Ad Infinitum

Trust Factories or Illusions of Credibility

November 29, 2023 Stew Redwine Season 1 Episode 5
Trust Factories or Illusions of Credibility
Ad Infinitum
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Ad Infinitum
Trust Factories or Illusions of Credibility
Nov 29, 2023 Season 1 Episode 5
Stew Redwine

Ad Infinitum is the only podcast solely focused on audio ads - the creatives who make them and/or the latest thinking that informs them, how the space is evolving, and a round-up of recent audio ads and analysis by Stew Redwine, VP Creative at Oxford Road, and each episode's guest. The first season's episodes focus on individual Audiolytics™ Key Components and how they show up in the ads for some of the top spenders in audio. Episode 5 is titled "Trust Factories or Illusions of Credibility" and focuses on Audiolytics™ Key Component #5, "Substantiation: Why should I trust you?".

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Ad Infinitum is Presented by Oxford Road, Produced by Caitlyn Spring & Ezra Fox, mixed & sound designed by Zach Hahn, and written & hosted by Stew Redwine.

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Show Notes Transcript

Ad Infinitum is the only podcast solely focused on audio ads - the creatives who make them and/or the latest thinking that informs them, how the space is evolving, and a round-up of recent audio ads and analysis by Stew Redwine, VP Creative at Oxford Road, and each episode's guest. The first season's episodes focus on individual Audiolytics™ Key Components and how they show up in the ads for some of the top spenders in audio. Episode 5 is titled "Trust Factories or Illusions of Credibility" and focuses on Audiolytics™ Key Component #5, "Substantiation: Why should I trust you?".

Support the Show.

Ad Infinitum is Presented by Oxford Road, Produced by Caitlyn Spring & Ezra Fox, mixed & sound designed by Zach Hahn, and written & hosted by Stew Redwine.

Speaker 1 (00:00):
Hit it.

Stew Redwine (00:01):
Ad infinitum is the only podcast solely focused on audio ads.

Speaker 3 (00:05):

Stew Redwine (00:05):
The creatives who make them, and are the latest thinking that informs them how the space is evolving, and my favorite part, a roundup of recent audio ad, ad campaign analysis by yours truly, Stew Redwine, VP creative at Oxford Road, and each episode's guest. This episode's title is Trust Factories, or Illusions of Credibility. Inspired by the behavioral science books The Choice Factory and Illusion of Choice by this episode's guest, Richard Shotton. Richard is an author, consultant, conference speaker, and trainer, and his work focuses on applying findings from psychology, and behavioral science to marketing. Thank you very much for joining, Richard, and welcome to Ad Infinitum.

Richard Shotton (00:44):
Nice to meet you.

Stew Redwine (00:44):
Good to meet you as well. So you've written extensively on consumer behavior, and you're a renowned thought leader in the advertising space. You're here to help us unpack the importance specifically of substantiation in audio ads. And so before we dive in on how we look at substantiation here at Oxford Road, when you think of substantiation, and trust, and then specific to audio, what do you think about Richard?

Richard Shotton (01:07):
So two main areas. The first is broad theme that behavioral science suggests people don't always make fully considered, deeply thought through decisions. The argument being that for most of our evolutionary history, energy has been a very scarce resource, and thinking is energy intensive, so we tend to ration that deep thought. And instead for most decisions, most of the time we rely on quick rules of thumb to make fast decisions. Now those rules of thumb are prone to biases, and if we're aware of those biases when we're designing our communications, we can work with human nature rather than against it. So the first point would be, trust doesn't come from people necessarily making a deep evaluation of facts, it often comes from a quick reflexive reaction to these subtle biases, these subtle rules of thumbs. I think that's one broad area to think about.

The second bit, which is an advantage for audio, especially broadcast audio is there is an argument that we are much more likely to trust public statements rather than private ones. So I've run a few experiments in this area. For one of them, I recruited a group of people, and I told them about a politician who they had met on a one to one meeting who had claimed they were gonna spend 10% more next year on speed cameras. And then I said to those participants, "Look, how likely is it do you think that politician will stick to their promise?" And slightly worryingly, I think it was 40%ish of people thought that politician would be lying.

Got another group of people, set up the same basic scenario, 10% more on speed cameras next year, politicians making the claim. How likely do they keep to that promise? But this time I set it up as the politician was telling you that statement when you're at a public meeting, there was 99 other people there. And in that setting, there is a halving of distrust, about 20% of people think the politician's lying. It's not that the two groups have different views of the ethics and trustability of that politician, but what they clearly recognize, it is in the politician's greater interest to stick to a promise they've made publicly. It will cause greater reputational damage if they don't stick to it. So what's interesting here is people recognize that it's not just the content that matters, it's also the context. And I think if you take this to an advertising arena, if people receive a email, it is a one to one communication, therefore they're gonna be more skeptical. If they see a poster or if they hear a broadcast radio ad, they know that thousands of other people have heard that message or seen that poster, and therefore they're gonna give greater credence to whatever the, the claim is.

So there is a structural advantage, I think especially in broadcast radio.

Stew Redwine (03:43):
Yeah. So you're saying on the one hand, it's those shortcut, you know, thinking fast and thinking slow is that people are gonna engender their trust based on how they're making a quick response to what they're hearing. And two, because it's such a public medium, there's, just in and of itself, there's an advantage in being able to build trust.

Richard Shotton (04:03):
Absolutely. So the first is the broad theme of behavioral science, but behavioral science, there are thousands upon of thousands of experiments that relate to that idea, one which is particularly related to audio would be that point of messages that are shown in public are gonna have an advantage in terms of believability instead of messages shown in private.

Stew Redwine (04:21):
You know, Richard, with you talking about that, something that I think of as just costly signaling, right? Like the biggest event in the states the Super Bowl.

Speaker 5 (04:28):

Stew Redwine (04:28):
You know, if you can show up in the Super Bowl, that, that signals something in and of itself. So if you're the regular top spenders in radio let's say, and then in podcast or streaming here in the United States, but in radio, you're the Home Depot, you're ZipRecruiter, that in and of itself like, yes, you're drilling down on from behavioral science, that element of trust in a public message. I'm saying, you know, just showing up at all even in the space create some sense of trust in costly signaling that like, they can afford to be on what I assume is this, "Oh, they're next to the Howard Stern program, or they're next to, you know, whatever it is." Can you, can you talk a bit about what you've seen with costly signaling?

Richard Shotton (05:07):
Absolutely. So there's a [inaudible 00:05:09] back from the 1980s by Amna Kirmani. I think she was at the University of Maryland. And what she does is recruit a group of people, and give them a bit of information on a trainer brand. So people see the design of the trainer, it's new trainer that's launching, they see the design, they see some of the details of its construction. And then one other fact, and that fact is how much the brand is spending on advertising, and some people hear the brand spending $5 million, some 10, some 20, some 40, some let's say 80. That's put in context, and the participants are told that roughly a rebook or a night might be spending 10 million on a trainer launch. Everyone is then asked about how quality they think the trainer's gonna be, and the basic principle, and there are a couple of nuances, but the basic principle is the more people think the trainer's gonna be spending on advertising, the higher quality they think it's gonna be.

Now remember, the participants are not seeing these ads, they're not getting extra frequency, they're just being told about the volume of spend that's going to occur. Kirmani explains this, because she argues extravagant advertising only pays back in the long term. So if you have a crap product, if you have an awful product, and you get someone to buy it, they're never gonna come back again. Whereas if it's a brilliant product they'll come back and buy repeatedly. So if you spend extravagantly, you're gonna go bust if you have a poor product because you require people to come back again, and again, and again to recoup your money. So she argues that expensive extravagant advertising acts as a screening mechanism. Only someone who genuinely believes their product's amazing, and it's gonna get that word of mouth, it's gonna get that repeat purchase would spend in this way, because otherwise, they'd be bankrupt within a year.

And I think it's a bit like that public messaging point, which is people are attuned to this. They aren't trying to listen to what you're saying, they're trying to look at what your self motivation is, and your self motivation is not to make a big broadcast pledge that you then renege on, 'cause you'll damage your reputation amongst everyone, doesn't matter so much in a one to one message. And also, you don't wanna bankrupt your company, so people believe that it's in the self-interest of the communicator only to use highly extravagant advertising if they have an amazing product.

Stew Redwine (07:16):
Thank you for that. Yeah, that's something that's at play all the time, you know, the, the medium is the message. So this week we're talking about substantiation, we're already getting into it. In short, why should I trust you? Why should anyone trust an advertiser? Each week of this first season of Ad Infinitum, we're breaking down one of the nine key components of Audiolytics, the nine key components are setup, value prop, positioning, demonstration, substantiation, offer, scarcity, path, and execution, and this week we're talking about substantiation. When we think about substantiation, there's some key things we look for, use a celebrity, a show host, a co-host, or show producer, or personality otherwise known to the target audience to recommend the offering based on personal experience. Use a leader, the executive of the brand's company as a spokesperson in the message. Use a program host or popular co-host, and or producer to voice the ad, use testimonials or endorsements of authority figures that have the highest appeal to the target audience, that's important.

Feature the name or likeness of a well-known personality who used the offering, include meaningful facts and figures. State figures of volume of adoption to demonstrate the existing momentum behind the offering. Reference press mentions or publications to enhance credibility, use testimonies from customers who have used the offering, and ensure that the writing and offering exhibits broadcast quality, the level of polish, that's what we were just talking about, the costly signaling. We're also looking for when we're substantiating ourselves that we mention our brand name, and that we presented in a way that's clear and memorable. So after all of that buildup, here we go, we're gonna listen to some top spenders in radio, national radio in the United States from the week of September 25th, 2023 to October 1st, 2023. These are the advertisers with the most spots. Now the top five in order are ZipRecruiter, Bank of America, Babbel, Vicks, and Upside. We're gonna not look at ZipRecruiter, we just looked at ZipRecruiter earlier on a previous Ad Infinitum episode. We've got Bank of America in number two spot on spend level. Babbel, Vicks, and Upside. And with no further ado Richard, if you're ready, let's listen to the Bank of America ad, and then we can grade it.

Richard Shotton (09:22):
Let's do it.

Speaker 6 (09:25):
At Bank of America, we learn what matters most by asking our customers one simple question. What would you like the power to do?

Speaker 7 (09:32):
I'd like the power to worry less.

Speaker 8 (09:35):
The power to make my parents comfortable.

Speaker 9 (09:39):
The power to uh-

Speaker 10 (09:41):
Agree on a monthly budget?

Speaker 9 (09:43):
... (laughs) Oh hey, that'd be nice.

Speaker 6 (09:45):
No matter what your financial goal is, we're here to help. Bank of America. What would you like the power to do? Bank of America NA, member FDIC, Equal Credit Opportunity lender.

Stew Redwine (09:56):
Richard, what do you give it?

Richard Shotton (09:57):
So the first one, I'm gonna stay a bit middling here, but let's say 6 out of 10. I would say the big issue here in... I'm from London, British, so I don't listen to American adverts, but if you just change the accent to a British accent, that would be pretty interchangeable with what is frankly quite a lot of bland financial fair in Britain, and that's an issue, okay? One of the longest standing ideas in behavioral science is the Von Restorff effect. A 1933 study by a psychologist called Hedwig von Restorff. So she was a German at the University of Berlin at the time. Really simple study, gives people a list of information, and she didn't do this, but let's say she read out a list of 10 animals, and then there was one item of clothing. Ask people to recall what they can, they'd remember the clothing. Another group of people reads out 10 items of clothing, and there's one animal in that list, everyone remembers the animal. What she argued among other things was that we are hardwired to notice what's distinctive.

So the argument from von Restorff, and there are plenty of studies since 1933 that prove basically the same point is that if you create these interchangeable ads, if you create something that just abides by category conventions, you know, the soft music, the caring voice, the fake laughter, people are not gonna remember it. You're wasting a huge amount of money. What you really wanna do is identify your category conventions, and there are loads of them, stick to the ones that are there for a very good reason, that's fine. But I bet in American financial advertising, there will be an awful lot of conventions that are just there for tradition sake. You should identify those, break them, and then you are gonna supercharge your ability to be noticed and remembered. And that's probably the most important task, 'cause if you're not remembered, everything else is academic. So I think 6 out of 10, maybe that's being generous.

Stew Redwine (11:36):
It might be. From an analytic standpoint, Bank of America came in way down, 'cause there's just not much substantiation there. So it's at a 37.57%, ouch. There's just not a ton of substance in that message, it's a lot of vignettes, and just a general appeal no matter what your financial goals are, and it's hanging its hat a lot on the fact you've probably heard of Bank of America, but that could be dangerous territory. Let's go ahead and jump right into the next one, then we got a point of comparison. But great point on being distinct, or else it won't be remembered. So here we go, the number two is Babbel.

Speaker 11 (12:14):
We're going abroad for the first time in years to Spain.

Speaker 12 (12:18):
But we don't speak Spanish.

Speaker 11 (12:20):
So we started using Babbel.

Speaker 12 (12:21):
And started learning Spanish fast.

Speaker 13 (12:23):
With Babbel, you can start having conversations in another language in just 3 weeks. Babbel's conversational method teaches your real life words and phrases. And with Babbel's interactive bite-sized lessons, you'll remember what you learned.

Speaker 14 (12:33):
[foreign language 00:12:34].

Speaker 12 (12:33):
[foreign language 00:12:35].

Speaker 14 (12:33):
[foreign language 00:12:36].

Speaker 11 (12:33):
[foreign language 00:12:37].

Speaker 13 (12:39):
When you learn a language, you wanna actually use it. Babbel is designed with that goal in mind.

Speaker 11 (12:43):
In just 3 weeks, we're starting to have conversations in Spanish.

Speaker 12 (12:47):
[foreign language 00:12:48].

Speaker 11 (12:50):
Aww. He just said, I'm very excited to go to Spain with you. [foreign language 00:12:55].

Speaker 12 (12:56):
And that means, we're gonna have a lot of fun.

Speaker 11 (12:59):
(laughs) [foreign language 00:13:00] Babbel.

Speaker 13 (13:01):
Babbel, language for life. Celebrating 10 million subscriptions sold. Now try Babbel for free at Just go to, and start learning a new language today. That's,

Stew Redwine (13:15):
Okay, Richard, what do you give it?

Richard Shotton (13:17):
I think certainly preferable to the first ad. Let's say seven and a half. Now, the bias that I think is really interesting there is the one that's mentioned at the very end, so talking about 10 million subscriptions I think sold, that was it? [inaudible 00:13:31] 10 million customers. That's really interesting because it taps into an idea called social proof. So social proof is the idea that we are deeply, deeply influenced by what others are doing. And if we think a product like Babbel is popular, it will become more appealing, and we're more likely to buy it. Now that's not speculation, there is a huge range of studies that backs that up. So probably the most famous psychologist in this area is a American, Robert Cialdini, professor of marketing and psychology at Arizona State University. Back in 2008, he runs his classic study, recruits a hotel chain, gets them to allow him to change the messages in guest rooms. And in some rooms, he puts a door hanger which says, "Please reuse your towel, it's good for the environment." And 35% of people do so. Next set of rooms gets rid of any logical rational reason for complying, removes any mention in the environment for the door hanger, and now the message says, "Please reuse your towels." Most guests do so.

He is emphasizing popularity of reusing towels. And what you see straight away is a 26% improvement in compliance. 44% of people reuse their towels in that situation. That is obviously a very different world to the world of foreign language apps, but since Cialdini's study, there have been social proof experiments in around smoking rates, music downloads, littering, tax repayment rates, doctor's prescriptions. This is not something that is just relevant to hotels. It's probably one of the most widely researched ideas in social psychology. If you emphasize you're popular, you will become more popular still.

So a very simple bias, but one that's being harnessed in that very end line by Babbel.

Stew Redwine (15:08):
Yeah, so they score higher in substantiation, and they're using that bias, and that's one that I focused on in listening to The Choice Factory in bias too, which is social proof, the part with the Cialdini's study that you highlighted that even got me going more as I think about the personal and the, the intimate nature of audio and the opportunity for the next dimension of the Cialdini study, which I'd like you to talk about, the localized social norm bias.

Richard Shotton (15:34):
So no, very good point. And this is maybe why it's not an eight, or an eight and a half. Cialdini also runs a third set of messages at this hotel. So he's testing hypothesis, and the hypothesis is that we are most influenced by people like ourselves. So in that final room, he changes the door hanger message one more time, now it says, "Please reuse your towel." Most guests who have stayed in this room have done so. Even though that is a frankly tenuous link with the audience, it boosts compliance further. Now we have 49% of people reusing their towels, a 40% improvement on the control. So the argument here if we bring it back to Babbel would be, don't say you've got 10 million subscribers, and run that across the US, talk about to Texans how many sales or subscribers you've got in Texas. Talk to people wanting to learn Spanish how many people have learned Spanish on the app.

The more you tailor that message, the more powerful it becomes. So you're absolutely right, with all these experiments and biases, there's a central finding, and then there are loads of nuances that once people are applying the central finding, they can then keep on iterating, and just get more and more benefit from the basic psychological idea. So behavioral science isn't aeronautics or medicine, these aren't inventions, behavioral science is a observation about human behavior, it's describing how people actually behave. So yes, one way to understand what genuinely motivates people is to run these tests and control experiments, that's what behavioral scientists do. But frankly if you tour the US for 20 years, and you're listening to what the audience want, and you're paying lots of attention, you'll pick up these ideas as well. It's one route to unlocking human nature.

Now I think go back to this principle of why the social proof work, and think about it from the customers perspective. Of course Bank of America are gonna tell you they're amazing, of course Babbel's gonna say they're amazing. You know, millions of dollars depend on you believing that. So people are always skeptical of what a brand says. However, the assumption is if 10 million people have bought a product, well, those people are all trying to just get the best language out they can. They're neutral, they are disinterested, and therefore we give greater credence to that neutral vindication of product, rather than what the brand says.

Stew Redwine (17:42):
That's an excellent point. Richard, like you're saying, you know, of course Bank of America is gonna tell us how great they are, only they didn't in this ad that we just listened to, right? And so what do you do with that, what do you think of that? There's no substantiation in here, everything is in storytelling, which is why it got dinged and got scored down. Like, to you when you look at this you go, "Okay, you guys are gonna take this approach, and yes, let's try to be more distinct."

Richard Shotton (18:06):
I mean I'd argue a few things. I don't think it is even storytelling. I mean, I think it's essentially a load of vignettes, whereas actually if you had a single person who undergoes a journey, there's challenges, they overcome them, and Bank of America helps do that, that might stick in people's minds. This whole vignette approach I don't think even... It fails on the statistics level, it fails the story level.

Stew Redwine (18:29):
All right, so you scored it higher, 7.5 out of 10. From an Audiolytics standpoint, it came in at just over 80, 82.4%, and that means mostly everything is there, it's doing a good job structurally for sure. There's still gonna be opportunities for improvement. What, you know, I'm hearing in this ad like we were talking about, Bank of America's been like a series of vignettes, and there was really no substantiation beyond the costly signaling of going, "Hey, I'm a radio ad." And it was done at a fine level of production value. In the Babbel ad, there's a lot of back and forth between these characters, and there are probably opportunities there where I see this trade happening a lot, particularly in audio where we can go long on the entertainment let's say, or long on the style. We can go long on the vignettes, and the dramatizations, and go short on substance. And it's like a calibration of those two things is always important, so that's where, you know, Babbel might be able to improve its score a little bit. But across the board so far, it's our high score. So now let's listen to the next one from Vicks.

Speaker 15 (19:35):
When you have trouble sleeping, it's tough. When kids have trouble sleeping.

Speaker 16 (19:40):
Mom, I can't sleep. Dad, just one more story?

Speaker 15 (19:43):
For nights, like this try Vicks Pure Zzzs Kids. Our great tasting gummies are specially formulated for kids. With a unique blend of botanicals, and a low dose of melatonin, to support their natural sleep cycle. Best of all, they're drug-free, and non-habit forming. Help your child fall asleep naturally, with pure Zzz's kids gummies. Consult with a doctor before use. For ages four and up.

Stew Redwine (20:06):
What do you say?

Richard Shotton (20:06):
I'm gonna probably put this somewhere between the Bank of America out and the uh, Babbel one. It's a six and a half. I mean, I was quite interested until it said, "It's not drug free non-habit forming." It's like, what? I wasn't even considering that was a problem. Suddenly now this is salient. So there is actually a phrase from Daniel Kahneman, he says, "What you see is all there is." And it's this argument that when we're weighing up a decision, we put disproportionate amount of information on the information in front of us, rather than using all the relevant information that might not be so salient. So classic study, Norbert Schwarz did this late '80s I think, and it was with students, so I don't normally like student experiments because you want a representative sample, but bear with it. He goes up to students, and he says to them, "How happy are you with life?" And then next question, "How many dates have you been on?" And there 0.16 I think correlation between the two numbers. Tiny, tiny correlation.

Next group of people, asks the same two questions, but he flips the order. Now he says, "How many dates have you been on?" And then, "How happy with life are you?" Suddenly, the two numbers correlate very strongly. I think it's a 0.66 correlation. If you've been on loads of dates, you say you're happy, if you've been on few dates, you say you're not happy. Now why do you get this contradiction? Why is order so important? Well, in that first group, when people are asked how happy they are with life, they think of all the things that are happening. What's going on with their family? How well schools work's going? How their sports team's doing?

With the second group, suddenly you've pushed the dating element of their life right to the forefront, and it looms massive, it crowds everything else out. They forget about family, they forget about sports, they forget about schoolwork, suddenly they're just judging how well has your life gone based on your dating history? I think there could be an element of a bit of a problem in that sense from Vicks mentioning not habit forming. Suddenly raises it as a possibility. I mean, it'd be a bit like an airline saying, "You know, we don't crash very often, we crash less often all those those other competitors." I would be a little bit nervous about whether that might backfire. I would never have thought something to do with Vicks would have been habit forming.

So I don't know with that one. That one slightly more speculative, I worry there's this risk of it being a bit of a backfire effect.

Stew Redwine (22:14):
You know, and I'm right there with you. One of the things I wanna zoom in on is just one particular word choice there, the word gummies.

Richard Shotton (22:21):
There's, um, 1974 study by Loftus and Palmer, classic in Psychology. They show people a video of two cars crashing together. First set of people are asked, how fast do you think the cars are going when they smash together? And I think the average answer is 40 miles an hour. Next group, how fast are those cars going when they contacted? They are... This, remember this group see exactly the same footage, yet their estimate is 30 or 31 miles an hour. There's a 27% difference. What Loftus and Palmer argue is we do not interpret events neutrally, we interpret events through a lens of the language that's used. If you refer to something as a gummy, it will bring a very different set of associations than a tablet or a chewy. So I think you're absolutely, absolutely right that language has an impact. Where you would probably wanna test this is well, does gummies have the associations that we believe? Because I think our view on that is probably no more relevant than anyone else's. It's kind of experience we've had. But absolutely, the language will affect people's interpretation.

In fact, the best, and this is from a wonderful book. I first got alerted to this area by Rory Sutherland, fish are a brilliant example of the power of language. There's the classic story of the Patagonian Toothfish. 1970s, 1980s, no one was ordering the Patagonian Toothfish in America. An importer I think was called Lee Lance renames it as the Chilean sea bass, and suddenly it's everywhere, they, they're selling out. Same fish, same taste, you call it one thing, you get a very different response. Same things happened with dolphin fish, the mudbug might have become the crayfish. There are all sorts of examples of exactly the same product getting a wildly different reaction. So I would be maybe saying to one group of people, "This is a gummy, and 65% of children sleep better after taking it. How, how good you think it is, how dangerous you think it is?" Next group, "This is a chewy 65% of children sleep better after." Ask them exactly the same questions.

Now the reason I've done it in this approach is you don't wanna ask those two options side by side, because you draw attention to the language. What you wanna do is give people the same script, but one group see the word gummies, one group see the word tablet. Any difference in responses between the two groups, because you've kept every other variable the same. You tribute back to the single change variable, that word. And that is a very good way of flushing out whether it really has impact.

Stew Redwine (24:28):
That is excellent. From an Audiolytics standpoint, and looking at this ad, right? Which, which primarily focuses on structure, it's scoring below Bank of America even at 60%, and there's a lot that it could do better. One of those things that's missing here is a specific number like that, right? So when I see things, like we're zooming in on this one, it's kind of funny, it feels like with Bank of America we went, okay, Babbel, we're both kind of kick the tires and go, yeah, you know, it's, this is pretty good, it could be a little bit better. And now we're piling on this Vicks spot a little bit. I see great tasting gummies, we talked about the word gummies to your point, like Mark Twain said, you know, the, the precisely the right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug, right?

So I see great tasting. Okay, well can I... For substantiation, for trust, how do I know it's great tasting? Is it that 9 out of 10 kids agree it's the best tasting? Especially formulated for kids, maybe is there a specific Factor figure I can use there? The unique blend of botanicals, low dose? Like they're not as specific as they could be. Is there anything from a behavioral science standpoint when it comes to, I'm, you know, I'm trying to boost credibility, I'm trying to engender your trust, does it help me to use a more specific number? Does that actually persuade people more?

Richard Shotton (25:43):
There's a lovely study from Schindler at Rutgers University, and he shows people a fake ad for a deodorant, and one of the facts is on this ad, it will reduce perspiration by 50%, and people are asked to say how accurate they think it is, and how credible. Next group get the same basic ad, but rather than saying 50%, of the second group, half see 47%, and half see 53%. When he asked that second group to rate accuracy and credibility, there is a 5% improvement in credibility of message, 10% improvement in accuracy. Schindler's argument is over time, the public have learned that people who speak in generalities don't know what they're talking about normally, and people who speak with specific precise numbers tend to, to know their stuff.

Think about this from your own life. Someone says to you, how old your brother or sister? You'll say, "Oh, they're 47, they're 23." You'll give them an exact number. If someone says, how old is your great aunt who lives in Papua, New Guinea you haven't seen for years, you'll say, "Oh, she's in her 70s, she's in her 80s." When we know what we're talking about, we gravitate towards specific numbers, when we're unsure we gravitate towards generalities. Over time, that precision and accuracy become fused in people's minds, even perhaps when it's not justified. So absolutely, the more precise you are, the more powerful it can be. Classic example of that in Britain, James Dyson who is Britain's richest man or has certainly been Britain's richest man came up with the Dyson vacuum, vacuums that charge an absolute fortune, sells them in huge amounts. He talks about going through 5,126 prototypes before hitting on the, the perfect model. And not 5,000, not 10,000, 5,126. Give it that precision, and it feels much much more believable.

Stew Redwine (27:20):
We love Dyson around Oxford Road. He does so much right from a trust standpoint. He shows it to you, he gives you facts and figures that are specific like you said. It's him putting his name on it, that's something that we talk about, right? Founder, spokesperson is something that works really well in audio. So there's so much to learn from Dyson. I'm definitely a disciple of Dyson. So Vicks came in at a 59.87%, it's below Babbel, but above Bank of America 'cause it does have some more structural components that are in there, and where you have a clear picture of exactly what it is that's being talked about, and what exactly is on offer. All right, so recap so far, we've got Bank of America, you gave it a 6, Babbel a 7.5, and Vicks a 6.5, Audiolytics scores basically pacing right along there, Bank of America a little bit lower, but in general, in agreement on these ads, their scores, and what they could do better to gain the listeners' trust and to be more persuasive. So listen to the last one of the group, which is Upside, here we go.

Speaker 17 (28:25):
Cashback is not available on gas in New Jersey, Wisconsin.

Speaker 18 (28:28):
Billy, your gas light's on. We need to stop and fill up.

Speaker 17 (28:30):
No way, Jen, gas around here is too expensive. We can make it a little further.

Speaker 18 (28:34):
Billy, listen to your big sister. You don't need to drive all over searching for the lowest gas prices. Do what I do, and use Upside.

Speaker 17 (28:40):

Speaker 18 (28:40):
Do you live under a rock, Billy? Upside is the hottest cashback app out there. It's free to download, and you get real cashback for every gallon of gas you buy. I use it all the time, and I've already made around 200 bucks.

Speaker 17 (28:50):
You can make that kind of cashback just for buying the gas you have to buy anyway?

Speaker 18 (28:54):
Yes, I'm looking at the Upside app now, and there's a gas station at the next exit offering 25 cents per gallon cashback.

Speaker 17 (29:00):
Okay, I'm stopping to download Upside, and fill up my tank.

Download the free upside app now to earn cashback every time you buy gas. Use promo code FAST to get an extra 25 cents per gallon on your first tank. You can cash out anytime right to your bank, to PayPal, or a gift card for Amazon, and other brands. Just download the free Upside app, and use promo code FAST for a 25 cents per gallon bonus on your first tank. That's code FAST for a 25 cents per gallon bonus.

Stew Redwine (29:27):
All right, Richard, what's your upside on Upside?

Richard Shotton (29:30):
So I'd probably put this somewhere between the gummies and Babbel, 'cause I think Babbel's probably the winner today. So what do we have, that'd be a 7 I think for Upside. There's certainly a lot of facts there, you could argue the around 200 pounds, I mean if they were gonna use that principle of precision, that could probably be each week, a bit, but certainly very clear, certainly quite a compelling fact at the heart of it.

Stew Redwine (29:51):
So it's a great point you bring. At the beginning of the ad, they talk about the around $200, but like you and I were talking about before the show, we look on their website, and they say specifically 153 estimated cashback per year. So what do you think about that choice they made?

Richard Shotton (30:05):
Yeah, I would be prioritizing 153 across all their, their media. You've got a problem with Upside, this isn't something offered in the UK, so I'm quite mesmerized by the product offering, but there is a danger of believability, it sounds too good to be true, free money. We have inbuilt skepticism towards something that sounds that good. You know, there's a hard phrase, "There's no such thing as a free lunch." So you're working against a skeptical audience. So you wanna use all the different tactics you can to boost believability, such as using a public medium, such as using precise figures.

Stew Redwine (30:36):
It seems like it never hurts to be more precise?

Richard Shotton (30:39):
Yeah, I would argue so. I would say there are thousands of these biases that psychologist have, have discovered. So I don't think as a creative or as a brand, you ever feel you have to harness any one of them. You know, pick the one that works best for the circumstances in front of you. You know, you don't need to be shoehorning a particular bias in, but generally there's an upside to it.

Stew Redwine (30:58):
It's good to hear you say that. They're good to use as lenses, you know, or as mirrors on the messaging, and then I also think they're helpful, you know, heuristics or just guidelines to go, "Well why did you do it that way over here?" Like one of the main values I've seen from Audiolytics is just the common language. When I go, "Hey, the way we look at things is we break it into nine key components. Now Richard and Stew have start to establish a language." So what I like about as I'm getting more into behavioral science, and thank you so much for everything you've done is like, it's giving me language that then I can now say, "Oh, well that's the Von Restorff effect. Okay, did we use it here? Did we not? Why did we, why didn't we? It doesn't mean, "Thou shalt always use the Von Restorff effect." But at least we have a way of now going, "That's interesting, we chose to be this way in this channel, this way in that channel. Now why did we do that?"

Richard Shotton (31:48):
So there's a few benefits. Sometimes the biases suggest quite counterintuitive things. So for example, there's a series of experiments called the pratfall effect, this idea that we find products or people who admit a flaw more appealing. So knowing about that is amazing, because it suggests a very counter intuitive tactic you might not do otherwise. So for example if you're Listerine and you talk about the taste you hate twice a day, you emphasize your bad taste, and therefore you become that bit more appealing and people believe that you're more potent and effective. So sometimes behavioral science is brilliant because it suggests things we wouldn't think of otherwise. Other occasions like the Von Restorff effect, and many creatives know the importance of distinctiveness, yet they struggle to persuade analytical, rational clients. If you just say to them, "Listen to me from my authority, from my experience." You should be distinctive. The client thinks, "Well, from my experience and my authority, we shouldn't." It gets into this endless debate where no one sways the other. If you say, "Here is a peer-reviewed study, this is what Von Restorff found, this is the results." Suddenly it switches the conversation from, "Should we be distinctive?" To, "How should we be distinctive?"

So I think there is, you're absolutely right, a real value in giving us the evidence to persuade people, maybe to do the things we always knew we should do. And then as you said, that final part of, yeah, a common language that we can use as professional persuaders. Yeah, that's super powerful as well.

Stew Redwine (33:08):
Yeah, it's incredibly powerful to move past the land of egos, or authority, or whatever it is to, "Hey, let's just get friendly with reality." And then at the end of the day, somebody is gonna have to make a call. And there is gonna be opportunities to use the force, you know, and make intuitive decisions, but it doesn't hurt to know the names of all these things. With each episode of AD Infinitum, this is the fifth episode, what I'm noticing is this trend of the guests, and then the Audiolytics score tend to track along with each other, and it's a comforting sign to me that it's like, we hold these truths to be self-evident.

There are things about these things that if we can get some distance from the ads and grade them, we can see, "Okay, this is how these things could be im- improved." So to recap, we've got Bank of America, you gave it a 6 out of 10. Audiolytics approximately a 40%. With Babbel, we, you gave it a 7.5 out of 10, Audiolytics was at a 82%. Vicks, you gave it a 6.5 out of 10, Audiolytics was at a 59.87%. And with Upside, you gave it a 7 out of 10, and Audiolytics was at a 74.94. There's some things it could do. But I will tell you, the thing that pulled me out of it the most, and again this is like focus group of one was when I heard these two characters talking, and the sister says to the brother, "Listen to your older sister." I'm like, "I thought that was the dude's daughter." Like the voice, the voice qualities.

Richard Shotton (34:31):
Yeah, okay, yeah, I would have assumed partners actually. I mean, you drive with your partner 99 times a year, how often you drive with your older sister? But yeah, you know, on the point about the rankings, the thing that I think is really useful about behavioral science maybe isn't the ranking, it's for each of those brands. If you were the creative or the, the client, there are very practical things you could do to improve them. Well, if your Bank of America focused more next time on maybe distinctiveness. If your Babbel, you're using social proof, you could emphasize tailored social proof more, that will eke out a little bit more power. And then if it was Upside or Vicks... Well, sorry, Upside, you could talk about precision, you know, use that 153 figure, use it elsewhere, not the roughly 200. And then for Vicks, yeah, I'd be focusing on the individual words that are being used, and sometimes the inappropriate connotations, and then setting up a simple [inaudible 00:35:25] test, a simple test control experiment to see what associations a chewy would have versus a, a gummy.

Stew Redwine (35:30):
That's exactly what we're here for is to listen to these ads, and offer ways to improve them, and behavioral science is a powerhouse way to do that. Thank you so much Richard for joining Ad Infinitum where we discuss audio advertising and break down audio ads this week with a focus on Audiolytics key component number five, substantiation. We did come away with some practical advice for the chief audio officers at these brands, and on another hand I feel like we just scratched the surface, so thank you Richard. Any closing thoughts when it comes to thinking about building trust and audio in particular?

Richard Shotton (36:05):
Don't think you have to solve these problems yourselves. There's 130 years of experiments into how to persuade people more effectively, how to generate credibility and trustworthiness. Immerse yourself in behavioral science, find out about the experiments, and it will just make your job that little bit easier.

Stew Redwine (36:21):
And it's fantastic. You've consolidated and put all of that together in both The Choice Factory and the Illusion of Choice. I've listened to them all the way through, going through multiple times like I said. It's incredible, it's very open-handed of you, and absolutely worth every penny, orders of magnitude more than what it would cost to invest to get these books by Richard Shotton, and there's no question, so thank you for that. And if you've got aspects of audio advertising you'd like us to discuss or suggestions for a guest on the show or wanna be a guest, please email And until our next show, remember to have fun, making the ads work.

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