Audience Insights Branding

Audio Logo Index 2016


An audio logo is a series of sounds or musical notes that uniquely identifies a company, product or service to its target audience.  Call them jingles, mnenomics or sonic branding, these short progressions of notes or chords are one of the most powerful weapons in the marketer’s arsenal.  Research has shown time and time again the deep connections between music and brain, and it’s no surprise that some of the best marketers in the world take advantage of this to promote their brands.

Veritonic Audio Logo Index report Yet music, and specifically audio logos, remain under-appreciated by most marketers.

Why?  Simply put, measurement.  The subjectivity and complexity of music have traditionally defied easy categorization and measurement, and the time-based nature of music has further clouded the ability to measure music’s effectiveness.

Veritonic’s technology and methodology for evaluating and ranking music for marketers solves these problems.  With this report, Veritonic is sharing it’s proprietary framework for understanding and evaluating the impact of audio logos in the market.

We’ve applied our methodology to the top audio logos in the United States, and have some findings to share.  Some are obvious, at least on reflection; and we think some are less so — especially in light of the obvious ones.

This report includes detailed data for the top 5 audio logos. If you’d like details on the others, or to have your audio logo analyzed, please contact us.

To submit your audio logo for consideration in future editions of this survey, please contact us!


Executive Summary

  • Marketing Spend: There is a strong correlation between marketing spend and the performance of audio logos.  The most successful audio logos generally (but not exclusively!) belong to the biggest marketers.
  • Longevity Counts:  Most of the strongest performers in our Index have been in-market for a considerable amount of time.  Some have even been in use for decades.
  • Industry Performance: There is a wide variation by industry in the performance of audio logos. Some industries performed as well as one would expect.  But one industry in particular, which is known for having tremendous marketing budgets, performed very poorly in our standings.
  • Words Matter: There are many variables that impact the performance of an audio logo.  One of those variables is whether or not the audio logo has a spoken component.  We found that those audio logos with a verbal component strongly outperformed those without a verbal component.
  • Consider Branding: Audio logos that include the name of the brand in either a spoken or sung fashion tend to outperform audio logos that are purely musical in nature, or that don’t include the name of the brand.



Over 2600 panelists were surveyed beginning on October 1, 2016.  The panel was carefully modeled to reflect US Census-representative distributions of age, gender, ethnicity and race.  Household income and data about a variety of other demographic and psychographic factors were also collected.

Audio logos were selected for testing from the Interbrand Best Global Brands of 2016, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and the S&P 500.  Only audio logos of brands with a significant US presence were evaluated.  For comparison purposes, control or “ghost level” audio logos were included in the evaluation.  These ghost levels consisted of professionally composed audio logos that were considered for major national and international brands, but were not selected and have never before been released to the public.

Panelists were asked to record their emotions as the audio logos played.  Panelists were then asked about a generalized basket of other feelings and associations the music evoked, including brands they may associate with the audio logos.  Panelists were contacted 48 hours later to test recall of the audio logos, and engagement with the audio logos was tracked throughout.

All emotions and engagement were tracked using Veritonic’s patent-pending EchoTime™ technology.

Finally, scores were calculated using a proprietary algorithm that combines emotional response, 48-hour recall, and Veritonic’s EchoTime™ data.


Key Findings

Key Findings from the Veritonic Audio Logo Index

Correlation with Spend

It’s not a huge surprise that overall scores appear to be correlated with marketing spend.  Though the exact budget numbers aren’t publicly available, it’s safe to assume that Nationwide, Farmers Insurance and Intel are among the biggest marketers in the United States, if not the world.

Unaided Recall, with Veritonic EchoTime score

Longevity Counts

It’s also not a shock that some of the highest scoring audio logos have been in the market for 20+ years. Intel’s famous chimes were launched in 1994, as part of the launch of a TV branding campaign. Of course, this also reflects the marketing spend of Intel.

A side effect of longevity is repetition.  The “mere exposure effect” was demonstrated to increase the positive association with a piece of music as far back as the 1960s.  Audio logos by their very nature are prime candidates for benefiting from the mere exposure effect: after all, they are intended to be heard across every interaction with a target consumer.  Besides the fact that they’re often created by exceptionally talented composers, it’s also no surprise that many audio logos are referred to as “earworms.”

Interestingly, some audio logos that have been not been in front of consumers as much also scored well.  Green Giant’s famous “Ho-ho-ho, Green Giant” has been in the market since the early 1960s, despite a short hiatus in recent years.  And Folgers’ audio logo, another top-performing consumer brand in our survey, has been in market since 1984.

The takeaway here is that persistence counts.  Cumulative marketing spend can add up over many years.

Some Industries are Really Good at Audio Logos…

Really competitive markets breed really tough, innovative competitors.  It’s not a surprise then that an industry like financial services has developed some outstanding marketing tactics.   In fact, three of the top ten audio logos belong to P&C insurers (that’s home and car insurance to most of us): Nationwide, Farmers and Statefarm.

Veritonic Audio Logo Report Overall Score by Industry

…And Some Industries are Not So Good.

We’re looking at you, automotive marketers.

Overall Score verbal vs non-verbal

Words Matter

It’s not a huge surprise that audio logos with words scored better than those without.  After all, our brains are wired to recognize and process language. What is surprising is perhaps the magnitude of the difference.  In our survey, the average “verbal” audio logo fared over 14% better than the average non-verbal audio logo.

Consider Branding

On the other hand, audio logos with a branded verbal component also tend to outperform those without a branded verbal component, by an even larger margin: almost 30%.Overall Score branded vs unbranded The verbal audio logos we examined include some with the name of the brand (“Ho-Ho-Ho, Green Giant!”) and some without (“I’m lovin’ it!” for McDonald’s).  Of course, this doesn’t mean that every brand should automatically refresh their audio logo to include the name of the brand.  Some brands, especially those with a large international presence, seek more universal sounds, like Intel.

Individual Results

1. Nationwide

Unaided Recall

Excited Happy Approachable Authentic Confident Empowering Innovative Likable Reputable Simple Trustworthy Unique
76 84 72 70 72 65 65 72 70 74 70 65

Our top-performing audio logo belongs to Nationwide Insurance.   The venerable audio logo is still going strong after more than half a century in action.  It’s a respectable performer in its ability to evoke Emotions and Feelings, generally in the upper quartile of audio logos we tested.  The top attribute in the Nationwide audio logo was the emotion of Happy, where it tied for 3rd — coincidentally with Statefarm, another P&C insurer.

The Nationwide audio logo really stands out, however, in 2 key areas: Unaided Recall and Engagement score. It had the top Unaided Recall score among the audio logos tested, by a significant margin. That the Nationwide audio logo would score this well isn’t a surprise, considering that Nationwide had enough confidence in the strength of their audio to engage in a gentle parody of it with spokesperson Peyton Manning last year (“Chicken parm/you taste so good…”).

Furthermore, the Nationwide audio logo was in the top decile of performers for Engagement.  The speed and pattern of the responses by panelists to the audio logo demonstrates how deeply planted the audio logo has become in panelists’ psyches.

2. Farmer’s Insurance

Unaided Recall

Excited Happy Approachable Authentic Confident Empowering Innovative Likable Reputable Simple Trustworthy Unique
78 80 82 74 76 74 70 70 76 74 74 74

Our second-best performer overall belongs to Farmers Insurance.  This relative newcomer (by on-air promotion, that is) has taken a slightly different route to the top than Nationwide: while it scores well for Unaided Recall and it’s in the 90th percentile for EchoTime™ Engagement, it succeeds in large part by strongly evoking key emotions and feelings.  For instance, it’s the top performer in evoking Trustworthiness and Uniqueness, and also shares the lead in being a top performer for Innovative and Empowering.

3. Intel

Unaided Recall

Excited Happy Approachable Authentic Confident Empowering Innovative Likable Reputable Simple Trustworthy Unique
80 78 72 74 74 70 70 70 74 74 72 72

This outstanding audio logo came in third overall in our Q3 rankings in large part because it “hits all the right notes.”  It ties for second place in Unaided Recall, and it’s near the top in Excited and in Engagement metrics.  However, the marketers at Intel will likely be most gratified to hear that the Intel tones tie for first for evoking the feeling of Innovative among audience members.

4. Green Giant

Unaided Recall

Excited Happy Approachable Authentic Confident Empowering Innovative Likable Reputable Simple Trustworthy Unique
76 86 76 78 74 68 68 74 76 76 76 74

The next-best performing audio logo is the classic Green Giant audio logo, which has been in market since the 1960s.  The Green Giant logo scored at the top for Authentic and Confident.  That said, this well-known audio logo may be showing its age: despite its obvious strengths, it only scored in the middle of the pack for Emotional Response data, notably for Excited. It also lagged behind the other top performers in Engagement.

5. Hot Pockets

Unaided Recall

Excited Happy Approachable Authentic Confident Empowering Innovative Likable Reputable Simple Trustworthy Unique
76 86 72 70 68 62 64 68 68 74 68 68

The Hot Pockets audio logo was a top performer, and introduces an element of branding — the “ding” of a microwave — that clearly evokes the process of delivering the product.  The Pavlovian sound is so distinctive that it actually has the best EchoTime score in our survey.  And everyone whose stomachs started rumbling as soon as they saw the brand name will be happy to hear that Hot Pockets’ audio logo also tied for the highest score in Happy.

6. McDonald’s

Unaided Recall

McDonald’s has been renowned for decades as a great marketer, so it’s no surprise to find them on this list. The “I’m Lovin’ It” campaign evokes great Excitement, and also has great Unaided Recall. Like many of the audio logos on this list, the sound has evolved somewhat over the years but its current iteration evokes a great deal of Excitement. In fact, it’s the sole leader for this attribute. It also ties for 3rd for Unaided Recall.

7. Chevy

Unaided Recall

Unlike many of its competitors, Chevy’s audio logo often plays at the start of advertising.  This strategy seems to work effectively, since it’s at the top of the rankings in the automotive sector.  While performing notably poorly in the Excited dimension, the audio logo scores quite highly for Trustworthy and Approachable, key attributes for a high-ticket product marketed as being dependable “like a rock.”

8. Folgers

Unaided Recall

The Folgers audio logo has been in-market for over 30 years, since 1984. Critical for a consumer packaged good (CPG) that’s seeking to be in every cupboard, it scores very well for Feelings like Approachable and Authentic.  It also successfully evokes Simple.  Reflecting the branded and verbal nature of the audio logo, it also has a very high Unaided Recall score, tying for third.

9. Statefarm

Unaided Recall

Another insurer, State Farm’s audio logo scores well across a number of dimensions but is not the leader in any one category in our survey. It evokes Happy, but is only in 9th place for Unaided Recall. Similarly, it’s in the 80th percentile for our EchoTime™ Engagement metric.

10. T-Mobile

Unaided Recall

T-Mobile’s distinctive chimes score reasonably well for the Emotions Happy and Excited.  While it’s only 10th for Unaided Recall, the tones are apparently very distinctive for those who do recall them: the audio logo is in the top decile for Engagement.

11. Autozone

Unaided Recall

Similar to T-Mobile, Autozone’s audio logo scores well for Happy and Excited.  It’s also in 10th place for Unaided Recall, while still being in the top decile for Engagement.  It’s also a strong performer for Confident.

12. The General

Unaided Recall

Another insurer, The General Insurance, takes 12th on our list.  It’s audio logo evokes the Emotion Happy.  It’s also perceived as one of the most Unique audio logos in our survey.  It’s in the second quartile for Unaided Recall, but is only in the 50th percentile for Engagement.

13. Duracell

Unaided Recall

Another longstanding audio logo, Duracell’s “Coppertop” audio logo is solidly in the second quartile of logos in our survey.  This is in spite of the fact that it scores below average for Happy.  While it does take 13th for Unaided Recall, it only scores in the 50th percentile for Engagement.

14. Meow Mix

Unaided Recall

Meow Mix’s eponymous audio logo scores well for the Emotion Happy, which is not a surprise given the close association with pets.  It ties for 6th for Approachable, and also scores highly for Reputable.  Perhaps because of its’ branded and verbal nature, it is in the second quartile for Unaided Recall.  However, the Meow Mix audio logo ranks near the bottom for Engagement.

15. Old Spice

Unaided Recall

Old Spice’s whistle successfully evokes Excited, perhaps the most important emotional component for a brand currently focusing its marketing on a younger male demographic.  It also ranks well for the Feeling of Likable.  While it only ranks 15th for Unaided Recall, the Engagement metric puts it in the 70th percentile.

16. AT&T

Unaided Recall

A brand very much in the news right now for its proposed acquisition of Time Warner, AT&T’s 4-note logo is relatively new in the market.  It ranks in the 2nd or 3rd quartile in most of the dimensions our survey covered, including Excited, Happy, Innovative and Unaided Recall.  The audio logo slightly outperforms on the Engagement metric, where it’s in the 70th percentile.


Unaided Recall

A well known brand but not a prolific TV advertiser, BAND-AID’s audio logo may suffer from lower ad spend than many of the other brands on this list.  In fact, it performed well for most metrics evaluated.  The stark exception was that the audience perceived it as the least Exciting audio logo evaluated, tied with one of the Ghost Levels.

18. HomeAdvisor

Unaided Recall

One of the smaller brands tested, HomeAdvisor’s audio logo stacks up very favorably when measured on the basis of marketing dollars. The audio logo, featuring a chorus singing the name, evokes Happy and Confident. It also ranks in the top quartile for Confident, important for a brand acting as an intermediary for handyman and home renovation services. It scored in the second quartile for both Unaided Recall and Engagement, which makes sense given it’s smaller advertising budget and the relative newness of the audio logo.

19. Gillette

Unaided Recall

Gillette’s audio logo was relatively undistinguished in our survey.  It’s strongest performance was in Confident.  But it was only in the 2nd quartile for Engagement and Recall.

20. Little Caesar’s

Unaided Recall

Reintroduced in 2012, Little Caesar’s iconic “Pizza Pizza” tag line and audio logo may be struggling to break through to an audience that’s more fragmented than when this audio logo was last an essential part of the brand’s marketing.  It scores in the 4th quartile for Unaided Recall, but jumps into the 1st quartile for Engagement.  This likely reflects the familiarity of a slightly older demographic.

21. United Healthcare

Unaided Recall

Another financial services company, United Healthcare operates in the medical insurance area.  It makes sense that their audio logo evokes Confident and Authentic.  While United Healthcare’s Unaided Recall is relatively low, in the third quartile, it outperforms on Engagement, coming in as a  second quartile performer.

22. Liberty Mutual

Unaided Recall

Liberty Mutual’s audio logo is at it’s best with emotions, where it’s in the second quartile for Happy.  It’s other strengths are that it’s quite Simple. As a newer entrant in the audio logo space, it’s no surprise that the Liberty Mutual audio logo is only in the third quartile for Unaided Recall.  As with United Healthcare, LMI also outperforms on Engagement, where it comes in in the second quartile.

23. Always Discrete

Unaided Recall

The Always Discrete audio logo tested very well for the Emotions Happy and Excited. It also outperformed for being perceived as Simple. Given the very focused and specific appeal of the underlying product, it’s not a huge surprise that it scored in the third quartile for Unaided Recall, but for those who did recall it, it resonated very strongly, coming in the top quartile for Engagement.

24. BMW

Unaided Recall

BMW’s audio logo is relatively new in the market, introduced in 2013.  This may account for it’s relatively low performance, in the third or fourth quartile virtually across the board.  One bright spot is that it actually generated a relatively high score for Excited, which meshes nicely with the brand’s values.

25. Audi

Unaided Recall

As with BMW, Audi’s relatively new audio logo was also not one of our top performers. It generally scored on par with, or slightly below, BMW’s audio logo. The one spot where it significantly outperformed BMW was in Engagement, where it jumped up to the second quartile, relative to it’s Unaided Recall, which was in the 4th quartile. This may indicate that fans are beginning to recognize and respond to the sequence of sounds.


About Veritonic

Veritonic helps brands identify the audio content that best resonates with their audience.  The Veritonic platform combines proprietary marketing response data with predictive algorithms and a unique demographic search engine giving our clients the ability to quickly discover, test and benchmark audio content to fit their specific marketing goals.

If you have questions about the value of the music or audio content you are using in your marketing, contact us.

If you have questions about how your music and audio content stacks up to your competition, contact us.

If you have questions about how to improve your music selection and the equity that your brand enjoys in music, contact us.

We turn audio files into valuable marketing assets.

To submit your audio logo for consideration in future editions of this survey, please contact us!
Advertising Audience Insights

Market Research Lessons From the 2016 Election

Market research lessons from election 2016
It’s now been just over a couple of weeks since the 2016 presidential election was concluded, and virtually all of the forecasts were wrong. Polls predicted a small but persistent lead for Hillary Clinton. Even respected forecasters like FiveThirtyEight were predicting as late as the morning of the election that HRC would win. And while she did succeed in winning the popular vote, Donald Trump ultimately won the election by amassing well over the required 270 electoral votes.

How did the forecasters get it so wrong? And given the close relationship between the techniques that both polling companies and market researchers use, what lessons can market researchers take away from the election?

The Root of all Evil: Sampling Error

The wrong predictions are rooted in many causes, but from a market research perspective, they all boil down to sampling error. What is sampling error? Instead of trying to collect opinions or feedback from everyone, which is obviously not feasible, researchers collect feedback from a smaller subset, or sample, of the population, and extrapolate conclusions from that data. When the sample doesn’t accurately reflect the larger population, researchers are far more likely to draw the wrong conclusions.

sampling error led to missed forecasts in election coverage How did sampling error play into the missed forecasts about the election? One of the most controversial hypotheses before the election was that many Trump supporters, embarrassed by his positions and rhetoric, declined to identify themselves as supporters to polling organizations that contacted them, the so-called “Shy Trump” effect. While specifics on the voting data is still coming in, and will be analyzed for decades to come, early data indicates that this fear is correct. Many Trump supporters, especially women, have since told exit polling organizations, that they were reluctant to share their support for Trump.

The Very Model of a Modern Major General (Election)

A closely related issue is the model of the voting electorate that the forecasters used. Simply assessing the sentiment of a sample of the general population is not sufficient. Forecasting the outcome of a vote means making assumptions about who will actually make it to the voting booth to cast a vote, and then make sure their sample reflects this makeup. Pollsters, like market researchers, slice the population into actionable segments they can contact, like “soccer moms” or “auto intenders.” With a groundswell of support from certain groups of voters that were generally underrepresented in most polling models— for instance, market research lessons from Veritonic white males in the midwest states with less than a college degree, but also certain sectors of the Hispanic electorate — it’s not a shock that the models got the outcome wrong.

The sampling error is further compounded by researchers’ ability to contact individuals, period. The traditional technique for polling was to randomly telephone individuals and have a person ask questions. In a time when virtually the entire population had landlines, and could reliably be counted on to answer them, this was a great technique. But a broad variety of technologies have made the simple contacting of panelists much more difficult. Landlines have been in decline, in favor of cell phones, which marketers are actually legally prohibited from calling by an automatic dialing system. Even the ability to screen calls makes it that much easier for potential panelists to avoid being contacted.

Not All Bad

Market research is impacted by all of these factors. And yet, there is cause for optimism. Companies specializing in finding panelists from a broad variety of backgrounds have sprung up over the last few years, facilitated by the internet. Even though the panelists from these companies are generally compensated, which introduces its own set of biases, they’ve “raised their hand” and are available to ask questions. This virtually eliminates the “Shy” phenomenon.

Similarly, the fact that these panelists have raised their hands greatly reduces the “contactability” issue. There may be timing to consider — it will always be difficult to get a large number of responses in an hour, for instance — but generally panel providers have contact details, and permission, from their panel members. market research insights Technology makes modeling the desired population easier too. Marketers generally develop highly detailed models of their desired audience. Many panels available for commercial use have deep background data on individual panel members, collected when they sign up or over time, making the construction of a representative panel matching a marketer’s needs much easier.

Market researchers can also use data to refine their survey taking experience. For instance, at Veritonic we monitor the feedback and completion rates on our surveys closely. Our surveys largely consist of listening and responding to music and similar audio, and panelists taking our surveys tell us it’s a much more enjoyable experience than other market research experiences they’ve participated in, and we constantly think about how to make it an even better experience.

The results of the 2016 election should give everyone reason to pause and reflect. But market researchers should not be overly concerned that the missed forecasts require tossing out all of the survey techniques that have been honed over the past hundred years.

Branding News

3 Take-Aways from the SyncSummit Hollywood 2016

Veritonic at Sync Summit Hollywood 2016
Veritonic was fortunate enough to be a part for the SyncSummit in Hollywood, CA last week. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, the SyncSummit is a series of networking events held in New York, Hollywood and Paris that brings together top executives in music and advertising.  Attendees include the top music supervisors, heads of music in visual and interactive media (TV, Film, Video Games, Advertising, the Internet and Mobile), label executives, publishers, music libraries, composers, artists, technologists, lawyers, accountants, brand managers, and other service providers.

Veritonic CEO Scott Simonelli Speaking at SyncSummit
The event is full of productive networking opportunities along with discussions and case studies.  Much of the content covers how music is discovered and used in advertising and marketing.  Creative and promotional considerations were also the subject of in-depth discussions.

Other than learning how to drive 3.5 miles in 2hrs (thank you, LA traffic!), here are 3 things we thought were worth sharing:

1) We should all listen to Socrates

The saying, “I know that I know nothing” is generally attributed to Plato’s Socrates. While there is some debate around who should be given credit for this quote, for the purposes of choosing which music should be used in an Ad, we should all live by it!

During an interactive session, we played 3 choices for the audience.  Audience members had to pick the winning track for a given advertisement.  They were provided with the target audience demographics and goals for feelings, emotions and intent.

Veritonic marketing intelligence platform for sound

Out of a room of about 75 people… only 2 guessed correctly!  Ah, if we could only make the right choice 2.67% of the time. Imagine how successful our marketing efforts would be.

One thing Americans learned from our recent Presidential Election is that we couldn’t accurately predict how millions of people were feeling. The American people elected Donald Trump, in spite of virtually every poll beforehand showing a strong lead for Hillary Clinton.  In fact, it wasn’t until the electorate actually voted that their preferences became clear. We all know how powerful music can be, but the only way to truly know if a piece of music is working for an audience is to ask them!

2) People buy from People

I have a friend, a consummate sales professional, who always uses the phrase “People buy from People.” The general premise of this quote is that when you’re buying a product or service, the person or brand/company that you’re buying from is much more important than the product itself. For example, we might buy anything the late great Steve Jobs pitched. And how can you possibly resist buying Girl Scout Cookies from the little girl next store even though you can’t bear to eat another Samoa?

After speaking with attendees and listening to presentations from music supervisors at ABC Family, Coca-Cola and Microsoft, it’s obvious that the lion’s share of music being used in advertising, TV and movies is chosen based exclusively on having a relationship with a publisher or composer. Sure, it’s great to work with people you trust. However, what if those same people could be selling you a better product?

music metadata

Since the foundation of how music is cataloged is still manually entered, static, metadata, there’s no way for the buyer or the seller to know what they’ve got. It would be like buying a new Apple Macbook Pro without knowing the processor speed or the hard drive storage. Would anyone do that? Probably. But that would be foolish. If you’ve got thousands of 4k videos of cats wearing headphones, you’ll want to make sure there’s a 2tb hard drive in your brand new $3,000 laptop.

The same goes for music. If your job as a marketer is to elicit a certain feeling, generate more product sales from TV ads, or simply to engage an audience for a full minute, you should always be using music that has been proven to accomplish your goal. With better data sellers can thrive by providing a superior product and buyers can be sure they’re getting exactly what they’re paying for and what they need to be successful.

We’re excited to be part of the movement that’s bringing better data to the music selection process and this conference was yet another step in the right direction.

3) Can you hear me now?

Just like the that annoying “Can you hear me now” guy, whose simple catchphrase seems to never go away, or how “Ho, Ho, Ho Green Giant!” is still successful at selling veggies, I’ll never stop being fascinated by how long music can stay with someone. Music has a unique ability to rattle around our heart, soul and brain for years, whether we like it or not!  One of the themes that permeated the SyncSummit was how music serves as the foundation for all multimedia content and is the key driver for influencing an emotional reaction. veritonic emotional engagement scores  

In one session about the Netflix series The Get Down, it was abundantly clear, like other projects from Baz Lurhman that the music is the main character. In another session with Kyle Hopkins, Music Supervisor from Microsoft, he talked about how music is such an integral part of a gaming experience that it is given as much thought as gameplay and graphics. In fact, there have been many studies like this one showing that gamers who experience optimal background music in their games played better and played longer.

What’s next?

Veritonic at Hollywood Sync Summit 2016
After spending time with everyone in Hollywood, you could feel the energy and the promise of what’s coming next for music in advertising, film, TV and beyond. It’s so exciting to be part of the wave that is bringing music even closer to it’s rightful place as a quantifiable powerhouse at the core of multimedia.

We hope to see, and hear, everyone out there at future SyncSummits in Prague, Nashville and NYC.    

Advertising Audience Insights

3 Things We’ve Learned Testing Music for Pharma


Over the past 24 months, we’ve tested thousands of pieces of music, for hundreds of TV spots. These include many spots for the pharmaceutical industry, including both “over the counter” and prescription medications. We’d like to share some of what we’ve learned.

Mood Matters

First, Mood Matters. Most pharma spots follow a similar script, familiar to the advertising industry, beginning with the introduction of a problem: a condition or ailment that needs treatment. The solution is then introduced, typically either a product or medication being marketed by the pharmaceutical company, which leads to a resolution.  
Mood in Pharmaceutical AdsThe United States introduces an additional wrinkle for pharmaceutical ads. These types of ads are generally regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which requires that these types of ads generally “present the benefits and risks of a prescription drug in a balanced fashion.” TV and online video ads generally do this by presenting the risks of the drug in a short section the FDA calls the “major statement.”
These statements of risk present a real challenge for marketers. How do you talk about a risk that your product poses to your audience, while generating and maintaining enthusiasm for the product? One answer lies in carefully calibrating the emotions that the spot evokes — and music is a crucial lever for performing that calibration. A marketer we worked with recently wanted the start of the ad to be happy and calming; for the music to be slightly nervous during the major statement; and the spot to end with happy, upbeat music.  The Veritonic platform measured the occurrence and intensity of the emotions and feelings the music evoked in the marketer’s target audience.  Evaluating the music with this approach allowed them to optimize the emotions and associations that the audience felt during the spot.  

Timing is Key

Veritonic Pharmaceutical Advertisement TestingSecond, Timing Is Key. That same spot had very precise spots where the emotions had to change.The first 10 seconds of the ad needed to be happy and calming; the second 10 seconds to be slightly nervous, coinciding with the presentation by the voiceover of the risks of the drug; and for the final 10 seconds to have a happy, upbeat resolution.  Using data about the emotional profile of the tracks, the agency and the composer were able to refine the music to precisely shape the tracks to evoke the emotions in exactly the manner and scope that the marketer wanted.

Regulated Industries Must Pay Extra Attention

Third, regulated industries like the pharmaceutical industry may need to pay extra attention to emotion and other attributes that their ads and music may evoke. For instance, Veritonic was asked to evaluate the music for a TV ad marketing an over-the-counter sleep aid. Unsurprisingly, the music in the spot built off a lullaby-style theme. But playing too heavily off the lullaby theme risked making it seem as if the product was targeted to children. That’s a real problem for pharmaceutical marketers: it misses the mark, audience-wise.  
Timing in Pharmaceutical Ad TestingPerhaps more importantly, it risks making the spot appeal to a demographic, in this case, children, that the drug was not approved for. Since the product is available without a prescription, the ads don’t have the same burden of presenting the risks. However, the marketers are still forbidden from pitching the product to an audience — children! — that it’s not tested and approved for.
Happily, using testing data the marketer was able to identify two tracks that jumped out as being for adults, while sticking with the lullaby and sleep theme that their marketing strategy required. But this happy resolution merely underscores the importance of the emotion and other attribute data when selecting music for advertising pharmaceuticals.

Do you have other insights or questions from selecting music for pharmaceutical ads?  Please share them in the comments below!



What is Metadata for Music in Advertising?

music-largeThere is a new challenge in today’s digital world: we are drowning in the ever-increasing river of content. How do you manage all of the content that is out there? How can you find precisely what you are looking for when there is so much information? Metadata is one approach to this challenge. In the advertising world, it is a key component in the music selection process.

What is metadata?

Metadata is data that gives information about other data. Think of it as a high-level summary of  the information found inside any file type. One example is a card in a library card catalog. For a book, this data would consist of the author, title, date published, Library of Congress Decimal Classification code, etc. Similarly, metadata can also be used to describe other types of content, like documents, images, videos, spreadsheets, music, web pages, and much more.

Sample card for a library card catalog


Why do we need metadata?

We need metadata because having more robust data attached to a file makes it easier to identify, locate, manage, and discover. For instance, you can search a particular artist in a digital library and pull up all files that have that artist’s name in the metadata. This is particularly useful when an artist is not listed as the main artist on a track, but rather, as a “featured artist” or perhaps even as a composer. So if you’re trying to find that hot new Rihanna track, but it’s actually a Calvin Harris song that she’s featured on, you will still find the track when you type in her name.
Being able to filter using metadata also allows for easy isolation and organization of songs that share characteristics. So if you’re searching for a particular type of track, filtering your library using metadata will bring you a shorter list of tracks. For example, you can filter by the genre “Rock” and the year “1975” and your library will only show you tracks that share that same genre and year.
Metadata has become even more important in an increasingly digital world. Now we are not just dealing with libraries in the physical sense, but rather, a world of digital content, which means that there is even more information out there than ever, and all of it needs to be sifted through and managed. Not only has the sheer amount of content increased, but also the way this content is digested is changing. Unlike books and webpages, some of these files resist easy searching. You can’t “flip through” a digital file. It is, therefore, crucial to have metadata as a means of finding this information quickly.

How do you create metadata?

Metadata can be created both manually or using automated information processing. When you input metadata manually, you decide what information you think is relevant or needed for finding or identifying the file. An automated system, on the other hand, may only be able to create more objective information such as file size, file extension, etc.

How is metadata used for music in advertising?

Metadata gives brands, agencies, publishers and music supervisors a method for searching and organizing their libraries. This can help them go from billions of songs to just a few in a short amount of time, and it helps composers get their music licensed.
Using metadata, these tracks can be indexed according to genre, instruments, moods, etc., using “tags” or keywords, which in turn makes them more searchable. In an iTunes library, for example, you can right click a song and select “get info” and it will show you that track’s metadata. Most of the basic information about a song is already there if you download it from iTunes. In this section, you can also add your own metadata in the comments field. If you’ve added emotions in the comments field like “happy”, your library will pull up all the tracks that contain this word in their metadata.

ID3 tag metadata in iTunes
Example of ID3 tag metadata in iTunes

Music for advertising is often stored in the MP3 format, which have a specific area of the file for descriptive metadata called the ID3 tag. The ID3 container includes fields for storing the artist, song title, year, genre, album, composer, bpm and other descriptive data, very much like the card in a library card catalog. The main issue with ID3 tag is its inflexible format. There are a set number of labelled fields users can fill out, and beyond these standard fields there is only room for a custom type of information in the “comments” field. This means that you cannot isolate “happy” the emotion from the “Happy” that’s in a song’s title. The other issue is that someone still has to manually enter in anything that’s beyond the standard fields.
While it is true that metadata is important for music supervisors and creative directors who are searching for music to put in their ads, it is equally important for artists who want their music discovered and licensed properly. As an artist, you must have the correct metadata (copyright information, etc.) in the publisher’s database in order for royalties to be paid to you and to the publishers, and to show that the rights are cleared. Music supervisors and creative directors won’t even consider a piece of music unless the rights are pre-cleared, and the metadata is a quick way of showing that they are.
It is also important as an artist to include your contact information in your metadata. This allows music supervisors and others to identify where a song came from, and to contact the artist. Having easy access to the artist’s contact information is especially important if they decide to only use specific components of the track. For example, they might only want the vocal track for an ad or they might not want any vocals at all.
Via: &

What is the value of metadata for music selection in advertising?

While metadata is a necessary tool for managing and discovering songs in a vast catalog, and for licensing music, it is not sufficient when selecting music for advertising. Easy management of music is crucial to the selection process, but it will not tell you as a marketeer what song is the best fit for your ad. It also does not give a fully objective characterization of songs. Descriptions that go beyond the standard ID3 tags are manually inputted, which makes them fairly subjective. What one person thinks is “happy” another might think is “sad”. As a result, you cannot rely on metadata to give you accurate information about the song.
What’s your experience with metadata?  Useful, or a minefield riddled with mistakes?  Easy to maintain, or the bane of your existence?  Let us know in the comments!

Audience Insights Branding

Why Should I Test My Music?

Soundboard by Veritonic

You test everything, why don’t you test your music?

Advertising today is data driven.
Yes, that’s right: the days of “Mad Men,” drinking martinis and dreaming up amazing campaigns, then releasing them on TV in a blaze of glory, is on it’s way out.  Creativity is still central to advertising— and always will be! — but resources are too scarce and competition is too great to allow the decisions on potentially millions of dollars in ad spend to be made based on gut alone.  That’s why more and more companies are committing to making their decision-making process for marketing and advertising more data-driven.
What does that mean?  Usually it means that data is applied to the core creative concept, in the form of a focus group, which is almost never of the size to reveal statistically significant measurements.  The visuals get tested, the copy is tested, the ad buy is informed by data, and the size and composition of the audience that sees the ad is measured.  Even the choice of colors is informed by data.  For online advertising, the use of data is even more pervasive: the ad units may be A/B tested, the audience is micro-targeted, and the viewability of the ad is measured more and more frequently.
In fact, there’s really only one area of advertising that doesn’t have any data supporting the decisions that get made: selecting the music.

Music Defies Easy Measurement

Why is this?  Music has some characteristics that defy easy categorization and measurement, and addressing these issues is complex and time-consuming.  Music is highly subjective, for one: who doesn’t have a special memory of “that song they played at prom”, or a similar association?  These experiences lead individuals to make decisions that may not reflect the tastes and associations of the audience the marketer is trying to reach.  Similarly, until recently, no one has applied any psychological framework to music, but that’s changing as research reveals how music impacts the brain.
Music also has a temporal component that makes it unique.  It must be consumed over a period of time, unlike an image or copy.  Music is also frequently asked to evoke different emotions at different times throughout an ad: for example, happy for the first ten seconds, then nervous for the next ten seconds, before resolving to an even happier state for the last ten seconds.  As we like to say at Veritonic, music has “lots of nooks and crannies!”
The format of music also defies easy categorization and manipulation.  It usually exists as a collection of .MP3 files, which is a file format designed for compression, not easy categorization.  Even at the most sophisticated agencies, music is frequently stored in a folder in the iTunes account of the music supervisor, or maybe the creative director.  Formats and storage options like these don’t lend themselves to sorting, discovery or collaboration.

Music Metadata Isn’t A Help

To the extent that there is data to facilitate the selection of music for advertising, it’s in the form of “metadata”.  These are simple tags added by the composer — or even more frequently by the ad agency’s interns! — that list the artist, title, date of creation, and maybe the owners of the tracks’ copyrights.  In fact, most of the metadata is concerned with the administration and usage of the music, rather than anything useful to help select it.
The data that most music libraries have isn’t any better or more helpful.  Libraries or online aggregators and resellers try to augment the “typical” metadata by having staff or interns add simple generalizations about the music, like tempo or beats per minute, genre, and instrumentation.  They may also try to categorize the “mood” of the music, boiling down the entire piece to a single “emotion”.  These tags have the same issues as metadata: they’re the output of a single person’s perceptions of the emotion, who almost certainly doesn’t represent the target audience that the advertiser or user of the music is trying to reach.
Testing can address all of these shortcomings, and give data that far exceeds these limitations.  Advanced psychological frameworks can give insight about how people respond to the audio stimulus.  And built-to-purpose audiences – that match the audiences marketers are trying to reach – can give their opinions about the music, revealing the emotional texture of music, while also informing the marketers and composers about how well the music supports the story the marketer is trying to tell.

Supporting Creativity

Will this limit creativity?  Far from it.  If anything the reverse is true.  Data can support making choices that would otherwise be perceived as risky or out of the mainstream.
For example, a prominent music publisher told us about a doo-wop track that he felt would be perfect for a TV spot he was working on.  But without data to support the choice, he couldn’t convince his client to go with a musical style that isn’t in the mainstream right now.
There’s also a ton of research that shows that the rigor of an objective decision-making process can actually improve creativity.
That’s why you should test your music.  You test everything else, and that data makes for better marketing and better results.  The technology is here to address the difficulties in testing music, helping you make better decisions about the music in your marketing
Have you tested your music, or used any data to select music?  Let us know what you’ve used and your experience to date in the comments!

Audience Insights Branding

Enhance Your Music Tastemaking Skills With Data

Enhance music selection with data from Veritonic

Music selection can make or break an ad. Music supervisors and creative teams have tremendous taste and experience that is critical for making these decisions. But with millions of dollars in ad spend on the line, it’s becoming too risky to rely on the opinions of a few individuals. What to do? Use data! Here are seven reasons you should support your musical taste with data.

1) Minimize subjectivity

There will always be some degree of subjectivity in the music selection process. And there should always be real humans helping select music; after all, the whole purpose of music in ads is to have an emotional impact on people. But smart marketers know that “you are not your target audience.” (Usually, anyway.) Having real data from your target audience that quantifies this emotional impact can help make the decision making process better, and easier.

2) Quantify your music

Matching music to advertising demands data. Simple attributes like beats per minute or instrumentation can help creative professionals narrow down the list of possibilities.  More advanced data can quantify the emotions, feelings and other associations that music evokes in people. Simple insights like these can make a good spot into a great spot.

3) Create objective metadata

Metadata can be very subjective: typically, it’s manually entered by a single individual. But if you test your music, augment your traditional metadata with marketing response data. Think about how much more comfortable you’ll be when you know that your audience perceives a particular track as “Exciting” or “Authentic,” before you recommend it for an ad!

4) Benchmark your music

Data also lets you compare the performance of new music to tracks you’ve used in the past. Evaluate how well your music evokes a consistent set of emotions, and ensure your audience receives a consistent message. Even better, collect data on your competitors’ music and compare it to your music!

5) Track emotions over time

Unlike the visual or copy in advertising, music happens over time. The data you use to evaluate music should reflect this temporal component! Record emotions from your audience over time to determine the changes occurring throughout a song and ensure you use the right portion of the song. And analyze this data in chart form to see if the music matches the story arc.  

6) Compare competing tracks

Music is rarely “one and done.” Typically, the people responsible for music must choose between multiple tracks. Compare how each track scores against your goals. Which one best evokes Sincerity? Which one best evokes Optimism? Which one makes the audience Happy for the last :15? Allow the data to educate you about the benefits and drawbacks of all your tracks, not just one.

7) Use Data As the Key, Not the Lock

Data is not a straightjacket. Instead, it’s the key to unlocking even more creativity. Can’t convince the client to use a really funky track that you know would be perfect? Let the data show why it’s right. Sitting around the conference room all day, arguing endlessly about which version to use? Instead of fighting with your co-workers about what song you think is a better, sit back, relax, and let the data do the talking!
How do you use data in your music selection process today?  Please share it with us in the comments below!


Why Veritonic?

Marketers have a wealth of data at their fingertips. In fact, virtually every decision that marketers make has some data guiding it: where and how to place ads, who to target marketing to, what color to make the submit button, and so on. But music selection has been a loud exception to this rule. Every marketer has a story about how frustrating music selection can be: find 10 tracks with wildly different price points, play them for a group of friends and colleagues, then debate endlessly which one to go with, only to swap the track for a different one at the last minute “because the CEO’s daughter thought it sounded cooler.”
At the same time, the sheer volume of music available to marketers is increasing at an ever-faster pace. New tools and technology are making “professional grade” music creation easier and more accessible.  Meanwhile, new mechanisms for consuming music (and other media) are fragmenting audiences, and making tastes and associations harder than ever to understand.  Consequently, marketers are having an ever-more-difficult time understanding the value of a given piece of music.
Veritonic Mix and Cut Music Sync ToolsVeritonic was created to solve these problems. We were pioneers in online testing and optimization, helping marketers make data-driven decisions about websites and user experience when they were struggling for guidance. Now we’re providing the same caliber of tools to help make music selection easy and, above all, better.
Where did this idea come from?  Before Veritonic, Scott  and Andrew were at Optimost, an enterprise software company that pioneered A/B Testing online.  In the evenings, Scott was also working as a composer, writing everything from :30 second jingles to full-length musicals.  By day, they were working with marketers who were eager to escape the slippery slope of decisions made on gut instinct, experience and, too often, “pay grade.”  (That is, the proverbial HIPPO — “Highest Paid Person’s Opinion”!)  
When it came to music, however, the same marketers would throw their hands up and make a selection based on the same gut instinct that they rejected for other types of marketing decisions.  Why?  Because no one had been able to quantify the emotions and other attributes that people feel about music, much less do it in a way that was meaningful to marketers.  Scott started talking to Andrew, and they met up with Kevin, and here we are.
We will try to keep talk about ourselves to a minimum on this blog.  Instead, our goal here is to share what we’re learning from our research and from working with clients, and thereby elevate the discussion around music and advertising.  We’ll also share articles on music and marketing, and music for marketing, that we find interesting.  We’d like you to participate too: join the discussion via comments, or just email us to let us know if there’s a topic you’d like us to cover
We hope you enjoy this content.  But most of all, we hope that together we can bring more structure to the selection of music for advertising.  
Are there topics about music for advertising that you’d like to see us cover?  Please let us know in the comments!


Future Sounds: Music’s Evolving Role In Advertising (MediaPost)


“Of all the art forms, few have the power to stir strong emotions as music. And few have had such an easy and fruitful relationship with advertising.”

Our friend Josh Engroff at KBS and The Media Kitchen wrote a great post about the relationship between music and advertising, and how it may evolve.
Read the rest at MediaPost.
Let us know in the comments your thoughts about the future of music in advertising!