Make the Most of Google Audio Ads: 4 Tips

Ian Lurie

We just ran a 1-week radio campaign for a client using Google Radio Ads. The client had an existing ad, wanted airtime, but weren’t sure where/when to place it.

Since they already had an Adwords account, it made sense to try Google’s Audio Ads system. We learned some valuable lessons, so I’m passing them along here:

  1. Use a unique phone number in your ad, so that you can track calls generated by the radio spot. Google audio ads has a nifty call tracking feature that will help you do this.
  2. Create a unique offer, if possible. That way, you can track anything that sneaks past the unique phone number.
  3. Don’t look for precise data. These aren’t pay per click ads. Assume you’ll receive intangible benefits, and manage the expectations of everyone involved. On our campaign, we got lots of impressions, but not a lot of directly measurable results. That worked out just fine, because we didn’t over-promise.
  4. Don’t expect access to top-end, highly competitive markets. You can try, but it’ll become extremely expensive, very quickly. If you have a simple ad and a small budget, find small, niche markets using Google’s campaign tools.

Here’s how we learned all this:

The Start

Setting up the campaign was a cinch. We could select the markets, demographics, times of day and the amount we wanted to spend:

Google Audio Ads - 1

We selected a super-focused demographic, and set the ads to run at times when the audience would be at home. We avoided times when they might be in their cars, because the ad required a visit to a web site, or a phone call. I’d like to assume that most listeners won’t try to access a web site on their handheld while driving down the freeway.

Then we uploaded our ad, and we were off and running.

Setting the Budget

Google Audio Ads work based on impressions. An impression is one person hearing your radio spot (or seeing your banner ad, etc.), one time. Obviously, the impressions are only an estimate based on the radio station’s data.

Most pricing of this type is set per thousand impressions. This is referred to as CPM pricing.

I took it all with a healthy grain of salt, and kept the budget low – less than $2 CPM.

The Campaign

Over one week, we spent $718, receiving 223 ad plays, and an estimated 537,000 impressions. Google gives you the same kind of reporting, so it’s pretty easy to track what’s happening:

Google Audio Ads - 2

Assuming we got even 1/2 of the impressions the reports showed us, we got a screaming deal.

The Results

We could not measure call volume. Our client created the ad some time before we used it, and the phone number was their standard customer service line.

However, during the week the ad ran, we saw a 20% increase in lead generation. No other new ads ran; nor did we change their pay per click strategy that week. Plus, the higher lead volume generally hit during times of day when we ran the radio ad.

Hence my comment about intangible benefits in my 4 tips. I can’t prove the connection, but our data strongly suggests that the radio ads helped.

Conclusion: It Works, In Little Bits

The radio ads were successful. But I’d add one more tip to the 4 I wrote above: Google Audio Ads are still a new technology, with a fairly small network. Don’t expect to generate exponential growth through these ads.

What Google Audio Ads can do, though, is put your product or service in front of your audience at a time when they’re not at their computers. That makes it a great addition to your internet marketing strategy.

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at

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