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Stop Interrupting Me

I stumbled across a fascinating podcast series from Vox Media last year. Recode Media with Peter Kafka covers a fascinating range of topics from a US media, entertainment, and technology viewpoint. It’s a must-listen if you’re a media junkie like me.

It was interesting to hear how Vox had monetised its podcast content. The in-podcast ads didn’t sound like ads. One spot for US Cellular was so brilliantly crafted that I didn’t realise I was listening to an ad! It felt like part of the podcast content, almost like a powerful product endorsement. (I would have included the audio here, but as the podcast platform dynamically inserted it, I couldn’t play the audio again.)

Audio advertising and voiceovers must evolve.

Podcast audio advertising and voiceovers will need to continue to evolve, and probably quicker than they currently are. Podcasts are an immersive and ‘personal’ listening experience (often consumed with headphones) and are usually produced for a niche audience. To monetise podcasts effectively (a difficult enough task as it is), they should include ads that don’t feel as if they interrupt the listening experience. 

It’s the same with radio and music streaming services. To remain relevant and engaging, advertising needs to be rethought and not simply presented in blocks of 8x30-second hard-sell commercials.

A handful of podcasters and broadcasters are already doing this well, but as creatives, writers and advertisers, we need to do even better to ensure audiences remain engaged.

Spotify started down this path when it launched in Australia. It had clear creative guidelines for agencies and production companies to follow, but lately, I’ve noticed that some of its audio ads have transitioned towards a more traditional ‘talk at you’ voiceover style. Perhaps money talks?

Serving relevant, targeted ads is crucial to engaging with the listener and ensuring their listening experience isn’t ‘interrupted.’

ARN and Southern Cross Austereo - companies with roots in traditional broadcasting but with growing digital offerings - are in the early stages of experimenting with delivering highly relevant, dynamic advertising. Audio ads can be created with different lines of copy and multiple voiceover options, allowing them to be dynamically changed based on several factors, including weather, time of day, sports results and an individual's music preferences. 

These dynamic ads sound best when a conversational, authentic voiceover delivers them because they aim to connect, engage, and be highly relevant. Because they are stitched together on the fly, every line recorded by the voiceover can’t sound out of place when positioned with the other variations around it. But when the creative is right, these dynamic ads feel less like an interruption and more like relevant, interesting and engaging content.

Stop interrupting me!

Listeners to podcasts and music don’t want to be interrupted; they want to be informed and entertained by their chosen content. Therefore, advertisers should ensure that their messaging and commercials are relevant and add value to the listening experience - because that’s when listeners are more likely to take action.

Abe Udy

Abe is the founder of Abe's Audio and started the business in 1998 from his bedroom with an old computer, fax machine, dial-up internet, and a microphone in his wardrobe. Today, he leads a team that provides audio production and voice overs to media, agency, eLearning, video & creative clients around Australia and beyond.

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