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RAB - Media and the mood of the nation

02 Dec 2011  |  Julie MacManus 
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To combat planners' prejudices that radio is an analogue medium for an analogue age, the RAB recently used a combination of neuroscience and smartphones in research introduced by Mark Barber to yesterday's MRG conference at RIBA.

The RAB wanted to test the hypothesis that advertising is more effective if consumed via a mood enhancing medium. In common with many of today's speakers, Barber asserted that gaining insights into emotional, instinctive response and context is becoming increasingly important in adland as well as being part of the general zeitgeist with initiative's such as Cameron's happiness index.

Firstly, to find out about the impact of media on mood, Jamie Allsop described a diary study run by Sparkler using smartphones. 3,500 respondents were asked to rate their levels of happiness and energy several times a day, during different day-parts and days of the week, reporting on the media they were consuming at the time.

The results showed that while people report significant increases in happiness and energy when consuming any medium, listening to the radio consistently had the highest impact on increased levels of both.

To see whether this uplift in mood and energy extended into radio ad breaks, EEG was then used to measure gamma activity in the brain, signifying mental engagement. When compared with the activity seen in participants' brains while performing a simple typing task in silence, the scans showed a marked increase in gamma activity in the brains of those undertaking the same task but listening to the radio and this increase was maintained during the ad break.

The RAB believes the research illustrates that radio is the most mood enhancing medium and that high levels of engagement are maintained throughout programming and advertising.  The research also measured the difference in impact that different creative stimulus broadcast on radio have and will be releasing the results of this in the New Year.

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