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Audience Insights

For Voices That Sway the Electorate, Listen to the Data

Veritonic Audio Intelligence Guides Political Ads In Texas

What’s your most top-of-mind product these days? Disinfectant wipes? Laundry detergent? A mattress that helps you sleep better? Many don’t necessarily think of political candidates as products, but if you do, they’re surely right up there, especially with election day only a few weeks away. 

As with any product that brands are trying to sell (whether generally or to capitalize on a particular, critical moment), political campaigns turn to advertising to make an impact. If they’re out to make those ads as effective as possible — and they’re savvy — here’s what else candidates and their proponents know:

  • Sound matters a lot. With audio’s repeatedly-proven ability to create emotional response, stick in your head, and drive action, political campaigns work hard to put the right voices in their ads. We examined this previously in the first episode of The Sonic Truth podcast.
  • Leveraging data yields the smartest choices. Election season brings a deluge of ads, many of which obviously start to sound similar. While it’s hard to know which are most effective to the naked ear, data proves that some work better than others. To not use that kind of insight is simply irresponsible campaigning that could cost a candidate an election. 

The People, a PAC that’s dedicated to supporting progressive candidates for state legislatures though highly-effective and cost-efficient ad campaigns, gets all of the above. Founded by media luminaries who understand not only storytelling but the best ways to ensure that people hear those stories, the organization ensures that data drives their decision making.

With that, as they were choosing creative options for ad campaigns for the Texas state legislature, they leveraged the Veritonic platform to quantify the effectiveness of several different voiceovers. The goal was to find and run the ads that would sound most “familiar,” engage people, and drive the most action.

Analyzing each ad with Machine Listening and Learning (MLAL™) — which correlates each spot’s inherent audio qualities with thousands like it in the Veritonic platform to make a prediction — the system determined that the ads voiced by “Jules” would perform the best. The People PAC selected that voice to represent the campaign — here’s one spot that used it.

The winning voice had the highest overall score (Veritonic Audio Score)*, which was well above the benchmark for “government and organizations.” It also scored highest for key qualities they were looking for, driving a particularly wide spread for engagement.

Yael Melamede, an Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker who’s a founder and creative producer for The People PAC, said: 

We had a number of great voice auditions to choose from but I wanted an impartial/unbiased perspective on them. It was great to have some data around who was likely to be most effective in order to guide our final choice.

Ads are, of course, only one factor that helps determine the success or failure of the political “product” — the candidate. But when there’s so much at stake in the outcome, it’s hard to argue that every decision that goes into that campaign shouldn’t be based on evidence of what works the best.

* Veritonic Audio Score is a composite of recall, engagement, intent and emotional attribute scores.

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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: