Radio Advertising Gets Personal on Digital Platforms

Audio advertising is about to get better and more relevant, according to one UK-based company
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Audio advertising is about to get better and more relevant, according to one UK-based company.

Listeners to online radio stations and music services last month in the UK would have heard a set of audio commercials for The National Lottery, the country�s lottery game. The National Lottery donates much of its proceeds to local charities across the UK, and the campaign was made to highlight this work.

The ads were sold by DAX, the online audio marketplace owned by Global Radio but representing most of the UK�s commercial radio stations and music brands like SoundCloud and Audioboom. This ad was for one of over 300 clients that use DAX every month; but creative for this ad was different: because there were hundreds of different versions.

�We started with a campaign that varied its message depending on the location of the listener�, said Charlie Marshall (above), a co-founder of A Million Ads, the creative brains behind the campaign. Even when inserted in a national radio station, the listener heard a message about how many projects the lottery had supported in their own area (often down to city level).

The advertising was then varied further, depending on whether a listener had already heard a piece of creative. �We delivered different content in a sequence, to tell a more compelling and coherent story,� said Marshall. Unlike with normal radio advertising, the system knows how many pieces of creative a listener has heard, and can then assemble the next piece of copy in order.

�The key is that we are assembling linear content in a whole new way, by creating 'buckets' of creative content that is assembled by technology 'smarts' to create authentic, high quality, relevant ads in real time,� he adds.

In a demo, I was able to hear an ad created for a coffee store which took into account the listener�s location, their name, the current weather forecast and the day of the week. It was startling to hear an ad include my name and location, as well as reflecting the time I was listening. Even with critical ears, I was unable to spot an edit point or any giveaway that this was algorithmically generated: with high-quality voices and production throughout.

Producing hundreds of thousands of different pieces of copy in a traditional manner would be prohibitively expensive; but technology has helped with that. �There is a small cost increment, as we use voice talent in the studio, but that voice talent spends only a bit longer

in an A Million Ads recording session as it would in a 'standard' session. A Million Ads costs you not much more than one ad. A few extra minutes in the studio can result in hundreds of thousands more personalised versions of a campaign which, by definition, perform better, far outweighing the difference in cost.� said Marshall.

According to Marshall, the company�s technology is already integrated with ad-tech partners. They can also use login data from the media owners directly, and work with advertisers to understand how best to use their technology.

The opportunities with personalized advertising in this way would appear to be substantial. This should result in higher ad rates for media owners, since audio advertising in this manner can be highly targeted and wastage can be reduced. Already, DAX (and other similar targeted audio platforms) are commanding significantly higher ad-rates than broadcast radio: though, for now, the volume is significantly less.

The opportunities with this technology seem particularly suited to increasing revenue from advertisers who currently find it difficult to produce creative that reflects their fast-moving business. Live flight and price data, precise store location or betting odds would appear to be particularly appropriate.

AMillion Adsis planned to launch shortly in the US, and is looking at expanding to further markets.

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