Audible Unveils “Don’t Read” Campaign

Audible has a message for its target audience: “Don’t Read.” That’s the tagline for the downloadable audio content firm’s new interactive campaign, which parodies public service announcements.

The multichannel campaign, created by Omnicom’s Agency.com, aims to promote Audible’s redesigned Web site, and to raise awareness of the Audible brand. The tagline satirizes the 1980s-era public service announcement posters from the American Library Association, which featured various celebrities and intellectuals holding a book under the tagline “Read.” A second tagline, “Listening Saves,” is being used for a portion of the campaign with a more direct-marketing approach.

“Our media plan is very broad, and then it’s niche. The ‘Don’t Read’ ads are designed to give a broad sense of what the value proposition is, explain the brand, and build some awareness at the brand level,” Adam Lavelle, Agency.com’s VP of strategy, told ClickZ News. “The ‘Listening Saves’ ads will target specific audiences and be more acquisition- and response-driven.”

The “Don’t Read” ads will appear on sites like eBay’s book section, Fandango, and large media sites, while the “Listening Saves” ads will be targeted to some unexpected vertical niche sites like eTrucker.com, Lavelle said.

“We’ve targeted people we think are going to listen to audio books on their iPods. We’ve targeted groups like truckers, commuters, people who go to the gym a lot,” he said. “We’ve done a lot of profile work behind the scenes based on existing Audible users and some other third-party research to create micro-segments based on their situations and their usage of the product.”

The online ads, as well as the new dontread.org and listeningsaves.org microsites to which they link, feature offbeat characters touting the service, including a professor, a nun, a policeman, a doctor and a superhero. The landing page is set up to show the same character as the referring ad.

A digital audio player is built into the ad to allow users to listen to 28 different audio clips directly from the unit. Agency.com has used a similar approach in ads it created for British Airways, where it included a ticket booking engine in the ad, and for CNN, where it put a live news feed in the ad unit.

“We have a ‘detach and distribute’ philosophy. For us, ad units are an empty container that we can put anything in,” Lavelle said. “We’re focused on show and tell, not just telling, so we try to bring as much functionality as we can into the ad unit.”

The nearly identical microsites sites are repositories for the campaign’s multimedia content, showcasing the viral elements from the banner ads, posters of the campaign characters, and sample audio clips. The sites also house additional content, including a narrated segment of a “Beginner’s Guide to Not Reading.”

Agency.com is rigorously testing responses to ads in the campaign, and the content of the sites will likely change and become unique once they see what works best for each part of the campaign, Lavelle said.

The campaign also includes a viral element, with users able to forward an audio clip to a friend by email or SMS text message.

In addition to creative and strategy, Agency.com handled media planning and buying. This is the first work the agency has done for Audible. The two began working together last summer to redesign of Audible’s site to improve navigation, and add personalization and recommendations.