Using the same tune is better for adverts, according to new study by Goldsmiths

Using the same piece of music in adverts year after year helps people to like and remember your brand, according to a new study of brain responses led by scientists at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Until now there was no hard data to suggest whether it was better to stick to the same piece of music across consecutive advertising campaigns or change to a fresh tune for each new campaign.

The study also found that classical music was rated more favourably than other musical genres when used consistently across multiple adverts. Radio adverts using classical music in this way were especially successful at getting people’s brains to ‘engage’ with the brand or product, according to measurements of brain activity.

A report of the research will be published in the Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics.

The researchers investigated whether using music ‘strategically’, consistently across advertising campaigns, or ‘tactically’, changing music across campaigns, had a greater positive impact on participants.

16 volunteers took part and were exposed to 27 radio adverts and 27 TV adverts with one third of adverts featuring ‘strategic’ music, one third ‘tactical’ music, with the rest having no music. The volunteers wore EEG (electroencephalogram) caps with electrodes attached that recorded electrical signals generated by their brains as they listened to or watched the adverts. After each advert they were asked to rate how much they liked it, how familiar it was, how much they liked the music, and how well the music fitted the brand or product advertised.

Joydeep Bhattacharya, Professor of Psychology at Goldsmiths and lead author of the study, said: “Not only did using music strategically, using the same tune across multiple adverts, boost the ratings people gave each advert regarding how much they liked them and how familiar they were, but this strategic use was also associated with music being a ‘better fit’ for the advertised brands. We didn’t just see an increase in these subjective ratings. EEG recordings showed that ‘strategic’ music was associated with more power in high frequency brain waves, the beta and gamma oscillations, compared to ‘tactical’ music and especially over frontal brain regions. Previous studies suggest that the boost of these brain waves is a signature of reward networks ‘lighting up’ and we believe it demonstrates an enhanced engagement which could make an advert more effective at influencing people’s behaviour.”

The research also suggests that the effects of strategic music are more impactful and immediate in the brain for radio adverts than for TV adverts.

Co-author Richard Lewis (PhD), MD of Neuroformed Ltd, said: “The most satisfying thing about this particular study is that the data clearly supports strategic use of the same tune across different ad campaigns, as opposed to switching the music for each new advert. It’s good to finally have some clarity on this prickly issue. During the exit interviews many volunteers mentioned that, for the ads that have been using the same music over many years, the brand would often instantly spring to mind as soon as the first few notes had played, even before any brand imagery had appeared on screen. Such is the power of music to trigger brand associations when used strategically.”

According to these findings, the researchers say advertisers should select a backing track carefully and stick to it over consecutive campaigns so that it becomes the ‘common thread’ associated with a brand even as other aspects of new TV and radio adverts change. Of course the big challenge, they say, is to pick a tune that will stand the test of time.

Source:; 17 Jan 2018

Sound advice: How to reach new audiences through streaming audio

Audio streaming is reaching audiences in places that video can’t go – it’s time to get your message into people’s ears

Streaming media is now well and truly mainstream – but it’s time to stop thinking of it as a homogenous mass. The different types of media we stream, and the ways in which we stream them, are creating new opportunities to connect with audiences – and to better understand them.

Nearly half the online population now streams entertainment content on a weekly basis, according to research – but what’s most interesting is how audiences are consuming different types of streaming media. 60 per cent of music streamers are listening on mobile devices, compared with 40 per cent of TV and movie streamers – and they’re listening to audio in places that video simply doesn’t penetrate.

For example, commuters are five times more likely to stream audio content than TV or video. When you’re working out, you’re 3.5 times more likely to be listening to content than watching it. And when you need to concentrate, the last thing you want is to be distracted – so it’s not surprising that three times as many people who are focusing listen to audio rather than watching video.

Audio is a particularly evocative medium. Podcasts directly address the listener, as Lea Thau, host and producer of the podcast Strangers (Radiotopia and KCRW) points out: “People actually listen…you are talking right inside someone’s head.”

Music builds an even more emotive connection, with studies revealing that people use music to regulate their moods and emotions. Streaming audio offers insights into why listeners have picked the tracks they’ve chosen, too; the 1.6 million followers of Spotify’s Dance Workout playlist are likely feeling very different to the 380,000 who are listening to Breakup Songs. Where social media enables people to present their public face to the world, music creates a more personal, intimate bond with listeners. “There is a really strong connection between music and experiences,” says cognitive neuroscientist Amy Belfi. “Music can take us back into a specific moment and cause us to feel all the emotions we were feeling then.”

The good news for brands is that many streaming audio listeners are expecting to hear advertising alongside their music and spoken word content. While many services offer a paid, ad-free tier for subscribers, ad-supported free options are also available. An estimated 15 per cent of the internet-using population is currently streaming music weekly using free services – going up to 20 per cent in mature streaming markets like Sweden and the US. It’s not surprising, then, that the music streaming ad revenue opportunity is worth $1.5 billion today – and it’s expected to reach at least $7 billion by 2030. The market for contextually-relevant, emotive and intimate advertising on audio is here – and it’s growing.

Three ways brands can use the power of audio to reach consumers

Build intimate, one-to-one connections with consumers

Audio has 100 per cent share of voice, and audiences are primed to listen – so think about how you can use native content and dynamic creative to reach them.

Target moods and activities

Correlating data such as time of day, location and playlist titles, it’s possible to gauge listeners’ moods, whether they’re working out, concentrating or getting ready to go out. Use this to direct targeted advertising that builds emotional connections.

Consider how people are listening

Listening in the car, on mobile devices and on smart speakers are very different activities and demand different types of messaging. Think about whether you’re addressing people directly, through their headphones, or making up part of the “background noise” as they drive, cook dinner or relax.

Source:, 17 Feb 2017