Google Radio NOT AdWords easy: Audio Ads Exclusive

EXCLUSIVE: In 'Google Ad Creation Marketplace auditioning radio talent: Exclusive First Look' I present the first inside look at the soon to be officially launched, first ever 'Google Ad Creation Marketplace.' NOW, I present an EXCLUSIVE radio insider take on what it means for the industry.

In “Google Ad Creation Marketplace auditioning radio talent: Exclusive First Look” I present the first inside look at the soon to be officially launched, first ever “Google Ad Creation Marketplace.”


Developed in conjunction with Google’s integration of the dMarc Broadcasting systems with the AdWords platform, the “Google Ad Creation Marketplace” is designed to provide prospective first-time Google radio advertising customers with access to the professional radio production talent necessary to prepare Google Audio Ads creatives in accordance with radio-specific formats and content.

Google touts the ease and efficiency of its Google AdWords ad creation platform, which enables anyone to login to Google and create their own Google AdWord creative in literally a matter of minutes. Google Audio Ads, however, will not be self-serve simple, and will be costly to produce.

Google will recommend that small business advertisers hire “ad creation talent” to develop Audio Ads that meet the specifications required for the Google dMarc systems, at an approximate price of from $100 to $1000.

My “Google Ad Creation Marketplace auditioning radio talent: Exclusive First Look” provides the first in-depth look at how the impending Google Ad Creation Marketplace will function.

For a radio production talent insider take, I spoke at length this week with André Bergeron, owner/operator of Babble-On Recording Studios.

I asked Bergeron how he envisages the Google Ad Creation Marketplace will impact the radio advertising industry:

Currently, there are any number of experienced voice-over people with small studios of their own who have the capability of recording a script and sending it over e-mail or via FTP to a potential client. If these voice people are listed in a Google directory that is easily accessible to a potential business, I'm certain that this kind of thing could be done cheaply.

I will say that, in my experience, most voice-over talents (most of whom are, by trade, actors) don't have a full blown studio with music and sound-effects available. Truthfully, they don't have need of such things, typically. Their stock in trade is the life and feel they bring to a script, not audio post production. Since that is the case, they aren't trained in using, EQ's, compressors, limiters and all the other audio components that go into making a tight radio mix. 

If the voice-over talents with whom folks may be working are disc jockeys at a radio station, there is a pretty good chance that they will have access to some of the music, fx and audio post production devices that I mentioned. The level of expertise with those types of things, however, is highly variable from my experience in broadcasting.

Bergeron explained to me how he is typically involved in the radio advertising production process, and how he might work within the framework of the Google Ad Creation Marketplace:

We work primarily with Ad Agencies who have come to trust our expertise at helping them get their ideas together in innovative ways. We don't hire the voice-over talent, we are a vendor to the agencies who do that. Radio talent, we don't hire them either, they come to us to record, edit, mix and help direct the production.

I could see, if the pricing structure were right, that I could "assemble teams" to do the work that is out there for bid. I have easy access to writers, voice-talent, distribution services, the recording studio, the works. They don't come for free however, nor does any of the music, sound effects, or the studio time.

Bergeron on the problems local businesses encounter today in seeking to make radio advertising buys:

Well, for one, I'll assume accurate demographic information on their audience to know to whom they should be speaking. To elaborate, who are their customers?  What's the best voice in the radio medium for reaching them? Info like that would help them understand which station is the best place to put their ad.

The cheapest buy wouldn't necessarily be the wisest.  The daypart that they purchase would be equally important.

When do my customers listen to the radio and when might they be most receptive? Small, local businesses rarely have the tools, or the time, or the staff, to do that kind of research before getting themselves on the air.

Bergeron's thoughts on why Google Audio Ads will not be entirely self-serve, as Google AdWords is:

Writing a few keywords for an internet ad is very different than creating an effective radio ad.  If all an advertiser wants to do is write words on a page and then have it read by somebody and then placed on the air for cheap, that is easily done. In fact, the advertiser could voice it himself in his home and save the costs of paying the talent. So, can it be self serve?  Probably. Would it be good? Memorable? Do the job?, I'd say, no.

Dollar-A-Holler Radio ads have been around forever. The local Hi-Fi Store owner could always go into the local station and bark off a series of sale prices in shrill tones that would annoy anyone within earshot. This would be no different, really. There is so much more to effective messaging, to branding, to understanding how people listen to the radio than simply writing down "for all your underwear needs" and handing it off to Johnny promo voice to record.

Part of why people can't stand listening to the radio is the quality of the ads, they're, by most estimations, shouted, boring, and insultingly simplistic, and, if there are a lot of them, it just magnifies the mind-numbing nature of them.

I asked Bergeron to describe a real-world local business radio ad buy scenario: "If a local restaurant asked you to create a radio spot promoting its new menu, what services would you offer?”:

I could assemble a team, a writer, voice-over person and the studio engineer. From there I could offer, music, sound effects and distribution services. Whether that could be done well for $1,000 (Google estimated Ad Creation Marketplace top pricing) is up for debate. Our studio rate is $200 an hour.

The professional VO person will cost money as well, and whether the spot(s) are running locally, regionally, or nationally, will also affect those costs. Music and sound effects aren't free and neither are the materials for backup. The average, super, super simple and basic voice over music spot of 60 seconds still takes about an hour to record, edit and mix well. That $1000 gets eaten up in a hurry for something to be professionally done.

Google Audio Ads will recommend that small business advertisers hire “ad creation talent” to develop audio ads that meet the specifications required for the Google dMarc systems, at a cost of from $100 to $1000.

I asked Bergeron if such a price range is consistent with industry estimates.

I'm sure that someone will even do it for 50 bucks, hell, 30 bucks if they're bored. How good that creative will be? How effective that will be? Whether it will speak to their audience and be memorable? I'm dubious with that price point. As I tell people at parties who ask me what I do, I say "y'know those things on the radio and TV that you spend all your time trying to tune out?  I work really, really, hard to make them good and memorable."

We spend hours, days, even weeks trying to get spots on the air that will rise above the tide of poor stuff shrieking out of the dashboard. Good talent costs money.

And, just having a deep voice doesn't mean your good, it means you won the genetic lottery. The ability to act is completely independent from the length of one's vocal chords. Actors, really good ones, cost some dough.

Good ideas, properly executed take time. A good script can take weeks to come together. Really. Why? Because you have to throw out a lot of ideas that won't work. And, trying to position a company is not an easy thing to do well.

A writer who's worth anything will want to spend some time with the business about which he's writing, that isn't free. A good studio, properly equipped isn't cheap. A bargain basement microphone in a room that isn't properly soundproofed sounds poor.

Now, if you are going for a poor sound as part of your creative approach, bingo, you've saved a ton of capitol.  But good microphones, a clean audio path and rooms that have been designed with sound isolation in mind make a big difference in what gets on the air. Talented engineers, editors, sound designers need to eat too, so they cost money.

Some will say, "who the heck can tell the difference?"  Well, almost anyone really. If you were blindfolded and heard the sound of a Yugo's door closing next to the sound of a Rolls Royce' door closing, you'd pick the Rolls every time as being "higher quality". You wouldn't need to know about machining tolerances and handcrafted whatnot, you'd just know that it sounded "right". Play a well produced ad next to a "dollar-a-holler" spot and you'll know too.

As a small biz owner myself, I'm a stickler for certain details. Sure, I can do things cheaply, that is always a temptation. But, that's my brand out there. That brand needs to represent me well. A really poor radio ad, just like a really poor website or hastily assembled print ad can hurt you more than it can help you.

Bergeron on Google Audio Ads:

The thing to ponder is this: Perhaps with Google’s Audio Ads, talk, really " Cheap". But will it ever say to a biz owner's clientele "now you're speaking my language"  We'll see. The idea is great. The price point seems really really light from my perspective.