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YouTube audio ads (now in beta) help brands reach listeners for less

Recently, the video and music streaming giant released the beta version of YouTube audio ads, advertisements in an audio format that display a static image or simple animation instead of a video.

YouTube audio ads (now in beta) help brands reach listeners for less Blog Feature

December 4th, 2020 min read

With more people turning to online services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an increase in competition for attention, and YouTube is finding new ways to help businesses cut through the noise to expand market reach.

Recently, the video and music streaming giant released the beta version of YouTube audio ads, advertisements in an audio format that display a static image or simple animation instead of a video. Similar to radio ads, audio ads focus on the audio of the advertisement for users who may not be looking at their device’s screen, eliminating the need for video production.

Businesses are already seeing positive results through audio ads. In the months of testing leading up to the beta version of audio ads, YouTube has already seen their value as it found that more than 75% of measured audio ad campaigns drove a significant lift in brand awareness.

What are the advantages of audio ads?

With over 2 billion logged-in monthly users, YouTube is best known for being an online video-sharing platform, but many people also use it to share and listen to audio-focused content such as music, podcasts, educational lectures, comedy skits, interviews, and news.

🔎 Related: How much do YouTube ads cost? (pricing guide)

“If someone is on a playlist and doesn’t have their video up, this is a better user experience,” said Adam Stewart YouTube’s VP of Sales. YouTube has “always been a place for marketers to get incremental reach, and this is an extension of what we’ve been.”

There is no official documentation available yet on how much audio ads cost, though much like standard YouTube ad pricing the cost of audio ads is likely variable depending on the ad format.

According to IMPACT’s paid media expert, Jason Linde:

“From what I am hearing CPMs will cost less for audio vs video when it comes to YouTube, which is inline with other platforms that take advantage of both (like Pandora).”

Audio ads also help marketers spend less by cutting down the cost of video production. The lower cost of producing a static image or simple animation to add audio to makes audio ads a more cost-effective YouTube advertising option.

YouTube audio ad best practices

According to Google, some audio ad best practices for an ad between 15 and 30 seconds are to:

  • Focus on sound: YouTube audio ads should focus on the audio component, so use assets with light animation or a static image with a call-to-action. During the beta, upload to YouTube your audio and static image or simple animation creative to create a URL. View a list of supported YouTube file formats.
  • Have a consistent tone and tempo: For a 15-second ad, aim for 40 words when using a voiceover in the ad.
  • Be conversational: A friendly tone helps transition listeners between entertainment content and ads.
  • Include a call-to-action in the audio or in the video creative: Offer an opportunity for listeners to take the next step, such as reading or showing a short link to your website in the ad.
  • Comply with Google Ads policies: Ads shouldn’t be overly intrusive to listeners, so make sure to comply with the Google Ads policies.

The key to successful audio ads is to ensure that the messaging in audio-form helps the listener understand clearly what the ad is about and what they should do after listening.

Should you consider adding audio ads to your company’s advertising budget?

To determine whether your company should take advantage of YouTube’s new audio ads, it is important to first evaluate your target audience. By determining your target audience’s demographics, interests, and devices, you can determine the best YouTube campaign targeting methods for your company.

🔎 Related: Ultimate YouTube video uploading checklist for brands

Your audience research will also offer insights into whether there are opportunities to leverage audio ads based on the type of content your audience consumes, whether it’s music, podcasts, or other content with a focus on audio. Our paid media expert Jason Linde advises:

“Ultimately the advertisers should be able to control the ideal target CPM pending niche and audience... Unfortunately, like everything brand new there isn't enough data to start setting benchmarks.

Anyone looking to jump into the beta should jump in aggressively (after working through the strategy of course) to quickly get enough data to start making pivots quicker.”

The beta version of audio ads is available on YouTube, but not yet available on YouTube Music. Google also notes that if you’re advertising a product or service in a “sensitive vertical” (for example, healthcare and medicine, alcohol, or gambling), you won’t be able to create audio ads in the beta version.

By leveraging the advantages of YouTube audio ads in conjunction with video ads, you can help your business make smarter, more strategic decisions on ad format and placement.

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