Tips & Tricks

How to Build a Better Voice Ad

Dec 7, 2021

Remember when you were told never to talk back? When it comes to smart speakers, that’s not the case—we like hearing from our listeners. Voice-activated smart speakers, like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home, make it possible to have two-way conversations with users, and we’re all-in on voice for better content and advertising. As usage grows, now’s the time for brands to jump in. 

In fact, 24% of the population now owns at least one smart speaker device, and this holiday season, these devices are expected to be a top gift. Smart speakers make audio listening seamless and convenient. With just a few spoken words, users can stream their favorite artist, podcast, or sports game. 

If you think about it, speaking is much easier than using your hands. Science backs that up. A Stanford study found that speech is three times faster than typing or tapping, and it’s more accurate. Getting that information and entertainment quickly creates a positive user experience. Voice is also frictionless, meaning there’s no need to pull over or stop your workout to search for a podcast or album. Who doesn’t like convenience and ease?

At SXM Media, we doubled down on voice early, launching our first interactive ads years ago, with savvy partners across verticals, including Doritos, Ashley HomeStores, Unilever, Wendy’s, Turner Broadcasting, Comcast, Nestle, and more.

The best voice experiences are engaging, effortless, and offer value

“The best voice ads do not tell you about a product, but they really show you some of the benefits,” explained Claire Fanning, SXM Media’s VP of Ad Innovation, at Advertising Week New York. “We want to make sure ads are likeable and not intrusive, but also driving purchase intent,”

To create an easy user experience, our voice ads include a simple “yes” or “no” question. We explain to the user that they’re hearing an interactive voice ad and ask them to opt-in to continue. Temptation is used, such as asking, “Want to see how you can incorporate Jimmy Dean sausage into your meal routine? Say yes to hear more,” accompanied by the sound of sizzling sausage. (Who could resist that?) If the user says “no,” they go back to hearing the music, and if they say “yes,” then we serve them a specific “response audio” from the brand.

We’ll fill you in on a few best practices.

1. Keep it simple

Although we know the ins and outs of voice ads, they might be new to your audience, so don’t assume smart speaker owners know what to do with the ad. Guide the listener, introducing them to the voice ad, and include a clear “say yes” call-to-action—so they’ll know exactly how to respond. 

2. Be entertaining

While making sure the user experience is clear, don’t overlook the fun of voice ads. They offer so many possibilities to surprise and delight audiences. You can focus on being playful, informative, or interactive. You can introduce a new voice, a signature tone, or song. Tell a story, incorporate a game, or answer questions. You’re having a conversation with your customers, so make it memorable.  

3. Offer something valuable

A great voice ad offers listeners something they can’t get anywhere else. That could be a recipe, a promotional price, or a sneak peek at content. If you’re a shampoo company, for example, you could create a quiz on hair types and offer to send users a free sample. A movie studio could have a movie star voice a Q&A experience that answers fans’ burning questions. Experiment and make it fun.

Now, let’s hear what a successful voice ad actually sounds like:

Client: Dove
Client: Purex

How do we measure success?

We get this question a lot, understandably. As of right now, we track the “yes” responses and use that as our metric (this action is known as the “say-through” rate). If a user says “no,” we don’t count that. 

“As we tip-toe into the space, it is still so new, and our focus is on eliciting response and making it so consumers want more and see this as a positive experience,” Fanning said.

So far, so good. Our data shows say-through rates are up to 10x higher1 than their click-through rate counterparts, and voice users had a 27%2 higher purchase intent over audio ad benchmarks for those who engage. 

We apply the same targeting to voice ads as we do to streaming audio spots, ensuring that users hear relevant messages. That helps increase success, boost engagement, and get listeners excited about purchasing.

Put Your Voice Strategy into Action

Voice is only going to become more important and more pervasive, so we say get in on it now.

 “Voice is ever-present in our lives,” said Fanning. “So, if consumers are there, brands need to be there too.” Want to learn more about using voice ads for your brand? Get in touch with us today.

1 Pandora Internal Metrics, Closed Beta, July-October 2020

2 Veritonic testing, average of 5 different voice ad campaigns

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