Why Audio Is Important in Today’s Advertising Landscape

Eric Suliga, Creative Director

Every day, people listen to audio for a quarter of their waking hours. And for nearly a century, advertisers have leveraged the medium to documented success. Today’s audio is even better: it’s personalized for individual tastes and daily routines; new technologies are the gateway to more choices, more accessibility, more control and thus more engagement. And for those reasons, there has never been a better time to be a marketer who invests in audio.

However, the ever-changing demands of consumers and the rapid evolution of ad tech are leaving advertisers constantly striving to keep up. Because of this, having accurate performance data to understand the effectiveness of ad campaigns has never been more important.

Understanding ad effectiveness is the very reason why Scott Simonelli launched his company Veritonic. In fact, Veritonic’s mission is to evaluate all those critical ingredients that make up an audio ad, or the audio in a video ad. Scott was kind enough to share some of their early findings about audio commercials with us.

Putting Audio Ads To The Test

In this era of data-driven decisions, every creative aspect of an ad campaign, such as the selection of a music bed or VO talent, will shift from “what feels right” to “what tested best.” These decisions can be amplified in a digital environment, where different creative executions can be served to different parties.

Along with major brands such as CBS Television, Liberty Mutual Insurance and Subway, Veritonic has joined with Pandora to measure the efficacy of the ads served to Pandora listeners. The findings will be shared with participating clients, and aggregated results will be used to further develop creative best practices.

We sat down with Scott to get a better understanding of why audio is so important in today’s attention-starved society.

Here’s what he had to say:

Q: Before Veritonic, you worked as a songwriter at Sony Music. What’s the difference between writing for ads and a full-length pop song? It’s like running a different race. For a commercial, one of the things that we focus on is time, and you’ve got to hit the point fast. If you don’t evoke a certain emotion in the first three seconds, you might not have a chance to get the next five seconds.

Q: How would you describe what Veritonic does? We empower marketers to connect with their audience through sound by measuring how people respond to what they hear. That’s the core of our technology and it helps create better ads. Today’s brands cannot survive on aggregate data, our clients need to understand every nuance of their audience. Attributes like: listening preferences, who they are, where they live, what their income is, what kind of car they drive and many more. We provide actionable data about how sound is being perceived across every conceivable dimension.

Q: How will the relationship work between Veritonic, Pandora and its advertisers? Our goal is to give Pandora and its advertisers the ad research toolset that helps them evaluate the effectiveness of their ads with a high degree of confidence. Everything we do is quantitative research, so it provides a framework and benchmarks that say, “This ad is working and this ad is not, and here’s why.” In addition, we use this data to help develop best practices in order to make better ads.

Q: Do the successful ads in your testing share any particular characteristics? Like anything else with testing, there’s never a silver bullet, and what works today might not work tomorrow. Every good marketer knows, when it comes to testing, “It’s a journey not a destination.” Having said that, a spot that has a music bed, in general seems to be more effective. We’ve also seen a boost from ads that are personalized in some way to the listener. On the negative side, audio ripped from a TV spot or an online video tends to perform poorly; these ads are not as descriptive and don’t have the right pacing for a pure-audio environment.

Q: What can you learn from all the variables that you test on? We can help answer multi-dimensional questions like, “Is it better to have a genre-specific music bed for females age 40 and up who listen to this kind of music?” And that, to me, is a very powerful way to serve ads. Now you can advertise to a specific demographic, you know what they’re listening to and you can create ads that you think are going to be effective, and then measure whether they were or not. And that’s value to the brand and that’s value right to Pandora.

Q: Does the TV industry have the same advertising challenges that the audio platforms face? They have challenges but it’s of a different nature. We’re seeing on a macro level that people are not looking at the television as much these days; they may have it on, but there’s often a second screen involved. If I’m watching a game and I’ve got my iPad in my lap, or I’m doing whatever, I’m not going to pay attention to the TV unless the ad has effective audio.

Q: What’s the future of digital audio advertising? There are amazing things about audio ads that we’re looking at, and there’s a lot of value to the advertiser. Paid search has been so successful because advertisers have a tremendous amount of control; you can do a paid search ad for a very specific thing and that attribution is very clear. Pandora is primed to measure those same kinds of those things, and when it does, the sky’s the limit and the more powerful it becomes for the advertiser.

Want to hear even more from Scott? Grab your copy of our 2018 Definitive Guide to Audio here: