5. AUDIO CAN PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN ADVERTISING EFFECTIVENESS
A synopsis of the analysis conducted by Les Binet, Head of Effectiveness at adam&eveDDB and co-author of the IPA's report on effective advertising 'The Long and the Short of t'.
In a world where the supply and consumption of audio are both increasing, it makes sense to look again at the way audio works for advertisers in terms of effectiveness. We already have a mass of data in the world-leading IPA Databank about ad campaigns using audio (mostly in the form of radio), and we are able to draw some conclusions.
To recap briefly, we know that brands which use advertising successfully in the long-term balance two types of activity:
- “activation” – designed to create an immediate response, using a rational message and building short-term business
- “brand-building” – longer-term communication which changes feelings about a brand, working at the emotional level, with a cumulative effect over time
Where does audio fit in to that?
i. Audio for activation: the radio heartland
The short-term, sales-response model of audio advertising is fundamentally the way local advertisers use radio, and is based on its obvious strengths:
- it’s highly targeted, by region and by age group
- it offers short lead-times and relatively low cost
- it’s consumed in real time, often at relevant moments across the day (cooking, travelling)
People also spend many hours listening to commercial radio each week (13 hours on average), and this ensures a high number of impacts for the advertiser's messages.
But what about the longer term?
ii. Audio for brand-building: the radio higher ground
We know from the IPA Databank that successful, long-term, brand-building campaigns need to do three things: reach a wide audience, make an emotional connection and create fame. Can audio do these?
As far as reach is concerned – the weekly audience for commercial radio is 34 million people, or 64% of the adult population. It means that audio is already one of the truly mass channels, and this is set to increase with the availability of new audio platforms which, as MIDASplus data shows appeal to an audience which has low overlap with the existing radio listenership.
Audio can also clearly create an emotional response. Music is inherently emotional and radio stations are often talking on-air about topics in a way that triggers an emotional response: hence people phoning in with their very personal contributions – be that a strong view about a topic, or a dedication for a piece of music.
A SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT THE POWER OF MUSIC
Radio undoubtedly gets a lot of its emotional power from music, and this would apply to wider forms of audio too. Music has a unique ability to influence our emotions and change the way we perceive and interpret things.
Surprisingly, there has been relatively little research into the effects of music in advertising. [Out of 48,000 articles on the WARC database, only 29 look at music in any detail.] But what work has been done suggests that music can make a big difference.
Music increases attention to advertising and makes people more likely to recall the ad, the brand and the message. Music increases intent to purchase and can increase actual sales effects by 10%-30%.And, given that music is one of the main reasons why people listen to radio, musical advertising can be particularly effective in this medium.
Music makes advertising work harder Source: Binet, Mullensiefen and Edwards, Admap 2013
But can audio offer fame?
“Fame” is one of the effects which is monitored in the Databank – the extent to which people have not just heard of a brand (awareness), or feel it is front-of-mind (saliency), but have actually talked about it.
As this chart shows, the campaigns which used radio had a far stronger “fame effect” than those which did not.
Radio amplifies fame Source: RAJAR MIDASplus;Wave 4, Spring 2014
iii. Evidence of audio’s effectiveness from the IPA Databank
Beyond “soft” measures like fame, the IPA Databank also gives us a good indication of the power of audio in terms of the bottom line – the results for marketing effectiveness
There are three analyses in particular which paint a clear picture for the role of audio – or radio, which was the audio source in all these cases:
a) sales efficiency:
When all other things are equal, a brand's market share tends to follow its share of voice. This chart shows that brands which use radio have a much higher efficiency rating for converting their share of voice into share of market
Radio amplifies sales efficiency
b) ROMI (Return On Marketing Investment)
Sales efficiency directly influences the return which brands make on their marketing investment. The IPA data suggests that campaigns which include radio have a much higher financial return than those which don’t, and this is in line with previous research for the RAB conducted by Holmes & Cook in 2013. This showed that on average, advertisers get nearly £8.00 back for every £1.00 they spend on radio
Radio boosts ROMI
c) effect on profits and margins
In a sense, this is the ultimate metric for an advertiser’s marketing spend – the effect it has on profitability. Again, the data here indicates that including radio in the mix significantly increases the effect on the client’s profits and margins.
Radio amplifies advertiser's profits
iv. Audio is an underexploited opportunity
While these findings suggest that audio is a credible and powerful brand-building medium, there is one analysis which jumps out.
Radio – the primary audio medium – takes around 6% of all display advertising revenue, yet accounts for around 22% of the time people spend with media. When considered in the context of the evidence of this study, this suggests that the advertising business is underinvesting in audio advertising and missing out on the powerful influence it can exert for brands.
Again, there is a fit here with the Holmes & Cook ROI study of 2013, which identified that raising radio’s share of an advertising budget to around 20% leads to a significant rise in ROI - not for radio alone, but for the overall ad campaign.