In such a visual world, it’s surprising to find that audio ads are now outperforming video ads according to a first-of-its-kind study of audio advertising. The study, conducted by attention research firm Lumen and commissioned by Dentsu, looked across three major formats to find that audio performs better than video in grabbing attention and generating brand recall. Sources used included Amazon Ads, Audacy, Cumulus Media, iHeartMedia, Spotify and SXM Media participating.

This new and insightful research was compared against a large database of studies mostly on video ad formats generated by that project and could have a positive impact on a relatively overlooked portion of the media industry.

One insightful statistic saw that 41% of audio ads generated correct brand recall in follow-up surveys, compared to a 38% norm for other advertising, mostly video, in Dentsu’s database. The average impact on brand choice metrics was a positive 10% for audio vs. a 6% norm in Dentsu’s database for other ads. Audio advertising produced average attentive seconds of 10,126 per thousand impressions, more than 50% higher than the norms of 6,501 in Dentu’s database of prior studies.

When it comes to ad budgets, however, video still dominates. TV and digital media, largely video, accounted for 90% of U.S. measured media outlays last year, according to Vivvix, including paid social data from Pathmatics. Radio accounted for only 3%. A small group of advertisers, led by Procter & Gamble Co. but also including video advertising heavyweight Comcast and pharma marketer Pfizer, did substantially step up radio advertising last year. But CPMs for radio at $5 to $6 are well below those for linear TV ($10-$15) and well below those for streaming video at up to $65.

Nevertheless, these numbers could be subject to change following this surprising study in the success of audio.

Podcasts measured across Audacy, Cumulus Media, iHeartMedia, Spotify and SXM drove the highest attentive seconds per thousand impressions compared to other digital, social and TV benchmarks in the study. Ads read by podcast hosts performed better than traditional audio ads in podcasts at moving the needle on brand preference.

Radio measured across Audacy, Cumulus and iHeartMedia also drove higher attentive seconds per thousand impressions than other digital, social and TV benchmarks. It was 10 times more efficient at generating brand recall per second than average online video ads measured in Dentsu’s Attention Economy project.

Music streaming measured on Amazon Music across voice with Alexa and on mobile or desktop drove the best brand choice uplift for 30-second ads on Alexa-enabled devices than on desktop and mobile devices.

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