Audio Ads Outperform Video Ads, Study Finds

Written By

Liz Iversen

Published On

Tuesday, Sep 05
Woman with eyes closed wearing white headphones on a pink background.

Audio advertising (including podcasts, radio, SiriusXM and music streaming) drives significant attention compared to other ad platforms. This was one of the key findings of a new study by Dentsu, one of the world’s largest media agencies, and Lumen, one of the leaders of attentiveness measurement. The Dentsu/Lumen study was the first-ever media attentiveness study comparing podcasts and AM/FM radio ads to all types of visual ads. “Attentiveness” is defined by the Advertising Research Foundation as “the degree to which those exposed to the advertising are focused on it.”

The greater the time duration that an ad is heard and seen, the greater the sales conversion, the study found. But only about 40% of TV ad durations have eyes on the screen, whereas podcast and AM/FM radio ads have “ears on” attentiveness of 92%. 


“A commercial on television is often just an intermission,” said Payne Ratner, Copywriter at Strategic Media, Inc. “We get a break from the show we were watching. We leave our sofa. Get a snack. Go to the bathroom. Do some small chore. And we listen, not to the commercial, but for the moment the commercial ends. Then we return to our show. With audio, much of the time, we are a captive audience. When a radio commercial comes on, we don’t pull off the road, get out of the car, lean against the fender, open a bag of potato chips and wait for the commercial to end. We keep on driving. We are exposed to the radio commercial. And if it’s a good, well written ad, it grabs our attention and pulls us in.” 


The study highlighted the importance not only of reaching audiences, but of reaching audiences who are paying attention. “It is not enough to know how many impressions were generated,” wrote Pierre Bouvard, Chief Insights Officer of the Cumulus Media/Westwood One Audio Active Group, on Westwood One’s blog. “What moves the needle for advertisers is the amount of attentive seconds generated by their ads.”


When determining which media to advertise on, advertisers should consider not only CPM, but aCPM, “attention cost per thousand.” In the study, Lumen calculated “attention cost per thousand” by dividing media costs into attentiveness seconds/impressions. Although podcasts are commonly considered an expensive medium for advertisers, Lumen found that, with an attention CPM of $2.80, podcasts are more cost effective than television ($3.00 aCPM). 


“For marketers who feel the podcast media CPM of $25 is pricey, this study will reset those perceptions,” wrote Bouvard. He said that podcast’s attention CPM of $2.80 is “a bargain relative to other media.” Bouvard described AM/FM radio as “extraordinarily cost effective.” With an attention CPM of 40 cents, AM/FM radio is eight times more cost effective than TV.

Are you ready to reach audiences on a platform proven to drive attention? Contact SMI today to find out how you can advertise on radio or podcasts.

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