Live Reads Work For Brands On Podcasts. Study Says Same Is True For Politicians.


Television may still get the bulk of political advertising, but among those candidates that are savvy enough to approach voters on podcasts a new study has some advice for how they can improve their ads. Similar to the reaction a listener has when hearing a familiar podcast host’s voice in a commercial ad, political candidates should also lend their voice to their own campaign spots. In a Westwood One-Veritonic creative test, ads that were voiced by the candidate scored higher than ads that did not include the candidate’s voice.


In a typical political ad, the only time you hear a candidate’s voice is at the very end with the terse “I approve of this message” tag. In a Westwood One-Veritonic creative test, ads that were voiced by the candidate scored higher than ads that did not include the candidate’s voice.


According to the test, the Veritonic Audio Score for candidate-voiced ads was 53, above the Veritonic political campaign average (52), and ads using a professional voiceover artist (51).


“The candidate read [ad] outperformed the Veritonic political average,” Pierre Bouvard, Cumulus Media/Westwood One Chief Insights Officer said in a video discussing the findings. The candidate read ad “also outperformed the kind of classic political ad you would hear on TV or on the radio with a professional voiceover.”


The test also found that using the candidate's voice also increased voter intention. When comparing pre- and post-intent to vote for a candidate, ads voiced by the candidate versus a professional voiceover performed better. The growth in pre- and post-intent to vote for a candidate was +6 for a candidate-voiced ad, vs. +5 for both a professional voiceover spot and the Veritonic political campaign average.


“When you compare the candidate-voiced ad versus the kind of professional typical political ad, the intention to vote was stronger for the ad that was completely voiced by the candidate,” Bouvard explained.


Candidate-voiced ads can also impact how a voter’s decisions are made by appealing to emotions. Veritonic found that candidate-voiced ads generated more positive emotions than professional voiceover ads. Respondents felt the ads made them feel excited, happy, and energetic. Conversely, respondents also felt lower levels of negative emotions like sadness or nervousness with a candidate-voiced ad.


“What they found with the ads completely voiced by the political candidate, that all of the positive emotions did better. And the negative emotions were less negative,” Bouvard said. “So, it was really a home run.”


According to Edison Research’s Q2 2022 “Share of Ear,” podcasts reach 11% of registered voters overall. That includes 13% of Democrats, 11% of independents and 9% of Republicans.

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