In Their Ears: Engaging Customers with Audio


The Veritonic Audio Intelligence Summit 2/15/23

The day after Valentine’s Day a whole lotta audio love was in the room at
the  Veritonic Audio Intelligence Summit. And, as a podcast maven, that did my
heart good. And for customer engagement, it’s clear that using sound – from
sonic logos to audio content – resonates. Here’s what I heard:

Hetal Thaker Patel, EVP Smart Audio and Insights, iHeartMedia was the woman for the job of myth-busting:

  • Think podcasting is not growing? False. Consumer daily usage is actually experiencing double digit growth across every demo. And Time Spent Listening is also almost 2X, per their 2022 research. Take THAT naysayers!
  • Think podcasting is niche and can’t reach scale: Well, one-third of Americans have sampled podcasts! Kapow!
  • Fun fact: Netflix has 67M total subscribers. Podcasts weekly reach is 74M. Bam!

No alt text provided for this imageiHeartMedia 2022 Research

Greater Minds…

Living up to its promise of “Bringing Together the Smartest Minds in Audio” the ultimate in brainiac panels for the Summit featured Sounds Profitable founder, Bryan Barletta, having a Vulcan Mind Meld with Sky Opila, Head of Acquisition Marketing, Policygenius Inc. – which has embraced podcasting since 2015 — and Gretchen Smith, Vice President of Media & Creative, Ad Results Media. All I can say is that the video will be available for you to play back at half speed six times to fully absorb the discussion around the use of pixels and getting a clean read on impressions through to conversion, programmatic and data measurement and comparisons of podcasting to influencer marketing.

No alt text provided for this image Barletta, Opila, Smith

I understood when Opila mentioned that their first signal that podcasting was a viable option was when the phone started ringing. And I can tell you he is bullish on host reads because of the imperative for trust and authenticity for the brand. Barletta’s great closing salvo summed it up with an “assumptive close”: “So, you’re saying that with the right advances in measurement you’re interested in exploring programmatic and announcer reads and growing the whole space….?” To which Sky laughed and agreed, despite “the amount of people that are gonna stop to pitch me now at the cocktail reception….”

For Brainiac Panel #2

Scott Marino, Senior Brand Partner at Morning Brew and Samantha (Sam) Sweig, Associate Director Analytics at Havas Media Group talked partnership ideas, and used my favorite new word: “atomizing content” (to be wherever the consumer is with segments for different platforms – and making sure there’s a personalized approach to engaging the audiences). 

This twosome’s recommendation is a two-pronged approach of making sure you understand attribution as well as attitudinal results and then make more relevant content. As Sweig pointed out, work with measurement partners and not just work with what’s available off the shelf but customize by adding, say, segmentation questions or which emotive attributes drive by demo, etc. “That increased customization has helped take the qualitative insights and make them actionable.”

Marino offered this example: “The financial services sector was looking to engage around investing with more engaging conversation, so we thought what better way to do that and have that come to life, while also elevating a new place in the marketplace, than by creating a branded podcast. The branded podcast, he said, hit multiple touch of providing knowledge from the brand as well as that “edutaining” content. They also worked to make sure they understood as much as possible from their downloads, and “where is the audience leaning in, what segments are they most engaged with, what attributes did they take away…”? They took the learnings from what segments of the episode resonated most and optimized the content for their now third season. “We were then able to measure the impact of a download on business results as well: how many people are actually opening investment accounts … and using Veritonic to understand what happens after they did it … what type of account did they open. It was just incredible rich learnings.”

On Using SOUND

Danielle Linden, Senior Director, Marketing at Sport Clips Haircuts figured out how to leverage the sounds of clippers – and sighs — to entice more haircuts! ASMR, she pointed out, elicits physical sensation to sounds, a squeak that makes that hair stand on end or hearing a whisper that makes you sigh. To reach their audience to promote their “enhanced” hair cut service with spa-like treatment, Sport Clips got recordings of scissors or water running, etc. They sampled five different scripts featuring different attributes and saw – er, heard, great outperformance in uptake.

James Clarke, Senior Director Digital & Social at PepsiCo smartly observed that we’re having “a moment of the second renaissance of audio. We see it in consumer behavior with more time spent in audio formats — streaming audio, podcasts… At the same time consumers are inundated with messaging and are device multitasking.” So, just as PepsiCo doubles down on all sensorineural cues, like Lays + Yellow. Doritos + triangle shape (or even the instrument, if you saw that Super Bowl ad!).

They were just missing the audio element. So the team mapped sonic identities to each of their brands. It’s hard to communicate that in text, but think audio logo for Fritos sounding like “freeeetozzz”! Then, thru trial and error they tested and crafted sonic identities and full soundscapes and mapped them to the consumer journey: from the sound of opening a bag to biting the chips. Veritonic, the summit hosting company, did data validation and assessed double digit increases in ad recall and appeal. “We found the audio logo enhanced perceptions of the brand.” And that is saying something!

What’s next, begged someone from the audience. “Voice assistants will present new marketing opportunities we probably can’t even envision here. “But”, said “But First, Test” fellow panelist, Thad Smith, Senior Global Brand Manager, SMB at “Just because you could use something, doesn’t mean it’s a should!”  

Sonic branding pro (aka Audio Alchemist) Steve Keller brought it all together in his trademark porkpie hat, with a bebop style of brand marketing advice. Remember, he cautioned, like Miles Davis said, “Don’t play what’s there. Play what’s not there.” And, he “noted”: “data are not insights….It’s what you do with what’s not there.”

No alt text provided for this image Steve Keller in sonic motion

Play on, podcasters, play on!

A picture containing text, monitor, television, wall

Description automatically generated
From Steve Keller presentation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Previous Article
African American Creators

As We Celebrate Black History, Let’s Lift Up Black American Contributions

Next Article

Less Data, More B2B Marketing Muscle

Related Posts

Subscribe to TheCustomer Report

Customer Enlightenment Delivered Daily.

    Get the latest insights, tips, and technologies to help you build and protect your customer estate.