Sweet Sounds of Success

How CORT added streaming audio to its advertising mix.

When music lovers want to listen to their favorite songs or discover new ones, they turn to streaming music platforms. Streaming subscriptions are on the rise, giving advertisers an opportunity to connect with new audiences.

CORT, the leading furniture rental and service company, recognized that streaming audio was a great way to deliver more targeted, personalized ads via channels ideally suited to its one of its key audiences – college students.

CORT’s marketing team knows that ads are often the first interaction customers have with a brand, putting them at the heart of a marketer’s customer experience management (CXM) efforts. The challenge, of course, is delivering ads that resonate with college students in media environments saturated with experiences and information.

By integrating the power of Adobe Experience Cloud and the popularity of streaming audio, CORT is making a great first impression by addressing customer experience from the start and using the right technology to deliver and evaluate campaigns.

Audio ads reach a unique audience

College students are an important target audience for CORT because they move often. Over the years, CORT has tried different ways to reach students as they move in the spring and late summer, including running ads in student newspapers and reaching out to student housing groups.

The marketing team knew they needed to take a fresh approach and find more popular, relevant channels to connect with college students. Streaming audio platforms fit that bill. Spotify alone has 170 million monthly active users, many of them millennials eager to find new music. And, perhaps surprisingly, Spotify listeners aren’t tuning out audio ads. In a Nielsen Media Lab study conducted for Spotify, audio ads “drove 24 percent higher recall than display ads and were twice as likely to lift purchase intent.”

CORT previously tried advertising on digital audio but couldn’t measure whether the strategy worked. Then, the marketing team eventually implemented a customer analytics solution that helped them analyze impacts and target specific audiences more effectively. They decided to try audio again.

“We finally had an advertising tool that was integrated with the rest of the platform and analytics,” says Mindy Oliver, director of online business, media, and analytics at CORT. “It was a good opportunity to see how the Spotify ads played in tandem with our other tactics in terms of audience reach and frequency.”

This time, the results were conclusive, showing the audio campaign had a 95 percent unique audience reach. CORT also saw an 18 percent increase in student leases over averages from the previous four years. “We were blown away by how many unique users we reached on Spotify that weren’t reached by our Facebook, Instagram, or display ads,” says Jake Taylor, marketing analyst at CORT.

An evolved advertising strategy

The Spotify campaign is just one piece of a new ad strategy for CORT — one designed to extend its reach and raise brand awareness. In the past, the company focused on direct response advertising, targeting people who already knew they needed furniture leasing services. Now, with tools to enable more sophisticated advertising, the company is getting more ambitious about reaching new audiences and shaping their perceptions of furniture rental as a service.

“This year has been an interesting shift for us,” says Oliver. “We set out to expand our reach and really drive brand awareness with all our audiences. As a result, we’ve been focusing more on the top of the funnel with a balanced spread of social media, search, audio, video, and display.”

The shift in advertising strategy presents new possibilities for the CORT brand and encourages the marketing team to learn and grow — unafraid to try new things such as digital audio ads.

“We’re always trying to stay at the forefront of technology. It’s important for us from a brand perspective as well as from a training and career perspective,” says Oliver.

CORT uses Adobe Experience Cloud advertising and analytics solutions to make great first impressions with future customers. Read more about CORT’s advertising transformation here.