What Marketers Needs To Know About Audio-Branding

As momentum around voice-activation builds, 2018 will be the year of audio, a report by Veritonic suggests.

2018 appears poised to be the year when the cliché “a picture is worth a thousand words” is replaced by “a sound is worth a thousand consumers.”

That’s the gist from a Veritonic survey of 1,000 panelists across the US and UK in November 2017, which found that ad recall and emotional connection were lifted by brands with the most identifiable sonic “identity.”

The use of audio logos, while subtle, can have as much, if not more, impact than a visual logo, says Veritronic, a marketing analytics firm focused on commercial sound. The company defines an “audio logo” as a series of “sounds or musical notes that uniquely identifies a company, product or service to its target audience.”

It’s essentially an update of age-old ad terms like “jingles,” while less technical than “mnenomics.” But audio logos, or sonic branding, use short progressions of notes or chords are one of the most powerful weapons in the marketer’s arsenal, Veritronic argues.

As for which verticals seem to have the most effective “sounds,” the top industry in the US was Financial Services, and specifically Insurance companies.

Two of the top three spots on the list were taken by Nationwide and Farmers Insurance (did your thoughts automatically go to the lilting jingle accompanying “Nationwide is on your side” versus the more stentorian “We are Farmer’s: bum bum bum bum…”?).

This sector just slightly topped Tech, reversing the trend from last year, Pandora and Veritonic note. The difference-maker this year are the strong Recall scores recorded by the Financial Services entrants.

Source: Pandora and Veritonic

In terms of placing values on audio in marketing, panelists were asked to record their emotions and feelings while they listened to the various audio logos. They were then contacted 48 hours later to test their recall of the audio logos.

Scores were calculated using a proprietary algorithm that combines three factors: Veritonic’s EchoTime data, Emotional Response, and 48-hour Recall. To create the composite score, 48-hour Recall is the factor that is weighted most heavily because of the importance of “breaking through” in the consumer’s mind.

The report’s other findings included:

  • Differences across markets: In the UK, licensed music played a key role (Flash, A.O.)
  • Similarities across markets: Top attributes in both markets were similar, and the role of Melody, Verbal, and Branding was key.
  • Millennials in both marketers respond better to audio branding than older demographics — especially on the critical Recall metric.
  • Financial Services once again led in the US, closely followed by Automotive Parts and Tech. In the UK, QSR, Retail and Tech were essentially tied.
  • Entertainment did surprisingly poorly, considering how frequently consumers are exposed to the audio branding.
  • In a repeat of last year’s survey findings, Automotive was at the bottom, in both the US and the UK.

As sound is what Pandora is primarily focused on delivering sound, the company has experimented with different approaches to driving engagement for marketers.

For example, following spring and summer campaigns for brands such as Subway, pest control service Orkin and jobs site ZipRecruiter, Pandora began offering 10- and 30-second audio ads.

In a test with Nielsen Entertainment to understand audio ad effectiveness between broadcast radio and digital radio, Pandora said it was the ad length findings that caught the music streaming platform’s attention.

The test indicated that shorter audio ads (8 seconds in length) prompted high recall with younger demos, specifically 13-24 year olds. Although the study wasn’t 100 percent conclusive, it made Pandora pause and consider how it might apply these findings on its platform.

“We think there may be an effective blend of shorter and longer length audio ads that can help with message breakthrough and alleviate potential creative fatigue,” a Pandora spokesperson told GeoMarketing at the time.

“For example: leading with a punchy, 10-second message to capture attention, then following up in the next ad break with a 30-second ad once interest is piqued to convey the full message, or articulate a particular call-to-action, may help drive desired outcomes,” the Pandora rep said.

As more homes adopt voice-activation — and look away a bit more from their mobile and desktop screens — the ability to manage an audio profile powered by Connected Intelligence and other personalized tools will become a defining aspect of 2018.

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.