Audio ads would benefit from slowing down the delivery of speech instead of attempting to fit in as much information as possible at a rapid rate, according to a paper in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR).

Emma Rodero, from the UPF Barcelona School of Management, addressed this subject in a study entitled, Do your ads talk too fast to your audio audience? How speech rates of audio commercials influence cognitive and physiological outcomes.

A core insight from the study was that for audio ads the “optimal timing is about 180 words per minute, a commercial delivered at a moderate dynamic pace (a little bit faster than normal)” for the industry.

“Packing in too much complex information, delivered quickly in a short space of time (a common trend in audio advertising), is not an effective strategy if the goal is to move consumers to the product,” Rodero’s paper added.

In reaching this conclusion, some 51 participants listened to 12 audio ads to determine the impact of messages of various lengths and speech rates of 160 words per minute, 180 words per minute and 200 words per minute.

“The common strategy of using fast speech style to convey information in a short period should be avoided if the goal is for listeners to understand and better remember the information,” the study recommended.

“A message delivered at a moderate pace of 180 words per minute should not increase excessively the length of the commercial or, therefore, the economic costs, because this timing is faster than normal.”

For ads of a longer duration, it was thus suggested that reducing the amount of information was preferable to increasing the speed at which material was delivered.

“A shorter commercial script, conveyed at an optimal speech rate of 180 words per minute, is more effective than a longer message delivered very fast,” the study said.

Elaborating on this topic, the study argued that the main goal for an ad is to make sure “a consumer pays attention to the commercial, has a good perception and attitude, is motivated, and recalls the information”.

And speech delivered at 180 words per minute, according to the study’s findings, allows the listener to follow the information easily. “The consequence is a more positive perception, more attention and arousal, and, last, more recognition and recall of information. The final goal of the commercial thus can be achieved.”

Data sourced from WARC