Real-Time Engagement with Interactive Voice Ads


Traditional audio marketing often focuses on reach and frequency however, brands like Spotify and Pandora are shaking up engagement with interactive, or dialogue ads.

An interactive voice ad, is a voice-enabled ad that prompts the consumer to engage directly with the advertisement using their own voice.

Interactive voice ads allow the consumer to offer affirmative, or negative responses, which the ad has the capacity to recognise and respond to – a little like a real-life conversation.

For example, a local cafe might run an audio ad that asks if you are interested in jumping the queue to beat the rush tomorrow morning? The ad then turns on your device microphone to listen for your response. If you say, “no, I don’t like coffee,” the ad thanks you and returns to the content. Genius or creepy? We’ll let you decide.

Another benefit of interactive voice ads is the fact that people’s responses allow for brand feedback. Unlike traditional radio spots, interactive voice ads allow brands to track engagement i.e. positive responses, or negative responses.

Conversational marketing is also emerging in video, delivering a similar user experience and the data is rapidly evolving to more accurately measure things like age, gender, and even consumer mood.

So will we see the end of ads that talk at people, and instead talk to people?

IAB/PwC: Strong Growth in Digital Advertising

The latest IAB/PwC Australia data shows digital advertising has continued to demonstrate strong growth, which bodes well for current consumer confidence and the overall health of the Australian economy.

The data shows digital advertising was up 25.8% year on year for the March quarter 2021, with a total digital advertising spend of $2.883 billion for the 3 months to 31 March 2021. This comes after a solid Q4, 2020, which saw total digital advertising spend reach $2.9 billion.

Search and directory advertising increased 26.5%, while general display increased by 28.9% and classifieds increased by 28.5%.

Retail advertising was a particularly strong performer, up 16.4% year on year, with finance advertising also up 9.3% year on year. However, automotive advertising was down 12.5% and technology was also down 2.4% year on year.

Thankfully, the travel sector has begun its recovery due to a boom in domestic tourism, with both travel and automotive advertising up slightly in comparison to the second half of 2020.

Video advertising represented the largest share of ad spend with 54% growth, followed by infeed/native advertising with 31% growth and standard display with 14% growth.

IAB Australia CEO, Gai Le Roy said, “There’s no doubt the Australian market is bouncing back, but there’s still plenty of room for further growth, with expectations that as borders reopen and supply chains improve, both the travel and automotive categories will increase investment in digital advertising.”

Facebook Unveils New Audio Tools

Facebook has announced a list of new audio tools for soundbites, in-app podcasts and live audio rooms.

The audio tools will feature audio quality enhancements, captions, speech translations, and sound effects.

The new tools follow the rise of podcasts, audio messages and the more recent fame of Clubhouse, which has attracted big names like Elon Musk.

SoundBites will be a new format for short-form audio, a little like TikTok for audio. The tool will let you change your sound via filters and other effects.

Facebook’s long-form audio will feature in-app podcasts, which means users won’t have to leave the app. An expanded partnership with Spotify will bring the audio player to Facebook’s app as well, allowing users to listen to both music and podcasts. 

Facebook expects its new Clubhouse-style Live Audio Rooms will be popular with Groups. Participants will be able to tip creators with Facebook’s digital currency.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, suggests the tools will play a big part in the creative economy, enabling individuals and shifting power from traditional institutions to enable individuals to exercise their own creativity. But he also acknowledges the debate over the degree to which audio, particularly live audio, should be moderated. If misinformation is shared in Facebook audio rooms, should moderators shut it down? 

Facebook is currently setting up an Audio Creator Fund to pay users to create content for SoundBites and working on podcast features that will allow users to discover, share and listen to podcasts.

Clubhouse: the exclusive invite-only audio app

If you’re in the know, you’ll have heard about the new exclusive app Clubhouse. For the laggards, Clubhouse is an audio-based, invite-only iPhone app that lets you listen to a live conversation.

Being invite-only, you cannot simply download it off the app store and create an account. Like an exclusive yacht club, you’ll have to be invited by an existing member.

However, Clubhouse creators Paul Davidson and Rohan Seth recently stated that their aim is to open up the app to everyone, once the beta stage testing has been completed.

If you’re lucky enough to join at the moment, you can select any number of topics from tech and health to business. This opens up conversation rooms for you to listen to.

The conversation rooms are a little like conference calls, so once the conversation has finished, the room is closed. 

The app recently saw a steep rise in awareness due to Elon Musk and Bill Gates making appearances earlier in the year.

Musk’s chat with Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev in January, helped propel Clubhouse to the top of the startup charts. As of 1 February 2021, Clubhouse had 2 million users and is now reportedly valued at $1 billion.

Clubhouse has announced a number of forthcoming new features like tipping and tickets, but right now is more of a status symbol app, featuring celebrities like Oprah, Drake, Chris Rock and of course Elon Musk.

When the app becomes available to the public and the exclusivity is lost, will the value diminish? Only time will tell.

What’s down the road for radio advertising?

While radio advertising remains a staple for many brands in Australia, advertising avenues like in-stream, podcasting and broader digital continue to challenge the investment return of radio.

In the US, radio execs have spent years building strategic relationships with car makers to ensure their marketing channel remains relevant.

Enter ‘connected cars’; cars that can communicate with systems outside of the car, allowing the transfer of user data.

To better understand radio performance in today’s market, a pilot study was conducted by General Motors and Taco Bell.

GM’s connected cars were able to measure location data and in-car radio listening data, while Taco Bell provided radio advertising logs for analysis. 

The study used three different radio ads: a typical 30 second radio spot, an on-air personality sponsorship and promotions for news/weather/traffic reports. 

The study concluded that:

  • the 30 second radio spot was most effective in lifting drive through restaurant visits;
  • personality sponsorships and news/weather/traffic spots generated synergies when combined;
  • the combination of a 30 second ad with a voiced personality enhanced campaign frequency and 
  • mid-day recorded the highest driving activity.

Today, with Amazon, Google and Apple trying to embed their systems into ‘connected cars’ the potential to leverage user data in order to improve ad relevance and targeting might not be as far away as we think. 

Imagine approaching a McDonalds in your car as a McDonald’s radio ad starts, prompting you to drive through and buy a burger.