Lumen Research and Dentsu on the First-of-Its-Kind Audio Attention Study

February 22, 2024

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Last summer, dentsu released a research measuring attention in audio advertising for the first time. Conducted in partnership with Lumen Research, dentsu measured attention in various audio formats and environments across three unique studies in podcasts, radio and music streaming. The podcast study was conducted with participating partners Audacy, Cumulus Media, iHeartMedia, Spotify and SXM Media. The radio study was conducted with Audacy, Cumulus Media and iHeartMedia. Separately, Amazon Ads conducted a study with Amazon Music for advertising on the music streaming service.

Dentsu has been pioneering attention research via our Attention Economy for more than five years, codifying, longer than anyone else, the value of engagement in video and display channels. Now, we’re thrilled to unlock new insights on attention in audio – a meaningful first for the industry,” said Doug Rozen, CEO, dentsu Media Americas. “This enables us to uniquely serve clients by proving the value of their audio, video and display ads based on real engagement measures that drive growth.”

Findings

The studies found that audio advertising (including podcasts, radio and music streaming) drove significant attention compared to other ad platforms:

  • Average attentive seconds per (000) APM for audio advertising was 10,126 compared to dentsu norms of 6,501 APM
  • On average, 41% of audio ads generated correct brand recall (vs. 38% of dentsu norms)
  • Brand choice uplift for audio ads was 10% (vs. 6% for dentsu norms)

The studies also found that each audio destination has its own unique strength in driving attention and brand impact.

  • Podcasts (measured across Audacy, Cumulus Media, iHeartMedia, Spotify and SXM Media) drove the highest attentive seconds per thousand impressions compared to other digital, social and TV benchmarks. In addition, we saw that brand choice uplift was higher for host reads compared to traditional audio ads within podcasts.
  • Radio (measured across Audacy, Cumulus Media and iHeartMedia) also impressively drove higher attentive seconds per thousand impressions compared to other digital, social and TV benchmarks. Radio shined as the most efficient of the audio formats studied, proving to be 10x more efficient when compared to the average online video ads measured through dentsu’s Attention Economy.
  • Music Streaming (measured on Amazon Music across voice with Alexa and on mobile or desktop) drove key branding metrics. Brand recall was highest for ad-supported streaming music played on Alexa-enabled devices and drove even higher brand choice uplift for 30 ads compared to those same ads listened to through a desktop/mobile device.

”We understand that radio advertising is a cost-efficient way to build reach, that podcast listeners have great affinity not only to the programming but also podcast hosts, and that smart speakers are a compelling new destination for audio ads on streaming services. It’s nice to see each of these unique strengths of different audio formats validated by our audio Attention Economy Study,” said Jennifer Hungerbuhler, EVP, Local and Audio Investment Lead, dentsu Media US.

Methodology

To conduct the study, respondents were exposed to listening environments similar to their native audio experiences (e.g., selecting a podcast, radio station or genre of music on a streaming platform). Post-listening, they were administered dentsu’s Attention Economy Survey to gauge ad recall and brand choice uplift compared to a similarly recruited control group. Lumen modeled an attention score which is equivalent to that based on visual attention using the factors collected (including passively collected audio listening data, survey results and type of ad exposure).

Mike Follett, CEO of Lumen Research added, “Dentsu has been a leading partner of Lumen Research as together we’ve chartered new territory in understanding attention and building new norms and metrics in the space. We’re excited to have a new way to measure attention in audio and eager to continue to define the future of attention with dentsu and their clients.”

The study is the latest to be released by dentsu’s Attention Economy which is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year since launching in 2018. The Attention Economy was the industry’s first attention-focused study and is the world’s largest in scale and scope of its kind. The program has defined the true value of attention across channels, platforms, and formats and revolutionized the way the advertising industry plans, measures, and buys media.

The summary above has been published on the Lumen Research blog.