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Making Do, and Still Making Great Brand Messages, with NPR

“We’re the people — we go on.” (The Grapes of Wrath)

It’s amazing to look around and see the myriad ways people and businesses are refusing to let the current socioeconomic situation slow them down.

Can’t see your favorite band at Coachella because it was postponed to October? They’re playing for you online. Can’t wait until the fall to get great business insights from the rescheduled Advertising Week EU? They’ve launched an amazing new podcast — Great Minds, featuring everyone from Martin Sorrell to Ndaba Mandela — to rise to the occasion.

The same is happening on a day-to-day business level. When our partners at NPR’s sponsorship subsidiary National Public Media (NPM) needed to temporarily leave behind their amazing production studio, producers had to adjust quickly to the new normal. Because their Spotlight mid-rolls feature a voice from the sponsor, the team pivoted to remote recordings with guests joining from home. With that, they wanted to ensure that the quality of these custom sponsor messages would be just as high as those recorded in the studio, and that NPR listeners would respond to them just as favorably.  As any diligent business would, they turned to the data to find out.

NPM leveraged the Veritonic platform to measure how podcast listeners reacted to two variations on a custom mid-roll creative where the featured voice was captured during a remote recording. In addition to indicating their overall response, listeners were asked to assess the sound quality of the “remote” spots.

Both mid-rolls performed above the Veritonic Audio Score benchmark average, and post-intent numbers for the Spotlight audio featuring a customer voice were higher than a standard mid-roll.  That additional lift held strong even with the difference in audio quality.

Most encouragingly, after listening to both spots 87% of the audience felt that the audio quality was very good/good.

Making do in tricky times does not mean you have to sacrifice quality and impact. We continue to be proud to provide our agile clients with the means to prove it.

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Audience Insights

In tricky times, the world turns to audio (again)

This article has been updated to include a new list of companies that are making audio content to support listeners. See below. 

From March 1933 to June 1944, Roosevelt addressed the American people in some 30 speeches broadcast via radio, speaking on a variety of topics from banking to unemployment to fighting fascism in Europe. Millions of people found comfort and renewed confidence in these speeches, which became known as the “fireside chats.” (history.com)

Not that he had too many other options at that point, but FDR clearly understood the power of radio to speak to and comfort the American people in a time of crisis. In both his choice of words and the manner in which he delivered them — informally, with calm — Roosevelt was a master of leveraging the medium to placate public concern, even if temporarily.

In our own current period of complexity, audio’s ability to comfort the world is more powerful than ever. Part of that power lies in the sheer number of options now available to us, from radio to streaming services to podcasts. Some of it surely lies in the fact that audio programming can be churned out easily wherever you are — perfect for the age of social distancing! 

But perhaps the most powerful part — as it was in the case of FDR — is built from smart, compassionate people. Getting up-to-the-minute news on developments is, of course, critical, but we’re talking about something different. Coming up with innovative ways to capitalize on the medium and develop programs that engage, distract, or otherwise remind us that there’s still a lot of fun to be had, is just as critical. We should be thankful for the people who do it.

Update: April 1, 2020

As we all get a little more settled in our new normal (at least what will be normal for a little while), we wanted to continue sharing the ways audio – be that radio, podcasting, or music – is here to comfort us.  There are obviously plenty more, as you see/hear them, don’t forget to share them! 

  • We are loving Pandora’s social campaign #WFHTips where members of the Pandora team share how they are keeping calm these days. This example is from our friend Steve Keller, Sonic Strategy Director at Pandora who practices ‘Virtual Commuting’.
  • Never expected 2020 was going to be the year that you took up a second career as a full-time teacher? Neither did we. Our partners at SiriusXM are giving parents a break with ‘Kids Place Live’ radio.
  • One perk for music lovers working at home is you can now listen out loud instead of through AirPods and have between-zoom-call solo dance parties. Veritonic team members were asked to each pick a song to add to a playlist with other audio industry members — check out our top picks! Isolation Radio.
  • Now trending on Stitcher is Westwood One’s new podcast: Scott Galloway’s The Prof G Show. A little humor and economic advice can go a long way in uncertain times like these.
  • Last but not least, sometimes being in the know can calm nerves. In case you want to stay up-to-date on the latest news (minus the fake news) Coronavirus Daily by our partners at NPR is our go-to.

If you wish to give to others during this time, consider MusiCares’ coronavirus relief fund. 

Here’s our favorites from last week: