"I can't measure radio advertising." Ever heard that? Radio results can be hard to trace because we reach consumers even when they don't know they are being reached. The messages filter into our brains, lodge in the appropriate "file drawer" and stay there until we need to retrieve the information. So, by that time, it's hard to attribute shopping at a particular store or buying a particular product to something we heard on the air. Now, however, we have factual data that proves that our greatest weakness is really our greatest strength.
Mindshare, Neurensics and a Dutch radio station released the results of a study on how radio advertising works on the brains of consumers. They found that commercial messages absorbed subconsciously while listening non-consciously are capable of creating brand associations that last long after the advertising itself is forgotten.
98% of what enters the human ear is absorbed non-consciously. 25 test subjects aged 20-49 had their brain activity scanned while they were being exposed to radio ads. The subjects were told they were participating in a language study and were instructed to do several tasks. Some were simple, but others were more difficult. These difficult tasks required concentration and relegated the radio listening to more of a background activity and thus created non-conscious listening.
The study concluded that the way in which a radio commercial message enters the brain determines how it is processed. While listening consciously, the listener is more likely to listen critically. When listening non-consciously, while the brain is distracted, the message is more likely to "soak in" uncontested. The commercial message does register. Background listening is effective in reinforcing and strengthening existing brand associations and can influence brand selection. Call-to-action messages will be more impactful when consumers are consciously listening.
Radio works! We just don't always get the credit we deserve!