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A Deeper Understanding Of Audio Advertising With Neuroscience

date 19th August 2022
user Post by Sheridan Hill

Neuroscience has become a key tool in deepening our understanding of audio advertising effectiveness.

In 2021, TRB commissioned a study called In One Ear: Radio and Memory Encoding, the findings of which concluded that radio was highly effective for both call to action and branding objectives. Further afield, the audio advertising industries in the USA and UK have also used neuroscience methodologies in their recent research projects.

USA – Wastage Not An Issue

The latest study in July 2022 comes from Audacy and Spark Foundry, who investigated how audio advertising frequency drives purchase.

This is a topic TRB often receives queries on; which ad frequency is best and at what level is there a risk of wastage? It’s a tricky question as there are a number of variables that will impact this, such as campaign objective, target audience, budget and the creative message. For that reason, TRB planners treat every campaign as unique – there’s not a one size fits all approach.

However, this USA study provides a helpful yard stick, determining that wastage was a non-issue for audio. Positive responses to audio advertising grew with each ad repetition (up to their ceiling of 15 exposures) and did not plateau, “Marketers can trust that the higher the frequency, the higher the levels of immersion. And that’s true across industries, audio platforms, and genres.”


The higher the immersion, the higher the purchase intent. And frequency drives it all.

Read more from this study here.

UK – Relevance Lifts Engagement

In the UK, Radiocentre utilised neuroscience to investigate how reaching audiences at relevant moments can enhance advertising engagement and memorability.

Participants were asked to complete common tasks such as cooking (peeling carrots), housework (polishing), driving (watching video of car journey from POV of driver), shopping (writing a list) exercising (cycling) and working (sorting through emails). Radio was played in the background, with preselected ads that had situational or category relevance to each task.

The findings showed that audio advertising deemed relevant to the listener’s situation drove a 23% rise in engagement and a 22% lift in long term memory encoding versus advertising that was not considered relevant.

The study also found that these effects endured beyond the listening moment to help build brand salience, with spontaneous advertising recall increasing by 56%, prompted advertising recall improving by 33%.

It’s then worth considering the various contexts in which the audience will hear audio advertising when determining both the media plan and the creative approach. For example, fuel brands might choose to advertise at key commute times, with a creative message that references driving.

Read more from this study here.

NZ – Radio Drives Memorability

Driving was also a key theme in TRB's neuroscience study, In One Ear: Radio and Memory Encoding.

Those who took part in the fieldwork were shown a car journey from the POV of the driver through the streets of Devonport on Auckland’s North Shore, with radio played in the background. They were also shown a popular New Zealand television show and followed a social media scroll on a mobile phone (tasks in various orders). This allowed measurement of radio’s multiplier effect – how radio can complement other media channels to increase memorability and effectiveness.

One of the key findings in this space was that advertising on radio prior to television can increase the effectiveness of a television ad, in particular its moment of peak branding, by up to 31%.

The other major finding in this study was that radio is deemed highly effective for both call to action and branding objectives. While some of the neuroscience phrasing in the report can be complex, in layman’s terms, the detailed (call to action) and global (branding) memory encoding scored highly for radio and the difference between the two was found to be marginal. This means that advertisers can be equally as confident to use radio to build and reinforce branding, as they can to communicate a specific message or call to action.

Read more from this study here.

Watch the study explained at our 2021 Power of Audio event.

Paired with existing local resources like GfK’s radio survey results, device insights report and Triton Digital’s monthly podcast ranker, neuroscience affords us a deeper understanding of audio advertising.

Contact us to put these insights into action for your brand.

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