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How personalised audio can help brands to cut through the noise

14 May 2020  |  Niki Stoker 
How personalised audio can help brands to cut through the noise

Sponsored: Addressability alone does not deliver the level of personalisation necessary to resonate with a listener on a deeper level, writes Niki Stoker

Audio isn’t the blunt megaphone it was when broadcast radio was the only option for advertisers. Digital radio commands 37 million listeners in the UK and music streaming apps such as Spotify offer addressable audio inventory so advertisers can focus on specific individuals rather than blasting out blanket messages to mass audiences.

However, many advertisers still see targeting and tailoring as one and the same thing, which is an oversight. Addressability alone does not deliver the level of personalisation necessary to resonate with a listener on a deeper level.

According to Dave Trott, research shows only 4% of advertising is remembered positively, 7% is remembered negatively and 89% isn’t noticed or remembered at all. Advertisers need to complement targeting with creative personalisation that ensures audio ads speak to listeners on an individual basis with contextually relevant content that cuts through the noise.

Rapid technological advances have enabled advertisers to be much more thoughtful in their approach to personalised audio, and the industry is making great leaps in three key ways:

Data-driven creative

Think about the attention-grabbing impact of hearing a food delivery ad on a Friday evening, when you’ve run out of enthusiasm for cooking. Data-driven personalisation allows advertisers to tailor audio ads to context in real time, ensuring the version the listener hears is the most relevant to their immediate situation.

Using sophisticated stitching capabilities, multiple versions of creative elements can be dynamically combined according to data points including local weather conditions and the device someone is using. Thousands and sometimes millions of permutations of the same audio ad are created automatically, and the listener hears the one most relevant to them in their immediate context.

British Gas has successfully used these methods in audio ads by calling out a listener’s location and referencing their local temperature to make their product highly relevant.

Synthetic voice

Incredible advances in AI-generated voice are supporting the evolution of dynamic audio advertising. Synthetic voice isn’t new but has often sounded stilted or robotic. Now the ability to sample and recreate people’s voices is reaching a point where we can’t tell the difference between genuine and synthetic.

These developments allow dynamic scripts to generate numerous versions of audio ads without having to record a corresponding number of individual voiceovers. Dynamic audio campaigns using synthetic human voices are indistinguishable from non-dynamic broadcast style ads.

In a similar way, Amazon Alexa users can now hear Samuel L. Jackson as a voice assistant replacement with audio responses generated largely by neural text-to-speech technology that mimics the actor’s voice, rather than being restricted to pre-recorded content.

Emotive storytelling

Advertisers can’t afford to neglect the emotive aspect of personalisation; the ability to create that human connection by telling contextually relevant stories. Our perception of brands is formed by how we feel about them and, given most of the emotional information we receive in our lives comes from sound, audio is a powerful way to influence those feelings.

To create an emotional connection with listeners, advertisers need to shape the conversation in the same way humans do instinctively when talking person-to-person. They use the information readily available to them.

Advertisers can use information such as the type of content the user is listening to or the platform they are listening on to understand their interests and inform which version of an ad is served. They can also take into account whether the listener has heard the ad before to ensure they are building on the brand story rather than repeating the same message.

Audio advertising has taken a gigantic step forward since the mass radio broadcasting of the past, and rapidly increasing investment reflects this – a recent report predicts an astonishing 84% growth in digital audio ad revenue for 2025 compared to 2019.

To make the most of this investment advertisers must draw on readily available data, technological innovations, and emotive storytelling. This combination will be critical to making creative matter for listeners, and ensuring the future of audio is as promising as predicted.


Niki Stoker is chief operating officer at A Million Ads



Mediatel are the audio experts operating at the centre of audio trading, distribution and analytic processing. Contact us for more information on J-ET, Audiotrack or our RAJAR data engine.

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27 May 2020 

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