How To Paint A Picture With Audio Advertising

August 16, 2022

They say a picture paints a thousand words. So, imagine the endless possibilities if you could paint any picture you want in your customer’s mind. The medium of sound allows advertisers to engage with their audience in a uniquely personal way, whether through a podcast app, Spotify or our trusty old friend radio. While some may see the exclusion of a visual prompt as a limitation, in reality, this is the freedom to create something truly special that drives results.

In a world where people are multitasking more than ever, audio shines. In saying that, if you don’t play to the medium’s strengths and get creative, you may end up flushing your valuable marketing dollar down the proverbial toilet. No one wants that! Our team can craft a successful campaign from scratch or devise one to complement your existing marketing strategy. This blog will go over how to paint a picture in the listener's mind, as well as the fundamentals of playing to the strengths of audio for your marketing. Here’s what we’ll cover:

  1. What is theatre of the mind?
  2. How to use theatre of the mind to your advantage
  3. Other hallmarks of effective audio ads
  4. Audio advertising options
  5. How Reason can help with your audio advertising

Let's get started!

What is theatre of the mind?

Want to sell a thick puffer jacket from the top of Mount Everest? Keen to encourage your potential customers to sign up for surf lessons from a sandy sunny beach? Audio allows you to bring your wildest advertising dreams to life without paying for an expensive plane ticket. Theatre of the mind is the art of painting a picture into the listener's head. Whether you want to have a go at radio in New Zealand or an international podcast, theatre of the mind is often the best way to get engagement. Utilising the many techniques a copywriter or audio production engineer has in their arsenal can truly make your recording pop. Because when your ad stands out and is interesting to listen to, your audience is more likely to retain your sales message.

How to use theatre of the mind to your advantage

Let’s double back to selling that jacket atop Mount Everest. Sure, you could just read a script word for word describing the jacket’s down or convenient pockets, but that’s not going to paint a picture that engages. To truly put the listener in your jacket, so to speak, you’d be better off having an epic soundscape featuring the howl of the mountain, the sound of the zip dramatically going from bottom to top, and a sigh of relief as our protagonist is finally warm after putting on their new jacket.

With the right sound effects, it’ll be unavoidable for your listener to visualise the scene you’re painting. And the best part is that everyone’s imagination is different. Ways you can utilise theatre of the mind to engage with your audience include:

  • The use of sound effects
  • Choosing a voice-over actor with acting experience
  • Pan your sound effects and voice over

Everyone likes to daydream, so these imagined scenarios may as well be about your product or service. Our team at Reason are experienced in crafting ideas and liaising with audio production engineers and voice talent to bring said ideas to life.

Other hallmarks of effective audio ads

We’ve all heard some earworm radio ad jingles in the past. Yes, theatre of the mind is a main consideration for your campaign's success, but getting the basics right is also vital. These rules apply to nearly any audio ad used to advertise a business, whether a programmatic campaign on Spotify or a simple jingle on your favourite station like Radio Hauraki.

Have a clear call to action

It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about digital or traditional forms of advertising, having a clear call to action is paramount. After wowing your audience with crazy explosions or zooming sportscars, you need to make it as easy as possible for them to take the desired next step. Unless you’re running a programmatic ad on an audio streaming platform, you won’t have the luxury of a call to action button. As a result, you need to have a CTA at the end of your ad that is concise and simple to remember. For example, “search to take advantage of this exclusive offer."

Less is more

Try to think of an audio ad as a billboard for the ears. The best billboards have minimal clutter and a single-minded focus. Hopefully, this focus is a strong and unique selling point. Sure, you want to get creative and utilise theatre of the mind for maximum cut-through. But you don’t want to stuff in too much. If you’re working with a 30-second recording, your script shouldn’t be more than 75 words. Just think of the last time someone tried to give you complex directions. Chances are, if you didn’t write them down, you’d be lost before you know it!

Avoid sounding like an ad

This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s often good practice to have your audio ad not actually sound like an ad. Yes, radio ad jingles and classic audio executions like rhyming are effective, but it’s best to stand out from the crowd. After all, people remember an ad based on its differences, not similarities.

Choose the right platform

One common complaint about advertising with audio is the inability to get into the head and target your audience like you would with Google Search or Facebook. Although this is partially true, audio advertising offers many different forms of targeting. Radio stations provide specific demographics to tailor your messaging, podcasts often appeal to specific age brackets and interests, and Spotify uses first-party data for optimal ad placement. These targeting options are a fantastic solution as we enter a cookieless world.

Audio advertising options

Gone are the days of simply paying for spots and dots on a radio campaign. These days, there are many audio options, whether you need to advertise a small business or a large corporation. As previously mentioned, audio can be a potent weapon as part of a larger integrated campaign, to support a purely digital campaign, or on its own for a short-term burst.

Programmatic ads

What actually is a programmatic ad? Using an automated system, software like Spotify can place dynamic audio ads for users that fit your target profile. These ads could be accompanied by a display and placed in between songs or integrated into a podcast as a pre-roll (start of the podcast), mid-roll (in the middle of the podcast) or post-roll (you guessed it, at the end).


According to research from 2021, there are over two million podcasts worldwide, and in 2019 more than 320,000 kiwis downloaded audio or video podcasts over an average four-week period. Take into account a global pandemic since then, and we’re sure these figures have only grown. As we've mentioned, you can have programmatic ads on a podcast. But another option is to sponsor a show or have your script read organically by a host. Native podcast ads allow advertisers to partner with trusted content creators in a way that feels natural. New Zealand is lucky to host some incredible podcasts. Speaking of, have a listen to our CEO Tim Pointer chat about Reason and RescueMetrics on the Morgo podcast.

Radio ads

Ahh, radio. There’s a reason this platform has lasted the test of time and still garners results for advertisers across the globe. Similarly to podcasts, radio offers the chance to connect with an engaged audience. The relationship between radio hosts and their listeners is a tight bond built on trust. This connection puts your brand in a fantastic position to promote your message.

How Reason can help with your audio advertising

At Reason, we can help with your audio advertising, whether you need a complete campaign approach or are looking to add a bit of flare to an existing strategy. Depending on what you’re after, you can pick and choose where you need our assistance. Our team can assist with: 

  • Campaign ideation and approach
  • Scriptwriting
  • Voice over and production vetting
  • Strategic campaign placement and reporting 
  • Audio advertising playbooks

And yes, we can track and report how your audio is performing! It may be beneficial to set up UTM links, a discount code or manage other marketing activities to look for movement.

Want to shout your sales message from the rooftops?

If you want something you’ve never had before, you need to be prepared to try something you’ve never done. Audio is a great way to tick this box for many brands and businesses. However, if you’re not bold and paint a picture with your creative, audio can be a missed opportunity. Podcasts, radio, Spotify and other audio streaming platforms offer a lifeline to a society experiencing screen fatigue. Talk to the Reason team today about using audio to your advantage and driving measurable results.

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Written by the team at Reason.

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