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Old 11-08-2009, 01:33 PM
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Default Google Audio Ads - Review

k, this will be a small review of Google Audio Ads.

Background:
I am selling a rather revolutionary product which is very much in need. To give you an idea on the need, contracts awarded to bulky, expensive, and all around "not as good" versions topped $6 billion last year. This was distributed to a rather small group of companies and mine is the only one offering it to the public.

I recently opened a website and decided to market it, but since most people do not know it exists using Google Adwords was a somewhat fruitless pursuit. I decided on Audio Ads because it would spread brand/product awareness.

Process outline:

Using the Audio Ads section of Google is somewhat still in the beta stages it seems. There is no way to delete or remove campaigns, only stop or pause them. This creates a tad bit of confusion when looking at the collective budget because it includes ALL campaigns, even ones you stopped. There are a few other areas that are difficult to navigate and the creation process is somewhat ambiguous. Although once you make your way through it once subsequent campaigns become easier.

Keep in mind, much like Adwords, this is a bid system. You select a budget and they do their best to take all the money you offered while guaranteeing nothing.

Creation:

Ad creation is a rather simple process. If you already have an MP3 radio ad you can upload it, but I think most opt to have one professionally made.

Once you enter the Ad Creation Marketplace the layout is rather simple. You're presented with a screen full of companies with their average cost, if it's buyout/pay-per-play, turnaround time, and a small audio demo. Keep in mind though the demo is obviously their best offering and may be beyond your budget. Custom jingles, multiple voices, and sound effects can add to the cost.

One thing of mention, while with no filters it currently has 3 pages of companies you can not request quotes from multiple pages. There's a box next to each company you check to request a quote, which you can do for up to 5 companies, but once you go to page 2 you lose all of page 1 requests. I assume google will fix this soon.

Most are full service companies, which means you give them a general idea and they'll take the project from A to Z and deliver a finished product. This process is covered by Google; before you can submit a quote you fill in a general outline of the ad requirements. In many cases this is the only contact you have with the company as once you accept their bid they'll usually just submit a finished product to google in a couple days. You can then listen to it and have the option of accepting or rejecting it. Of course you are still given all of their contact information (including phone number) and the ones expecting to be in business for more than a day will contact you if they have any questions.

Prices vary, most quote in the $3-400 area can be had cheaper.


Selecting areas to play your ad:

This is nifty and lacking at the same time. You select the area the ad plays via zip code, general demographics, time of the day and week, and station type. Such as you can put in a zip code, choose 18-25yr olds, M-F morning rush, or only play on country stations. The selections are fulfilling but be careful! The station type you pick can have a very damaging effect on your campaign. The reason being you can not choose between AM and FM stations, your ad plays where they decide based on your budget and station type. For example, your customer base may listen to talk radio but that will also mean it will play primarily on AM stations. If you couple that with a low budget it will play almost exclusively on the AM stations. After your campaign is running you can request a report of where you ad has played and even listen to a short clip of the radio before and during your ad. This way you can get an idea on where in the grand scheme of things you came in. Of course while neat it's somewhat useless after the fact.

As you select different restrictions google gives you an estimate of the audience. If carefully selected a $200 budget can get you 200,000+ listeners, although the quality of the listeners is in question (eg. 75yr old easy listening may not be what you're after).

Final steps:

Once the company uploads your audio ad you simply pay, attach it to a campaign, and go for it! Not so quick though, there's a few DAYS approval process for the Audio itself (amazingly this comes AFTER you pay), then about 1-2 days approval for the campaign itself. This is rather annoying and hopefully will be combined in the future. Keep this in mind when selecting the start date though since you can lose out on 1-2 days while the campaign is being reviewed.

Actual Tests:

The first test was done on a budget of about $1,000 for 30 days. I selected 4 major cities, requested it NOT play after 12am, but had no other restrictions. The effect: WORTHLESS! After playing for about a week Google claimed 293 plays to 201,000 listeners. Watching my Analytics keenly I saw absolutely no effect at all. Nothing. That was rather upsetting but I stopped it before it took all my cash.

Test #2: This test was in two stages. I requested a new audio ad and created two new campaigns. One had a budget of $300 for a week and I removed as many chances for it landing on AM stations as possible (removed talk radio, etc.). The second campaign was another budget of $700 for 3 weeks, also removed AM type stations, and requested it play on fewer stations to maximize my bid. Both overlapped for the first week.

The effect: Nearly worthless! There was an effect, but minimal. I had roughly 30 direct visitors a day increase for the one week the campaigns overlapped. After that, nothing. It pretty much dropped to before-ad levels. That's the "good" thing about Audio, you know they're almost always the direct ones.

Totals for these two campaigns before I stopped the second one was 123 ad plays to 418,000 listeners. Out of that, over the week plus, I got about 230 new visitors at a rather sizable cost. The total comes to right around $3 per visitor not including the cost of creating the ads. The only good thing I can really say about my experience is that you get the best of the best visiting your site. They heard your ad and went out of their way to find out more, instead of just impulsively clicking on a link. That turned into some conversions ($1,000 in sales, but cost that to get them!) and good time-on-site.

The reports showed that they played primarily on popular FM stations but the effect was minimal still. In my next test I'll do $1,000 for a week, but only if I get up the nerve to lose another grand.

I'll leave it at that. If you have any questions feel free to ask.
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