Launching next week: Flexible audio branding in NPR One

Until now, promotional and branding messages from stations to listeners in NPR One had been limited to short clips called Sonic IDs. While the original intent of Sonic IDs was to reinforce station presence and connection within NPR One, data told us that Sonic IDs were not solving the problem: these messages were infrequently updated and often skipped by users.

In February, we kicked off a station working group and discovery process to recreate short messages from stations in NPR One that would be valuable to both stations and listeners.

This Monday we’ll launch audio branding: a new dedicated section in StationConnect with greatly increased flexibility and best practices for station audio messages in NPR One.

“I really like the new interface for audio branding: it’s easy to use and improves the workflow at our station. With WAV upload support, we no longer have to convert all our files when it’s time for new audio, and the added controls including custom labeling and a toggle on/off switch make managing our messaging easier so we'll be able to incorporate NPR One more fully into our promo scheduling.” - Juliet Fromholt, WYSO

We heard from our working group colleagues that these short audio messages would be often used for introducing a special series, event promotion, and providing listeners a local connection to their specific station. As Juliet mentions, all audio branding will support WAV uploading to simplify station workflows, and will be randomized to promote a variety of messages for your audience.

Since the core experience of NPR One is an individualized listening flow, station messages will play at different times to different users, affected by factors such as podcast listening preferences. Today, we’re aiming to have Messages play within the first 30 minutes of a listening session, and going forward we will continue to test the placement of audio branding for the best experience for both stations and listeners.

We’ll be measuring how effective these Messages are for stations and listeners and will be reporting on how we might improve them in the future. Two ideas we’re currently considering included adding direct interactivity to the messages, and potentially adding the ability to prioritize or pre-schedule different messages. For now, we recommend keeping in mind that Messages will be audio-only, with your station’s logo appearing on screen while the message plays. A simple and clear call to action, if there is action to take, will be most effective.

A huge thank you to our friends at WCAI, WHYY, WABE, WNPR, KUNC, WYSO, WSHU, and WVPB for providing invaluable feedback as part of our audio branding working group!

Audio branding will be officially be live in StationConnect on Monday, May 15th. Keep an eye out for the release, and tell us how we’re doing.