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Audio Content Drives Unmatched Engagement

Entercom study lays data foundation to “make the case” for audio’s strength

Tech and audio concept image getty james teohart


Idil Cakim is senior vice president, research and insights with Entercom. Devora Rogers is chief strategy officer with Alter Agents.

Idil Cakim
Idil Cakim

Life in our modern, always-on world has made for shorter attention spans as more options for information, entertainment, engagement and connection vie for our time. Today’s audiences jump from one media source to the next in a flash, giving brands only a few seconds to tell their story and call consumers to action.

When Entercom set out to discover how audio content and advertising fit into this equation, we wanted to understand how audio amplified messages and engaged audiences compared to other media. We designed a study to measure the impact of audio on audiences and define “engaged impressions.”

We employed a number of market research techniques to dive into how audiences consumed media and contextualize media choices they made as they: navigated their everyday activities; leaned in to get information about their communities; and sought entertainment.

Devora Rogers
Devora Rogers

Together with market research firm Alter Agents, Entercom decided on an approach consisting of a survey of a nationally representative population of adults, coupled with an agile neuroscience study by Immersion of individuals from the major U.S markets of Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. We compiled the data to examine consumer experiences with audio such as over-the-air (OTA), streaming OTA and podcast versus other mediums such as TV, video, social, and pureplay platforms.

Immersion, the key metric in our study, is a scientific measure of emotional connection and attention. It reveals what audiences truly love and predicts their future actions.

Using our neuroscience partner’s platform, backed by 20 years of peer-reviewed science funded by DARPA, we measured variations in heart rate in order to understand what the brain values. We then coupled these findings with our survey results to create a multidimensional picture of media audiences.


Our findings fell into three core areas:

  • Immersion, which predicts sales: Our data indicated that audio has the highest level of immersion among all the platforms. Linear TV and social media scored significantly lower. Immersion is predictive of sales at a very high analytical accuracy rate, surpassing 80%. The findings suggest audio impressions, which are more immersive, will yield sales. (Immersion is scored from 0 to 100; the higher the number, the more immersive the experience.)

Immersion Index:

Audio             57

AVOD            54

Digital video  54

Linear TV       52

Social media  52

  • Impact, which is rooted in trust. When measuring variations in heart rate and brain activity, our researchers were actually reading biological signals of trust. Trust triggers memorability and action and is the underlying factor in audio impact. Our engaged impressions study found that the audio portfolio (69%), consisting of OTA, streaming OTA and podcasts, is significantly more trusted than other mediums such as TV (64%), social media (56%), YouTube (47%) and even Digital Pureplays (44%).
  • Action, which moves business. Audio has a winning formula that moves people to take action. For example, we found that one-third of broadcast OTA listeners have taken action after hearing a host recommendation as part of a commercial (34%) or as part of their show (32%). Audio portfolios that blend local content and host recommendations to consumers create a ripe environment for advertisers and positively impact consumer action.

The findings from this study are critical for the audio industry, as they lay a data-driven foundation to “make the case” for the strength of audio.

As more and more mediums compete for audience attention, this study proves that audio can effectively reach, engage and mobilize audiences. Audio leads all other media formats in its natural ability to guide listeners into spaces where they are hyper-connected, open and receptive. Immersive audio experiences trigger memorability, trust and connection. Listeners are drawn in with a sense of community and belonging. And advertisers see consistent results.

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Idil Cakim is senior vice president, research and insights with Entercom. She has devised marketing and communication strategies for Fortune 500 companies and non-profit organizations for 20 years.

Devora Rogers is chief strategy officer with Alter Agents, a strategic market research consultancy. She has led research teams, developed the methodology deployed for Google’s groundbreaking ZMOT research, and worked with dozens of global brands.