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Study: Interactive Smart Speaker Ads Stimulate Greater Brain Activity.


The rapid adoption of smart speakers has created new opportunities for marketers to engage with consumers through audio ads by leveraging the power of the human voice to increase brand impact and drive sales. New research from marketing and media research firm Neuro-Insight, commissioned by Octave Audio, Say It Now and Xaxis, shows smart speaker advertising generates powerful responses in the human brain that can help build deeper connections between brands and consumers.


The study looked at consumer engagement in a 30-60 second conversation with a voice assistant and compared brain responses with traditional broadcast radio ads. It monitored cognitive functions like long-term memory, engagement, emotional intensity, approach/withdrawal, and general attention.


The study found that branded smart speaker ads trigger a 25% increase in overall brain activity when compared to branding in standard audio ads. The companies say that helped build stronger and more meaningful associations. It also found that engaging in a conversation with an ad via a voice assistant makes branding moments 11% more memorable.


What’s more, saying a brand’s name back to a smart speaker generated a 30% uplift in overall levels of brain response compared to a standard ad, while hearing a smart speaker reply elicited 24% higher levels of positive emotional response, suggesting that having a two-way conversation with a smart speaker is enjoyable to the listener.


The latest data from Edison Research shows 35% of adults say they own at least one smart speaker, a three-point jump from a year ago. And that is up from 16% in 2017 according to Edison’s annual Smart Audio Report, produced with NPR, and released in June. Half (51%) of respondents in the annual Edison survey say they bought a smart speaker to replace a traditional radio receiver. That compares to 39% who said that five years ago.


The Neuro-Insight study suggests the devices open new opportunities for advertisers by making audio advertising “actionable.” This refers to a 30-40 second radio ad voiced by a smart speaker, which includes a smart speaker call to action, and “frictionless” voice interaction that allows listeners to research products, have more info sent to their phone or make a purchase.


According to the research, interactive ads evoke 2.3-times more left-brain memory peaks when compared to standard audio ads, meaning they are more likely to drive greater retention of information. When the researchers compared brain responses of listeners who “converse” with smart speaker audio ads, they found uplifts in:


· General attention: +26%

· Intensity of emotional responses: +17%

· Memory-based responses: +11%


Octave Audio Director Charlie Brookes said the study’s findings reinforce the importance of strategic, addressable audio campaigns. “Optimizing ad placements and smart speaker conversations enables brands to start the right interactions with the right listeners,” Brookes said in a press release. “Rapid smart speaker adoption is driving innovation for audio advertising capabilities, making it an exciting time for brands to explore audio’s influence on audiences.”


The study took place March 24-31 in London among 64 respondents aged 18-65 split equally among four audience segments: Affluent Adults, Passionate Parents, Destination Dreamers and Savvy Shoppers. All respondents were regular users of Alexa voice devices. Interactive radio ads from six brands were included in the study. In addition, six “foil ads” from non-competing categories and brands were also included in the study, to provide a benchmark level of response.


Download the study HERE.

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