Nova entertainment not only wants to get into the ears of its listeners, it also wants to get into their brains too. The radio network has commissioned market research outfit, Neuro-Insight, to conduct a study using neuroscience to unravel how listeners engage with its playlists and advertising.
The study involved 400 participants who had their brainwaves mapped while listening to music and ad breaks in real time. The result? The study found that in a relaxed environment, advertisers had a greater potential to influence consumer behaviour.
Kate Day, NOVA’s head of CREATE said of the study: “We have scientifically validated the strength of the smooth environment for advertisers, while the general benefits of engagement are clear across radio as medium, smoothfm is proven to provide advertisers with a greater opportunity to ensure their message will cut through and ultimately influence consumer behaviour.”
Day said it was important to test a large sample in order to give the study as much authority as possible. “Industry people rightfully might be sceptical about research initiatives that are conducted by a media company,” Day said, “but from our point of view, it’s important for this research to be seen as a credible source of information that can help influence buying behaviours.”
This is not the first time local radio has dabbled in neuroscience. In 2010, Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) conducted a study on behalf of the entire industry body. However, this time, Kate Kopczynski, NOVA’s national insights manager says, “it’s the largest radio study Neuro-Insight has done in Australia and we’re confident to say it’s one of the largest studies Neuro-Insight have done globally.”
Unsurprisingly the study found the gentler the music the more engaged the listener became. This was particularly pertinent to a female audience. Smoothfm naturally scored high on the engagement scale with its easy-listening tunes and female-skewed demographic. Neuro-Insights believed women were 10 per cent more engaged with the station than noisier competitors KIIS FM and Triple M.
CEO of NOVA, Cathy O’Conner, believes you can’t argue with science. “It’s neuroscience, it’s not a contrived or manipulated study,” she said. “Contrary to the thinking that when you’re relaxed you’re zoning out, relaxed listeners are actually the most engaged.”
Since its launch in May 2012, smoothfm’s combined stations have experienced a 112% increase in cumulative audience (613,000 up to 1,297,000) and a 71% increase in share from 4.1% to 7%.
The study found the more we’re relaxed the more we absorb. Radio advertising works on a subliminal level, in that it gets stored in the long-term memory centre of the brain. This all happens more fluidly when the listener is relaxed.
There’s no guarantee that listeners will always unconsciously recall product messaging Kopczynski adds, “because there are contributing factors to advertising that are beyond our control, but we can control the program environment. We’ve been able to show that the strategy behind smooth’s proposition is resonating really well with our audience.