Every audio ad—whether it is delivered via a podcast, streaming audio, or terrestrial radio—is an opportunity to showcase your business to listeners when they are most engaged. The best audio ads leverage audience insights, smart targeting, and thoughtful creative that makes the most of the medium. 

Rather than being glued to a screen, people are often more deeply engaged when they listen to audio. They may be on road trips, for example, or doing a morning workout. As more of our attention moves offscreen (for example, most adults are concerned about the consequences of their screen time), building a marketing strategy that incorporates audio to meet and connect with consumers a media channel they’re consuming and engaging with in a meaningful way is paramount to future success.

As with any medium, creative is a central performance driver. In fact, creative drives half of all sales, according to a NCSolutions and Nielsen study. That’s 2.5x the impact of previous estimates. 

So, how do you leave an impression with your audio creative? We have some thoughts to guide the development of your digital audio strategy, rooted in what matters most: your creative. 

Creative best practices

Audio is immersive and customizable—but also has limited play time. So being intentional about creative choices is important to make the most of every second. The brands that succeed know that capturing attention and creating emotional impact are key to the audio puzzle.

Getting the job done—usually in less than 60 seconds—is easier than you might think. Some best practices to guide your campaign creative include: 

Focus on the first five seconds

“Consumer engagement drops off after the first five seconds,” according to Nielsen. So how do brands make the most impact before minds wander? Say your brand name early—and often for maximum effect. This “ensures a consumer connection … and reinforces remembrance.” Across hundreds of brand impact studies spanning audio and other ad formats, Nielsen also found that saying the brand name one to two times in the ad generated 59% brand recall. 

Grab attention

One study used smart watches to read listeners’ biological responses to different audio ads. It  found that those with “sonic stimuli” that naturally grabs listeners’ attention improve overall immersion—a combination of attention and emotional connection in the audio ad experience. Think of how you naturally respond to a whistle or clap. The idea is the same for your audio ad creative, though brands should find ways to weave these cues naturally into the rest of the creative. 

Keep it positive

The same study found that immersion also increased with the inclusion of positive messages such as “yes” or “no limit.” Crafting a narrative that makes people feel good is a tried-and-true strategy in advertising of all stripes, and audio is no different. Because audio is particularly story-driven, focusing on positive, desired outcomes pays dividends. 

Be a minimalist

Don’t try to pack too much into your audio ad. Creative testing from Millward Brown showed that the more messages an ad attempts to communicate, the lower the likelihood of any landing. The study found that the first message in a series of four only had 43% of the recall of an audio ad that homed in on a singular message. Keeping messages succinct, focused, and consistent across channels creates a unified approach that moves campaigns closer to their goals. 

Test early and often

Testing ad creative used to be a cumbersome process involving manual processes like multiple takes with voice actors, creators, and production teams. These variations would then be distributed, and read outs could provide insights on performance and areas for improvement. Today, synthetic voice technologies are opening up new possibilities for testing creative with maximum ROI. Tools from companies like Claritas make ad optimization easy. In an initial test period, the AI-driven tool generated 96 ads for Progressive Insurance, resulting in a 137% incremental lift in listeners seeking insurance quotes. 

Get specific 

Creating ad creative that matches the style of the channel makes for more seamless listener experiences (i.e., different content for a Pandora streaming experience vs. an Apple Podcast ad). Emulating a platform’s native content is quantifiably better at driving conversions, typically by 18%. The benefits don’t end there; Spotify research found that 75% of listeners are more likely to remember ads when they match the moment or setting. 

Generate more creative momentum 

There’s a lot of noise out there. Many brands have found it harder to make their messages memorable. Audio offers a golden opportunity for authentic connection with consumers—but that connection hinges on developing the right creative. There are a multitude of strategies, tools, and shiny new objects in the audio world, but results start with human-to-human messages. 

At ARM, creative strategy is our bread and butter. We’ve spent decades on the cutting edge, without sacrificing the human touch. Find out how we can help you develop and execute creative that cuts through the clutter to build connections. Reach out to one of our audio experts today.