Advertising Benchmark Index

Moving marketers from considering podcast advertising to buying it is one of the budding industry’s top challenges. A new study by creative testing service Advertising Benchmark Index (ABX) may help win over some marketers that have been sitting on the fence.

In December, ABX tested podcast ads, television ads and online video ads for five brands, ranging from an online job recruitment service to a personal grooming product. The ads were gauged on the total ABX Index, a summary score that incorporates clear branding, messaging, reputation and call to action measures. When it comes to clear branding measures, the Westwood One-commissioned study found that all of the podcast ads tested were comparable to the television or online video ads that ran for the same brands. For example a podcast ad for an online job posting/recruitment website achieved a clear brand score of 107, while the corresponding TV ad notched a 102. Similarly, a podcast ad for a personal grooming subscription service scored higher (104) than that same brand’s TV ad (103).

ABX also tested for call to action, or how effective the ads were at getting a listener to do something, such as talk about a product or service, recommend it to a friend, or contact the company for more information. The personal grooming subscription service’s podcast ad produced a score of 139 in generating audience talk. Also in the top five ranked ads was a major watch brand’s podcast ad, which scored a 111, the same score as their television ad. The personal grooming subscription service’s podcast ad was also tied for the top score in driving purchase with a score of 90.

The study also examined the best approach for live read ads, which are one of the most popular ad units in podcasting. In a live read for an insurance service, the first thirty seconds focused on running through all the reasons why insurance shopping was a hassle. It wasn’t until the end of the ad that the benefits of the brand were introduced. The ABX Index score for this ad came in at just 86, while the brand’s 15-second online video ad, where the benefits of the brand were introduced early on, tested higher at 108, placing in the top half of all the ads evaluated by ABX.

The conclusion, according to Westwood One chief insights officer Pierre Bouvard, is that live reads, while popular with advertisers, don’t guarantee success. “They have to be executed smartly with a clear focus on what makes the brand or product the best choice for the consumer,” he says in a blog post.

While ABX has measured some 160,000 ads in 14 countries, company president Gary Getto says the study marks the first time it has tested podcast ads. “Generating high performing audio creative is relatively easy if you carefully follow some best practices and provide your creative team with feedback on what is working,” he says. “Creative is a real difference-maker.”