The creative used in radio advertising can make a significant difference in a spot’s consumer impact. In fact, according to a Veritonic study of 164 finalists and award-winning radio ads from the Radio Mercury Awards, Cannes Lions and Clio Awards, “high-quality audio creative significantly outperforms the average audio ad.”

“Radio commercial quality and brand and sales effect are strongly linked. Creative yields powerful results, driving 50% of all sales lift,” says a second study of 500 advertising campaigns from Nielsen. “The best creative hits the connection point between the message, the media and the tools. When these three components work together, creative is most effective.”

The Veritonic survey, conducted with Westwood One, comprises what the companies deem the largest-ever study of award-winning audio creative, by studying the “best of the best” in the audio world: ads from the most prestigious advertising and creative award shows. The ads were evaluated for emotional responses and purchase intent using a sample of 6,003 respondents. Veritonic calculated the difference in purchase intent before and after exposure to the audio ads.

According to its results, the average score for audio spots for purchase intent is 6. But the award-winning creative drove purchase intent with stronger scores. The highest ranking ad, a spot for voice technology company VocaliD, scored a 28 in difference in purchase intent. Missouri Heart Center and shipping company Shyp each scored a 26.

The study also found that serious ads generate 75% more purchase intent than humorous ads.

Pierre Bouvard, Chief Insights Officer at Cumulus/Westwood One, writes on the Westwood One “Everybody’s Listening” blog, “It’s easy to assume that making consumers laugh is a good thing. And it is – but advertisers have to tread lightly.” He cites a 2018 Neuroscience Study that found “engagement with an ad erodes swiftly after continued exposure. The joke wears out quickly. No wonder GEICO continually changes creative.”

Veritonic, in fact, found that compared to humorous ads, serious AM/FM radio commercials have a stronger impact on whether consumers would buy the product. While funny ads resulted in a 6.2 lift in purchase intent after exposure to the ads, serious ads yielded a 10.9 uptick.

“Humor is an undoubtedly great creative component, but it can be risky,” Bouvard added. “To avoid weakening impact, humorous copy should be changed frequently as engagement and performance plummet quickly upon repeated exposure.”

Another way to stand apart on radio is with music, sonic identities and jingles, which the study found “are major drivers of purchase intent” while also differentiating a brand. In its survey, 29 of the 164 ads tested included a jingle, or a song with lyrics written specifically for the brand; while 59 used a sonic identity, a distinctive music or audio element consistently used for the brand. Veritonic found that ads that utilize these elements saw larger increases in purchase intent across the board: Ads with music saw a +146% increase in purchase intent post-exposure versus ads without music. “Brands would be well-served to use these creative elements to enhance the sales effect of their radio ad,” the study concluded.