Volvo has put podcasting at the top of its strategy—and is seeing positive results. The auto manufacturer recently partnered with SXM Media and its media agency Mindshare to drive impact across a variety of its brand attributes. The results? Volvo’s podcast ads lifted brand affinity, drove higher intent to seek more information and increased recommendation intent among podcast listeners.
Here’s why the ads were such a success: First, the partnership—which included original ads integrated into popular shows like Freakonomics, Ologies and Hidden Brain—leveraged the influential nature of these shows’ hosts and the natural storytelling environment of a podcast. Volvo was able to resonate with a highly engaged audience who strongly connected with brand themes like safety, innovation and sustainability. Let’s take a closer look at what the campaign achieved.
The selected podcasts were chosen for their ability to reach Volvo’s intended audience and for the authentic alignment with Volvo’s brand value proposition of sustainability.
When the right message is delivered to the right audience, positive results are not surprising, but a second valuable learning in this campaign was the success of additional attributes, like technology, which seem to suggest the podcast environment is well-suited to multi-layered messaging. In this case, with the addition of a technology message, Freakonomics listeners were more likely to say Volvo is a brand known for technological innovation.
“We’ve developed an authentic connection with our smart, data-driven listeners. We felt that Volvo’s commitment to safety, electrification, and sustainability would resonate with them,” said Freakonomics Radio host Stephen Dubner.
And it did. The Volvo podcast ads were incredibly memorable according to Stitcher norms, outperforming Nielsen unaided and aided recall norms. Following the campaign, these podcast listeners wanted to know more. With the top four ad descriptors resulting in “natural,” “believable,” “interesting” and “authentic,” it’s easy to understand why.
“We saw a unique opportunity to connect with highly engaged listeners and peak their curiosity about Volvo,” said Leigh Moynihan, head of marketing, Volvo Car USA. “At the same time, we wanted to provide inspiration to stimulate search interest. The results show that we’ve put Volvo top of mind for innovation, safety and sustainability.”
Contextual targeting for more relevancy
Podcasting is among the fastest growing audio platforms with more than half the U.S. population, or 57% of Americans, listening on average to just over five podcasts shows per week. As brands begin to reach out to these audiences through advertising and original content partnerships, being tuned into the themes that listeners value is essential to success.
While the Volvo campaign used the voices of hosts to align with listeners’ lifestyle interests, new audience innovations, like transcription targeting, can also offer contextual alignment.
Transcription targeting uses voice-to-text technology that dives into the overall context of the entire episode. Available through the SXM Media Podcast Network, this targeting helps brands maximize scale in moments that align with relevant audiences instead of broad lifestyle categories. The ability to exclude unwanted content at an episode level without having to avoid entire lifestyle categories also prioritizes brand suitability needs.
Balancing brand and retail needs
Automotive marketers face many challenges today, with the ongoing supply chain crisis proving difficult to balance brand and retail marketing needs. Podcasts provide an environment where multiple messages can and do resonate.
While the Volvo campaign focused on brand attributes, the ads proved to be highly effective with 1-year auto intenders. According to Nielsen, Volvo saw lifts in brand familiarity and purchase intent among those in-market to purchase/lease a new vehicle within the next year, which were not seen among respondents overall.
While inventory constraints continue to influence creative messaging, podcast ads can deliver a full-funnel experience that helps brands maintain relevance and remain on car-buyers short list.