Whoever said radio isn’t rocket science may not have envisioned the testing, analytics, and sophisticated technology that goes into audio advertising in 2023. The science behind it was on full display last week as about 300 audio and podcast advertising practitioners convened in New York for Veritonic’s second annual Audio Intelligence Summit.
Veritonic is the audio research company that provides advertisers, agencies, and audio companies tools to research, test, and measure return on investment for audio ads and audio logos at various stages of a campaign. Among the services it provides are spending benchmarks for various ad categories. An insurance brand, for instance, can see what its competitors are investing in audio. It also provides attribution and brand lift technology and conducts testing of audio ad creative to help marketers make advertising decisions and optimize their campaigns.
The half-day conference brought together brands, audio companies, and agencies to share best practices, the use of creative and analytics, and innovative measurement strategies that drove successful audio and podcast ad campaigns throughout the past year.
Among the participants was James Clarke, Senior Director, Digital and Social Media, PepsiCo. Clarke said the CPG giant “is a big believer in the power of audio” and that it has been increasing advertising investment in audio-first channels for several years. “Audio was once the medium of choice for marketers a generation ago but fell out of favor with the advent of TV and subsequent introduction of digital and social media advertising,” Clarke said. “It seems what was old is new again, however, as consumer time spent with audio is on the rise thanks to the surging popularity of streaming audio, podcasts, and voice technology – it is truly a second ‘audio renaissance.’”
That’s why the company has worked to ensure its marquee brands like Doritos, Tostitos, and Fritos developed “strong sonic identities” to match their own well-established visual images. For example, Tostitos was challenged to develop a sonic identity after the world reopened following the depths of the pandemic and PepsiCo saw that the occasions of people consuming Tostitos were moving back out of the home and into restaurants and other places beyond the home unit. The goal was to recreate the sound and feel of the moment when people come together “around the bowl,” using sound and music. Working with Made Music Studio, the brand came up with an award-winning, music-based sonic brand that combines three sounds – the chip crunch, jar top pop, and the musical tone of using salsa jars as a drumkit.
PepsiCo used Veritonic’s testing in the development of this and other brand-specific sonic identities, Clarke said at the Audio Intelligence Summit. “We realized immediate and impactful results from our sonic investments,” he told the conference. “In fact, we saw double-digit increases in ad recall when sonic logos were applied because consumers are more apt to remember these distinctive sounds.”
Online job recruitment platform Indeed, a huge audio user, talked at the conference about how it uses audio and podcast advertising. “We like the test and learn approach. This is data-driven decision-making at its finest,” Thad Smith, Senior Brand Manager, SMB, Indeed, told attendees. “Over time, voice assistance and ambient computing will be the next frontier,” he predicted. “Voice will mature and become more sophisticated.”
Danielle Linden, Senior Director of Marketing at Sport Clips, which specializes in haircuts for men and boys, warned against diving headfirst into audio without first testing the creative. “Cold creative is risky. Right now, backend measurement and pre-market testing are incredibly effective,” Linden said. “The ability to get information on the backend and do testing up front helped Sport Clips make our audio campaigns much more effective from the get-go.”
The summit also offered new data and insights around the impact of individual audio elements on campaign success, including voice, music, tone, pacing, use of sound effects and functional sounds, keywords, and calls-to-action, according to Veritonic founder and CEO Scott Simonelli. “This year, we will see more brands adopting audio-first marketing and media strategies that will deliver unmatched ROI and brand lift at a time when they need it the most, “ Simonelli said in a press release that recapped the conference.