Blog Post

The Essentials of Voice-Activated Ads: A Look at Smart Speaker Advertising

05/17/2022 - Sierra Ducey

When the pandemic hit in 2020, digital audio saw a massive influx in users, with podcast listeners increasing by 30%. Today, almost twice as many people own smart speakers than in 2018. For many, these smart speakers are more ingrained in households than ever before, and more people are using them for daily activities like listening to music, searching the web, or purchasing products. This continuing trend in digital audio is paving the way for marketers to utilize smart speaker advertising as more people use smart speakers in their day-to-day lives.

In an age when people crave convenience more than anything else, most consumers prefer to search for products by voice instead of by typing. In fact, nearly one-third of people in the U.S. own smart speakers, and more than half of smart speaker users rely on their devices at least once per day. With over 33 million U.S. consumers expected to shop using a smart speaker this year, smart speaker advertising is now more important than ever.

If your company produces everyday products, it’s time to consider incorporating audio advertising into your marketing plan. Similar to podcast ads, consumers often find voice-activated ads less intrusive and more engaging than other digital ads. With data-driven targeting in the right industry, this type of unintrusive advertising could help take your business to the next level.

Why Businesses Should Take Advantage of Audio Advertising This Year

Although smart speaker advertising is beneficial for businesses of all sizes, smaller local businesses stand to gain the most from integrating this form of advertising into their marketing plans. That’s because over 20% of voice search queries pertain to location-specific content. This provides marketers and businesses with SEO optimization opportunities in capturing user interest. For example, marketers can incorporate “painter near me” or “best cocktail bar in [city]” to reach a specific audience. If you are using SEO keywords in local voice ads, however, remember to tailor them to different browsers for the best results.

Even as the quantity and frequency of voice-activated search queries grow, there isn’t a comprehensive solution to secure ad buys for them. But as Google algorithms become stronger and more precise with the number of searches, smart speakers will, too. As users interact with more content, better targeting practices can be implemented. In turn, this provides more opportunities for advertisers to get their message in front of consumers with more creative formats as well.

The power of audio advertising can further be seen through a relatively recent IKEA case study. A few years ago, Wavemaker and IKEA launched a voice-enabled ad campaign in certain markets that promoted new bedding products. The ads asked the user questions to gauge their interest in exploring the new products and followed the user’s interest in making a purchase. If the user was interested in a list of product solutions, they could continue the buyer journey and follow voice-activated prompts. If not, that was the end of it. The voice-enabled campaign reached an impressive 7.68% engagement rate, while the audio-only ads delivered a click-through rate of less than 1%.

Using Smart Speakers and Advanced Audio for A/B Testing Your Audio Advertising Strategy

Switching over to an audio advertising strategy can be intimidating, which is why it could be worthwhile to use smart speaker advertising for A/B testing first, instead of opting into 100% smart speaker buys. A/B testing allows brands to understand which ad formats and messages resonate with certain audiences.

Smart speaker buys, on the other hand, have a smaller reach, and eliminating streaming on mobile and desktop could negatively impact campaign performance. Here are a few use cases for A/B testing smart speaker buys:


This method enables you to use data-driven targeting to test smart speakers during commuting hours to target people driving to work or during work. This also includes car-enabled speakers. With day-parting, you have a potentially wide reach, as many people are returning to the office or may hear your ad while working from home.

2. Creative format and messaging

You can also use A/B testing to test your format and messaging on smart speakers. Does your audience connect better with a conversational tone, or should it be more formal to break through the noise? What does SEO optimization look like in your messaging, and which keywords does your audience use? These questions should be your launchpad before delving deeper into an advertising campaign. Understanding the basics of what is best for your business and what will connect with your audience gives you a good nudge in the direction of success.

3. Audience targeting

By using data-driven targeting to test different ad formats on different segments of your audience, you can figure out which ad format works better for certain audiences. Would a portion of your audience need a longer ad with more information, or would they connect better with a shorter ad that gets to the point? Run tests and optimize the information gathered during this preliminary phase to get a fuller understanding of the best possible audio marketing strategy that meets your needs.

By testing advanced audio and SEO optimization for an audio advertising campaign, you can reach your target audience in a new, creative way. After all, the whole point of your marketing plan should be to get consumers’ attention, engage with them, and convert them into customers. To learn more about audio advertising, check out our webinar on leveraging digital audio.

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