Suzi Kuban, CCO for Next Broadcast Media, explains how audio can drive lower-funnel action.
The regionally produced podcast “Maida” was a huge commercial success, becoming a #1 ranked show in Saudi Arabia. Downloaded thousands of times, part of the show's success was driven by its audio advertising strategy, becoming a benchmark example of how audio ads can influence lower funnel action.
Podcast growth in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been on an upward trajectory for a number of years. The ten-part podcast “Maida” had the perfect mix of narrative, premise, and hosting to be a great success in this flourishing medium. The show was sponsored by Kiri Arabia, and produced by Sowt Media and Zenith Media.
Senior Brand Manager for Kiri, Noha Gaber says, “The “Maida” podcast was an exciting and needed next step for Kiri, to earn our audience’s audio attention and to stay ahead of our competitors in a modern way. This is a rising trend with the KSA population showing a growing interest in podcasts with 5.1 million podcast listeners, and 86% listening to branded podcasts in 2021. "Maida" has allowed us to connect with our audience at a different level, as it brought to life the inspiring yet complex nature of everyday life of the Kiri progressive mom, simply told by a role model.”
The large and still growing local podcast listenership makes audio a key channel for brands in the Middle East - particularly if they are seeking to build brand value, drive action, and increase awareness.
But the question remains, how did “Maida” become a shining star example of audio conversion?
To attract listeners to this new show, Publicis, audio advertising marketplace Next Broadcast Media, and Zenith launched a programmatic audio advertising strategy targeting the key audience: female KSA nationals with families. The aim was to drive listeners of other shows to search, find, and listen to “Maida.”
It was a 22-second Arabic-only spoken ad, read by the show’s host, Dr. Mai Hakim, and distributed across all popular podcast platforms and shows in KSA.
Adel Saadi, Co-Founder of Next Broadcast Media, says, “For this campaign, Apple Podcasts was an important platform for us to target due to its huge listenership in the region. When we take a look at the distribution of downloads across our regional networks, it tells us Apple is the biggest podcasting platform in Saudi Arabia with over 80% of podcast listeners using it. We also utilized genre targeting. Podcast ads aren’t like radio, it’s not sent out on mass with loud attention-grabbing creatives. Podcast ads are about being specific, natural, and engaging.”
Programmatic podcast advertising allows for deep granular contextual targeting. This means brands can isolate shows, genres, and ad pod placement to best fit their products and values - plus the added benefit of good brand safety.
Speaking for Publicis, Julien Khawaja, Programmatic Lead, says, “Podcasts are evolving in the region. It’s not the only conclusion we deduct from the results of this campaign as it has solidified more so than ever the power of programmatic advertising in reaching the right audiences at the right time.”
The audio ad for “Maida” aired between May and July 2021 and achieved an impressive listen-through rate of 94.6%. But most notably, the ad drove action. People exposed to the ad searched for it.
The increase in search inquiries prompted “Maida” to be featured on the Apple Podcasts’ homepage under the ‘New and Noteworthy’ section - a highly sought-after spot for any podcaster. After the feature, there was an exponential number of downloads recorded during the campaign.
“Kiri’s “Maida” podcast channel was proposed and created with the Kiri team to extend the brand’s equity and to be the pillar of kindness and inspiration for progressive moms. In parallel, the programmatic audio ads maximized the podcast’s awareness. The campaign drove efficient reach and for a first-time campaign, it truly set a remarkable benchmark,” says Sarah Kanaan, Lead at Zenith.
Not just a success for the show’s producers; a post-campaign survey revealed that the rate of purchase intent for Kiri products among ad recall respondents was higher than the industry benchmark. 76% of all those who heard the audio ad intended to buy Kiri the next time they do groceries.
“Overall, the podcast campaign was an effective and new marketing tool with 20,000+ downloads, and 1.7 million+ audio ad impressions utilized to cement our brand value and strength, grow our kindness community in the region, and communicate our core new equity message to ‘Let Kindness be your Strength,'” says Kiri’s Noha Gaber.
Next Broadcast Media’s Adel Saadi adds, “There is a lot of research out there that proves podcast listeners are more likely to take action, trust the brand, and consider purchase after hearing an ad. We were able to drive action through the ad increasing show searches as well as boosting Kiri’s brand awareness and purchase intent. This has been a great example of the power of audio.”
Audio continues to enjoy a renaissance among marketers and brands, because of the new formats and platforms out there. It gives brands a number of things - scale, addressability, effectiveness, and opportunity to showcase their product in a creative way. When executed correctly, it delivers incredible value at both upper and lower funnel levels.