Advertising that connects content with activities being carried out by an audience boosts its effectiveness in terms of engagement and recall, according to new research.

The Hear & Now study, carried out across a range of sectors, including motoring, FMCG and household goods, showed consistently increased ad performance when ads matched relevant audience activities.

Researchers used neuroscience to measure the effects of radio ads on audiences carrying out tasks such as cooking, driving, exercising, cleaning and working. It measured changes in recall, engagement and memory encoding – the process of turning an experience into a memory.

A total of 116 participants were fitted with headsets featuring 24 sensors as they undertook various tasks while a radio played in the background. Participants were exposed to various adverts, including some that were relevant to their task. None of the subjects was aware of the purpose of the research.

Those people riding on exercise bikes heard a mix of ads including those for Currys, Apple Watch, and Boost energy bars. Those involved in simulated driving heard safe driving messages from Highways England and ads for Audi cars, among others. Those doing cooking heard ads for retailer Tesco and Branston pickle; those doing housework were targeted with ads for Plenty kitchen paper and Persil laundry detergent. Two other tasks and related ads were included in the study: writing a shopping list and sorting emails.

Engagement with ads aimed at relevant activities rose by 23% over non-targeted ads, results showed, while memory encoding increased by 22%. Relevant ads also had higher unprompted recall.

Radiocentre claims the 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.

Yesterday, Radiocentre teamed up with mental health campaign group Heads Together and the BBC to broadcast a message from Prince William and various celebrities across hundreds of radio stations simultaneously. It’s the second year it’s done so, with the minute-long message, recorded for Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK, emphasising the importance of careful listening.

Sourced from Radiocentre; additional content by WARC staff