From QR codes to audio retargeting, new creative formats target performance budgets

Without a simple click-to-buy interface, audio and video ads were, until recently, better suited for upper-funnel brand awareness campaigns rather than direct response.

But now, proven technologies like retargeted display ads and QR codes are making audio and video formats more immediately actionable.

The secret ingredient here is the personal mobile device, which allows a person to scan a QR code while watching TV or get a reminder to buy a product they heard about while listening to music or a podcast. .

Related display ads for audio

The podcasting ad market is still dominated by read-by-host ads containing affiliate codes that offer audience members discounts when they purchase a product or service promoted by their favorite podcaster. These codes also provide marketers with proof that their advertisements actually prompted listeners to complete a transaction.

But while performance-driven, the process is far from frictionless. Think about the process of using one of these discount codes: a user has to hear the announcement, memorize or write down the code, and then make it a point to visit a website where they can use that code to complete their transaction. .

In this model, the user’s journey from impression to transaction is complicated by the fact that you cannot simply click on an audio ad to be taken to a page where you can purchase the product doing the ad. object of the promotion.

Spotify’s call-to-action cards (CTAs) attempt to bridge this disconnect using a proven technology: display ads.

Once a Spotify listener is exposed to an audio ad associated with a CTA card with their campaign, they then receive that CTA card display ad in their Spotify app interface for up to a week after impression. initial. The user then only has to click on this advertisement to be redirected to a page where he can make a transaction.

“We’re lowering the barrier for users to interact with this audio,” said Spotify Product Manager Joe Donenfeld.

Since most users listen to podcasts while doing other things like working, driving, or exercising, they are unlikely to engage with an ad on first impression. CTA cards allow users to interact with ads at times that are convenient for them, Donenfeld said, when they have time to click on the ad and complete a transaction.

What are the results so far? Spotify sees twice as many site visits associated with its clickable CTA cards compared to non-clickable audio ads, Donenfeld said.

Video and the resurgence of QR codes

On the video side, marketers have long lamented that TV and CTV don’t allow users to interact directly with ads. But rather than adding a “Buy Now” button to your remote, marketers are turning to a tried-and-true solution: QR codes.

QR codes have been around since the 1990s, but they’re finally having their time as the “Buy Now” button of choice for video ad formats. QR codes have been popping up everywhere in TV commercials, and even in digital outdoor (DOOH) ads and drone displays. And Coinbase’s viral Super Bowl ad cemented QR codes into the mainstream.

Most popular cell phones have a QR code reader built into their camera interface, and marketers can rely on people having their phones close at hand while they watch TV. Additionally, end users of all ages have grown accustomed to scanning these codes as they grew in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic as a contactless restaurant menu solution, for example.

QR codes solve two problems for CTV ads: they make them more actionable and allow marketers to more effectively track the success of ads, said Curt Larson, chief product officer for SSP Sharethrough. According to internal research by Sharethrough, having a QR code in a TV ad makes people 12% more likely to pay attention to the ad.

As a standard offering, Sharethrough inserts a dynamic QR code into all targeted CTV ad creatives through its exchange. By default, the video creative is scaled down slightly to allow insertion of a border featuring a scannable QR code, but Sharethrough is also working with marketers on other approaches that add the QR code into the ad creative itself .

For a QR code-based solution to be viable, QR codes must be large enough and displayed on screen long enough to be scanned by a user from the comfort of their couch, said Origin CEO Fred Godfrey. , a UK-based digital company. advertising company.

Origin specializes in ad creative that prompts viewers to come prepared to scan a QR code at the right time in the ad, rather than placing the QR code on the screen and relying on the viewer to notice it, Godfrey said. .

An example would be placing an animated bumper before a pet food ad with a voiceover saying “Is your pet aging? Get ready to scan the QR code at the end of this ad to learn more on the best diet for them. If a viewer hears such a message while staring at their phone during a commercial break, they’re more likely to have their phone’s camera ready to scan the code if they’re interested, a said Godfrey.

More experimentation and more data is needed before marketers can decide which QR code apps work best on TV.

“QR codes are a simple solution to an important problem,” Larson said. Sharethrough tracks the success of QR code insertion with consumers and the types of campaigns that work well with this technology. But ultimately success will come down to the measurement they provide, Larson said: “A very important part is the ability for advertisers to track the ROI of their TV spend and actually see the conversions they can directly attribute to a TV campaign.”

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