Much like the way certain marketing choices can better speak to audiences, choosing the right voice-over artist can also increase the influence you have on specific viewers. We see and hear so many advertisements throughout our day that we often tune them out. A thoughtfully chosen voice-over artist will pique viewer’s attention and get audiences to listen to your advertisement. The following studies highlight just how important advertising voices are, and how much weight they can carry to consumers and viewers.
The $5 billion-a-year pharmaceutical industry spends about twice the amount on advertising and promotions than it does on research and development, according to a 2008 study. Since the FDA began allowing pharmaceutical companies to advertise products on television 20 years ago, these companies have worked hard to make their adverts as effective as possible, while still complying with FDA rules. There’s a definite art to giving all pertinent medical information, both good and bad, in a way that’s positive and persuasive. That’s the art of voice-over.
Stat News wrote on the extensive efforts that go into taking the scariness out of pharmaceutical advertisements.
“There’s a shift in how the voice is used to make it easier to understand the benefits and less easy to understand the risks,” Ruth Day, a cognitive scientist at Duke University who has studied drug ads for more than a decade, told Stat.
The FDA requires that companies share the entire list of possible side effects, no matter how gruesome they may be. Companies employ several tactics to take the grim tone out of their ads. Many use two narrators; one to speak on the benefits of the drug, and the other to list off all the negative outcomes. Many companies produce ads where the side effects are spoken at light-speed. This is of course intentional, because they don’t want to give viewers a chance to fully absorb all of the negative side effects their drug could cause.
Another trick used includes keeping the narrator who lists all the negative effects off screen. Viewers have less of chance of truly engaging with this voice, and therefore engaging with the possible bleak outcomes.
In the end, voice over artists must toe the fine line between informative and comforting.
“The challenge is saying all these really scary things, but in a way that people aren’t frightened,” Debbie Irwin, a voice actor who also does medical narration, told Stat.
Irwin said she strikes the tone of warm but factual, emulating a caring nurse or doctor.
If the right voice over balance is not found, pharmaceutical companies risk losing viewers, either by not engaging them enough, or scaring them too much.
Tired of seeing political ads this year? You can bet you’ll continue to see them through every election cycle to come. The Wall Street Journal reported that during the 2012 presidential election, candidates and other groups spent a whopping $3.8 billion on TV ads.
A 2015 study on male vs. female voices in political advertisements revealed important findings on the power of the right voice-over choice. Male voices were used in more than double the number of political ads compared to female voices. When the female voices were used, they were utilized to explain issues considered “feminine”, like child-care, healthcare, women’s rights, and education. The overall findings showed that a woman’s voice was perceived as less credible than a man’s, though female viewers found credibility in a female voice more than men.
The findings show that choosing the right voice-over artist for a political ad is more than just a guess. It’s more of an exact science than many give it credit for. Whether it means the difference between a candidate being elected or not remains to be seen. But if viewers can relate and find confidence in the advertisement based on a specific voice, the right one needs to be chosen with care.