need to learn how to craft an original script for one.
How to Write an Interactive Voice Ad
Radio advertisements generally follow a traditional formula. An effective radio ad opens on a hook that grabs the listener’s attention, presents a problem, offers a solution, and ends with an irresistible call to action (CTA).
However, when you’re penning the script for your interactive voice ad, the tried-and-true radio ad format loses its applicability. Much like an IVR phone system, the script for an interactive voice ad must branch out into multiple pathways, depending on the answer the listener provides.
Without further ado, here are the four key components of a basic interactive voice ad script:
Voice Ad Exchange #1: The Opening Statement
While you may have hurled comments at your radio before, up until recently, the radio was never able to talk back to you. The technology powering interactive voice ads is pretty cutting-edge, so the average consumer needs to be instructed how to properly participate in one. As interactive voice ads grow more commonplace, this introductory gesture may fall out of fashion, but for now it is necessary to familiarize your listener with the dynamic.
“We have to educate consumers,” writes Pandora. “Explicitly informing listeners that this is a new kind of ad within the invitation audio spot has helped to capture attention and drive higher verbal engagement.”
One of the most important elements of advertising today is simply showing up in the right way. When you’re putting listeners in the driver’s seat by granting them the power to tell the ad to go away if they so choose, then you don’t want your opening statement to feel intrusive. At the same time, you only have a limited duration to convince your listener to give your advertisement the time of day. Because of this, you’ll need to hit the ground running.
Here are some sample intros that you can use to kick off your interactive voice ad:
[The sound of birds chirping and a cup of coffee being poured. The voice actor yawns.]
“Top of the morning to you. Before you wipe the sleep from your eyes, get a taste of this: I’m a new type of interactive ad that you can have a conversation with.”
“Hi there! Just so you know, you’re talking to a TV show trailer that uses voice recognition. You won’t get in trouble for talking back to me.”
[The sound of a few perfume spritzes.]
“You may not be able to smell me at the moment, but you can speak to me. I’m a voice dialogue ad designed for your smart speaker.”
Voice Ad Exchange #2: Brand CTA
The next segment of your ad, the brand CTA, should directly follow the opening statement. Once the listener has been informed that they are dealing with an interactive voice ad, then you’re ready to reel them in for the exhilarating next step—the one where you invite the consumer to talk back.
The ad hasn’t begun until the listener’s interest has been confirmed once they say ‘yes.’ This stage determines whether a listener will be delivered the entirety of the interactive voice ad, or whether the ad will come to a truncated stop. For consumers, interactive voice ads are a choose your own adventure game.
Whereas a radio ad might end with the CTA urging listeners to act on the information featured in the ad—whether by visiting a website, visiting a shop, or making a purchase—the CTAs in interactive voice ads are two-way direct questions.
This unique two-way ad format also gives marketers the opportunity to do more than simply promote their brand. An expression of interest in response to the brand CTA can result in being dealt an extended version of the audio ad, sure, but it can also involve ordering free samples, signing up for a mailing list, downloading an app, or uncovering specific details about a product or offer.
Here are a few sample brand CTAs specifically written for interactive voice ads. They will be followed by positive and negative responses, and you can click on either response to see the appropriate follow-up dialogue.
“Collantes Coffee believes that any bold day begins with a bold cup of coffee. Tell me: do you want to wake up and smell the Collantes? Simply say ‘send me a sample’ to get a free sample of our coffee beans sent directly to your front door.”
“Ignition is a new documentary series that follows a group of students at a Detroit public school who launch an initiative to combat climate change. What begins as one student’s curiosity about the environment snowballs into an uprising that shakes the student body and eventually the entirety of Motor City. Would you like to know how to watch Ignition?”
“A brand new fragrance that transports you to the middle of a sprawling field, with the wind blowing through your hair, even when you’re just heading out to run errands. Karner Blue: the aroma of the outdoors. Do you want to know what Karner Blue is made of?”
Voice Ad Exchange #3: The Target Action
This next and final step is where the bulk of the ad is contained. The listener has expressed their interest, so now the ad’s primary objective is to sell the product and follow through with what was offered to the listener.
“You’ve opted to try a sample of Collantes Coffee! Boy, did you make the right decision. Right at the crack of the dawn, when your eyelids have barely lifted, our organic blend is a pick-me-up for the senses: from the stimulating aroma of our beans, to the flavorful, enriching kick that hits when you first take a sip, it all begins with the rousing sound of Collantes brewing in the morning.”
[Sound effect of coffee brewing.]
“New episodes of Ignition are released every Monday night at 7 PM. You can access the entire first season of Ignition on our website, Ignition Series dot com, or by visiting our YouTube channel.”
“Blending the all-natural scents of juniper berries, ivy leaves, and wild lupine, Karner Blue is perfect to spray on your wrist before you head out the door, or to mist throughout a room that needs some freshening up. You can find Karner Blue at select stores or K Blue Perfume dot com.”
Voice Ad Exchange #4: The Negative Response
When you present your listener with a prompt and they indicate that they aren’t interested, your script must feature a quick line of dialogue that serves as the segue back into the listener’s other audio content. While this message should be short and sweet, it also provides the opportunity to enforce brand recall and leave a final impression on the listener. Although a listener has opted to turn off the ad, you still want to provide them with a taste of your brand voice.
Stas Tushinskiy, founder of voice dialogue ad platform Instreamatic, notes that “if an ad is irrelevant, there is a way for people to tell the brand ‘I don’t want to hear or see this ever again because I already got a car.’”
The manner in which the listener voices a negative response can also offer insights that inform how they should be advertised toward in the future.
“One listener could reply to an ad by saying ‘No thanks, not today,’ for example, while another listener might offer an expletive-laced negative response. According to Tushinskiy, the AI can spot — and sort — the difference. This data may be useful for brands deciding when, or if, to re-target listeners with subsequent ads.”
Here are some sample negative responses to the CTAs listed above:
“No problemo! You’ll be returned to your regular programming now. If you change your mind and would like to get a sample of Collantes Coffee’s organic blend delivered to your door, just visit collantes coffee dot com.”
“Thanks for letting us tell you a bit about the new environmental activism series Ignition! Your normal listening will resume in just a moment.”
[Perfume spritzing sound effect.]
“Sure thing. Karner Blue is taking you back to your music now.”
The Benefits of Advertising With Voice
Studies have shown that every dollar spent on a radio ad campaign translates to somewhere between $9 to $23 in returns, so radio advertising is certainly profitable. However, interactive voice ads are even more attractive to brands because they can actually measure when a listener engages with the ad. “Just because an audio ad is playing doesn’t mean anyone is actively listening to it,” writes VentureBeat, “which is why soliciting vocal input from the user could help streaming platforms such as Pandora and Spotify increase advertising spend.”
According to user data collected by Pandora, just under 50% of their users “liked or loved the concept of responding with their voice,” while 30% “felt neutral.” Beyond this, “72% of users also said they found the ad format easy to engage with.”
Shark Tank entrepreneur Mark Cuban has even said that if he were looking to start a side hustle today, he would become an expert in scripting voice-enabled applications for smart speakers.
“By ‘scripting,’” the article on Cuban details, “Cuban is referring to the process of coding voice commands to create so-called ‘skills,’ which enable devices — like Amazon’s Echo or Echo Dot, which use artificial intelligence-enabled voice assistant Alexa, Google Home or Microsoft’s Cortana — to complete a task.”
While Cuban doesn’t precisely mean writing the copy to be delivered in an interactive voice ad, his faith in the future of smart speakers points to a method of advertising that is only bound to gain traction and popularity as voice-enabled devices make their way into more and more households.
Find the Voice for Your Interactive Voice Ad Today
Now that you understand how to write an interactive voice ad, you’re ready to hire an experienced voice actor to make your audio ad come alive and give your brand a presence on smart speakers and home assistants.
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