Voice-based marketing is becoming increasingly popular on social media and video sites – Even in this very podcast, your player may drop an advert in for you to listen to.
How successful are voice-overs at increasing sales, though? And for a product or charity still raising funds, is it possible to increase their appeal through narration alone?
Researchers from Singapore Management University, Cornell University and INSEAD have been investigating how narrator voices can influence customers watching crowdfunder videos and better persuade them to invest. Using real-world datasets and controlled experiments they have demonstrated that it is possible to significantly improve the effectiveness of video campaigns by employing certain techniques.
Read their original research : https://ink.library.smu.edu.sg/lkcsb_research/6980
Image Source: Andrey Popov / ShutterStock
[VA 1] Hello, and welcome to ResearchPod.
[VA 2] Thanks for joining us. We’re really excited to share this episode with you today.
[VA 1] Are you sitting comfortably? Good, let’s begin.
[VA 2] We’d like to tell you about some recent research into the voiceovers used in videos and adverts and how it might be possible to make these narrations more persuasive, convincing viewers and listeners to buy a product, contribute to a fund or give to charity.
[VA 1] Voice-based marketing is becoming increasingly popular. Listening to a podcast like this one? There’ll probably be at least one advertisement at some point.
[VA 2] Watching your favourite vlogger on YouTube? Scrolling on social media? You’ll almost certainly have stumbled across a video advert of some kind, with accompanying voiceover.
[VA 1] Think about the adverts or promotions that caught your attention; were they narrated by a single voice?
[VA 2] Or were they something more dynamic…
[VA 1] …a voiceover with two voices perhaps…
[VA 3] …or even three!
[VA 2] Now we’ve got your attention!
[VA 1] Researchers from Singapore Management University, Cornell University and INSEAD, Hannah Chang, Anirban Mukherjee and Amitava Chattopadhyay have been investigating how narrator voices can influence customers watching crowdfunder videos and better persuade them to invest. Using real-world datasets and controlled experiments they have demonstrated that it is possible to significantly improve the effectiveness of video campaigns by employing certain techniques.
[VA 3] Like using multiple narrator voices?
[VA 2] Exactly!
[VA 1] They hypothesised that hearing a persuasive message delivered by more than one narrator would increase consumer attention and processing, rather than disrupting it.
[VA 2] Previous research had shown that a change in voice could involuntarily capture the attention of listeners, even when other tasks were competing for the attention of the customer. But, in that earlier research, a change in voice is tested as a way to distract the listener from attending to what he or she is focused on, as a source of distraction. But can a change in voice in narrating a message be flipped around and used instead to draw listener’s attention to the main message? Could it even boost persuasion? It made sense that this could be designed and applied in the field of crowdfunding campaigns. There is so much information delivered in a campaign video that divides up consumers attention.
[VA 1] Capturing the attention of the viewer, and increasing their ability to process the message would then in turn translate to increasing the persuasive appeal of the product, and increasing the likelihood of a pledge or donation.
[VA 2] Chang and colleagues call this the ‘voice numerosity effect’.
[VA 3] So what exactly did their research find?
[VA 1] Firstly, the researchers applied their hypothesis to a dataset on Kickstarter, a leading crowdfunding platform for innovative ideas and products. Using machine learning, text mining and natural language processing they accessed the video data in this real-world marketplace, and then tested further to confirm why certain features of the narration had a positive economic effect.
[VA 2] Chang and colleagues downloaded project details and videos from 11,801 US-based Kickstarter campaigns between 2017 and 2019 for processing and study. These projects accounted for 3.6 million customer transactions.
[VA 1] Kickstarter works by pre-selling new and innovative products to consumers, who pledge money to fund the product, raising the capital for manufacture. The product is then supplied to them at a later date once created.
[VA 2] The researchers gathered data on the amount of funding pledged to support a campaign; the number of backers; and if the campaign was successful (projects which do not raise the capital needed are not continued; customers who have pledged simply get their money returned). They also noted the number of voices included in the voiceovers, as well as narration rate (the speed at which scripts were spoken).
[VA 1] Incredibly, the results of their data showed that voice numerosity significantly improved all campaign outcomes!
[VA 3] Wow!
[VA 2] Yes; for a project, each additional speaker was associated with raising an extra $12,795 in funds, gaining pledges from an additional 118 supporters and a 1.6% increase in likelihood for project success.
[VA 1 – spoken very fast] They also discovered that these positive effects were moderated by the speed of the voiceover. When the narration was too rapid, the video was less effective and the economic effects were lessened.
[VA 3] Sorry – I didn’t catch that!
[VA 1 – slower] Well, that proves the point! So again, a bit slower. Chang and colleagues found that when the video narration was too fast, listeners struggled to process the information and the campaign was less likely to be successful.
[VA 2] Looking into this more closely, they found that the benefit of more than one voice in a promotional video was higher with the easier-to-understand videos.
[VA 3] The more slowly narrated videos you mean?
[VA 2] Exactly. The effect was lesser in more complex videos, aka those with a higher word to second rate.
[VA 1] These results were reflected across all the categories of Kickstarter videos that the study included; design, technology and games. These effects also were found in a separate dataset with advertising – rather than crowdfunding – videos, that having more voices narrate a message increased advertising effectiveness.
[VA 3] Why do the researchers think this is the case?
[VA 1] We’re getting to that.
[VA 2] In the second part of their studies, Chang and colleagues looked to prove that this effect is a result of enhanced cognitive elaboration.
[VA 3] Which is…?
[VA 2] That’s when the listener thinks more deeply about the message.
[VA 1] The researchers predicted that the effect on customers’ willingness to pay would be higher when multiple voices were used, and that this effect would be further enhanced when these same customers had less distractions (aka better capability to process the information).
[VA 2] To test this hypothesis, 382 participants took part in an experiment. In the first part, the participants were divided into two groups, high distraction and low distraction. In the high distraction group, participants were asked memorise a ten-digit number and hold it in their minds.
[VA 1] In the second part, the participants were asked to imagine they were in the market for a wireless charger. All participants watched essentially the same video advert, but with varying numbers of voices narrating the video. One version had the same voice narrating throughout, the other had multiple voices taking turns narrating the video. Participants then reported their willingness to buy the charger
[VA 3] And what were the results?
[VA 2] Well, as predicted, participants who were less distracted were willing to pay more for the wireless charger when they watched the video with more narrating voices.
[VA 1] Chang and colleagues say that their studies prove that the persuasive effect underlying voice numerosity is a result of enhanced ‘attention and cognitive processing’.
[VA 3] Wait, I understand the attention part. What is cognitive processing?
[VA 2] Cognitive processing is our ability to take in and understand information. It allows us to apply the information we attended to in making decisions and generally navigating the world around us.
[VA 1] Basically, videos with multiple voices are more persuasive because listeners pay more attention to the narrated message, absorb the information presented to them, and then use that knowledge to make a good decision. You wouldn’t invest in something you didn’t understand – right?
[VA 3] Right! So why is that important to know?
[VA 2] Knowing that multiple narrators, slower rate of speech and lack of distractions are integral to the effectiveness of a video campaign is important to advertisers and campaigners because they can apply this research to their own video marketing.
[VA 1] As we’ve already mentioned, communication via video is an integral part of communicating with consumers today, be that on websites or social media channels. Applying these techniques is now proven to make campaigns such as crowdfunding more effective and translate to more investment.
[VA 2] In crowded markets making videos that capture and hold people’s attention is critical! Marketers need to make sure that their target markets don’t keep scrolling, or hit that fast forward button.
[VA 3] That’s great! People should definitely try this out.
[VA 1] We think so!
[VA 2] Thanks for listening everyone, and be sure to stay subscribed to ResearchPod for more information.
[VA 1] You can find links to the teams original research in the show notes for this episode. But, until next time….
[VA 3] See you again soon.