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New Study Portrays Audio As The Most Immersive Media.

With a typical consumer using seven different types of media in a given week, today’s media landscape is super cluttered, making it harder for brands to bust through and be heard. A new study that combines media user surveys and neurological measurements shows that audio is more immersive than other media, including linear TV, video and social media.

To study media immersion, Entercom commissioned Alter Agents, a third-party market research firm whose clients include Google, SnapChat, and Activision. Alter Agents fielded a nationally representative sample of 1,008 adults aged 18-54 in fourth quarter 2020.

Idil Cakim, Senior VP of Research & Insights at Entercom, presented the study, entitled “Amplified Audio: Defining Engaged Impressions,” as part of the virtual CES 2021 conference which opened Monday.

“Audio is the most powerful of mediums, it brings us together through shared experiences, moves us emotionally and leads us to take action,” Cakim said. As marketers are challenged to capture consumer attention, audio like no other media delivers an immersive experience, which triggers memorability, trust and connection.”

Immersion is an important metric for marketers because it measures emotional connection and attention and is predictive of sales. “The results show that audio content and personalities connect and engage audiences at a much deeper level than other media types,” Cakim said.

The study sought to measure “engaged impressions” by studying how audio in general, and Entercom’s content in particular, performed next to content from across today’s media landscape. Participants consumed a media reel consisting of 22 clips across eight media types and five formats, randomized for each test group.

The key metric in the study was immersion. Defined as “a scientific measure of emotional connection and attention,” immersion was measured through variations in participants’ heart rate, which the researchers say helps them understand what the brain values.

Based on a 1-100 scale, where the higher the number, the more immersive the experience is, audio delivered an immersion index of 57, beating out ad-based video on demand (54), digital video (54), linear TV (52), and social media (52).“Immersion is predictive of sales. Therefore, advertising dollars placed with audio will turn into business,” Cakim said.

The study also found that audio platforms are trusted more than other media sources tested, which included a combination of media types and specific platforms. Audio (encompassing broadcast radio delivered over the air and via streaming, along with podcasting) scored a 69% trust score, the highest of any media in the study. It is followed by TV (64%), Google (60%), print (57%), social media (56%), YouTube (47%) and digital audio pure plays, such as Pandora and Spotify (44%).

The study concluded that local content and host trust are the most influential drivers for listening, especially for over-the-air broadcasting, while nationally famous celebrities and personalities are the least likely to do so. One third of over-the-air listeners indicate that it is the voice of the host that motivates them to act.

Another finding: host recommendations, whether made organically in content or as an ad, drive consumer action. More than one third (34%) of over-the-air broadcast listeners say they have taken action after hearing a host recommendation as part of a commercial and 32% after hearing a host recommendation as part of their show.

Among the study’s takeaways:

  • Trust fosters engagement and enhances the quality of reach. Cakim called it “the secret ingredient that fosters engagement and makes reach meaningful.”

  • Audio portfolios that deliver local content and host recommendations to consumers create a ripe environment for advertisers.

  • When guided by local influencers, audio listeners engage with brands and take actions.

  • Immersive experiences build emotion, attention and recall.

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