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!


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!