Sound in video advertising

How do listener habits vary across TV and online platforms?

TV viewing habits are changing, and the past few years have seen furious debate over whether television advertising “in trouble” or “alive and kicking“. This leaves brands with a predicament – where and how to advertise? And when it comes to audio branding, how can they deploy sound most effectively?

Traditional television advertising

TV advertising spend is decreasing, but research suggests that it may still be an effective medium. One study that concluded that TV generates almost three times the brand recall of YouTube advertising. TV can be a hard place to reach millennials, though. In the US, the ten most viewed TV shows have a median viewer age of between 48 – 59 years.

When it comes to sound, Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience found last year that TV ads aren’t seen 61% of the time. This is due to the frequent presence of a “second screen” – a mobile phone or other device that’s also present. When the “viewer” is present, this second screen distracts 40% of people. An extra 4% are distracted by another person, and 17% by other things such as reading or looking around the room.

Brands may be relying solely on the effectiveness of their audio to make an impact through TV ads. Therefore, it’s important for brands with older demographics who rely on this medium to fine-tune their audio brand.

Online advertising

Video remains by far the most valuable and engaging content on the internet – one third of time online is spend watching video. Yet social media networks approach sound in video very differently.

On Facebook, sound does not auto-play on advertisements. Most of its videos are watched without sound. Facebook says that popup ads with unexpected sound caused 80% of people to react negatively towards Facebook and the advertiser.

In 2016, Facebook found that 41% of its videos were meaningless without sound. It has been actively encouraging less reliance on audio. Facebook advises advertisers to “make sure their stories don’t require sound to communicate their message.” To aid understanding, Facebook includes automated captions for video advertisements. Brands that use Facebook advertising will need to invest less in their audio on this platform. However, Facebook relies on a mono-sensory advertising experience. This may lack emotional resonance or memorability.

In contrast, YouTube and Snapchat are both big believers in the power of sound in advertising. Audio is a big part of these companies’ offerings. Both use sound by default in advertising and, as a result, most videos are watched with sound (96% on YouTube and over two-thirds on Snapchat). For brands that advertise on these platforms, audio branding will play an important role in effectiveness.

YouTube and Snapchat have both picked holes in Facebook’s mute video advertising product. Snapchat’s Imran Khan describes them as nothing more than “moving banners”. Google’s Peter Cory believes that sound has a huge impact on advertising and engagement. He claims that YouTube’s audience “continues to watch not scroll” – a thinly veiled dig at Facebook’s lesser video watch time.

In contrast to the research cited by TV companies, Cory also claims that 76% of YouTube advertising campaigns deliver higher ROI than TV.

Brands must ensure that they have a comprehensive sound strategy that covers all relevant touchpoints. At The Sound Agency, we specialise in audio branding analysis, creation, and implementation, and ensure that our clients are using relevant, engaging, and impactful sound.

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