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Business case studies No 261 - 17.05.2019

Hear and Now study: How targeting people at relevant times helps turbocharge ad effectiveness

Radiocentre UK’s new study debunks the myth that people do not process radio advertising because they are busy doing other things. In fact, it says, those activities can reinforce messages heard on the radio.

This study investigates through the lens of radio advertising how speaking to people at relevant moments can enhance advertising engagement and memorability, and explores how these effects can be amplified through targeting and creative strategies.


Researchers used neuroscience to measure the effects of radio ads on audiences carrying out tasks such as cooking, driving, exercising, housework, shopping and working. It measured changes in recall, engagement and memory encoding – the process of turning an experience into a memory. The sample comprised 116 respondents, they were regular radio listeners in the 18-54 age range and unaware that radio advertising was the subject of the study.

The respondents were fitted with headsets featuring 24 felt sensors as they undertook various tasks while a radio played in the background. Participants were exposed to various adverts (a total of 12). Part of the ads had “situational” relevance i.e. specifically referencing creatively the task being carried out (e.g. recipe ad featuring sounds of food preparation heard during cookery task). For comparison there were also six ads with “category” relevance i.e. where the brand or product had broad relevance to the task being carried out but is less directly related creatively (e.g. car ad heard during the driving task).  A broad mix of product sectors was represented in the ads.

Key takeaways:

1. People feel twice as happy when listening to radio compared to when not consuming any media. This mood-boosting effect of radio editorial is proven to enhance engagement with advertising.

2. Listeners are able to absorb the detail of radio ads when they are participating in tasks or activities as effectively as when engaged in other audio listening or TV viewing experiences.

3. Advertising that directly relates to tasks or activities that listeners are participating in builds on these editorial effects and turbocharges them:

» engagement with advertising rises by 23% as a result of the ads being more personally relevant
» in parallel, long-term memory encoding of details in the advertising increases by 22% (rising to 28% at final branding moments)
» compared to a range of other TV and radio campaigns, the test ads rose from 53rd to 94th percentile when heard in a relevant context (i.e. performing better than 94% of all other ads measured).

4. These effects of speaking to people at relevant times endure beyond the moment to help build brand salience:
» spontaneous advertising recall increases by 56%
» prompted advertising recall improves by 33%.

More details about the methodology and the findings can be found on Radiocentre’s website:




» Radiocentre's website with the full report (click here)


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