Personalisation

Adobe Aims for Dynamically Personalised Audio Ads with New Partnership

Press release taken from Adobe’s blog.

Adobe Advertising Cloud partners with data-driven audio marketing leader, A Million Ads, to help brands tap into the growing power of digital audio.

Adobe_Systems_Logo_002.svg.png

Despite the massive growth of digital audio, with advertising revenue in the space reaching $1.6 billion in 2017, advertisers continue to struggle to make an impact with new targeting techniques. To help brands navigate these important, underutilised channels, Adobe Advertising Cloud, part of Adobe Experience Cloud, is partnering with A Million Ads, a global leader in data-driven audio marketing.

Brands understand the importance of emotional connections and know that in a busy, noisy world, it’s best to communicate with consumers in a personal way without being intrusive. Adding higher-level capabilities like dynamic creative and real-time user data can help marketers create and deliver context-aware, targeted audio ads that have greater standout, higher recall and better engagement — vital requirements when trying to reach people who no longer listen to the radio and instead focus time across a multitude of streaming audio platforms.

To ensure marketers have all of the right tools, Adobe Advertising Cloud and A Million Ads, are partnering to expand the ways advertisers target and capture the attention of key audiences with personalised, data-driven audio ads. Through A Million Ads’ sophisticated technology, advertisers have insights into a user’s location, time, weather and device. With access to this data, advertisers can combine their targeted messages and determine the best sequence of hearing an ad.

“Data-driven audio marketing has delivered significant impact for us, specifically with student markets,” said Jake Taylor, Digital Marketing Manager of furniture solution provider, CORT. The ability to hyper-personalise messaging and target audio ads to key listeners has already driven fantastic results for us. That’s why we are extremely excited about the partnership between Adobe Advertising Cloud and A Million Ads – as the expanded capabilities will help us both better target our valued audiences and stretch our campaign dollars.”

Steve Dunlop, Founder and CEO of A Million Ads said, “Audio is the hottest channel is advertising right now and  we provide the tools that advertisers need to reach consumers with more relevant and personalised content than ever before. Partnering with Adobe gives us the opportunity to ensure consumers across podcasts, online radio and music streaming platforms are being served with better quality, less invasive and more relevant advertising.”

“Customers have really resonated with the opportunity to expand dynamic creative efforts in audio marketing from the performance world to the branding world – in an effort to achieve branding KPIs,” said Justin Merickel,  Vice President of Adobe Advertising Cloud. ‘Audio, Video and branding efforts need just as much hyper-personification in this noisy world as Direct Response campaigns.

“Instead of showing the same ad across platforms and devices, advertisers need to actually create a story for their customers. Many marketers struggle to use the right technology to create truly creative, customised ads. We’re giving the right tools for brands to create strategy and be able to engage with people with the right content at any given moment and on any device.”

Adobe Ad Cloud customers can immediately start using the power of A Million Ads, more info found here.

About Adobe Advertising Cloud

Adobe Advertising Cloud is the industry’s first end-to-end, independent platform for managing advertising across traditional TV and digital formats. By focusing on brand safety, improving transparency and leveraging the full power of Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe Experience Cloud, our platform enables advertisers to gain greater control of their global advertising spend and achieve their business objectives. The platform already manages roughly $3 billion in annualised ad spend on behalf of more than 1,000 global clients, including Allstate, Ford, Heineken, L’Oréal, MGM, Southwest Airlines and Wells Fargo.

About A Million Ads

A Million Ads personalises digital audio advertising. Think music streaming ads that know what city you are in, or radio ads on your smart speaker that know if it’s raining outside. Our ads are more context aware and relevant to the listener, and so perform a lot better. We have delivered over 180 campaigns across Europe for brands including Sky, BMW, British Airways, Deliveroo, Carphone Warehouse, Virgin Atlantic and Nissan, are working with five out of the six major advertising agencies and have partnerships with all the major music streaming, internet radio and podcasting services around the world.

We exist to make ads that you love. We do that by combining creativity in the production process with a tech platform that, powered by data, delivers the best ad at the right time for each user.

Today we deploy our personalisation engine across digital audio and we are now extending that capability across many other channels, starting with video.

About Adobe

Adobe is changing the world through digital experiences. For more information, visit www.adobe.com.

This advert is amazing! Conscious personalisation with Virgin Atlantic

tim-gouw-208299.jpg

At A Million Ads we split our personalised creative approach into sub-conscious and conscious, with sub-conscious personalisation pricking your attention by coincidentally and perhaps subtly mentioning your nearest city, or what the weather is like for you right now. We've done plenty of campaigns that deploy these techniques to great effect.

Conscious personalisation, however, lets you as the listener know exactly what is going on by exposing what data we know about you.

So, imagine you are listening to your favourite audio service on a cloudy Saturday afternoon in Northampton ...

 
 

Working with Adam&Eve, PHD and OMGP we put together this Virgin Atlantic campaign for their Amazing January Sale and it is the first ad that deploys conscious personalisation.

We understand that conscious personalisation triggers a different part of your brain and sure enough, listeners of this ad have taken to Twitter to let us know what they think.

 
Virgin Atlantic Tweet 1.png
 

Our dynamic creative approach allows advertisers to communicate more personally and intimately with listeners than ever before. For Virgin Atlantic we reference the weather, day of the week and your location.

 
A sample Virgin Atlantic script line displayed with the rules that power the audio

A sample Virgin Atlantic script line displayed with the rules that power the audio

 

The blue lines in the script each correspond to a dynamic data point, creating over 24,000 possible versions of the ad, so that listeners in locations such as Coventry, Southend-on-Sea, Exeter and Hull hear the version that is most relevant to them.

We know that when an ad is more relevant and aware of our context, it performs better. This was clearly demonstrated by some interesting reactions across Twitter, such as this comment from Paul O’Donnell:

 
Virgin Atlantic Tweet 2-3.png
 

Whilst no government agency was involved in the production of this ad, as with any leap in technology, it's going to take some getting used to. Like Aaron says: 

 
Aaron Virgin Atlantic Tweet 1.png
 

We are delighted with this campaign and it really proves that our personalisation technique can create the cut through that all advertisers dream of.

Some people, however, will never be happy:

 
Virgin Atlantic Tweet 7.png
 

Cheeky.

Drawing a Crowd From Dynamic Creativity

trivargo.jpg

A Crwth is an ancient stringed instrument with it’s roots in early Anglo-Celtic culture, a predecessor of the modern guitar it was played by traveling musicians across Europe. My surname, Crowther, is derived from these musical storytellers who unlike me, had a fairly high social status. That’s because they were an influential alternative source of information from that of the Church. While both the Church and Crwth players used storytelling, music and performance to get their message across, the tone was very different between the two, the Church used authority and consistency, Crwth players were the entertainers, using more emotion through music, rhyme, drama and comedy to tell stories of battles and affairs of court. They became influential because of their popularity, the English word Crowd is derived from the large gatherings that resulted from a Crwth player arriving in a town with the latest ‘entertainment’ news. Information has always been power, the Church distributed theirs through scripture as they controlled the production of books. Before the invention of the printing press, books were expensive to produce, they took many man hours to produce but with monasteries across Europe, they had access to a dedicated workforce. Books ensured the distribution of a consistent message, where as word of mouth can get skewed to the priorities of the storyteller, where they are and the mood they’re in at the time the stories being retold.

So what does this have to do with modern day advertising? Media traditionally has been planned around frequency, repetition of a consistent brand message which creates familiarity and has the effect of psychologically conditioning consumers, making it easy to subconsciously select a brand from amongst the ‘noise’ of competing brands. Of course this can be amplified if you simply don’t allow or greatly restrict any competing noise, something the Church learnt thousands of years ago and is also being practiced in many London Tube stations by the Trivago poster campaign.

Some commentators haven’t minced their words on the subject, like this article in The Drum - Doing shit work is easy when nobody gives a fuck - I understand the frustration expressed by Dave in this article, however I doubt any of the people he chastises were even employed, it’s a cost efficiency driven econometric tested results driven campaign, globally planned and created in-house on a shoestring (shoot me if I write that sentence ever again). That’s my explanation of it, not excuse for it, because as with Dave it goes against all my creative instincts, media brawn over creative brains. I took the picture above at Westminster Station and you can’t ignore them but I would have loved it if the final poster in the line had the Trivago girl being caught with her feet up, cup of tea in hand and searching for a new more interesting job, quick Indeed/Monster get in there!

dog.jpg

The psychologist Ivan Pavlov with the help of his hungry dogs proved the concept of classical conditioning, however what is lesser known is that when he tried to repeat his experiments in front of guests the dogs didn’t respond as before. As well as identifying classical conditioning, Pavlov had identified something he termed the orienting response, which is a reaction to novel or significant stimuli. New people coming into the house are suddenly more interesting and overrides the conditioned response, humans like dogs are curious creatures. I’ve mentioned in earlier blog posts that communication is a process of appealing to both our conscious and subconscious brain. What Crwth players and live performers of any kind have learnt, is that their performances have more impact the more emotional, dramatic, entertaining and tailored to the priorities of the audience they can make them. Due to the fact their method of delivery was live and dynamic by necessity, it lacked the consistency of written word being spread from the pulpit, but they used that to their advantage by reacting to significant stimuli all around them to tailor their storytelling.

Dynamic, personalised creative allows brands to reflect this human instinct and can either be used to elicit the subconscious conditioned response for brand building or provide the conscious significant stimuli of the orienting response for tactical messaging.

If you’d like to hear more about the power of personalised dynamic creative, please get in touch. I‘m perhaps an example of nominative determinism, travelling and presenting through sound, although I’ve ditched the Crwth for an iPod.

SXSW: Highlights From The Influential Austin Experience 

Steve and I are off to Austin, Texas, USA for South by South West's annual Film, Music and Interactivity festival that should be in every media influencer's diary. We’re newbies to the whole SXSW experience but along with the Cannes Lions it is a key opportunity to showcase A Million Ads to the media industry and I’m speaking as part of the Brands and Marketing track of the Interactive festival. As we have some coffee fuelled travel time, here are a few thoughts on what makes SXSW such an influential event.

I bought an early generation iPod in 2002, or rather Capital Radio Plc my employer at the time did. Before then I had put sonic presentations together on tape, DAT, CD and/or minidisc. We had thousands of audio clips, radio ads and soundtracks from TV ads in an archive grandly called 'The Sonic Laboratory'. The iPod, cleverly pitched as ‘a thousand songs in your pocket’, offered a perfect solution to the fact that in those days we played individual clips from a playlist which had different orders for different clients. So now there was no need to re-record, burn or reorder on these different formats. The iPod, or rather the iPod + iTunes, was every sonic presentation I could ever want to give in my pocket. The problem was, after about a year of use the battery died, and it couldn't be replaced for less than the cost of a NEW iPod! That’s pretty annoying even if you didn’t stump up the substantial cost in the first place. This issue really irked the filmmaker Casey Neistat. In fact, it annoyed him so much that he decided to make a public service film called iPod’s Dirty Secret about his direct action on iPod’s iconic poster campaign. It became the first viral online video I can remember. It might not seem significant now but this was 2003, YouTube didn’t launch until 2005, to watch the short film you needed to patiently download it! I kept a close eye on Casey’s career ever since and he went from having his own HBO show with his brother, to producing commercials, to becoming one of the biggest YouTube stars out there, to launching a Tech Media company which he recently sold to CNN. Casey is discussing his fascinating journey at SXSW 2017, and this is his most recent film about what it means to be a creator.

 
 

Casey has claimed that is was his young son that introduced him to YouTube because he wasn’t that impressed his dad had an HBO series as he and his friends didn’t watch TV. It’s hardly ground breaking to highlight the impact the internet has had on video content but it feels online audio content is now being talked about in a similar way in it’s evolution. Video and audio are very different and consumed in different ways but people’s attraction to on demand, personalised content will only continue to accelerate.

My presentation content has evolved over the years, some of the core examples have survived from the playlists of that first iPod while others have been added, developed or are the result of research. Around the time that iPod battery was dying, I was involved in commissioning research into Musical Fit and the Recall of Radio Ads with Professor Adrian North who at the time was at Leicester University’s, Centre for Psychology. We had been draw to his fascinating work into music and consumer behaviour, through his study into the effect music has on wine purchasing preference (a study we mention in the animation on our home page). To understand how marketing and advertising works, it’s logical to look at how human communication works and the work of psychologists around the world. Advertising is about influence so it was no wonder the work of Dr Robert Cialdini would come up, because he quite literally wrote the book on the Psychology of Influence. I've found his theory on the 6 weapons of influence a great way to showcase influential sonic creative and was fortunate to get a pre-release copy of his recent new book, Pre-suasion, from his publishers. Robert is discussing this new book with Guy Kawasaki at SXSW and he also quotes Adrian’s wine study in the opening chapter.

 
 

Although we applied to speak at SXSW well before we had agreed to work with Pandora, it’s now a happy coincidence we can be here with them as they are one of the festival's major sponsors. With them sitting perfectly between two of the three main strands, interactive and music, they have a big presence all over Austin. If you happen to be at SXSW our session is called Subconsciously Seduced by Sound, 11.00 – 12.00, Salon E, JW Marriott. Where we will be presenting our theory on how and why our subconscious has such an impact on the information we’re influenced by and how brands can use dynamic creative and personalisation to take advantage.

 

SXSW: Subconsciously Seduced by Sound

MAR 15, 2017 | 11:00AM – 12:00PM, JW Marriott, Salon E

The digital age is responsible for a dramatic decline in the human attention span. However brand advertising has a powerful secret weapon, sound. Or more specifically, communicating to people’s subconscious with sound. From utilising the passive nature of hearing to psychologically condition people to using selective attention to make people actively listen, relevant sounds have an extraordinary effect on influencing emotional memory, behaviour and brand selection. Join this experiential session to learn how this legacy of our evolution is being used in dynamic creative and personalisation for digital audio, helping brands communicate the way humans do instinctively.

The Sound of Personalisation

share-a-coke.jpg

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.