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Study Finds Sonic Branding Boosts Audio Ad Recall By Double Digits.

How can podcast advertisers get more bang for the buck? A new study points to sonic branding as one of the answers. Audio researcher Veritonic and Audacy, the parent of Cadence13, Pineapple Street and 2400Sports, examined podcast and radio ads and found sonic branding boosts purchase intent and increases ad recall by double-digit percentages.

Sonic branding is a unique and easily-identified sound or jingle that consumers over time quickly connect to a product. It is seen as one of the ways to make an ad more effective, alongside the right choice of music, the right voice in the ad, as well as a fine-tuned message delivered to the consumer.

“Audio cues can be extremely effective mnemonic devices. And spoiler alert—sonic branding is the single most effective way for marketers to improve brand recognition and purchase,” says the study released Monday by Veritonic and Audacy.

The analysis of 113 podcast and radio ads shows those that used sonic brands had a greater connection with listeners. The report finds podcast ads with sonic branding had a 14% increase in ad recall and that in turn boosted purchase intent by two percent.

“Podcast audiences prefer ads that seamlessly blend in with the stories and hosts they love” the report says. “They find conversational ads more engaging, which is one of the reasons host reads are primo when it comes to pods. And branding doesn’t hurt here either -- brand anthems and taglines make a memorable impact.”

For broadcast radio, where attention spans may not be quite as focused on the content, the impact was even greater. The study showed radio ads with sonic brands had a 17% increase in ad recall and six percent bump up in purchase intent. The radio ads with sonic brands were also seen as more trustworthy, more likeable, more empowering, and more relevant.

“For radio, attention-grabbing sound elements such as sonic branding and music work well,” the report says. “They increase ad recall and purchase, and make ads seem more trustworthy, relevant, likable, and unique.”

Sonic logos are not just a sound -- they can also be a jingle like that used by McDonald's or a jingle’s famous words such as “like a good neighbor, State Farm is there” -- or even the peppy background music in a Home Depot audio spot. When chip brand Tostitos added a 1.5-second sound to its ad and began inserting it in all its audio and video ads, the results were measurable. Since Tostitos launched its first-ever sonic logo it has beaten consumer packaged goods norms for ad recall by 20% and brand appeal by 13%, as measured by Veritonic.

Music in podcast and radio ads also helps the brand stay top of mind. The study says ads with music increase purchase intent by five percent, recall by four percent and energetic emotion by three percent.

Other research showed the impact of switching from a male or female voice on a brand’s ad performance. One test was done with Hyundai’s 2022 Ioniq campaign which the report says “paints a clear example” of how the podcast ad engagement and immersion spiked each time the voice switches from male to female.

Mention Brand At Least Four Times

The research into audio ads also points to the success or failure of a campaign, starting with the words on the page when the commercial is first scripted. The report finds mentioning a brand frequently is one of the easiest ways to drive purchase intent.

“When ads contain four or more brand mentions, purchase intent rises by four percent,” the report says. The disclaimers in the ad can actually improve purchase intent if they are engaging, the study says. It also found it’s best to mix up the ad creative. Between two and four different ads work best to reach multiple audience segments.

There is also the question of how long to make the ad. The “sweet spot” is 30 seconds, according to the ad testing. It showed a longer ad could work when a brand wants to explain a new product, and then shift to a shorter ad to gain frequency once the product is well-known.

“Ads that ran for 30 seconds outperformed others on engagement, brand effect, recall, and other key indicators. They were also heard as more trustworthy, likable, and relevant,” the report says. “Long enough to hold attention and help listeners to gather information, learn, and feel compelled to use the product or service – but not so long that they zone out.” The exception was retail, where success tended to come in at just 15 seconds.

The findings are based on content analysis on 113 ads from podcast and broadcast radio, across the entertainment, auto, CPG, and financial service categories. The content analysis delved into 20 attributes, including voiceover gender, sonic branding type, and ad tone. They then ran a custom survey asking 330 consumers their opinions about the ads and the brands they represent. Within 48 hours of their responses, they were contacted a second time to gauge ad recall.

Download the full study HERE.

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