Brain Activity Study Shows Radio Makes Deepest Emotional Link


    Statistically, it’s known that radio works. The medium has massive reach, emotional attachment to its audience, and a high trust factor, but why? A recent study into the human brain may have answers – and new knowledge – into why and how AM/FM best resonates.

    Mediaprobe, known for its neuro-creative testing, shared new revelations into the emotional impact of radio advertising at the Advertising Research Foundation’s AUDIENCExSCIENCE conference. The research company assessed the second-by-second reactions of listeners to radio content across various genres using electrodermal activity and dial data, involving 227 adult participants from June 26 to July 7, 2023.

    Participants were allowed to measure their unconscious reactions to radio in the comfort of their homes. The research aimed to decipher the emotional signatures that dictate the success of radio advertisements and to benchmark these findings against television norms.

    The results revealed that AM/FM radio engages listeners 13% more than television. Perhaps more importantly, the study confirmed that radio’s Emotional Impact Score surpasses TV’s by 12%, reinforcing a Dentsu/Lumen study that highlighted audio’s superiority in capturing attention and aiding brand recall.

    Another powerful finding from Mediaprobe is how news is the leading radio genre for radio, scoring 8% higher than Urban, Adult Contemporary, Rock, and Classic Hits formats and 14% higher than television news norms.

    So what is it about radio that grabs listeners’ attention? Ads with music and jingles within spoken word segments are among the creative best practices for radio advertising effectiveness, with frequent brand mentions – at lease five in a spot – ranking highest for attachment along with female voiceovers.

    The human psychology behind consumer decision-making greatly comes into play here, with emotional responses often drive our choices, as proven by psychologists and marketers. So, the next time you find yourself drawn to AM/FM content – know that it’s not just the radio, it’s your brain.

    More details can be found in this week’s Cumulus Media/Westwood One Audio Active Blog.


    1. Functional MRI studies have shown that music stimulates activity throughout the human brain as many areas are involved in auditory pattern recognition. This invariably results in greater retention of an advertising message.


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