When advertisers are preparing a new spot for an audio advertisement, a lot of time is spent on deciding how long the spot should be. Westwood One wanted to see if spending a significant amount of time on deciding spot length had a strong enough impact to justify the time spent on this otherwise simple decision. What they found was that longer ads do perform better, but they do not always lead to a significant difference in creative scores.
Now that advertisement length is known to not drive a significant impact on the performance of the spot, attention can be turned to finding other ways to optimize audio advertisement performance. Three best practices were identified.
1. Less messages leads to better recall!
Millward Brown, a global leader in brand strategy consulting, advertising development and optimization, media effectiveness, and brand equity research, reports that more messages in an ad leads to a lower likelihood of a single message being recalled. Powerful numbers are provided to prove this point. The first message of an ad with four total messages only has a 43% recall rate compared to an ad with a single message.
This makes sense once you think about it. Cramming a bunch of messages into an ad makes it harder to remember anything that was in the ad. A 15 second ad with one message will likely perform far better than a 30 second ad with three messages.
Instead of taking a 30 or 60 second ad as an opportunity to say everything you can about the brand, take that time to communicate one central idea in an entertaining & memorable way. Think about Snickers’ advertisements. “You’re not you when you’re hungry.” One central idea that is communicated in a consistently entertaining & attention grabbing way. Time is not wasted talking about taste, size, packaging, price, or the myriad of messages they could communicate. Instead, the message is just to eat a Snickers when you’re hungry. Now that’s memorable.
2. Prioritize brand building, not sales activation
The Head of Effectiveness at adam&eveDDB, Les Binet, and Peter Field, a Marketing Consultant, studied the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) database of case studies to prove this point. They explain that sales activation campaigns focus on customers who are likely to buy in the very near future which is accomplished by leveraging existing brand equity to drive sales.
They make the analogy that sales campaigns are like carbs; they produce a sugar rush-like short term sales boost followed by a crash. Sales campaigns are easy to measure because results tend to be immediate and direct.
Similarly, branding campaigns are compared to protein; a sustainable and long lasting source of energy. Brand building is more difficult and requires greater investment, however, it is critical. This involves the process of creating mental associations and beliefs that ultimately leads to the preference of one brand compared to the next. To build a brand, mass media like television and radio are necessary. This is because the objective is to communicate to everyone in the category, not just people in the market right now.
The difference compared to sales campaigns is that brand building sales effects grow and compound, becoming a main driver of long term growth. The ideal mix of sales and branding campaigns should be 60% branding and 40% sales. This makes sense because that means more brand equity is being built than being spent on sales activation.
3. Focus Creative on Emotional Claims Instead of Rational
This may sound backwards, but let’s stop and think about it. Becoming top of mind for consumers is an issue of reach. Creating brand likability and understanding is the product of good advertising. Does this sound like a feat that is accomplished through dumping facts or telling a captivating story that touches the heart?
The Binet & Field analysis reveals that emotional branding performs more strongly across all metrics, including: awareness, commitment, trust, differentiation, fame, and image. Emotional advertising and storytelling creates bonds and associations more efficiently than throwing a bunch of facts about the brand or product at the audience. Naturally, these efficiencies translate to an increase in the bottom line. Creating emotional bonds with the target market yields higher long-term sales, share, pricing power, and loyalty.
To sum up, it’s not the spot length that matters. Focus on the number of messages, branding and sales mix, and emotional claims in your audio creative.
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