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1. Audio is becoming more important to people.
The rise of 3D audio: immersive listening experience. Brands like Apple and Sony are improving the listening experience. Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking brings theatre-like sound from the movie or video you're watching, so that sound seems like it's coming from all around you. Sony has a 360° experience smart speaker.
Louis Vuitton released a tech speaker, which shows that brands that had nothing to do with audio are recognising the “high end side” of the audio experience.
Spatial is a new start-up and they launched the future of soundscapes: immersive working environment (lobby, reception, retail) with a sound environment that helps enhance wellbeing and performance in the workplace.
Audio is increasingly becoming a channel for well-being. Wellness customers will use audio for relaxation, for example, Dipsea, us an app to help people sleep.
Sona (launched at CES last year) is trying to validate music as medicine, again elevating audio as an avenue for health and wellness. They create music, proprietary creation process to help people relax, work with composers and recognised technicians.
2. The innate power of audio
The explanation for continued growth in audio audiences is best considered in the context of Byron Sharp's framework of how brands grow.
Let’s first look at physical availability.
The launch of the voice assistants in late 2016 , combined with a significant increase in smartphone penetration has helped make audio services more - and more seamlessly - accessible in and out the home, wherever people are and whatever they’re doing. And there is the increased availability of audiences as half of working adults work from home at least one day a week or more.
People and all age groups continue to listen to live radio in incredible numbers either through a radio receiver, mobile, pc, or other connected devices.
And in the U.S where they have industry research to measure aggregate coverage from different media it shows that broadcast radio significantly drives incremental coverage. Which is why P&G U.S. which has stated that maximising reach is so important to them, are investing heavily in radio. They are now the largest advertiser on radio in the U.S., increasing their spend on radio by43% in 2022, according to Vivvix (formerly Kantar Media.).
Now looking at the other element that drives growth- mental availability.
Being associated with such a wide range of reasons to listen in this way naturally equates to an increase in audio’s mental availability (or salience) among listeners. This leads to more people turning more often to audio entertainment - resulting inan increase in overall listening.
Live broadcast radio has the highest weekly reach by a number of multiples, dominating within all of the need-states except ‘Broaden my Horizons’, within which podcasts deliver the highest reach. This is UK based research, but we will have our very own Irish data on needs states later this year.
That connected experience of people listening to the same content at the same time means live broadcast radio dominates all audio listening accounting for 74% of all listening, followed by music streaming at 12%, YouTube music at 7% and podcasts at 4%.
Looking at our next area, the innate power of sound. Sounds trigger an immediate response. This was discovered by Ivan Pavlov, the Pavlovian response as he measured the droule of dogs when he rang the bell.
Going back to Byron Sharp and mental availability - memory shortcuts that help consumers to choose brands when they are in a buying situation. Radio is so effective at doing this.
Sounds are recognised by the brain very quickly -0.05 seconds, which is 10 times faster than the blink of an eye. And sounds can become instantly familiar when embedded into popular culture. Psycho, Jaws. And brands can do it very well too. Netflix. McDonalds
Brands need to further harness the power of audio. Audio is unique and requires a specific briefing process to get the most out of it. With so many new ways for consumers to engage with audio, brands need to ensure they have clear guidelines for their audio assets. Audio logos, brand anthems, brand voices etc can all serve as audio shorthand.
Much more than other media, Radio has always been and always will be a medium designed for brands. It's DNA is interlinked with brands and sponsorships and consumers welcoming brands into the radio medium. Radiocentre Ireland research shows that 71% of adults say radio is a good way for brands and advertisers to tell them about products and services they might be interested in – much more than any other medium. It is natural and expected.
People understand that brand messages on radio are natural and expected but an interesting area is how much attention are they paying to brand messages. As part of a Radiocentre Ireland piece of research, we simply asked people what portion of ads they pay attention to, and radio fares very well compared to other media.
But we know it is more complicated than that and we have been having detailed discussions with Amplified Intelligence about confirm how consumer are paying real attention to radio advertising in Ireland, not just assumed attention based on traditional metrics.
Radiocentre UK Research analyzed over 1,000 campaigns over 14 years and were able to devise a control and test scenario, essentially comparing those you heard and didn’t hear the campaigns. The research showed that radio generates significant uplift in advertising awareness (49.5%) for listeners of campaigns compared to a match sample of non-listeners.
There is probably wide acceptance of the ability of radio to reach a wide audience to drive awareness. But how does radio perform against some of the more challenging emotional metrics? For brand relevance, respondents had to strongly agree with the statement “This brand is for people like me”. There was an uplift of 24%for people exposed to the radio campaigns compared to people who were not exposed to the campaigns. This reflects how radio listeners often perceive themselves to be part of a wider audience community consisting of other people who are essentially just like them.
The fact that audiences often feel part of a wider community is one of the reasons listeners place a high level of trust in what they hear. And we can clearly see the benefit of this trusted relationship for advertisers in the data which shows an uplift rate for of 31.6% for people exposed to the campaigns agreeing with the statement “This is a brand I trust” compared to people not exposed to the campaigns.
The research also looked at what the data said about converting existing demand, driving brand consideration for those in the market to buy now. People exposed to the radio campaigns were 18% more likely than people who were not exposed to highly consider buying the advertised brands. This shows radio’s ability to drive brand awareness, brand relevance and brand trust also translates into an uplift in purchase consideration.
Radiocentre Ireland is launching CampaignFX in September which will take different categories each month and measure metrics such awareness, consideration for each brand within the category and comparing the effect radio had on such metrics.
Radiocentre Ireland is also partnering with Tam Ireland to create Ad Value a project that will deliver for the first time return on investment norms for the Irish market and provide empirical evidence on the effectiveness and value of advertising in Ireland.
3. Insights on how audio drives website traffic
New research undertaken by Colourtext on behalf of Radiocentre Ireland reveals that there isa very strong relationship between radio advertising and website visits. The primary aim of the research was to establish a concrete, direct link between the transmission of radio ads and response, both classic short-term response (within a 0-15 min direct response peak) and longer-term delayed response (15min to 24hrs post-transmission).
Our hypothesis was that, due to the often passive and secondary nature of radio listening, radio effects would be more likely to manifest as ad responses over a longer period after exposure. For example, people don’t usually break away from a primary task like driving, cooking or working in order to respond immediately to a radio ad by going online, but instead, respond at a time that is convenient for them.
Using analytics data for a Sky TV and Broadband campaign that was active in Q1 2023, we were able to measure the link between radio activity and website visits. The Sky activity was a tactical, offer-led campaign - ‘Sky Sale - €38 a month’ that used a ‘Search Sky Sale’ call-to-action to drive traffic to a campaign-specific landing page.
First, let’s look at short term ad response, this is the normal way advertising response is measured. We used spot relative traffic analysis to measure short term response – what that technique does it searches for spikes in the number of website visits that occur in discrete 5-minuteperiods either before or after each ad spot is played out.
For TV, the ad response usually peaks very sharply within 1or 2 minutes of the ad playing out and reducing significantly after that. Our guess was that due to the passive and secondary nature of radio listening, there wouldn’t be as an immediate response as there is in TV. People don’t usually break away from a primary ask like driving, cooking etc in order to respond immediately to a radio ad. Our hypothesis is that radio effect would much more likely to manifest itself longer after ad exposure. And the results of the spot relative traffic analysis bear this out. There is a measurable response, but it appears to be delayed and happens after 30 minutes. This short-term response method struggles to capture the true response to radio activity.
What we are learning is that secondary radio listening patterns generate a delayed ad response. In order to do this, again, we can look at daily radio ratings and overlay daily website traffic and there is an immediate visual fit – when daily radio weights are high, daily website traffic is high, when daily radio ratings are low, website traffic levels are low. That is just visual intuition, we need a more scientific approach to measure accurately.
The regression analysis completed show a very direct link between daily radio ratings and website visits so much so that it measures that54% of all website visits to the Sky campaign can be directly attributable to the sky radio campaign. And for every 100,000 radio impacts or listeners, the daily search visit to this campaign landing page increased by an average of6.65.
Radio is having a profound effect on online search behaviour and therefore website traffic.
What happens if we widen it a little bit further and overlayed a 3-day moving average of daily radio ratings. The line patterns are almost identical meaning that as you spend on radio, website traffic goes up directly due to the radio activity and as you reduce spend on radio, website traffic goes down directly due to reducing radio spend,
Over a 72-hour period, 72% of website traffic to the campaign page is directly attributable to the radio activity. This shows that radio ad response tends to be delayed and has a very significant affect over a24 hour to 72-hour period – we think of this as a radio attribution halo.
Due to the often passive and secondary nature of radio listening, radio effects manifest as ad responses over a longer period after exposure
There is huge opportunity cost suffered by advertisers who might have mis-evaluated the performance of their radio activity by purely focussing on very short-term responses to their activity. It is only the tip of the iceberg as many responses to a radio commercial occur between 24 to 72hours after transmission.
4. Digital audio – the benefits without the clutter
Finally, a brief look at digital audio and how it allows brands to be contextually relevant.
Audio is unique in that a brand message can be heard as intended while people are doing other things – cooking, minding children, exercising, working even!
And digital audio allows brands to still communicate in that intimate clutter free one to one environment but with all the behavioural, contextual targeting opportunities that digital provides.
Research has shown that more relevant the message, the greater the impact and effect. And research from Neuro Insights which measures brain responses on a second-by-second basis showed that when a brand is heard in a relevant context, for example a food brand while someone is cooking, the uplift in memory is significant,
And brands are investing significantly in digital audio albeit from a small base. The key issue and challenge are how to measure everything in an integrated way but there are developments internationally in this area – Australia recently launched new research that integrates FM listening, streaming and podcasts. And other markets will begin to integrate all audio platforms int one measurement system.