How Cognitive Science Can Improve Your Advertising

Written By

SMI Staff

Published On

Wednesday, Jun 05
Translucent human head

What can cognitive science tell us about creating effective direct response radio ads? A lot, according to Indiana University’s Dr. Rob Potter. On the Nielsen Audio Podcast, Dr. Potter explains that understanding how the brain reacts to sound can help advertisers create more effective messaging.

According to Dr. Potter’s research, there are two types of attention:

  1. Controlled attention—what people normally think of when they hear the phrase, “Pay attention.” Controlled attention requires the listener to actively focus on the task at hand.
  2. Automatic attention—a primal reaction you can’t control. Known as the “what is it” response, it occurs when your brain hears something new or novel and automatically allocates attention to those sounds.

By utilizing techniques such as switching the speaker, altering the background music, incorporating sound effects or using emotional words, radio ads can reintroduce novelty and trigger listeners’ automatic attention response, leading to greater memory recall.

So, science has proven what skilled creatives know intuitively: A good ad captures your attention (and repeatedly recaptures it). So the next time you have a hunch for incorporating that silly sound effect,  remember its potential as a science-backed tool for more impactful advertising.

Or contact SMI today to find out how our in-house creative can tap into listeners’ automatic attention and increase awareness of your brand.

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