Lured by the $400 advertising credit Google was giving to anyone willing to try out their new radio program – called Google Audio Ads – I went ahead and ran a campaign during the last week of August.

I selected a voice over specialist, wrote a script, and literally in a matter of days I had a professional radio ad ready for primetime. I then selected the geographic area in which I wanted the ad to run, targeted by demographics and station type, and set my CPM bid and weekly budget.

Over a one week period, my ad received 504 air plays and over 400,000 impressions at a cost of about $500. Add in the cost of the voice over, deduct the $400 credit, and I ended up paying about $300 for 500 air plays, or around $.60 an airing.

Did it work? Well in truth, probably not. Although I added in a promotional code at the end of the message to track conversions, I didn’t do enough to truly track sales(next time I’ll take Google’s advice and send the ad to a dedicated URL instead of my company’s main Web site). A cursory analysis of my Google Analytics stats showed a slight increase in visitors in the main cities in which the ad ran, but none of those visitors seemed to turn into paying customers.

That being said, my experience with Audio Ads was incredibly positive and for several reasons, I’m currently pretty bullish about the prospects of this technology – both for Google and for advertisers.

If you know anything about radio advertising (I admit I know very little), if you are in a direct-response business, and if you sell a product that can either be sold over the phone or can be tracked to a specific URL, I recommend you start allocating some of your testing budget to Audio Ads immediately, for two basic reasons:

1. It’s easy. As noted above, you can literally create a professional-quality campaign with no prior radio expertise in a matter of days. For $500-$600, you can have a slew of different ads to test.

2. It’s an arbitrage opportunity. Few people are using Audio Ads right now. Translation: this is a great time to get into the system, find out which ads, stations, time slots, and bids will work for you, and totally pump up your campaigns. In many ways, it’s reminiscent of the early days of AdWords (or better yet of GoTo, I mean Overture, I mean Yahoo Search Marketing). Remember being able to buy the keyword “mortgage” for $.25 CPC? This could be the equivalent.

Again, this isn’t right for everyone. If you haven’t yet optimized your AdWords campaigns, that’s still a better place to spend your time. If you don’t have prior experience in radio, I’d still be cautious. And if you can’t track and convert people via the Web and phone, you may have difficulty. But for those of you that meet the qualifications outlined above, this is a huge ROI opportunity.

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David Rodnitzky
David Rodnitzky is founder and CEO of 3Q Digital (formerly PPC Associates), a position he has held since the Company's inception in 2008. Prior to 3Q Digital, he held senior marketing roles at several Internet companies, including Rentals.com (2000-2001), FindLaw (2001-2004), Adteractive (2004-2006), and Mercantila (2007-2008). David currently serves on advisory boards for several companies, including Marin Software, MediaBoost, Mediacause, and a stealth travel start-up. David is a regular speaker at major digital marketing conferences and has contributed to numerous influential publications, including Venture Capital Journal, CNN Radio, Newsweek, Advertising Age, and NPR's Marketplace. David has a B.A. with honors from the University of Chicago and a J.D. with honors from the University of Iowa. In his spare time, David enjoys salmon fishing, hiking, spending time with his family, and watching the Iowa Hawkeyes, not necessarily in that order.