Popular Myths Debunked: How Audio Ad Measurement Works

By Sergei Peysakhov, Senior Director, Measurement & Insights, Audacy

Five Insights You Need For Audio Attribution

Every marketer understands the need to measure and prove out the effectiveness of their ad campaigns. But the reality is – attributing business outcomes to multiple marketing touchpoints is not always straightforward. The rules that apply to digital or TV advertising don’t necessarily apply to audio. Publishers like Audacy deliver campaign attribution results for brands day in and day out, and we’re here to set the record straight on some of the most common misconceptions about audio measurement.

These are the top myths about audio ad measurement, busted.

Myth #1: Podcasts Are a Measurement Black Hole

Many advertisers still think measuring podcast advertising is next to impossible. At best, they treat podcasts as an “offline” channel that can only be measured with promo codes and vanity URLs. In recent years podcast attribution has matured dramatically. With the right tools and partners in place, you can measure podcasts the same way you measure digital advertising – with robust media and conversion pixels that link podcast ad exposure to online events like web visits and sales, or lift in brand perceptions like awareness and purchase intent. And it doesn’t just work for dynamically inserted ads (DAI) either – it measures those highly impactful host-read spots as well.

Direct-to-Consumer brands were the first to make the connection between highly engaging podcast hosts and strong advertising ROI. They were also early adopters of innovative partners like Claritas, Podsights and Chartable who allow full digital-like measurement of podcast advertising. And the results were phenomenal – A recent audio performance study we did with Claritas found that e-commerce brands are generating an average of 6 incremental conversions for every 1,000 impressions when running podcast advertising campaigns1. More recently, large brands in verticals like consumer packaged goods and insurance have quickly caught on – and are successfully using podcasts to drive positive shifts in brand recognition and purchase intent. According to Magellan AI, Geico and Progressive rank among top podcast advertisers, with the insurance category increasing spend in podcasts by 83%2.

Myth #2: You Can Only Measure Digital Audio

As with any digital channel, streaming audio is relatively easy to measure. Leading audio publishers have also cracked the code for delivering attribution for over-the-air Radio campaigns. There’s long been a myth that digital players are the only ones with lots of audience data. With Radio, we can’t forget about the highly engaged audience that regularly interacts with their favorite stations. At Audacy, approximately 20% of our listening audience leaves an identifiable touchpoint – whether that’s from fans calling in to talk to their favorite sports host, texting in to win concert tickets, or listening from their smart speakers. These listener touchpoints are then onboarded into the digital world, becoming a large and representative panel of our audience. Large-scale first party data is exactly what’s needed to measure ad effectiveness, and track listener behavior after they were exposed to an ad campaign, whether that’s visiting a website, purchasing a product or walking into a retailer’s store.

Myth #3: Clicks Are All That Count

Audio listeners are highly immersed in what they’re hearing3, but they often aren’t looking at a screen. So when you measure audio advertising, steer clear of last-touch and click-based KPIs (Besides, in many audio environments like smart speakers, there isn’t even a screen to click on!). The focus should be on view-through or in this case ‘listen-through’ measurement. Audio ads absolutely can drive direct response purchasing, but with a lag time of up to two days4. The audio ad is making an impact on the listener, and moves them through the funnel of awareness, to consideration, and eventually purchasing.

The key is to capture that time-delayed conversion, and the top measurement partners track ad-exposed audiences mapped to a robust identity graph. That way we can capture and attribute the conversion a person makes later that day, or the next day, or next week – something you’d miss if you were only looking at clicks. A great example is sports betting and lottery apps. We see very few click-throughs, but excellent app download and first time deposit conversions when using listen-through measurement, with an average cost per acquisition of $47 per first time deposit1.

Myth #4: The ‘Identity Crisis’ Will Be a Challenge for All Media Channels

We all know that Big Changes are coming to the advertising ecosystem. As Apple’s Mobile Ad ID becomes opt-in and Chrome third-party cookies go away, digitally native platforms will be challenged. But luckily for audio (and audio advertisers), attribution is not based heavily on cookies. According to eMarketer, in order to address the loss of third-party cookies and changes to Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), advertisers are taking steps in response, including more emphasis on first-party data5. This is where years of building out millions of listener profiles comes in handy. Publishers that already rely heavily on first party data sources will be ahead of the game when it comes to attribution in an increasingly cookie-less world. Podcast advertising never relied on cookies or IDFAs in the first place, so it will be largely unaffected by the upcoming changes.

Myth #5: Vanity URLs and Promo Codes Are All You Need

Directionally, promo codes and vanity urls can be helpful. But there is a hierarchy of marketing measurement, and these basic metrics are at the bottom of the food chain. The challenge with vanity URLs is that they miss a ton of conversions. As a marketer, the goal is to attribute conversions to each advertising tactic that had an impact. A recent Audacy digital attribution study shows that vanity URLs captured less than 13% of total web visits directly driven from ad-exposed audiences6. Pixel-based measurement captures all ad-exposed conversions.

With these myths put to rest, marketers can now take advantage of the full breadth of the audio medium with the same accuracy and ROI measurement they get with the rest of their buys. Leading publishers and partners are here to lead throughout the process.

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Delivering Audio Success: Industry Trends in Streaming Audio & Podcast Performance, Audacy & Claritas, 2020
2 Magellan AI Spending Estimates: Insurance Category Podcast Spend, January 2019 – November 2020
3 Alter Agents, Audacy Engaged Impressions Study, Neuro Testing, October, 2020
4 Aggregate 2020 Audacy-Claritas Attribution Study Results
5 Source: eMarketer Ad Measurement & Revenue Attribution 2021, Feb 2021
6 2020 Audacy-Claritas Audio Impact Study

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