Google Audio Ads Reviewed – Arbitron Arbitrage?

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Lured by the $400 advertising credit Google was giving to anyone willing to try out their new radio program – called Google Audio Ads – I went ahead and ran a campaign during the last week of August.

I selected a voice over specialist, wrote a script, and literally in a matter of days I had a professional radio ad ready for primetime. I then selected the geographic area in which I wanted the ad to run, targeted by demographics and station type, and set my CPM bid and weekly budget.

Over a one week period, my ad received 504 air plays and over 400,000 impressions at a cost of about $500. Add in the cost of the voice over, deduct the $400 credit, and I ended up paying about $300 for 500 air plays, or around $.60 an airing.

Did it work? Well in truth, probably not. Although I added in a promotional code at the end of the message to track conversions, I didn’t do enough to truly track sales(next time I’ll take Google’s advice and send the ad to a dedicated URL instead of my company’s main Web site). A cursory analysis of my Google Analytics stats showed a slight increase in visitors in the main cities in which the ad ran, but none of those visitors seemed to turn into paying customers.

That being said, my experience with Audio Ads was incredibly positive and for several reasons, I’m currently pretty bullish about the prospects of this technology – both for Google and for advertisers.

If you know anything about radio advertising (I admit I know very little), if you are in a direct-response business, and if you sell a product that can either be sold over the phone or can be tracked to a specific URL, I recommend you start allocating some of your testing budget to Audio Ads immediately, for two basic reasons:

1. It’s easy. As noted above, you can literally create a professional-quality campaign with no prior radio expertise in a matter of days. For $500-$600, you can have a slew of different ads to test.

2. It’s an arbitrage opportunity. Few people are using Audio Ads right now. Translation: this is a great time to get into the system, find out which ads, stations, time slots, and bids will work for you, and totally pump up your campaigns. In many ways, it’s reminiscent of the early days of AdWords (or better yet of GoTo, I mean Overture, I mean Yahoo Search Marketing). Remember being able to buy the keyword “mortgage” for $.25 CPC? This could be the equivalent.

Again, this isn’t right for everyone. If you haven’t yet optimized your AdWords campaigns, that’s still a better place to spend your time. If you don’t have prior experience in radio, I’d still be cautious. And if you can’t track and convert people via the Web and phone, you may have difficulty. But for those of you that meet the qualifications outlined above, this is a huge ROI opportunity.

About the Author

David Rodnitzky is CEO of PPC Associates, a leading SEM agency based in Silicon Valley. PPC Associates provides search, social, and display advertising management to growing, savvy companies. To learn more, visit ppcassociates.com, or contact David at david@ppcassociates.com.

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  1. David, I would like to personally invite you to compare your experience of Google Audio with our system, Bid4Spots. I don't know the details of your buy, but I do know that many direct response, brand and former Google Audio advertisers have been able to use our system to generate great response on the top stations throughout the country. Your email seems to indicate very inexpensive ads but I would venture to say they are probably on tiny stations in tiny markets. In order to get great response, you really need to air on big stations in large or mid-sized markets and our system has the most of any company -- about 2,500 at last count from every major owner group. I am the inventor and CEO of Bid4Spots and I invite you and your readers to check out the demos on our site, www.bid4spots.com. You'll see why the weekly online reverse auctions, where sellers (radio stations) compete and the lowest prices win, is able to generate the lowest costs on the best stations. Dave Newmark Chairman and CEO Bid4Spots.com