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How Well Do Audio Ads Capture Listeners’ Attention? Adelaide Wants To Find Out.

Adelaide, a research firm with a mission to help advertisers understand the quality of the media they’re buying, is planning to expand into the audio world. The company, which measures consumer attention to advertising, is initially focusing on podcasting but also has broadcast radio in its sights.

While Nielsen, Comscore and others measure the makeup of a media outlet’s audience, Adelaide founder & CEO Marc Guldimann is focused on the “quality of that reach.”

During the last 20 years marketers and advertisers have shifted how they measure ROI from nebulous concepts like brand lift to more concrete criteria like actual business outcomes. “We think measurement needs to make that shift as well,” Guldimann tells Inside Radio.

In the digital world that’s spawned dozens of sometimes puzzling metrics like impressions, viewability, audibility and completion rates. “Measurement needs to be simple and geared around outcomes,” says Guldimann. “We’ve built a tool so advertisers can understand the likelihood that any media they bought will capture attention and actually produce outcomes.”

Adelaide doesn’t measure media attention itself. Instead it licenses data from experts in individual media and then rolls it up and analyzes it using a machine learning algorithm. The result is an “AU” score which serves as a proxy for outcomes or how likely the specific media is to produce the desired result.

To evaluate the quality of online display advertising, Adelaide looks at things like coverage, clutter and the position of the ad to determine whether a visitor is likely – or unlikely – to notice an ad on their screen at the time they're viewing content. For over the top video streaming services the criteria is much different, taking into account the time of day and what TV show someone is watching.

What about radio? Guldimann, a serial entrepreneur, says they’re still trying to figure that out. The company is talking to researchers and working with a few partners including a major podcast analytics firm about what signals could be predictive or provide key indicators.

Among the questions Adelaide seeks to answer: What’s the relative value of a host read ad versus one by an announcer? How do things like ad loads and the length of the podcast affect attention to an audio ad? “There is much more innovation in the way in which message are delivered to consumers and with that innovation comes fragmentation and a need for understanding relative value,” he says.

The next step would be to integrate audio measurement into its overall attention currency. “Our goal is to have an omnichannel apples-to-apples single metric across all channels so an advertiser can look at a display ad in Paris versus a full-page print ad in Tokyo and understand what the relative costs and values are,” he says. “We view the job of media as creating an opportunity for uninterrupted attention.”

Two weeks ago, the company announced six senior research people in media, media analytics, cross platform and ROI will comprise its newly formed Strategic Board of Advisors. They include Alice Sylvester, a partner at Sequent Partners and a past Chairman of the Board of the Advertising Research Foundation; Bill Harvey, a 35-year media research vet and recipient of the prestigious Erwin Ephron Demystification Award; Gayle Fuguitt, who spent 30 years with General Mills and was CEO of the Advertising Research Foundation; Howard Shimmel, currently President of Janus Strategy & Insights and former Chief Research Officer at Turner; Jim Spaeth, co-founder of Sequent Partners, past-President of ARF and winner of the ARF’s Erwin Ephron Demystification Award; and Marshall Cohen, a marketing and brand strategist who ran research at AOL and Univision and was a formative member at MTV.

"Radio has long been thought of as a medium that grabs the attention of its audience,” Cohen says. “Given the recent enthusiasm in the marketplace for the measurement of attention, Adelaide will provide marketers with valuable information they can use to evaluate the effectiveness of their advertising across all media.”

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