Radio Week: In One Ear – Radio & Memory Encoding

The Radio Bureau and Neuro-Insight recently partnered to conduct a comprehensive New Zealand-based neuro study into the effectiveness of audio advertising, In One Ear, which was unveiled for the first time at TRB’s Power of Audio event last week. Utilising the latest scientific methods, electrical activity in the brains of 197 participants was measured across a variety of scenarios as they were exposed to radio, TV and social media advertising.

Why neuroscience?

95 percent of decision-making, and our response to advertising, is subconscious – beyond conscious reach. So how can we accurately measure people’s response to advertising if they don’t know it themselves?

This is where neuroscience comes to the fore. It can tap into the brain as information is processed and can measure all of our subconscious responses, says Brian Hill, General Manager APAC, Neuro-Insight.

Neuro-Insight’s approach is backed by extensive scientific validation via the peer-review and publishing process. There have also been a series of studies which have provided commercial validation of the neuroscience methodology.

Neuro-Insight can measure moment by moment the audience’s level of engagement, whether they are feeling positive or negative, their emotional intensity, and their level of memory encoding – which can be detailed or global.

Memory drives behaviour

The truth is that memories only exist for future planning and navigation, not necessarily as an accurate record of the past. Memories are there to help us make decisions, choices, and ultimately survive.

The brain only stores what it deems to be of future importance. If a message is not in long-term memory, it cannot affect future behaviour or attitude.

Memory encoding is different to recall. People might not recall an ad, but memory encoding can still be triggered, which can influence future behaviour.

Dr Shaun Seixas, Director of Research at Neuro-Insight, says: “Our brain is not only constantly processing information from our senses but is also very selective in what is brought to our attention. We know from neuroscience research that even if things aren’t being brought to our attention or being attended to, they can still be processed and can have an impact on our behaviour.”

What was measured?

Neuro-Insight measured brain electrical responses of participants while they either watched TV, viewed a first person car journey in Auckland whilst listening to the radio, or viewed a social media scroll on a mobile device.

Participants were fitted with a lightweight lycra cap which housed 20 electrodes to capture scalp electrical activity.

Three major study findings and what they mean for clients

1.   Radio is highly effective for both call to action and branding. Whilst radio is widely considered to be highly effective in driving a call to action, this study shows it is equally as effective at building, or reinforcing, brand equity.

2.   Priming with radio drives stronger results in other media. Advertising heard on the radio prior to seeing it on television can increase the effectiveness of a television ad, in particular its moment of peak branding, by up to 31 percent. The work of academic Robert Heath in the UK has shown that “low involvement” brain processing, the type which audiences are likely to experience when consuming a passive media such as radio, can be more effective than a more active “lean in” media experience. In this study, hearing the ad on the radio first has triggered high levels of memory encoding which has primed the brain and made it more receptive when it is exposed to similar content in other media.

3.   The consistency of creative across the different channels is key in driving effectiveness. The study showed how consistent elements of creative can be effective in driving high levels of memory encoding. This in turn drives consumer behaviour. The brain processes an element of the creative in the radio ad, which provides a mental shortcut for the brain when it then processes the same moment in the television ad. This mental shortcut makes it easier for the brain to reinforce the memory and also to broaden or furnish the memory with a new association.

Read the full research report here.

This story is part of a content partnership with The Radio Bureau.

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