Published on Inside Radio

The idea may sound simple. “Ads in context just work better,” says Idil Cakim, Senior VP Research & Insights at Audacy. But the benefits of the when and where of audio advertising have become clearer, thanks to a new study by Magna Global and Audacy. It examined how messages are delivered in listeners’ daily rituals and found that when audio ads are put in the context of the listener’s life, they have a bigger impact on purchase behavior.

Kara Manatt, Executive VP/Managing Director of Intelligence Solutions at Magna, said the study shows contextual ads work in audio just as they do in other media. Not only do they reach people who are more likely to be in the market for the advertised product, but she says they also penetrate deeper into the consumer mindset.

“The real powerhouse behind contextual, based on all the research we’ve done, is reaching people at that exact right moment,” Manatt said Thursday during a presentation of the study. “With respect to audio, it’s the soundtrack of people’s day. Unlike video where people may be going online to do a specific task, audio is more consistent. And I think it opens up the doors with lots of different creative ways that brands can actually get contextual with audio because of that.”

In the study, first reported by Inside Radio earlier this month, 74% of listeners said they incorporated audio into their daily rituals and 40% planned their day/activities around audio content. The result was listeners had a 12% increase in feeling connected to the brand when the ad was tied into their daily rituals. That compared to a three percent increase for non-aligned ads.

Britni Sternquist, Senior Group Director at Initiative, sees the results as proof of the relationship between relevance and influence.

“The thing I’m most excited about is what’s going on with podcasting, because it’s grown so much, and we have the ability to really customize the message to the moment to really drive that influence and relevance to whatever mindset listeners are in,” she said. “It can be really impactful for advertisers to show up in a way that makes them feel like a friend or support system.”

To test the two methods of targeting, Magna’s Media Trials unit recruited 1,920 weekly audio listeners, both radio and podcast. Working with Audacy, Magna tested both genre-based ads—such as a telecom brand advertising during an entertainment broadcast—and ritual-based ads—such as destination advertising during a “me-time” ritual – to examine the spectrum of contextual-alignment opportunities.

Manatt says the results were “glaringly clear” that there was a “significant improvement” when consumers were exposed to an in-context ad. She credits that to the context making the brand more relevant to a consumer. “Because you’re reaching people in the right moment, it actually generates excitement for the brand – and that’s what every brand wants,” Manatt said.

Magna spends billions each year on advertising and while research like this has been done with video, Manatt says the study fills a “huge, obvious void” with audio. And while media buyers have no control over the creative, she said placement gives them a way to impact how a brand is perceived.

“It is amplifying the effectiveness of the same exact ad,” Manatt said. “People are going to notice more and the ad is going to be stickier.”

To translate the findings into practice, Sternquist thinks advertisers need to alter how they are planning their buys and put their resources behind generating the right types of creative to support contextual moments. “It’s approaching planning from a consumer journey standpoint, looking at their daily habits and rituals, getting that granular detail about what they’re doing, and why they’re doing it,” she said. “That can help advertisers be more successful in how they approach contextual advertising.”

To help advertisers, Cakim said Audacy has developed a tool that combines first-party listener data with ritual data to pinpoint – based on audience groups and rituals – what stations they’re listening to and what podcasts they prefer.

“The strength of that match is important,” Sternquist said. “We’ve seen this in every study – the stronger correlation between the ad and the genre or ritual, the stronger their performance.”

Working in audio’s favor, said Sternquist, is that there is now more of a focus on providing buyers with the data they need. “The audio industry, to continue to evolve and have better measurement and stronger attribution data about our performance against our key segments. That is going to be critical,” she said. “Obviously, we all love video. But audio is so incredibly immersive. And I think audio is going to be a place that brands are incredibly focused over the next five to 10 years when this innovation lends itself to new ideas.”

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