A frustrated marketer trying to understand the KPIs that matter for his podcast - audio marketing challenges concept
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While traditional audio ads on the radio continue to enjoy localized success, modern audio ads are on the rise. In fact, according to recent data, 75% of advertisers plan to increase spending on podcast audio ads. That’s because about one-quarter of consumers plan to spend more time listening to podcasts and other digital audio content in the next year. The opportunities with modern audio ads are enormous, but how do marketing teams know if they’re working? 

Experts currently using audio ads share their experiences to help us understand what they are, the main challenges they present and why companies should consider modern audio ads.

What Are Audio Ads?

Audio Ads exist in many forms and through a multitude of mediums from podcasts to Spotify or Amazon Alexa. “Audio ads on podcasts, either host-read or otherwise placed are designed to expose prospective customers to new or likely-to-buy audiences,” explained Amma Marfo, digital content lead at Swoot. They’re highly specific to the audience of the podcast, so brands can more easily deliver the most relevant ads possible. 

Many podcasts, however, have realized that their audiences don’t like listening to ads. That’s why Marfo said, “a frequent perk for podcast supporters is an ad-free feed, meaning people who could spend money on the product, would instead pay the podcaster to NOT hear the ad for the product.” There are limitations, therefore, to the reach of audio ads on some platforms.

Besides podcasts or Spotify, ads are emerging on voice-enabled devices with Amazon Alexa that utilize natural language and conversational interactions. “Dialogue advertising presents a verbal call-to-action to listeners where they are able to respond in natural language,” explained Stas Tushinskiy, CEO at Instreamatic. These types of ads present a unique opportunity for marketers, and many companies are just figuring out how to leverage them effectively.

Related Article: 5 Audio Marketing Trends You Should Be Paying Attention To

How Audio Ads Complicate Audio Content Monetization

“Due to its passiveness, the traditional method of audio advertising — spots which may run alongside content on radio, streaming audio, podcasts, or even smart speaker devices — has always faced an outsized challenge when it comes to measuring the impact of ad campaigns,” explained Stas Tushinskiy, CEO of Instreamatic. You can track listeners, gather feedback and utilize other metrics, but the essential KPIs like impressions and conversions are not easy to track.

Marfo agreed, “Tracking impressions can be challenging for audio ads because they can easily be skipped on podcasts.” It’s challenging to know whether your audience has listened to audio ads, and even harder to attribute conversions to them. This is the same issue that marketers faced with radio ads in the past.

The issue is that audio ads are quite different from traditional online ads. “Audio ads do not carry cookies, hence it is difficult to attribute the sales/transaction to them (unlike display ads),” said Saurabh Jindal, CEO of Talk Travel. This means you often can’t properly estimate the ROI of particular audio ads.

“While it’s possible to conduct listener surveys and attempt to attribute ad impact after the fact, traditional audio ads lack anything like the real-time measurement and much more direct attribution provided by click metrics, which have driven tremendous success for digital advertisers for years,” said Tushinskiy. This is changing, however, with emerging technologies that offer dialogue advertising. With dialogue-based ads, responses can be tracked to estimate the level of user engagement and which ads are working best. “In doing so, dialogue advertising gives brands new capabilities for making real-time decisions in optimizing audio ad campaigns, and utilizing their ad spends more wisely,” he said.

Related Article: What Audio Marketing Is and Why It Should Be a Part of Your Content Strategy

Audio Ads Still Have Their Place

While it’s challenging to measure the impact of audio ads, they’re still beneficial for most organizations when it comes to brand awareness and building customer relationships.

Most audio ads can significantly improve brand awareness, but they’re unlikely to improve site traffic. “The user generally does not leave the audio listening experience to go and visit the advertiser's website and thus spoil his/her experience,” Jindal explained. It’s also because there’s generally not an easy way for consumers to navigate from audio ads to a website or mobile app.

Marfo believes that audio ads can often be more effective than other forms of advertising, like social media marketing. Many companies find that ads delivered by podcasters, for example, are more effective than those delivered by algorithms on Facebook or Instagram “because of the perceived relationships that form between podcasters and their listeners.”

Companies looking to get started with audio ads will face the challenge of measuring the ROI, but there’s no doubt that audio ads will grow as more consumers use audio-based technologies.