Diversity Isn’t Just Important, It’s Good for Your Brand

By Scott Klass, SVP – Marketing, Veritonic

There are only upsides to using diverse voices in your audio advertising

The events of the past several years have placed a newfound emphasis on diversity and inclusion for brands. Several high-profile police killings of black citizens, #MeToo and a slew of policy initiatives aimed at limiting the upward mobility of minority groups has created a social responsibility challenge for brands, many of whom have advocated for societal change, long before the dramatic events of the past few years. Increasingly, brands are feeling enabled to demonstrate significant support for historically marginalized populations, both in their branding and their hiring practices.

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Brands are finding that including a more diverse array of voices in their marketing messages is not only creating healthier company cultures and greater inclusion in their communities, but it’s also increasing engagement with consumers and producing greater brand affinity. Essentially, brands that are making diversity core to their brand’s message are seeing a widely positive influence reverberating from their message expansion.

Take, for instance, career site Indeed, a brand that has benefited greatly from taking a more inclusive approach to its audio advertising.

Many of Indeed’s recent campaigns have focused specifically on female-owned businesses. All of the ads were voiced by a female voiceover talent, and each ad showcased a different female small business owner who used Indeed to help scale her company. The strategy was hugely successful. One such ad scored the highest for driving purchase intent in the March edition of the Audio Ad Index (27 points above the benchmark). Moreover, a clear majority of people surveyed (60%) for our Audio Logo Index said that they’d be more willing to use a career site whose advertising reflected inclusivity and diversity.

Indeed’s success coincides with broader trends in audio advertising. Other research has proven that consumers respond strongly to female voices, as well as male voices – even with only around 28% of ads having female-voiced narrators historically. In March, we identified the 10 most effective audio ads and found nearly half of them were voiced by women.

It’s not just gender diversity that produces positive results. Studio Resonate, an in-house consultancy at music-streaming giant Pandora/SXM Media, has made racial diversity a focal point of its corporate strategy as part of its Stand for Sonic Diversity Initiative. The group has found that the benefits of diversity extend beyond projecting a socially responsible, inclusive image — in many cases, using a minority voice improves campaign performance naturally, by broadening the audience that will engage with the ad.

Studio Resonate recently completed an experiment designed to test the impact of diversity in audio advertising. For the experiment, the organization produced copy for three audio ads, and hired 20 audio actors to read them — five black males, five black females, five white males and five white females. The ads were then randomly distributed to 13 million listeners on Pandora, the digital radio platform, producing 75 million distinct audio ad impressions.

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According to the study, ads using black voices were judged more favorably by black audiences, but with no negative impact on ad favorability or effectiveness with white consumers. Results will be published in full in the coming months.

In other words, there are only benefits to diversity in audio advertising. There are no downsides.

As brands develop their creative strategies going forward, this insight is remarkably valuable to maintaining and broadening their audience reach. Still, none of this is to say that there still isn’t a lot of room for improvement regarding inclusivity and representation across our industry.

Female voices and those of marginalized communities are still widely underrepresented and underutilized in today’s market, and the raw data demonstrates that this is a profound tactical mistake. Not only is increasing representation in advertising a good marketing decision, it’s core to the societal change that we desperately need to see in the world.

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