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Bringing Your Message to the Masses with Google Radio Ads

Apr 12, 2008
The Audio Ads option in the Google AdWords interface lets you run a radio ad campaign in a very similar fashion as a paid search ad campaign. When you click the tab, you have the option to "Create an audio ad campaign". Sound familiar?

There are probably a lot of marketing theorists and business school professors who would argue that it is not good for a single company, Google, to dominate so much of the advertising market on so many different platforms. But as business pragmatists, our view is "Who cares?" If it helps us make more money for our clients, and it makes life easier, then we're all for it.

The first thing you do when setting up a campaign is to set your weekly budget. There are several pre-set options, ranging from $500 to $2,000, but you can set your own budget at whatever amount you want, as long as it is at least $25. The second step is to select your geographic market. The third step is to select your option for specific stations. You have the choice of either running your ads on whatever stations reach the most listeners at the lowest cost, or you can pick stations in particular formats. If you have a definable target market, then your best bet is to select stations that best cater to your market.

Now, this is still a pretty new program, so the number of stations on which you can run your ads at the present is fairly limited. For instance, when we were playing around with setting up a radio campaign, there were no sports stations available in our preferred target markets. But hey, this is cutting edge stuff, so you can't really expect everything to be perfect yet.

The next step is to set a bid per thousand impressions. Same old auction format - tried and true.

After selecting the days and time blocks in which you would like your ads to run, Google will show you an estimate of how much you will spend and how much your cost per thousand impressions will be.

The next step is to either upload your audio ad or use Google's ad marketplace to find a company to create your ad for you. Either way, the end result is that you will be running audio ads on multiple targeted radio stations without the hassles of having to deal with radio sales people. Beautiful!

Currently, all radio ads purchased through the Google system must be 30 seconds in length. There is a slight bit of flexibility - if your ad is within 2% of 30 seconds, Google will compress or stretch the ad. We suggest you just go ahead and make it exactly 30 seconds.

As far as the content of the ads, Google states that the ads must adhere to their AdWords' content policy (nothing promoting violence or discrimination, no academic aids, no anti-drug testing devices, no auto-clicking products, etc.) as well as a set of editorial guidelines specifically created for audio ads, which basically state that the ad should accurately represent your business and emphasize the unique qualities of your product or service. In addition, content promoting sexual content is not allowed, as well as political election or fundraising ads. Ads of a non-commercial nature are also not allowed.

With regards to the technical specifications of the ads, it may be in MP3 or WAV format. If MP3 format is used, the maximum file size of the ad is 1.5 MB. For WAV files, the maximum size is 11 MB. You may get slightly better sound quality from using WAV format, but it could take a lot longer to upload the ad. You're probably just fine going with MP3.

Given the cheap cost and high quality of today's audio recording/mixing equipment and software, you can easily create your own ad or hire a professional to do it. If choosing between spending your time on production or writing compelling ad content, we would advise you to spend the most time crafting your message. If the message is strong and audio quality acceptable, then the ad will be successful if it is heard by the right people.
About the Author
Jerry Work is president of Work Media, LLC, a PPC management and search engine optimization firm based in Nashville.
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