commercial voiceover

You Have 6 seconds… Go!

Times sure are a changin’. When we were kids, we didn’t have a tv in our  bedrooms. My parents loved watching tv with us and felt strongly that it was a family activity so the tv was in the family room. We also had a “little tv” as we called it in the kitchen. As it ran on an antennae and only had the main networks, if we were sick or they were out on a Saturday night, we had the special treat of having the little tv moved to our room! But, my sister and I were expected to enjoy it together. I remember watching Saturday morning cartoons in bed with Julie on occasion, and loving the lineup including “the Smurfs,” “The Snorks,” and “The Gummy Bears.”  Those were special times.

Now it doesn’t matter so much that my husband (who grew up without a tv, gasp!) and I don’t have tv’s in our twins’ rooms, because they are amongst the 1.3 BILLION people who, according to Merchdope, are partaking in the watching of 5 BILLION videos every day! Typical of their generation, my twins have laptops, iphones, and ipads and can use any and all of these devices to watch YouTube.

And what is popping up on every, single video they watch? I am sure that you have seen those 6 second ads, that used to be 3 seconds, that you can’t skip. Those are called YouTube Bumper Ads and they are changing the landscape of voiceover. As a professional voiceover actor, I know have the exciting task of telling a story, showing emotional range, communication the essence of a brand, drawing in a customer, and connecting with the audience all in six seconds! I think folks who pursue a career in voiceover enjoy a challenge, and this new genre is just the next  arena for us to dazzle our clients with our voiceover skill set. The YouTube Bumper presents all sorts of opportunities in marketing.

How big is this trend?

The trend of the YouTube Bumper Ad in voiceover is here to stay. Like in other commercial realms, marketing and ad executives strive to create a custom audience and based on the YouTube search can target a specific subset of viewers. Unlike commercials in other genres like television and radio, YouTube bumper are not skippable. With over 1 billion users daily, the permutations of groups and subsets of viewers to build brand awareness offers such vast potential with numbers never seen before all in one place! For example of what major brands are doing, Jon Lafayett of Broadcasting Cable explains “Busch used bumpers after a campaign that included the Super Bowl and saw double-digit lifts in both purchase consideration and brand awareness among viewers. The bumpers were made from extra footage shot while making the Super Bowl spot.” This echoes my experience as the professional voiceover talent. After being cast for the tv commercial, the new media usage was added on to my voiceover casting so that the producer could record all of the voiceover in one session. This allows for continuity in the marketing campaign and further brand awareness when the clients relate the voice across genres. The fact that the numbers were so impressive for Busch indicates the success of such strategies and the YouTube bumper is integral to a solid marketing strategy today in an economy that is shifting rapidly.

Roots in Commercial World…

In terms of voiceover technique for the YouTube bumper, adjusting to this shorter segment, while surprising at first, comes naturally for those of us who book a lot of commercial work. As my bread and butter has been voiceovers for tv and radio commercials since I started my career, when these scripts are written well it is easy to pour your heart into them. Most voiceover actors have done short spots on demos or tags. A YouTube bumper, however, is very different than a tag. Aside from the length ( and a tag on a commercial can be even shorter than a bumper), a tag is offering either an ending plug for the brand or a last bit of information. In a YouTube bumper ad, a voiceover actor has to be compelling and have charisma in a flash. Supposedly peoples’ attention spans are becoming shorter and shorter because of the time we spend on electronics, so they are looking for these short engagements and it is our job as the voiceover talent to make that connection.

Predictions About Impact on Industry

I believe that the YouTube bumper ads are here to stay and as the viewership on YouTube increases exponentially so will the need for professional voiceover actors to voice these spots. I also believe that the industry will continue to produce the 15, 30, and 60 second traditional advertising commercials as well. As long as radio and television continue to exist and have relevance in society, brands will want a presence there and will need for a connection in their YouTube and traditional marketing campaign. And at the end of the day, any working mom can tell you, a lot can happen in 6 seconds!!

Laura Schreiber Voiceover Actor walking her dog! Come On, Just One Line

I was walking my dog and ran into one of my friendly neighbors working on her flowers. She asked me how my “whole voiceover thing” was going. Then she did what commonly happens. Krista said, “Can you just do one of your lines from a recent job?” This actually happens all the time, at dinner parties, doctor’s appointments, temple- folks ask to hear my work. They want it live, unscripted, in the moment. This is funny for several reasons. While I have been trained in improv, that is not typically part of what I do, especially in most of my commercial work. A very small percentage of both my auditions and my actual bookings ask for a voiceover actor who can improv. Next, all of my work is done with a script. I seldom memorize the script. There are often in-session script changes that require me to mark the script with the new lines as I go. So these impromptu performances? Well, they do not represent my actual work. But, it does get at the heart of what is really being asked: that folks I run into understand that I have found my passion in an exciting industry and I have the fortune of booking a lot of commercial work as a full-time, professional voiceover actor. I have found such joy in the 15, 30, and 60 second commercial spots full of emotional twists and plot turns and voiceover for commercial are my thang.

On the radio, ohhh on the radio

Since I started in voiceover, I have booked a lot of voiceover commercials. Perhaps this is because I am super expressive and radio is so different than tv. Without the visual for the listener to understand, as the commercial voiceover actor, all of the story is in the voice. The change for discontent to the solution to one’s problem, the shift from happy to vulnerable, it all has to be audible, and I eat those scripts up. From Am to FM to satellite to Pandora to Spotify, I enjoy all sort of commercial spots. Even the tags are fulfilling to me! I particularly love those fast-paced disclaimers that come at the end of ads. Whether it is a 15 second spot or a 60 second spot, I very much enjoy working on the script and figuring out what I am saying and why I am saying it. I get so much out of these commercial reads.

My Uncle Heard Me…..

Whether it is a one off or a campaign, local, regional, or national, I still get so excited to book television commercials at all levels! I have had the fortune to book a few campaigns in Florida where my Aunt Jody and Uncle Mark live, and they have seen the spots run which is extremely fulfilling to me. Often friends and family will comment that I don’t sound like myslef, or that they did not recognize me when I am on tv. I’m not sure if that is a compliment or not, but I am super happy and bubbly in my daily life, and not all scripts are written that way, so as a voiceover actor it is my job to play the role that I am playing in each commercial. I typically have a warm, conversational tone and I try to make each spot sound believable and sincere. As a professional voiceover actor in commercials, it is my job to bring the client their vision for the script and offer different options for the read. There are typically so many right ways to do it each time. I am so happy to be cast in each commercial, as long as the client is happy in the end that is all that matters.

Hello Again:)

In both radio and tv commercials, my greatest joy as a voiceover actor is the opportunity to work with clients again. Whether it is a producer or casting director, I love working with the same folks again and again. This does not mean I assume what they want or need on a project. But, I am always delighted that they are pleased enough with my work to use my voice for another commercial. Whether these clients needed guided sessions via ipDTL, Source Connect, or ISDN; or, they had me record and submit the work independently, their repeat use of me means they were happy and I more than met their needs. I am going for over joyed every single time I deliver the audio.

Staying in the Game

So, in this ever changing industry, with so many great talents going after the same gigs every day, how do I keep up? I believe the answer lies with on-going professional development. Just as doctors and lawyers must, so do professional voiceover actors.  I work with private coaches and I go to conferences. Often some of the rosters that I am on also bring in coaches who are top in our field to train us. I take advantage of all of these opportunities so that I have the confidence to know that every day I am bringing the best I can into my commercial reads.