Interactive Voice Ads Are Here: How Brands Can Drive Customer Engagement on Audio Platforms

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Interactive voice advertising enables brands to engage with customers like never before. Brands can now speak with consumers in their own voice, conducting round-trip conversations that allow the consumer to interact by speaking aloud in their natural language.

This sense of being heard and conversing with a brand creates more memorable and emotional experiences, providing a new opportunity to bond and retain brands and consumers.

Make the consumer the main character

The most effective campaigns (in any ad medium) tell a story that connects with consumers, but voice ads go one step further by giving the consumer agency the unfolding of the story. The consumer has full control over his journey with the brand; if an offer is relevant, they can respond out loud in natural language, be understood, and move the conversation forward.

If an ad is irrelevant, the listener can skip it with a word or a few and quickly return to their usual audio content.

Advertising technology also goes beyond the mere possibility of “yes” or “no” answers to understanding the consumer’s emotion and tone of voice. For example, someone who gives an “unmoderated” response (such as “No, not right now” or “No, I should think about it”) receives a different response – and is placed in a different retargeting category – than someone offering a “categorical no” answer.

With these capabilities, interactive voice ads have much more to offer than traditional one-way audio ads. They can enable more creative storytelling and incorporate deeper data-driven analysis and media targeting to help enrich the consumer experience and campaign results.

Voice announcements in action: Pizza Hut India

Pizza Hut India ran a voice advertising campaign on Gaana (India’s largest music streaming platform) using Instreamatic as the underlying AI-powered voice advertising technology platform. The voice advertising campaign included personalized dialogues for lunch and dinner to promote a one-time purchase offer. For example, the lunchtime ad creative reminded the listener that “It’s dinner time,” followed by a call-to-action to “Share a meal together” with friends or family.

“Brands need to make sure they fully understand the nuances of voice interactions and enter into them with a deep understanding of the unique requirements of the format, which propagate through technology, data, strategy and creation. “

Each dialogue explained to listeners that they could speak aloud to interact with the ad and then presented the campaign offer. Listeners who expressed interest were notified that the order page would open on their devices, while those who were not interested received a brief response and were referred to their music on Gaana.

These interactions achieved a voice engagement rate of 4.4% and a positive response rate of 2.93%. Compared to the typical 0.1% engagement rate for banner ads, this was a tremendous response. The engagement rate was also 8 times the average for a standard audio campaign without two-way voice interactions.

The campaign then leveraged “continuous dialogue” capabilities to retarget consumers with personalized ads based on their initial responses. Among consumers who had declined the offer, these second dialogues achieved a voice engagement rate of 13.9% – with 5.2% responding positively that they would like to order pizza. At the same time, 3% of consumers who had a moderate ‘not interested’ response to the first ad interaction changed their mind on the second engagement.

The results of this campaign provide excellent insight into how voice advertising can enable brands to create and deliver intimate, ongoing conversations that learn and adapt to individual consumer preferences – and do so at scale through AI-powered programmatic advertising.

Amplify the conversation

This journey can also be gradual, with brands being able to learn more about consumers through their history of previous responses and to refine creative approaches and targeted offers that increase the relevance of future advertisements delivered to those same people. This means that brands can connect with consumers more accurately and successfully, achieving improved engagement rates and ROI.

With the right creative content, every voice announcement can deliver fresh, engaging, and memorable dialogue experiences. And while the content of a voice ad typically focuses on a metrics-based call-to-action positioned as an engaging possibility, it can also be a powerful tool in building brand awareness.

As part of the Pizza Hut campaign, Xaxis (GroupM’s results media specialist) found that simply interacting with these ads by voice also resulted in significant brand recall and an intention to use a brand, also enabling successful awareness campaigns. (A July 2021 Nielsen study of brand recall and intent via voice ad exposure in India found that dialogue campaigns increased a user’s consideration for a product or service by 12% compared to a control group – a significant increase for studies of this nature.)

Consumers leave the experience feeling like the brand has heard and understood them, which builds trust and affinity that can support long-term relationships between the brand and consumers.

While this format has shown incredible potential to support both immediate and long-term marketing goals, it’s important to remember that it’s still nascent. Brands need to ensure they fully understand the nuances of voice interactions and enter into them with a deep understanding of the format’s unique requirements, which propagate through technology, data, strategy and creation.

It’s also worth noting that the human voice listeners hear (and respond to) is a crucial part of the brand’s experience in audio ads, and the voice should match the brand’s personality. Brands using audio ads will pre-record human-provided audio responses to immediately match the tone and content of a listener’s response (and keep the conversation moving).

We all know the potential frustrations that can arise from interacting with poorly designed automated systems, and we know that not all consumers welcome all types of advertising. But I am encouraged by our results so far. This format sits at the convergence of advanced technology and intelligent creativity, and presents a series of new technical and creative challenges. Xaxis is excited to explore them all and build on this initial success.


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