Dynamic audio in 2019

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It’s the time of year where every news outlet is either reviewing the year just gone or predicting the year ahead. So, for a bit of light reading, we thought we’d review the reviews - how meta.

First, here’s Adweek’s view of five trends that are sweeping audio that you’ll want to listen to:

The targeting capabilities of digital audio are very attractive to advertisers … [who] also view the ability to use dynamic creative, like changing parts of the message based on a listener’s location or other contextual data, to be a benefit.

Next, AdExchanger reviews 2018 as the year the podcasts and programmatic audio took off:

… programmatic digital audio became easier to buy on the open exchange across mainstream DSPs , while dynamic audio creative emerged as  more accessible capability.

Digiday provides a succinct and compelling podcast edition to wrap up the best of their 2018 interviews and, along with sponsor Xaxis, gives audio a big prop.

Here, ExchangeWire asks four industry heavyweights what they believe is coming round the corner in 2019:

This shift can be put down to three key trends: overall increase in consumers spending time with audio, which is being driven by the adoption of connected devices; growth of voice activation and exciting new content with streaming and podcasts; and ad tech innovation, with all major SSP and DSP platforms facilitating audio, and new technologies providing the ability to deliver personalisation through data with dynamic creative insertion.

And finally, RAIN News has a range of 2018 retrospectives, but our favourite is the wrap up of the data and research that includes all of the year’s research highlights including the IAB, Infinite Dial and many more.

We hope the excitement and these bullish prediction for digital audio come true. Wishing you all the best for 2019.

A Million Ads: plumbed in

Building bridges. Photo by  Mark Basarab  on  Unsplash

Building bridges. Photo by Mark Basarab on Unsplash

Over the past few months we've been working hard with many of the largest players in the ad tech space and I'm delighted to announce that we now work with every major programmatic audio buying platform.

This is great news for brands, advertisers and their agencies as it means that you can now buy personalised dynamic audio from A Million Ads using your existing DSP.

We've always been available via the audio ad tech specialists and directly with some publishers but now we can add some of the biggest digital ad platforms in the world to that list. This coincides with digital audio advertising getting more attention from the traditional display or video ad tech vendors, who have been adding audio to their offerings. Wherever digital audio inventory is being traded, the creative of that ad can now be personal and dynamic.

Get in touch if you want to make your digital audio ads work harder and are interested in running a dynamic campaign using your existing buying platform.

A Million Ads And GDPR

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GDPR is the new data privacy regulation now in force across Europe. You will have felt the effects of this from the torrent of emails asking you to re-subscribe to mailing lists or give your consent to being contacted.

GDPR is great for us - you and me - the average internet user, who innocently traverses the web minding our own business. It provides a set of requirements for the sites we visit and the services we use to treat us and data about us with respect and enforces a common-sense set of rights. This legislation will weed out the "bad actors", the people and companies who have been acting nefariously, and for everyone else, provide a level playing field.

At A Million Ads, we need to share user data between our partners in order to personalise our adverts for you. Data sharing is at the heart of what we do so we built GDPR-compliant practices into our product and processes from the start. This blog post is part of us being open and transparent about what we do and how we do it.

Everything is clearly set out in our privacy policy, but here are a few highlights.

First, GDPR does not stop anyone sharing data, its just states that sharing has to be done lawfully, transparently and with a specific purpose.

We work with big, well-recognised players in the music / audio / radio sphere who are complying with the legislation to collect, store, process and share personal data, and pass it to us so that we can provide our ad personalisation service. Our publisher partners have a very clear value exchange with their users, who appreciate sharing data to get the value of the service.

In GDPR-speak, we are data-controller in tandem with our partners and our legal basis for collecting and storing personal data is legitimate interest.

Over the last couple of months we have been working with an expert GDPR lawyer to double-check that we are up to spec: from our updated privacy policy, through to staff training and working with our suppliers and customers to ensure their compliance.

Finally, we have a Data Protection Officer and any queries can be sent to privacy@amillionads.com.

Photo by Matthieu A on Unsplash

The Sound of Personalisation

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The world is personal

Personalisation is everywhere. Emails, web pages, social feeds, music recommendations, Coke bottles.  And for the most part we accept that brands and companies can talk to us like they know us.

Some brands have more ‘permission’ than others – like Starbucks. We are used to walking into their stores and giving our name (though we may be a little more wary when it comes to PPI claims companies or government agencies).

In fact, our minds are tuned to react more favourably to messages that appear to be for us. We like familiarity and familiar people, so marketing that looks like it’s for us is instinctively more attractive (as long as it’s not delivered in a threatening or creepy way).

This is borne out in the performance of personalised campaigns. The conversion rate on a personalised email campaign for a UK retailer was 8% compared with just 1% on a less targeted campaign; an outdoor clothing retailer used weather-related imagery and changed the product selection based on the current weather and got a 5x uplift in CTR; and, an email campaign that used personalisation beat every KPI record: The number of active customers increased by 20% and open rates were up by 75%.

Dynamic Creative

To deliver these personal, context-aware messages and ads, we use “Dynamic Creative” tools.  Instead of delivering one generalised creative treatment to everyone, these tools deliver customised creative treatments to specific audiences (individuals or groups) that are more likely to be relevant to them.

This is normally done by creating a template, and using data about the recipient (viewer, listener, user) to fill it in. The killer feature of Dynamic Creative is the ability to do this at speed and at scale, efficiently creating millions of versions of ads.

Below is a Dynamic Creative display advert for Vodafone, where the text, language, background picture and product offer are selected dynamically based on where the viewer of the ad is located and whether they are an iPhone or Android user.

Picture credit:  Sizmek .

Picture credit: Sizmek.

Where’s Audio in all of this?

Until recently, marketeers have not been able to use audio as a platform for personalisation. Broadcast audio (radio by another name) cannot be personalised due to its one-to-many nature. But digital audio (audio delivered to a connected device) can be. Given that over 65% of all listening to digital audio is on headphones it is a brilliantly personal medium: right into people’s brains with singular messages, not like a webpage where there can be many different commercial messages in view at once. Sound has infinitely more power than text because it is how we express and receive the majority of our personal, emotional information throughout our lives.

This is why I founded A Million Ads: to create a technology solution and – importantly – develop the creative know-how to deliver effective personalisation and dynamic creative for digital audio.

Imagine the audio ads that you hear on your favourite music streaming, internet radio or podcast service being personalised with data about you, such as your name, age, location, favourite music, weather where you are… and changing the actual audio that you hear based on this. We can do this in real time as the ad is played for every user.

And it works: effectiveness and engagement increase significantly as a result. We recently conducted a 2,000 participant survey of digital audio listeners in the UK and demonstrated a 52% uplift in recall and a 49% uplift in engagement in comparison to regular, non-personalised campaigns.

Responsible personalisation

With the ability to talk one-to-one at scale comes responsibility: shouting someone’s name in every advert is going to burn very quickly. Plus robotic voices or edits that are not perfect will be spotted a mile off and kill the credibility of the format. At A Million Ads we take this responsibility very seriously and endeavour to set the standard for personalisation, not only with regards to technology and creative execution, but also appropriate and audience-friendly use of data and overall respect for privacy.

If you are an advertiser or agency currently using digital audio and want to add the personal touch to your campaigns, give me a shout.