Audio Ads More Effective in Engagement and Emotional Intensity


Recent neuroscience and cognitive research have shown that audio advertising has a measurable edge in engaging listeners compared to other media formats. WPP’s Mindshare NeuroLab unit, in collaboration with Spotify’s Sonic Science team and research firm Neuro-Insight, recently conducted a study that delves into the consumer’s emotional and cognitive reactions to audio advertisements.

The study, led by WPP’s Mindshare NeuroLab Director Terence Scroope, indicated that emotional intensity increased by 12% when consumers engaged with audio ads, surpassing global benchmarks for all media formats. This suggests that audio can significantly bolster brand breakthrough and recall when compared to other media channels.

The NeuroLab team used sophisticated techniques to understand the parts of the brain activated by various ads. They also analyzed facial micro-movements to gauge consumer reactions to audio content. This multi-faceted approach helps advertisers fine-tune their creative and media strategies for maximum impact.

Participants in the study were shown a first-person video that simulated the experience of walking through a city while listening to an audio ad. The constant video backdrop was designed to maintain visual focus without distracting from the audio advertisement. Two core metrics—valence and expressiveness—were measured using facial expression analysis.

The study also found that the use of celebrity voices in audio advertising could increase brand resonance and emotional intensity by 21%. The celebrity’s cultural impact and body of work could have a “halo effect,” enhancing the brand’s credibility and drawing in consumers. This backs up a recent Veritonic study that found 48% of listeners were swayed toward a product or service when a celebrity voice was involved in the ads.

Another key takeaway was the importance of “addressability,” the strategic alignment of the audio ad to specific audience groups to maximize emotional connection. The study also highlighted the significance of brand name placement within the ad, recommending its positioning either at the start or the end but not in the middle.

Even minor elements, like background noise, can make a significant impact. Furthermore, the emerging trend of “sonic branding” was discussed. The study observed that a gaming company had effectively used a sonic signature to elicit positive emotions and build brand association.

“While digital audio advertising has come a long way, in many ways we are still in the early days of researching its impact on the consumer mindset,” concluded Scroope.


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