The Key to Your Audio Strategy? Start by Sounding Human

Findings from the 2020 Definitive Guide to Audio

Consumers consider their audio entertainment choices to be personal and tuned to their individual tastes. Music affects and predicts mood, allowing advertisers to reach their consumers in the exact mindset they desire.

That’s why brands need a clear and comprehensive audio strategy, and that strategy must prioritize the listener.

For the 2020 Definitive Guide to Audio, Pandora spoke with some of the most influential audio advertising experts to find out about their strategies for creative, measurement, voice technology and more. The resounding answer? Pay careful attention to every aspect of your campaign—from creative brief to measured outcomes specific to audio.

Combining our experts’ advice with Pandora’s nearly two decades of experience in digital audio advertising (plus insights from our Studio Resonate creative consultancy and our in-house Insights Lab), we identified two of the key elements that help brands activate their audio strategies in today’s world.

Prioritize human connection

Our panel of ad experts unanimously pointed out how broadcast strategies for AM/FM will not align with digital audio consumption. The reason is simple: technology, always-on access to content and personalized experiences require advertisers to have a dedicated digital audio strategy.

Consumers now expect a unique, custom experience whenever they log on to a streaming service—and the ads they receive are no exception. The reality is audio entertainment is the top choice for consumers, but the audio content they are choosing delivers a personalized listener experience. Your audio ad is no longer just a companion to their commute or an interruption—instead, it is a part of their personal getting-ready routine, workout soundtrack, lunch break or time spent with family.

So, how can your brand sound more human?

Start by asking: “Should my ad be more than an ad, creating a unique experience for the listener?” “Does my brand personality go beyond just visual recognition?” “Do we have a way to connect sonically with our customers?”

Marketers need to consider how voice is crucial for making an impact on listeners. Developing a sonic logo, defining brand tone and requiring sonic thinking during the campaign planning process is the first step towards making that happen.

Be a taste tester

Much of the marketing and publishing world thinks about measurement as the thing you do to test the effectiveness of a campaign spend. At Pandora, “measurement” goes far beyond that.

We believe there is real value in unlocking the reasons why some creative works well and some just doesn’t meet the mark. We understand that we play a crucial role in understanding how to measure audio ads to drive effectiveness for brands and rewarding experiences for listeners—before the campaign ever begins. At Pandora, our team brings a combination of expertise and curiosity to understand what makes a good audio campaign.

Here’s a great example: Our Insights Lab teamed up with Studio Resonate to get answers to some frequently asked questions about audio creative, such as “What’s the ideal ad length?” or “At what point in the ad should I mention the brand?”

To measure the effectiveness of different elements of an audio ad, Studio Resonate created Fizzo, a fictional sparkling water product. A Fizzo ad was then served 7.6 million times to real listeners on the Pandora platform.

So, what is the correct ad length? Our tests showed that there isn’t one right answer. For a brand-new, completely unknown product such as Fizzo, a full-length 30-second ad was ideal so that the listener could become familiar with the brand and hear about the product’s benefits. But, established brands needed much less time—as little as six seconds—to deliver an effective message.

Our interest in learning more from the Fizzo brand led us down the path of testing a series of different hypotheses that led to some insightful takeaways.  You can read more about our experimentation in our yearly Definitive Guide to Audio that offers a snapshot of the ad-supported audio landscape and all of the latest innovations, along with our five key takeaways from all of the test results.

In a world overloaded with content and messaging, audio has the opportunity to create real connections between brands and customers. With the high expectations for personalization in today’s media, bringing an audio strategy back to the human aspect—paired with thorough testing and insights—gives you the right tools to tell your brand story.

A 2016 Advertising Hall of Achievement inductee, Pandora SVP of ad innovation Lizzie Widhelm excels at connecting the needs of the consumer with the goals of the marketer to drive innovation in advertising. Joining Pandora 13 years ago, she is a passionate and thoughtful leader who has spent over a decade ensuring Pandora remains at the forefront of audio innovation.