How SXM Media uses research and sonic science to develop more effective announcer read ads

There’s unquestionably something very special about podcasting: it’s unique ability to storytell, the low barrier to entry, and of course, the special intimate bond that happens between host and listener. While the above all contribute to the medium’s fast growing popularity, they also cause hesitancy from advertisers to tap into the power of advertising at scale.

At SXM Media, we’ve approached the space very carefully and with the attention to detail it deserves. Part of our plan is to explore and methodically test every aspect of podcast advertising, starting with ad length and ad format.

A New Take on Announcer Read Ads

Host Read ads have proven popular due to their native experience and the host’s trusted and familiar voice, however they’re not without their challenges. Host Reads’ inflexibility to give specific prescriptive copy and lack of scale that National and Global brands are looking for have led way to a different ad format: the Announcer Read.

Our in-house creative agency, Studio Resonate, set out to develop a creative offering that would address the fragmented podcast mediascape and complement our full-scale advertising product that combines reach across 5,000+ podcasts. Screen Shot 2021-05-21 at 2.11.16 PM All of our Announcer Reads are performed as natural, podcast-style reads, with the goal to sound contextually appropriate across many podcast genres. This offering has allowed us to provide a host-like experience while specifying copy to a much larger audience across our entire podcast platform.



Putting it to the Test: Measuring Ad Length and Effectiveness

In a recent study—partnered with Xfinity and Signal Hill Insights—participants were served 15 and 30 second Announcer Read spots created by SXM Media’s Studio Resonate while listening to either a Hidden Brain or Oprah Super Soul Conversations podcast. All of the Announcer Reads ads were compared to a Stitcher benchmark, which was developed over the course of years of podcast and effectiveness research, where a vast majority of the tested creatives were Host Read ads. Here’s what we learned:

Announcer Reads can be as effective as Host Reads

All of the Studio Resonate Announcer Read ads we tested were just as effective at driving brand recall as our Stitcher benchmark. In particular, there was no significant difference between the 15s Announcer Read and the Stitcher benchmark. This is pretty remarkable considering most of the research in-market today touts Host Read ads as the highest performing podcast ad format in comparison to pre-recorded and/or announcer reads.

Screen Shot 2021-05-21 at 4.53.05 PM

Ad length effectiveness can vary by KPI

Looking at longer creatives, we found the 30 and 60 second Announcer Read ads outperform 15 second ads for mid and lower funnel KPIs, such as brand familiarity and leading listeners to act. Why? 30 and 60-second creatives give brands more time to build not just awareness, but also to more fully explain products and services—more time to help listeners understand, and ultimately entice them to act.

Screen Shot 2021-05-21 at 6.25.57 PM

What does this mean for advertisers?

Announcer Reads can be useful for a wide range of objectives allowing advertisers to scale their podcast strategy while maintaining the integrity of the podcast environment. While value of the Host Read is still undeniable, we have now established how to use our best-in-class Announcer Reads to get similar results using insights to curate campaigns that combine scale, efficiency and industry-leading effectiveness. Whether it’s a 15s Announcer Read to generate brand recall at scale, or longer-form audio to get extra time to push listeners through the funnel, these insights mean more opportunities and strategies for advertisers of all sizes.

Screen Shot 2021-05-21 at 4.11.17 PM

This also gives brands of all sizes the opportunity to enter the podcast space with a low barrier to entry. A 15s Announcer Read allows brands to dip their toe into the space while still getting the powerful brand recall podcasts have been known for.

Put these insights to work:

You’re one step closer to mastering a podcast ad buying strategy. Get started by working with your SXM Media sales representative to learn more about our podcast offerings and how you can opt into PAX Podcasts to fully harness the power of the Announcer Read at scale.