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Using Audio Rituals To Target Listeners When They’re Most Receptive.

On the heels of a study showing audio listening habits are at the heart of daily rituals, a pair of ad agency execs talked about how the study’s findings mesh with their own research about reaching consumers when they are most receptive to a brand’s messaging.

Rina Plapler, a partner at MBLM, a consulting firm that focuses on brand strategy, said the study was consistent with research her firm has conducted on how to build stronger emotional connections between brands and people. “It really seems like the medium itself is intimate in the way you use it,” Plapler said during a Monday webinar hosted by Audacy. “It’s close to you, it's near you, it's in a small space, it's on your head, it's in your ear. That in itself builds a sort of emotional relationship with the user because it is so close to the body and near you all the time.”

The study, entitled “State Of Audio: 11 Moments That Matter,” found that three-quarters (74%) of listeners surveyed consume audio during their daily rituals and 40% of listeners plan their day and activities around audio content. That ranges from people who say they pair a morning walk with a podcast or jump in the pickup to listen to “my music.”

Audacy Chief Marketing Officer Paul Suchman, who moderated the discussion, said the research doesn’t discard traditional ad targeting methods like demographics or psychographics. “It adds a layer of context and richness that maybe you didn't have before,” he said.

Kara Manatt, Executive VP of Intelligence Solutions at media agency giant Magna said being able to connect with people during a ritual can have an “amplifying effect” for advertisers. “Anytime you can reach people when they are engaging in this ritual that is so cherished to them, it's reaching the same person, but at the best possible time.”

Conducted by Alter Agents in July 2022, the research included a nationally representative survey of 1,003 U.S. adults aged 18-64, augmented by 48 five-day mobile diaries and 15 in-depth interviews with weekly radio listeners (over the air and streaming) and weekly podcast listeners.

When the researchers looked at various daily rituals, 11 are often paired with audio listening. Not unexpectedly, commuting to work or school is one of the daily rituals where audio functions as a companion. It was cited by nearly two-thirds (63%) of those surveyed. But there were other activities that are even more commonly paired with audio consumption, including putting the kids to bed (70%), exercising (68%), and snack time (66%).

Idil Cakim, Senior VP of Research & Insights at Audacy, said the study offered a different take on dayparts. “It's not just morning drive or the evening time, it's me time,” Cakim said, referring to the 73% of people that make audio part of their dedicated self-time. Just as important is what activity someone is engaged in during their “me time” – jogging or cooking or gardening, for example. “It's really important to know when to send that message, and to speak to which facet of that persona,” Cakim said. A person out for a run is likely to be more receptive to a health-related ad than a message for an education plan, for example.

But brands can go beyond just the obvious matches like delivering a makeup ad while someone is in the bathroom getting ready for their day. “There are so many layers outside of that, that are applicable for thinking about context and thinking about rituals in a way that can really help amplify the effectiveness for brands,” Manatt suggested.

Plapler said the more an advertiser connects with consumers during moments when they're engaged with content “or in a heightened emotional state,” the more likely the message will be positively received. In addition, MBLM’s own research has shown that rituals help build strong emotional connections. “A ritual is really more than habitual behavior. It's when a brand becomes a vitally important part of daily existence,” Plapler explained.

Advertisers are paying more attention nowadays to the content that surrounds an ad they’re delivering, known as contextual targeting. “At times, we see something like 60% or greater impact on purchase intent simply by reaching the same people in the right context with the same ad,” Manatt said. Magna’s research has found two drivers of that effectiveness: reaching the right people through contextual targeting and reaching people when they're in the right mindset. “While both contribute, mindset was really the strongest driver of ad effectiveness – reaching people when they're in the right mindset for the right context,” Manatt said.

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