Katz Study Looks At Power Of Audio Messages In Advertising
February 25, 2013

Katz Marketing Solutions, the national marketing arm of the Katz Media Group, has released a new study that quantified the importance of audio elements in successful television commercials. The results show that audio, or radio, can efficiently and cost-effectively enhance a brand’s identification and messaging.

The study examined television commercials from 14 major brands including Allstate, Apple, Capital One, CoverGirl, Diet Pepsi, DirectTV, Dos Equis, Duracell, GEICO, Old Spice, Outback Steakhouse, Snickers, Taco Bell, and Warner Brothers. All audio and visual brand references were removed, and 300 respondents were served either the de-branded television clip or an audio-only version of the same clip. The respondents were asked to identify the brand, pinpoint their "aha" moment of recognition, and describe their emotional response to the audio and video segments.

Overall, the audio clips generated 93 percent of the brand identification metrics that the TV commercial clips generated. Even with the absence of visual stimuli, consumers were able to correctly identify the brands being featured in the ads. The results also indicated that in certain instances audio triggered brand identification at a much greater rate than visual cues. For example, 25 percent of the respondents exposed to the Taco Bell television clip referenced visual cues as the brand trigger, while 55 percent mentioned the sound of the iconic Taco Bell "bong" as the "aha" branding moment. In Duracell’s television clip, 50 percent more viewers referenced its distinctive three-note audio signature as the brand trigger than any visual stimuli. And for Outback Steakhouse, four times as many respondents cited the announcer’s distinguishing voice as the brand trigger than any visual element of the commercial.

The audio clips alone also prompted emotional responses in respondents. For the Warner Brothers’ movie, The Hobbit, as many respondents to the audio clip expressed excitement and desire to see the movie as those exposed to the television clip. In Taco Bell’s case, the audio clip generated mentions of hunger almost as often as those exposed to the television clip. For CoverGirl, the audio clip was just as likely to invoke feelings of happiness as the television clip.

"In these days of tighter budgets and intensified focus on ROI, advertisers must maximize ad budget impact in every way possible," said Bob McCurdy, President of Katz Marketing Solutions. "Marketers often allocate large sums of ad dollars to broadcast television commercials, which results in the creation of tremendous audio equity—a brand’s audio logo or signature–that can continue to carry the marketing punch of a television commercial. This data strongly supports the strategic and creative use of radio to supplement a television campaign."

The complete study results are available at www.raisingthevolume.com/eyevsear.

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Mark Adams
San Francisco

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