Why OFX is investing in branded podcasts

The use of specific words through the podcast, even when not adjacent to the brand, serves to create connections with the brand

Australian digital finance platform OFX believes producing branded podcasts helps it connect with its customers and prospects beyond their typical money transfer cycles.

In addition, it also helps OFX to develop longer-form content, leverage talent and remain top of mind for customers, according to Lucy Allen, the head of marketing for the Asia Pacific.

For example, it recently worked with BBC to produce The ‘OFX Where the world’s moving’ podcast series that bought together a collection of subject matter experts and a futurist as the podcast host to inform BBC’s listeners of topical events, lifestyle trends and money management themes that are impacting the way they live global lives.

“We wanted to work with a trusted global brand that’s a media authority reaching global citizens,” Allen explains to The Drum.

“As a brand, we continue to work on our thought leadership and continuously look for ways to educate an international audience on better ways to move money around the world. For our diverse prospective and customer base, the reasons for moving money are far-reaching and through a podcast series we wanted to chronicle these through some future-gazing content.”

To ensure that the podcasts on BBC reflected OFX’s brand voice, Allen says every podcast was focused on the core pillars of thought leadership and humanity as OFX’s value proposition is focused on offering customers a real, personal 24/7 service by experts, not chatbots.

The final pillar was global, as OFX believes its audience is global movers with investments and financial obligations around the world.

“Every topic needed to land these points and the experience beyond audio was to engage in an ongoing sequence of content at OFX.com. Additional channels including social and radio were leveraged to amplify the series,” Allen adds.

Having an identifiable brand voice for podcasts like what OFX did is crucial because brands should speak the language of the tribe they want to interact with as each passion group has its own language, explains Alistair McEwan, the senior vice president for commercial development in Asia, Australia and New Zealand at BBC.

That means brands have to speak it fluently to be welcomed into the inner circle and create relevance for the brand, a point that is also emphasised in BBC’s recent study on the effectiveness of branded podcasts called “Audio Activated”.

“Weave your brand message into the narrative - the intimate conversational nature of podcasting creates trust, and blurs the boundaries between content and brand message,” McEwan explains to The Drum.

“Position your brand as part of the conversation, rather than just its sponsor. Identify and use a host podcaster with personality – the podcast needs to feel authentic for brands to maximise effectiveness. Finally, use musical cues – they are really impactful, use stings, the brain is looking for cues, stings are a manual reboot of the brain, engagement levels and emotional intensity jumps.”

In addition, McEwan says the use of specific words through the podcast, even when not adjacent to the brand, serves to create connections with the brand in the mind of the consumer as podcasts create highly targeted passion groups.

He points out that means in a branded podcast, the brand is entering that world, becoming immersed in its language, and in doing so; it takes on its attributes.

“We found that using and repeating values-based words in the content that brands wish to be associated with led to a change in perception of the brand, with an increase in implicit association with the brand being seen as an extension of the words,” adds McEwan.

The “Audio Activated” study also discovered that the fact that podcasts are mostly consumed while active, is not a hindrance to brands but a benefit as those listening while engaged in activity actually were more emotionally engaged with the branded podcast and committed more of it to long term memory.

McEwan claims this worked for brands like OFX as in each mention of the brand, engagement from the active group was higher. He says the reason for this is that the state of activity lowers the cognitive barriers of the listener as it reduces the tendency to scrutinize or counter-argue the brand messaging, leading to a higher degree of persuasion.

Furthermore, when BBC compared cognitive scores of ad avoiders to global ad benchmarks, it could see that they were at least 20% more engaged with branded podcasts.

“Branded podcasts are a way to cut through and reach these commercially desirable groups because they are immersed in the content and there is an organic value exchange taking place with users,” he explains.

“Our neuroscientists told us that being active while listening reduces the cognitive load – you don’t need to work so hard to process the messages, and because of this, you stay engaged for longer. It reduces listener wear out and, best of all, increases the listener’s emotional engagement with the brand, committing it to long-term memory.”

Despite its obvious benefits, it is still hard to measure outcomes on podcasts. Nielsen only recently unveiled a measurement tool to gauge effectiveness in this growing ad space.

Nielsen believes that the UK’s 6m weekly podcast listeners will double in the next three years. It is putting the tools in place for brands to “quantify the impact and effectiveness of their podcast ads” with the Nielsen Podcast Brand Effect.

The tool has already been running in the US and so far the results have found that 57% of podcast ads tested outperformed pre-roll video in driving purchase intent and 70% of respondents agreed that the podcast ads increased their awareness of products and services.

The solution measures brand metrics, such as ad recall, brand familiarity, purchase and recommendation intent – as well as content metrics, which include overall rating, host rating, engagement, and intent to share content.

For BBC, McEwan says ROI can be measured by standard digital measurement metrics like the number of listens to a podcast and standard attribution modelling depending on a marketer's specific objectives.

He points to the “Audio Activated” study as BBC’s desire to find a way to be able to measure the effectiveness of the investment against the actual engagement with the content production, the emotional intensity and memory encoding for the brand.

“Podcasts enable marketers to extend their reach. They are not cannibalistic, they engage with hard to reach audiences when they are involved in activities that other mediums are not suited to and they create elevated states of engagement for brand mentions due to the intimate and conversational nature of podcasts,” he adds.

According to a study from Global-owned digital audio advertising platform DAX, 75% plan to increase ad spend in podcasts this year. The Drum previously spoke to Global about its expansion into digital audio like podcasts.

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