How Should Voiceovers Be Used in Ads?
Voiceovers are commonly used in ads across the world, and they seem to aid the communication of factual messages. However, voiceovers are less commonly associated with distinctive ads, and continuous voiceovers can result in lower engagement. Additionally, the manner in which a voiceover ties in with an ad’s visual content is critical: When voiceovers and visuals compete, the voiceover message can get lost.
Millward Brown, 2012
The voiceover is a very common feature of TV advertising
across the world. Of the ads in our Link database, 89 percent
include voiceovers. Since they are so common and can be
edited relatively easily, voiceovers are a worthy topic for
scrutiny.What Voiceovers Do Well: Aid Communication of Information
Voiceovers are often used to convey information, and they
can do this effectively. On attributes related to news and
information, ads with voiceovers score slightly but consistently
higher than ads without voiceover. Not only are key messages
communicated better, but ads with voiceovers score higher
on credibility, conveying new information, relevance, and
persuasion. The indexes on these measures for ads with and
without voiceovers are compared in the table below.
Changes made to a voiceover can lead to dramatic
improvement in an ad’s performance. When a taste message
came through only weakly for an ad for a new biscuit in China,
adjusting the voiceover made a difference. In the original
ad, the intended message registered with just 34 percent
of respondents, well below the norm of 55 percent. When
this new voiceover was added: “delicious but does not leave
the mouth feeling dry,” communication of the taste message
shot up to 53 percent. When the voiceover was modified
further, to “really delicious,” communication reached 61
percent. The advertising contributed to a successful product
launch; trial levels for the new cookie reached 80 percent
within six months.
A change in voiceover also made a huge difference for a
personal care brand. Two versions of an ad were tested.
Both had the same end frame, but one had a voiceover to
support the written message of “developed with experts,”
The takeout of the message was more than twice as high
for the ad with voiceover, 44 percent versus 17 percent, as
shown in the chart below.
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