“Alexa, tell Whirlpool to start the dishwasher.” That may not be the phrase you imagined saying on a day-to-day basis, but commands like these might soon be the norm. Smart speaker apps are still in their infancy - most help with simple tasks like listening to the radio or checking the weather - but the marketing potential is huge. Some brands have already begun investing in these sonic experiences.
TV viewing habits are changing. The past few years have seen furious debate over whether traditional television advertising is “in trouble” or “alive and kicking”. This leaves brands and advertisers in a predicament - where and how to advertise? And when it comes to audio branding, where can they deploy sound most effectively?
When smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home “listen”, their understanding of the sonic environment is usually limited to spoken word. Audio-Analytic has been described as “the Shazzam of noise”. Their sound recognition technology is already helping brands deliver better customer experiences, and now they are envisaging a future where this relates more directly to audio branding.
Background music and noise - known as "retail atmospherics" - are ubiquitous in retail, and for food and beverage brands. With competition from online food providers, physical stores are trying to compete on a more experiential level. Now researchers have studied how ambient music and noise levels affect retail selection - specifically healthy or unhealthy food choices.
Our reactions to music are complex and often personal. So how can a brand accurately choose music that fits its personality and resonates with its audiences? ABC_DJ aims to provide audio branding agencies with sophisticated tools that support their creative processes. Their powerful algorithm, developed over three years, selects brand-relevant music based solely on its audio characteristics rather than manually assigned tags.
Brand voice and audio marketing is all the range. Whilst it's been around for decades through traditional advertising, new consumer technology like smart speakers and digital podcasts have brought it to the forefront of marketing trends. “You have a brand identity. Think about how to create it for an audio-first world,” said Claire Mitchell, director of VaynerSmart.
"All design should be accessible, and all design should be sensory", says Ellen Lupton, curator of contemporary design at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. That concept is the basis of Cooper Hewitt's latest exhibition: The Senses: Design Beyond Vision, which features a wealth of sound art and sound technology initiatives.
Electric cars make very little noise when travelling at slow speeds. For the past few years, lawmakers and designers have been discussing how electric cars should sound - which may open or close huge potential new avenues for audio branding.
Many studies have explored how music affects our perception of visual information. However, few have researched the inverse relationship - whether visual information influences our perception and memory of the music. The results should affect how brands and advertisers pair images and sound.
For the first time in many years, people are looking up from their screens, as visual interfaces start to be replaced with voice. Marketers are calling it "the golden age of audio". New research has shed light on how smart speakers are already changing our listening habits and perceptions of audio advertising.
When someone talks about "augmented reality", it's typically within the realm of visual applications - like how that new IKEA sofa might look in your lounge. Now, audio company Bose are designing augmented reality for the ears. Bose's new glasses are part of their $50 million development of an complete audio-reality platform.
The Berlin Institute of Sound and Music have announced a new immersive audio-visual exhibition. The ISM Hexadome will feature live performances and installations from the likes of Brian Eno, Tarik Barri, Thom Yorke, Holly Herndon. The exhibition uses visual projections and an advanced multi-channel speaker setup to deliver what’s been described as exhibition experience “like non other”.
Music in advertising is often an afterthought. Millward Brown estimate that brands spend a mammoth 84% of time and money on visuals. But a new survey suggests that marketers should be prioritising sound in their advertising, with 60% of respondents believing that music in marketing is more memorable than visuals.
Music streaming site Spotify have launched Spotify Ad Studio. The service creates audio advertisements for brands, free of charge, in order to make it easier for SMEs to advertise on Spotify. “Spotify Ad Studio opens that door to everyone. It’s an amazing opportunity for even more advertisers to build one-on-one relationships with our listeners.”
With a library of over 375,000 titles, Amazon Audible has long-dominated the audio book market. And now Google wants a slice of the action. Google have announced the rollout of Google Play audiobooks across 45 countries and 9 languages. The service offers one-off purchases of titles and the ability to preview books beforehand.
From blockchain to virtual reality, technological advancements have dominated recent marketing trends. Podcasting, however, continues to offer brands a cost-effective opportunity for brands to reach millions of potential customers through rich, engaging audio content. Publisher TechCrunch predict that podcasts will continue to be popular it 2018.
Imagine the sound of a seatbelt as it fastens. That distinctive cue is one of millions of sounds in our lives that communicates to us and makes processes easier. When it comes to apps, sound is also a core component of functionality and user experience. It can help us understand interactions better and differentiate an app's identity.
Have you ever wanted to turn up the dialogue in a TV drama, or turn off the commentary in a sports game? 3D audio technology company Fraunhofer have made interactive technology a consumer reality in South Korea with MPEG-H audio, allowing television audio to be personalised in ways never heard before.
Interacting with voice interfaces used to be limited to self-conscious moments in private spaces, such as car journeys or homes, but consumer perceptions are shifting. As a result, voice looks set to play a prominent role in branding. WARC's annual survey has revealed that voice interfaces are a major priority for brands in 2018.
Man Made Music have partnered with the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum for an interactive exhibition to illustrate our relationship with sound and technology. See, Hear, Play: Designing with Sound explores our relationship with product sound by inviting you to become a sound designer.
Digital audio is a rapidly growing area. Consumers love the content, and the emerging platforms are enabling brands to reach their audiences in intimate and immersive ways. Advertising Age and The Trade Desk, along with Advantage Business Research, surveyed 532 media and marketing professionals about the future of digital audio ads.
Sound is just vibration. There is nothing in a sequence of notes themselves that generates powerful reactions, and yet music has the ability to directly influence emotion and action. The notion that commercial sound could influence purchasing decision used to be “pretty much ignored”.