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Five proven ways to positively impact your brand’s KPIs when advertising in podcasts

From targeting and creative development to measurement, we offer the most advanced solutions to make your podcast campaign a success.

Bianca Bush, Commercial Insights Manager
September 26, 2023

If you’re a marketer, you’ll be well aware of how important performance and measuring brand effectiveness have become over the last few years. Measurement is key to attributing the success of a campaign and determining if it’s met its objectives and impacted the specified KPIs. 

Helping brands measure and assess the impact of their campaigns is key for brands and agencies in order to validate and prove the spend for that media channel was effective, and that the campaign itself has been successful. This in turn helps to inform future campaigns and media spend. So, over the past 2 years, Acast has been running brand lift studies for agencies and clients in collaboration with Nielsen. 

A brand lift study is research that allows brands and agencies to measure and assess the impact of their campaign by measuring a specific audio ad or host read, or the campaign overall to determine if the campaign has been recalled, if the key messaging has cut through, and if it has positively increased KPIs such as awareness, consideration, and core brand attributes.

During this time, Acast has analyzed the effectiveness and the impact of advertising on KPIs for 121 audio ads and host reads. 

Once we surpassed the 100 audio ads/host reads mark, we thought it would be a good time to analyze all the data collected to look at commonalities or differences between host reads and audio ads across a number of metrics including the number of brand callouts, formats, voice-over gender, number of speakers and ad length. 

This article outlines the optimal number of brand mentions, ad formats, voiceover types, number of speakers and ad length for host reads and audio ads. We hope to inform and educate advertisers, brands, and clients on the best practices for podcast advertising to improve their performance. Acast also wants to support and ensure the optimal campaign is booked for your client and brands going forward.

So, what are the five optimal ways to ensure a successful campaign: 

1. Number of brand callouts

  • Brand mentions are linked with driving recall, brand awareness, and other brand metrics. But the question always asked is: ‘What is the optimal number of brand mentions?’. Through our meta-analysis of over 100 audio ads/host reads, we have extensive data which shows, the optimal level depends on the type of ad content:
  • Audio ads: Less is more. The optimal number of brand callouts is 3-4, which drives recall and spontaneous awareness as well as lower-funnel metrics. Preference is the only exception where more brand metrics drive this. 
  • Host Reads: With longer formats and stronger engagement from trusted hosts, host reads can deliver more brand mentions (7+) with no impact on recall and awareness. For lower funnel metrics, 3-6 brand mentions are optimal in driving KPIs. Any more than that (7+ brand callouts) and this drives brand decline. This may be because with too many brand mentions the host read starts to appear less authentic and more like an audio ad.

2. Ad format types

  • Another question we always get asked is: ‘What is the best ad format?’, ‘Do host reads perform better than audio ads?’ And vice versa. Well, the answer is, that each format works differently at driving different metrics:
  • Audio Ads vs Host Reads: Longer formats such as host reads drive recall and awareness more than an audio ad.  This isn’t to say that audio ads don’t drive these metrics - they do (and we see a 14% uplift vs. a control group who are not exposed to advertising which is an extremely strong uplift), however, host reads have even stronger levels of uplifts (a 21% uplift vs a control group who are not exposed to advertising). Therefore, our research validates that both audio ads and host reads are optimal formats for driving recall and awareness, with a longer host read format having more time to mention the brand and drive these awareness levels further.
  • Host reads also perform strongest for driving lower funnel metrics, particularly preference, again with higher uplifts vs. control groups who are not exposed to advertising. We see 2-3% higher uplifts for host reads vs. audio ads across lower-funnel metrics such as favorability, recommendation, and preference. This is reflective of the longer audio length, more brand mentions, and authentic and trusted voices that resonate with listeners.

3. Voiceover type

  • ‘Should we use a male voiceover/podcast host?’ ‘Or should we use a female voiceover/podcast host?.’ Another key question we get asked a lot. Well, the answer is, it depends on the type of ad format and type of metric you are trying to shift:
  • Audio ads: Female-voiced audio ads drive recall and awareness most strongly. For lower funnel metrics (including favorability, consideration, and preference), a combination of both voices drives lower funnel metrics most strongly.
  • Host Reads: The joint male and female voiceovers duo drive recall and top-of-mind awareness most strongly, however singular voiced content (male voices or female voices only) drives lower funnel metrics most. Interestingly, favorability is driven most by female-only voiced content, consideration is driven most by male-only voiced content, and preference is driven equally by female-only or male-only voiced content.

4. Number of speakers

  • ‘Is one voiceover better than multiple voiceovers?’, ‘Does 1 voiceover sound monotone?’, ‘Are two voices better as they sound more conversational?’. Well, again, it depends on the type of ad format:
  • Audio ads: For audio ads, recall is strongest with one voice-over. 1 voice is also sufficient to drive lower-funnel metrics. however, 2+ voices drive preference most strongly.
  • Host Reads: Whereas, with a longer host read ads, a combination of voices (2 or 3 hosts) and the more authentic, trusted, conversational, and well-known voices resonate and drive metrics including recall, awareness, consideration, and preference. 

5. Ad length

  • Finally, the question we probably get asked about the most, is, ‘Is there an optimal ad length?’. There are a lot of factors that influence this e.g. the number of messages you are trying to communicate, the KPIs you are looking to shift, and the campaign objectives, etc., so as we always advise that there is no size-fits-all approach, given that every campaign is different, however between audio ads and host reads, there are some differences:
  • Audio ads: In terms of audio ads, ad length doesn't have a strong impact on recall or spontaneous awareness with both 30-44 seconds and 45-59 second length ads performing equally.
  • Host Reads: However, longer content between 45-59 seconds drives spontaneous awareness most, with recall driven most strongly for content 60-119 seconds long. For lower funnel metrics (such as consideration and preference), 60-89 seconds is the optimal length to provide enough detail and messaging to impact these metrics.

In summary

There are many factors that drive optimal KPIs in podcast advertising, so brands and agencies need to consider not only the ad format (audio ad vs. host read), as there are optimal levels of brand mentions, ad length, etc. per format. As well as this, brands and agencies also need to consider the KPIs they are trying to measure and shift, with different factors like the number of voices or gender of voiceovers impacting different KPIs. So whichever KPIs you are trying to shift, or whatever ad format you are aiming to use, reach out to us at Acast and we can help you plan/execute and measure the optimal campaign.

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