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How to Choose the Right Music for Ads

By incivus

While music in advertising is important, selecting the right music that aligns with the emotions and messaging of the ad is even more important. So, how, as a marketer, should you go about choosing the right music for your ad campaigns? Here’s a tried and tested method to select the music for your ads – for marketers, by marketers.

Humans have had a love affair with music for thousands of years or even longer. While researchers have a fair understanding of brain’s visual processors, they are yet to find the ‘music center’ as the brain areas affected by processing and enjoyment of music are spread across the brain. In spite of that, there is concrete evidence that highlights the direct relationship between music and human emotions.

A fitting example here would be the use of music by filmmakers to create a distinct emotional connection with their audience. The entire ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ movie flashes before my eyes whenever I listen to ‘Don’t Let it Pass’ by Junip.

Similarly, the right music in ads helps marketers form an emotional connection with the consumers which extends to building a long-term relationship with the brand.

A study conducted by Nielsen of 600 tv ads, out of which 500 had music, found that ads with music have 4% more creative power, 15% more informative power, and 5% more empathetic power.

Nielsen Study Power of Music

While music in advertising is important, selecting the right music that aligns with the emotions and messaging of the ad is even more important.

For instance, imagine a song about heartbreak playing in the background of a Nike ad with the premise of believing in yourself. Or a Domino’s ad with the premise of using organic ingredients. There will be a major disconnect between the music and the visuals which can create an unpleasant ad experience for viewers who might start associating the brand with negative feelings.

Music and visuals interact in extraordinarily complex ways and are inextricably linked, which is why it is important that the frames in the advertisement sync with the beats of the music creating a proper flow of information in the minds of the viewers.

So, how, as a marketer, should you go about choosing the right music for your ad campaigns? Here’s a tried and tested method to select the music for your ads – for marketers, by marketers.

How to Select the Right Music for an Ad Campaign

Ambient, needle drop, jingles, indie, pop, and audio logos are various types of music frequently used in ads. With such a diverse range of music available, it becomes a little tricky to determine the right music for a particular ad which is why it is important to have a well-thought process for selecting the right music for your ads. The following are a few steps you should consider for the music selection process.

Finalize what you want to say

Advertisements are quite versatile, which means they are used for almost all the stages of the sales funnel. The choice of music for the ads will need to align with the ad goal and the messaging. Here’s what Julanne Schiffer, head of Nielsen Entertainment, had to say about different genres of music and their relationship with human emotions that can be the starting point for selecting the right music for your ads.

  • Popular songs are most effective to invoke an emotional response
  • Generic background music improves the informative power of ads
  • Other non-pop genres are better suited for promotional ads
  • Jingles do not generate as much empathy as other forms of music which makes them better suited for proper sales-oriented commercials

So, if your advertisement is primarily made to share information, then you might want to explore ambient and peppy music that works well as background music.

Similarly, if you are looking to catch your customers’ attention while addressing their pain points, you might want to explore popular and needle drop music that is known to evoke emotions among the viewers.

?: While popular music is known to evoke emotions, choosing a not-so-popular but compelling soundtrack can prove to be more impactful. The reason being popular songs are being overplayed by radios, shopping malls, and social media which might make listeners indifferent to their music.

Adding an unpopular song to the advertisement makes it more memorable, interesting, and fresh to the ears and as a result, the eyes of the viewers. A very fitting example is the ‘Bouncing Balls’ Ad by Sony Bravia where they used ‘Heartbeats’ by Jose Gonzalez which became famous after the release of the ad. It is also a notable example of the perfect marriage between the visuals and the music.

Check music’s availability

Once you finalize the ad goals, messaging, genre, and have a fair idea of what kind of music you would like to explore for a particular ad or a brand, then the logical next step is to check the music’s availability. Adding this step to your process can save you from a lot of legal mess which can prove to be costly and time-consuming.

The process of selecting the music for an ad campaign followed by a world-renowned communications agency, DDB, starts by finding a suitable song and then getting it recorded by various artists. David Golding, DDB’s Chief Strategy Officer, in an interview about a Christmas campaign, said that once they have various versions of the soundtrack, they pick the version that resonates the most with the ad creative. Most agencies follow a similar process.

Additionally, agencies reach out to artists, recording studios, and music agencies to license already existing music or produce the most suitable piece of music, particularly for an ad campaign. For instance, ‘Anywhere in the world’ was created by Mark Ronson and Katy B for Coca-Cola’s Move to the Beat campaign in 2012 which was then recorded as a complete song and released.

Consider the cost

While the above-mentioned process of creating or acquiring rights to existing music is a costly affair, there is an abundance of royalty-free music available online that can be utilized for ads. Royalty-free music is the best option for small businesses and up & coming brands.

?: Similar to growing brands and businesses, there are many independent artists looking for ways to make money or get the right exposure. Based on the genre best suited for your advertisement, you can always explore such a space to collaborate with independent artists and musicians who are quite accessible via social media platforms. For example, one of my favorite independent artists, Ditty, can be a perfect fit for a sustainable, eco-friendly clothing or skincare brand since she herself echoes similar sentiments which also translates into her music.

Again, the decision entirely depends on the creative budget.

Keep an eye out for competitor’s music profile

If a particular piece of music or a soundtrack resonating with your brand personality can be good for your advertisements, it might also be a good fit for your competitors. While there’s always a difference between how the brands are positioned, their messaging, and overall personalities, there are good chances that they might be using a similar kind of music for their ads.

So, it is always good practice to ensure that the music hasn’t already been used by your competitors.

Apart from these major steps, here are a few more that can help refine and narrow down the choice of music for your ad campaigns:

  • Determine the role of music: Music has the ability to play various roles while complementing an advertisement. For example, a high-energy popular soundtrack can really drive an ad whereas low-energy ambient music makes for a pleasant background. So, while selecting the music for an ad, determine the role of the music – it can either be in foreground or background.
  • Align music with your target audience’s preferences: Another important point to keep in mind is the target audience and their music preferences. For instance, if your primary target audience is teenagers, then you might want to explore popular, high-energy music that can cut through the noise and catch their attention.
  • Experiment: Experimentation is the key to choosing the right music for an ad campaign. So, before settling on a track or genre for your ad campaign, make sure to experiment by adding different kinds of music to your ad creative and see which works well with it. To make experimenting hassle-free & quick, you can try our creative intelligence platform that evaluates the music in advertisements within minutes – it dissects a piece of music into mood, emotions, genre, and instruments to give you an overall understanding of the music profile and compares it with your brand’s defined sound branding.
  • Make it a part of your creative development process: For the impactful use of music in advertising, it is suggested that creatives, planners, and clients work in collaboration to choose the right music and make it a part of their overall creative development process.

Music Brings the Spotlight

As we move towards the video-first world where videos become the primary form of content consumption, music can prove to be a powerful hook for your advertisements. It is true that an advertisement will never go unnoticed when paired with the right piece of music that complements the visuals, the messaging as well as the brand’s personality.

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