Creating Successful Audio Ad Campaigns

4 Things You Didn’t Know You Needed to Create Successful Audio and Radio Ad Campaigns

Marketers can be changeable creatures. Often, even the mere mention of the latest ‘revolution’, ‘innovation’, or ‘audio ad magic bullet’ is enough to send advertisers into an excited flurry of strategy-morphing activity. 

“We need a catchy jingle!” “No, no, what we’re missing is a punchy soundtrack.” “What if we go heavy on the feature-benefit link?” “We should target a hyper-specific, meticulously researched customer segment.” “It’s important to showcase testimonials.” “Transparency is important – let’s lead with Ts and Cs.” “Wait; are we missing comedy in our ads?”

You get the picture. Strategy teams behind audio ad campaigns can tie themselves in knots trying to create the perfect mix of ingredients and, while some of the above ideas are good ones (and some are wildly off-base), the truth is… it’s too much. 

Too much to pack in;  too many conflicting agendas. 

But what if we told you – Morpheus moment here – what if we told you, that creating successful audio ad campaigns is actually relatively simple. Not easy, mind. We wouldn’t go that far. But what we would say is this: the raw ingredients that make great audio ad campaigns successful hold true in perpetuity. 

Four ingredients, to be specific. Let’s take a look at them, one-by-one, and figure out how they contribute to the success or failure of audio ad campaigns. But first, some food for thought. 

Our latest research paper: Listen Up!, is available now!

Findings from 10 years of effectiveness and emotional data from over 50,000 listeners and non-listeners. How to create audio advertising that stirs the passions and drives business profits. 

Download for free now.


First Things First: Premeditate Impact

Before diving into the creative process, creating impactful audio ad campaigns requires some planning and consideration of a few important factors. In a nutshell; it’s crucial to premeditate what kind of impact you want your ads to have.

These days, audio ads have expanded beyond traditional radio – where once they were confined almost exclusively to the car or the kitchen, audio ad campaigns nowadays reach audiences through podcasts, streaming services, and various other platforms. 

Understanding where and when listeners encounter your ads is key. Consider the context in which your audience will experience the ad – whether it’s during their commute, while working out, or relaxing at home, for instance.

Think also: what sounds, voices, narratives, or music elicit the deepest emotional responses? Emotion, as we know, is a powerful driver for memory formation and brand effects. By understanding emotional triggers, you can design ads that not only lead to short-term effects but also engender long-term impact.


1. Distinctive Assets

Distinctive assets make brands easily recognisable and memorable in audio ad campaigns. In a cluttered advertising landscape, they cut through the noise and create a lasting impression in the minds of consumers.

Visual cues, such as shapes, logos, colours, and familiar characters, have long been recognised as powerful distinctive assets – the human brain, with a significant portion dedicated to visual processing, naturally responds to these sensory triggers.

However, the power of distinctive assets extends beyond the visual realm. Sound plays a crucial role, as seen in unforgettable jingles and music tracks that become ingrained in our memory. Think about those tunes you can’t get out of your head – McDonald’s, Chili’s, Coca-Cola. They serve as powerful audio cues that enhance brand recognition.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that distinctive assets like characters are limited to visual mediums. In fact, reframing their presentation in audio ad campaigns can add a new string to their bow, as a commercial device, and often provoke an unexpected sense of surprise among listeners. 


2. Emotional Connection & Response

Creating a strong emotional connection is a hallmark of successful audio ad campaigns. It’s about the moments of authenticity, surprise, and human connection that evoke powerful emotions.

Consider the AA’s Keep on Turning ad: a prime example of how the right choice of music can induce feelings of happiness and surprise. By featuring Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Proud Mary,’ the ad creates a joyful atmosphere, enhancing the overall emotional impact. Music has this unique ability, to trigger emotions and shape the listener’s response to a message.

The National Lottery’s ad from 12th April 2021 takes a slightly different approach, leveraging voiceover and uplifting choral music to drive emotional intensity. 

Here, the combination of a compelling narrative, a recognisable voiceover, and impactful music works synergistically to create a memorable and emotionally resonant experience for listeners.

However, emotion doesn’t always stem from a catchy jingle or a musical composition. The concept of ‘between-ness,’ highlighted in Orlando Wood’s Lemon and Look Out!, emphasises the importance of authentic, human connections. 

Cadbury’s Garage ad beautifully illustrates this principle. With minimal dialogue and no music, the ad relies on a heartwarming twist to connect with listeners emotionally. The absence of music doesn’t diminish the impact; instead, it emphasises the ‘between-ness’ and engages the right side of the brain, known for recognising human relationships.


3. Right-Brain Elements

Understanding the nuances between left-brain and right-brain features in audio advertising is essential for creating campaigns that captivate audiences and drive commercial success. Building on the insights of Iain McGilchrist (The Master and His Emissary), Orlando Wood highlights the distinctive characteristics of each hemisphere and their impact on advertising effectiveness.


Broad-Beam Features

Right-brain features engage our broad-beam attention; the aspect of our cognition that is alert, vigilant, and attuned to what emerges from ‘the edges of our awareness.’ 

These features are ideal for bolstering your brand, creating memorable impressions, and forging emotional connections. In the realm of audio advertising, right-brain features include:

  1. Characters: Introducing relatable or memorable characters adds a human touch.
  2. Dialogue: Engaging conversations or brand storytelling techniques effectively capture attention.
  3. Cultural References: Tapping into cultural trends or references enhances the ad’s relevance and resonance.
  4. Humour: A touch of humour makes an ad memorable and enjoyable.
  5. Melodic Music: The use of melodic and emotionally resonant music enhances overall impact.


Narrow-Beam Features

Left-brain features, on the other hand, appeal to narrow-beam attention, which prefers dealing with familiar elements. These features are more suited for listeners who are ‘in-market,’ actively considering a purchase. Left-brain features include:

  1. Voiceovers and Testimonials: Providing clear messages and endorsements that appeal to rational decision-making.
  2. Strong Product Focus: Emphasising product features and benefits for those seeking specific information.
  3. Technical Language: Addressing analytical aspects of decision-making.
  4. Rhythmic Music: Using rhythmic and structured music for focused and immediate impact.


4. Reliable Testing

Successful brands recognise the significance of brand monitoring, testing, and iterating to ensure sustained effectiveness in audio ad campaigns.

Market dynamics are shifting sands, and what works today might not yield the same impact tomorrow. Reliable testing allows advertisers to stay ahead of the curve, identifying how their campaigns resonate with evolving consumer sentiments. Whether influenced by cultural shifts, technological advancements, or global events, brands must be agile in their approach.

Two metrics to remain cognizant of are Star and Spike Ratings.

  • Star Rating predicts long-term brand growth based on an ad’s creative quality, offering a nuanced understanding of its potential impact. 
  • Spike Rating predicts short-term sales effects, derived from the strength of branding and the intensity of emotional response.

But remember: reliable testing involves evaluating not only short-term sales and brand health metrics, but also longer-term effects. This approach ensures that your audio ad campaign strategy contributes to the 3 Fs – the enduring Fame, Feeling, Fluency – that drive sustained growth.


To navigate this landscape, we introduce Test Your Ad: a powerful testing platform designed for marketers aspiring to create brilliantly creative, effective ads. 

It offers next-day predictions, intuitive metrics, and diagnostics that provide actionable insights for optimising advertising strategies.


The Key to Creating Successful Audio Ads 

Ultimately, when it comes to creating successful audio ads, creativity and emotional impact are irreplaceable as ingredients. With that said, this doesn’t constitute carte blanche for marketers to throw anything and everything at the campaign. Creativity is crucial, yes; but it needs to be tempered and guided by intelligent strategy and precise, practical monitoring. 

And that’s where we come in. Our Test Your Ad – a powerful ad testing platform helps unlock the full commercial potential of audio advertising by offering next-day predictions, intuitive metrics, and actionable diagnostics. In turn, it allows marketers to iterate, optimise, and achieve sustained success with audio ad campaigns.   

As a parting note, we’d direct you to explore more about the world of audio advertising by downloading our latest research report, Listen Up! Emotion’s Defining Role in Audio Advertising Effectiveness. 

This comprehensive guide drills into the intricacies of successful audio advertising, offering valuable insights and exemplary case studies that represent a template to success. 


At System1, we help the world’s largest advertisers make confident, creative decisions that lead to transformational business results. Our powerful ad testing platform (Test Your Ad) and our idea testing platform (Test Your Idea) help brands predict the commercial potential of ads and ideas. Complementing TYA and TYI is Test Your Brand, our brand testing tool which measures the impact of ads and ideas on brand health, ensuring long-term brand growth through predictive success.

Get in touch or book a demo with one of our experts to learn more.


Want More Radio Advertising Insights?

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