In a first-of-its-kind study, media agency network dentsu has cracked the code on measuring listener attention to radio and other audio advertising. Working with Lumen Research, dentsu measured various audio formats and environments across three unique studies in podcasts, radio, and music streaming. The headline: audio performs better than video in grabbing people’s attention and generating brand recall.
The study could help convince marketers to allocate more ad dollars to a still underutilized media channel.
The study, released Tuesday by dentsu, found that audio advertising (including podcasts, radio, and music streaming) drove significant attention compared to other ad platforms. On average, 41% of audio ads generated correct brand recall compared to the 38% norm for other advertising studied by dentsu. Brand choice uplift for audio ads was 10%, nearly double dentsu norms of 6%.
The metric used by dentsu and Lumen to measure listener attention was attentive seconds per thousand impressions or APM. The study found that APM for audio advertising was 10,126. That’s more than 50% higher than Dentsu norms of 6,501 APM.
“Dentsu has been pioneering attention research via our Attention Economy for more than five years, codifying, longer than anyone else, the value of engagement in video and display channels. Now, we’re thrilled to unlock new insights on attention in audio—a meaningful first for the industry,” said Doug Rozen, CEO, dentsu Media Americas. “This enables us to uniquely serve clients by proving the value of their audio, video and display ads based on real engagement measures that drive growth.”
Unique Strengths For Each Audio Channel
The podcast study was conducted with Audacy, Cumulus Media, iHeartMedia, Spotify and SXM Media as participating partners. The radio study was conducted with Audacy, Cumulus Media, and iHeartMedia. Separately, Amazon Ads conducted a study with Amazon Music for advertising on the music streaming service.
The study found that each audio channel has its own unique strength in driving attention and brand impact.
Podcasts drove the highest attentive seconds per thousand impressions compared to other digital, social and TV benchmarks. In addition, the researchers found that brand choice uplift was higher for host-read ads compared to traditional audio ads within podcasts.
Radio, meanwhile, was found to be the most cost-efficient media platform in driving attention cost per thousand impressions (aCPM). Compared to the average online video ads measured through dentsu’s Attention Economy, the aCPM for radio is a whopping 10-times more efficient.
Music streaming was found to drive key branding metrics. Brand recall was highest for ad-supported streaming music played on Alexa-enabled devices and drove even higher brand choice uplift for 30-second ads compared to those same ads listened to through a desktop/mobile device.
”Our audio team understands that radio advertising is a cost-efficient way to build reach, that podcast listeners have great affinity not only to the programming but also podcast hosts, and that smart speakers are a compelling new destination for audio ads on streaming services,” said Diana Anderson, Senior VP, Group Director, National Audio Activation, Carat USA. “It was nice to see each of these unique strengths of different audio destinations validated by our audio Attention Economy Study.”
How The Study Was Conducted
Measuring listener attention to radio and other audio advertising has been talked about for years but quantifying it has eluded researchers. Dentsu measures attention to video-based ads via eye tracking. Expanding its Attention Economy research into audio advertising for the first time was a little trickier.
Working with Lumen, respondents were exposed to listening environments similar to their native audio experiences, such as selecting a podcast, a radio station, or a genre of music on a streaming service. After listening, they were administered dentsu's Attention Economy Survey to gauge ad recall and brand choice uplift compared to a similarly recruited control group. Lumen modeled an attention score equivalent to that based on visual attention by using passively collected audio listening data, survey results and type of ad exposure. The methodology was devised to measure attention in audio that is equivalent with measurement across visual media destinations.
“Dentsu has been a valued partner of Lumen Research as we’ve chartered new territory in understanding attention and building new norms and metrics in the space,” said Mike Follett, CEO of f Lumen. “We’re excited to have a new way to look at attention in audio and eager to continue testing with their clients.”
The study is the latest to be released by dentsu’s Attention Economy, the industry’s first attention-focused study and the world’s largest in scale and scope of its kind. Established in 2018, the program set out to define the true value of attention across channels and formats and changed the way the advertising industry plans, measures, and buys media.