How to Prove That Audio and Podcast Advertising Works Using a Lift Study


As listeners continue consuming podcasts in droves, it’s become a hotspot for advertisers looking to reach a new audience using one of the most engaging forms of media. Of course, one concern many advertisers have is that they can’t really track the effectiveness of their audio and podcast ads, and that’s rooted in the misconception that, even if they wanted to, there’s simply no way to do it.

How can you tell if an ad is working? What’s more, how can you distinguish between which ads are performing the best? What happens when a person does listen to your ad and goes to look your product up sometime later? Attributing traffic, leads, and sales to audio and podcast ads might sound like a nightmare, but you don’t have to rely on guesswork. If you’re interested in podcast advertising but want to understand how an ad campaign impacts user actions, then it’s time to explore the possibility of a lift study. Here’s how they work and how Backtracks can help you use lift studies or lift reports to improve the outcome of your future campaigns. 

What is a Lift Study?

A lift study is used to measure the effectiveness of advertising, including the increases in revenue, website visits, and actions. These detailed metrics contribute to overall brand lift, which is a metric that summarizes the increased interaction a brand experiences following an ad campaign, and the gains that are realized from advertising vs. not from advertising. While brand lift doesn’t always equate to sales, at least not right away, it does help demonstrate the impact of an ad campaign. After all, increased user engagement shows higher levels of awareness and interest, which will eventually translate to more leads and deals.

Audio advertising lift studies are useful for a variety of advertising campaigns, but with a medium like podcast ads, where many traditional metrics aren’t available, lift reports can prove particularly valuable. By using a lift study, you can begin to understand the traffic, leads, installs, and revenue that can be attributed back to your podcast ads. More specifically, the elements you can measure as part of a lift study include:

  • Brand Awareness: Someone being aware of your brand may not translate into sales at first, but if you can grow brand awareness over time, you will see a direct correlation with revenue growth. Brand awareness gets people thinking about and talking about your brand, which is why it’s a powerful component of referral and sales growth. 
  • Brand Consideration: A step deeper than brand awareness, brand consideration tells you how likely someone is to become a customer once they have become aware of your brand. It measures the consideration they give your brand in terms of appeal, quality, and value.
  • Purchase Intent: One step further than brand consideration is purchase intent, which is one of the earliest stages in the customer journey where someone isn’t just considering purchasing from your business but intends to do so imminently. Understanding purchase intent and tracking it alongside actual conversion rates can help you start to understand what’s standing in the way of sales.
  • Brand Loyalty: Earning a new customer means very little. You have to be able to keep them coming back and, ideally, spreading the word about your business. Brand loyalty is a difficult metric to measure as someone may be loyal to your brand without raving about it online, but lift studies can make you more aware of how many customers are staying loyal to you and how your marketing impacts that.
  • Brand Associations: Do you know what your customers think of when they hear your name or see your logo? Understanding the associations and assumptions being made in the mind of your audience can help guide your brand image management and help you become clearer in your messaging. 

With solid metrics like these in front of you, you’ll be able to make data-driven decisions next time you’re planning an audio advertising campaign, like podcast ads. 

Benefits of Lift Studies for Advertisers

Advertisers have been using lift studies long before podcast advertising, but with so many misconceptions and concerns standing in the way for many brands who are interested in advertising on podcasts, using lift studies is the next logical step in getting past those hurdles and unlocking a valuable new medium. With that in mind, the benefits of a lift study for podcast ads include the following:

  • Put an end to guesswork and actually prove how many visits, leads, and sales your audio and podcast ads are generating.
  • Understand how an ad campaign and specific creative impacts overall brand awareness and engagement, which demonstrates efficacy. 
  • Better allocate your advertising budget based on the performance of your podcast ad campaigns across categories, locales, and channels.

In short, if you have tried audio and podcast advertising in the past and you felt unsure of the impact, or if you’d like to try audio advertising, but you are concerned that you won’t get to see actionable numbers, a lift study is the ticket to getting the most out of podcast ads going forward. 

How a Lift Study Works

The simplest explanation of how a lift study works comes down to concepts from scientific experiments, specifically a control group and an exposed group. In order to determine the impact of your advertising campaigns, a Backtracks incremental lift study will look at a group of users who were exposed to your ads and a group of users who were not.

As with any scientific experiment, these two groups need to be as similar as possible, limiting all variables so that the only notable difference between them is whether or not they were exposed to your ad. Control groups are used in many scientific trials as they provide a baseline reading.

In the case of a lift study, comparing the control group to the exposed group allows you to determine the impact of your ads by seeing how exposure to that ad increases desired actions (i.e., visiting your website). Not only can you see the results of exposure using this technique, but you’ll be able to show the difference to a very specific level of effectiveness.

In addition to comparing an exposed group to a control group to determine the impact of a particular ad campaign, you can also use a lift study to compare the effectiveness of different advertisements, which helps streamline the ad optimization process so that you can figure out the best way to invest your ad dollars going forward.

Altogether, lift studies unlock the ability to track the specific impact of your audio and podcast ads. Using Backtracks Attribution, not only will you have a number of metrics at your fingertips to better guide your podcast advertising decisions, but you’ll be able to factor them into your greater marketing insights and goals, just like with other digital advertising platforms. 

What to Consider Before Using a Lift Study

Just as with any other way you intend to track advertising metrics, lift studies require you to collect certain data about those who are consuming your ad (i.e. podcast listeners). That might sound simple on paper, but with a number of regulations such as GDPR and CCPA coming into focus, it’s essential that you proceed with data collection in the most transparent way possible.

Trying to conduct a lift study on your own would prove near impossible due to the amount of data you need to collect, the domain expertise in audio, the proper notification and opt-out processes for consumers, and all of the pieces of the puzzle that have to fit together to get the information you want. Fortunately, Backtracks Attribution provides an easy way for you to run a lift study, and it’s completely compliant with GDPR and CCPA.

If you’re concerned about how a lift study will impact your business’ data collection and data usage policies, it’s worth noting that Backtracks Attribution does not utilize personally identifiable information (PII), which is why it’s easily compliant with all data privacy regulations. Since no information can be directly attributed to any one listener, you don’t need to worry about the complexities of emerging data protection laws. 

Beyond data privacy, you should also keep a few other considerations in mind before using a lift study. For instance, before delving into the process, you should make sure that you have viable podcast ads designed and ready to launch. If you’ve never advertised on a podcast or audio content before, you should take the time to design the best ad you can, as that will ensure the most accurate and positive results from your campaign. With that in mind, it’s worth reviewing the best practices of running a lift study.

Best Practices of Running a Lift Study

Using Backtracks Attribution, you can learn a great deal about your audience and your campaigns, but it’s important to remember that a lift study isn’t going to improve your results, only showcase them. As such, if this is your first time running a podcast or audio ad or if you feel like your prior ads haven’t generated great results, it’s always worth reviewing your audience, goals, and ideas before starting. Follow these tips:

  • Know Your Audience: Before running a lift study, ensure that your audio and podcast ads are going in front of the best audience. If you are advertising a specific product or service, re-check the correlating buyer personas and find the right podcasts to advertise on based on their interests and demographics.
  • Understand Your Outlet: Podcasts vary in style and presentation, which means sometimes one ad variation such as a long ad or a short ad might do better on one podcast than it does on another. If you are not familiar with the podcast you’ll be advertising on, take some time to get to know the style of other ads and try to mimic them in length and tone to help capture more engagement.
  • Don’t Test Too Many Options: When designing an ad, remember that you can test variations of messaging and creative (or audio) within a campaign, and a lift study can help you see the different results each one generates. However, running a hundred variations will shrink your sample group and make results less reliable, so narrow it down to a few.
  • Set Goals for Your Campaign: Especially if you’re running a podcast ad for the very first time, you might not have any specific goals in mind because you simply don’t know what to expect, but you should always create a goal for your ad campaigns before launch. Common goals include “increase website traffic by 5%” or “generate 100 new leads.” Your goal should be specific, but it will depend on the size of the audience you are advertising to and the length of your campaign.
  • Evaluate The Results: The worst thing a business can do after running a lift study is take the results, look them over, and put them in a drawer. While your first lift study might generate far more metrics than you first realized, each one is valuable on its own, and within the context of the others, so it’s essential that you plan to sit down and go through the report in detail.
  • Inform Your Future Campaigns: Once you have the results of one lift study, the best way to put them to use is to ask yourself specific questions about what you can do differently next time. This could be running fewer variables, testing new podcasts, or simply narrowing your options down to the ads that performed best in your last lift study. The point is to make sure your ads are always improving based on your historical results.
  • Run More Lift Studies: A single lift study is not going to reveal everything you need to know, especially since your audience will change with time. Continuing to make use of lift studies is the best way to gain and evolve your understanding of your podcast advertising strategy and what you can do to improve upon it.

Launch Your Lift Study

Now that you understand how a podcast lift study can be used to inform your business of its advertising results and those consuming your ads, it can be all too tempting to jump right into the process. Backtracks Attribution automates lift studies and gives you the data you need to get the most out of your advertising and promotions.
Ready to get started with your first lift study on audio and podcast ads? Learn more and sign up for a demo here.


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