When it comes to trends in content marketing, there is no doubt visual content is booming. Audio content, especially music in marketing, is making a long-awaited comeback from the early days of radio programming. Podcasting, for example, has been steadily increasing in popularity. The most recent shining example of podcasting is, of course, Serial. A testament to fantastic storytelling and the trendiness of audio content, Serial reached 5 million downloads on iTunes faster than any other podcast in history, according to Apple and the Wall Street Journal.
But audio content marketing is more than a simple podcast. According to Colleen Fahey, the US Managing Director of Sixieme Son, audio branding needs to be crafted like any written tone or voice on your website. What’s more, your audio content should match the written content in pitch and tone to instill a cohesive, emotional response from your target market. Fahey states, “Audio branding’s approach uses unique and proprietary sound and music to convey a brand’s essence and values. It provides a consistent system of sound that connects people with a brand at a profound level.” That audio DNA is represented in the sound effects, brand music, and video content used across a brand’s entire marketing campaign. As people begin to shell out major coin for noise-muffling headsets and 3D (that’s right, 3D) audio headphones, it is no wonder music in marketing is taking on a life of its own.
Feel the Beat: The Neurological Connection to Music
Unlike flat audio content, music has a powerful effect on content consumers; it creates an emotional, physical, and mental response in the listener. In fact, a study conducted by the European Journal of Neuroscience revealed that “brain regions involved in movement, attention, planning, and memory consistently showed activation when participants listened to music—these are structures that don’t have to do with auditory processing itself.” This not only insinuates that content consumers react differently to music than they do with regular audio content, but it also makes a direct correlation of music with memory and engagement.
The Video/Music Connection: Crafting Audible Visual Content
With music tied directly to memory, attention, and emotion, it’s clear that it can be a powerful enhancement to content on websites and in video campaigns. Take the Volvo video campaign with Swedish singer Robyn, for example: The stunning visuals, combined with a contemplative, yet dance-inducing beat, makes the content seem more like a music video with subtle product placement than a commercial featuring Robyn.Music can also be reinvented for your content marketing efforts, tapping into preexisting emotions tied to songs. The small start-up toymaker GoldieBlox understood this strategy when they began creating video content to appeal to their young, pigtailed audience. This underdog won Intuit’s Superbowl XLVIII advertisement contest, becoming the first small business to advertise in front of the 111.5 million Superbowl viewers. The GoldieBlox video reimagines “Come On Feel the Noize” by Slade, creating an inspiring, upbeat song for young girls interested in engineering, sung by young girls. The company also produced an earlier video that gained millions of views on YouTube and worked a similar angle, using the song “Girls” by the Beastie Boys with a playful, xylophone tune and reinvented lyrics that express a message of female empowerment (rather than, you know, misogyny).
Music As a Choice: Just Say “No” to Autoplay
Your Web content is sacred. You put time and effort into the visuals and written words. Music may complement, or even enhance, content consumption, but the balance can be tricky. There are content marketing campaigns out there that utilize this strategy effectively, promoting independent musicians and their personal stories. For example, Red Bull’s Music Academy Radio (RBMA Radio) spotlights music from across the world, interviews, and live events. The music is offered through a small player on the left hand corner and flows continuously as you move from page to page, reading content on the musicians. Best part? No autoplay.
Music in marketing has a time and a place, so if your audience member navigates to a page that automatically plays music, your perfectly crafted music becomes little more than noise. It creates an immediate disturbance and disruptive force for the content consumer who may have been listening to other audio content, studying at the library, or browsing on their phone during a meeting. The trick here is to make your music an active choice on the part of the consumer; let them choose to enhance their content experience. Blake Boldt at AudioTheme put it best when he stated:
“Audio and video content has consistently been proven to increase engagement and on-site conversation rates. In order to ensure that visitors still receive the message, draw attention to audio and video capabilities as they navigate your site at their leisure. Clearly mark all player controls—volume, stop/buttons, etc.—so that visitors find them to be easy and accessible . . . It’s important to give your visitors the ability to check out your audio or video at their own discretion while creating a comfortable online environment.”
Your audio content marketing strategy says a great deal about your brand. Like the colors you choose for your visuals or the words you craft in your writing, music adds an emotional appeal to your creative content and perpetuates your core values. But for a select few, silence is still golden, so be sure to leave that audio enhancement as an active choice on the part of the consumer—at least for now.
Want more stories like this one? Subscribe to the Content Standard Newsletter.