Neuroscience research finds distinct advertising differences across audio, radio and podcasting

New ARN Neuro Lab research looks into the distinctive advertising impact of the three key audio channels

Sample from the new ARN Neuro Lab research
Sample from the new ARN Neuro Lab research

Radio, podcasting and music streaming are distinctively processed by consumers, leading to differences in their strengths and effectiveness as advertising channels, a new neuro research study claims.

The fresh research, which has been conducted by neuroscience specialist, Dr Shannon Bosshard, in partnership with Australian Radio Network’s Neuro Lab, sought to understand how consumers’ brains respond different to distinct audio formats, and the impact advertising has in each of them. To do this, it analysed more than 40,000 datapoints every second across the different audio formats and mapped brain activity of people engaging with both audio content and advertising.

According to the ‘Sound you can see’ research, radio showed the strongest ability to engage listeners and for extended periods of time, racking up 60 per cent more neural engagement than other audio formats. Podcasts, meanwhile, were found to provide an environment that lends itself to higher levels of memory encoding, while music streaming options showed the strongest impact in promoting positive attitudes towards brands.

In describing the research, Dr Bosshard said radio, podcasting and music streaming are fundamentally different, thereby offering advertisers with unique opportunities to promote brands. For example, the findings highlighted a variance of up to 170 per cent in terms of attitudes around advertising when content and advertising don’t match in these different audio channels.

ARN positioned the research work as the first go-to-market piece of research in this space measuring attention, engagement, attitude and memory and part of an ongoing initiative to better understand audio’s distinct role and impact for brands.

“Up until now, no commercial or academic entity has assessed the differences in these three audio products,” Dr Bosshard commented. “This is the first time that anyone has demonstrated, from the perspective of the brain, that radio, podcasting and music streaming are processed differently and should be treated differently, in the same manner that audio and audio-visual mediums have been.”

ARN director of research and insights, Justin Stone, said initial responses from agencies to the research has been enthusiastic. “The use of neuroscience to complement traditional marketing techniques will produce a much more comprehensive view of how our listeners interact with audio formats,” he said.

ARN said its Neuro Lab is now working with clients on how to evaluate and optimise impact across the three areas of focus. The lab was first established late in 2020 as an in-house media research initiative to support ARN’s portfolio of products, including radio stations such as KIIS, the Pure Gold network and 96FM as well as the iHeartRadio music streaming and podcast network.    

The findings come just weeks after the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)of Australia published its latest Advertising Audio State of the Nation Report Wave 5, which showed podcasting and streaming digital audio advertising increased in 2020. The report found 69 per cent of media agencies now reporting streaming digital audio advertising as a significant or regular part of their activity and 36 per cent report podcast advertising as a significant or regular part of their activity.

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