At Cannes this summer, AI was the hot topic as creative industry professionals debated how the technology would impact advertising. AI has long played a role in data analysis and targeting in advertising, but as it becomes increasingly sophisticated it is enabling more impactful creative, empowering brands to deliver messaging at scale that resonates with individuals.
With ad investments in digital audio expected to surpass £10bn this year, and as the desire for more personalised messaging increases, advertisers and agencies are looking for ways to harness AI. Audiences should be at the heart of any ad campaign, and brands now have the means to deliver audio content to match the context of each listener’s environment.
But to harness the full power of AI, advertisers must consider the wider ecosystem of digital audio advertising. After all, AI might be clever, but it still needs a helping hand.
Synthetic voice – computer generated audio which resembles a human voice – enables the creation of thousands of versions of an ad at high speed and a large scale. It offers an opportunity for brands to replicate the sound and pronunciation of a single actor or voiceover artist to produce thousands of versions of an ad.
But using AI to mimic a human voice is not a silver bullet for advertisers. After all, celebrities won’t licence out their voice for free (or even at a low cost) for brands to make unlimited use of it, while good voiceover artists cost money. As synthetic voice isn’t free to produce, the answer to making the most out of the technology lies in collaboration.
Whilst the interest is there, for brands to truly embrace synthetic voice, it must be used in conjunction with a platform that can build dynamic creative and scale it, using data points to produce and serve millions of variants, all through one single Video Ad Serving Template (VAST) tag. After all, AI might be able to produce multiple creatives at speed, but this is futile if an advertiser has no way to traffic the different versions quickly and easily to the right people.
AI has the ability to make audio ads more engaging, using contextual data to obtain insights about a listener’s environment, such as where they are and what they might be doing. This data can be used to tailor creative to suit the listener’s location and weather at a particular moment, even drilling down to adapt messaging based on UV levels or pollen count, for example.
It is also possible to sync relevant data triggers with audio files and script lines to serve the creative that best suits the listener based on their context. This streamlines the creative process, reducing production time and bringing ideas to life quicker. Furthermore, it ensures the messaging appeals to individual listeners by using contextually relevant content that properly resounds.
For example, data triggers could include purchase history, loyalty status, music preferences, listening device or location. Specsavers is a good example of one brand successfully incorporating data triggers: the company used their first party data to input the appointments for local stores, resulting in hyper-localised ads that shared real time availability.
Working with a platform that turns data into signals can inform every aspect of the creative, from voice to music and sound effects. With thousands or even millions of possible creative versions available, this AI enables the most pertinent combination to be played, thereby increasing cut through and driving response. The technology also allows some levelling of the playing field for smaller brands, who can cost-effectively personalise and scale their audio ads.
Addressable audio takes personalisation one step further, allowing brands to insert a dynamic call-to-action (CTA) based on contextual and audience-level data points, including device type. This enables advertisers to provide listeners with a specific action to take after hearing an ad, such as directing Apple users to download an app from the App Store or creating actionable audio ads via smart speakers.
Berocca ran an actionable ad campaign on Amazon Alexa, dynamically targeting listeners with its Berocca Boost caffeine tablets based on weather data points. For example, listeners in overcast areas heard a script talking about how to overcome low energy on a grey day. The audience could then order the product directly from Amazon by saying ‘Open Berocca Boost’; 24% of listeners bought the product and 42% requested more information. Overall, the ad achieved an ecommerce conversion rate of 1.5%, demonstrating the power of the personal touch.
YouGov reports that podcasts alone present one of the biggest growth opportunities for UK media this year, and as audio continues to grow, AI heralds a new era in digital audio advertising. Consumers increasingly expect personalisation, and brands now have access to the tools to deliver this at scale – and to gain an edge over competitors.
AI is a game changer. But its full potential for audio ads can only truly be unleashed when used in tandem with a tech platform that can automate the delivery of millions of ad variants across multiple formats. Then it’s game on.
Sep 19, 2023