To answer this, research division Team5pm Labs conducted a sonic branding study in collaboration with marketing specialist Erik Kostelijk, TAMBR and Fairtrade Original. Spoiler alert: YouTube ads with customised audio score higher on brand recall, brand preference and are more fun to watch. This is how it works..

What is sonic branding

Sonic branding or custom audio, is music made specifically for your brand. Strategically expressing brand values and relevant emotions is the starting point. By composing from a strategic point of view, the “sound” of custom music is recognisable and unique. It is like your own house style in the form of sound. That sounds great, right?! But is it worth investing in sonic branding? In other words: does a YouTube ad with custom audio really work better than stock audio?

Sonic branding research: does custom audio really work better?

To answer this, Team5pm Labs conducted an independent sonic branding research with Erik Kostelijk, Associate Professor of Marketing. Team5pm Labs helps brands, advertisers and publishers measure, predict and optimise the effectiveness of their YouTube content.
In the study, 405 respondents were shown one of three different audio versions (custom audio, stock audio, no audio) of Fairtrade’s YouTube ad. These were tested on three variables:

  1. Brand and product recall – To what extent do viewers remember which brand and product was advertised in the Fairtrade commercial?
  2. Rating – How do viewers rate different parts of the commercial and to what extent do they think these fit Fairtrade Original’s brand values?
  3. Brand KPIs – What effect does the commercial have on FairTrade Original’s brand KPIs, such as brand awareness, brand preference, purchase intention and ambassadorship?

Turns out, customised audio works better for YouTube ads than stock audio and no audio. The Fairtrade commercial with customised audio scores about +20% better on brand recall, preference and other brand KPIs.

Combining image with sound and text with visuals generates huge impact for your YouTube ad. Effective audio contributes to this: it is one of the explaining variables for the performance of YouTube ads.

Let’s zoom in on a few key conclusions.

Custom audio influences brand recall

The use of sonic branding has an effect on how well people remember the Fairtrade Original brand. 85% of respondents remembered that Fairtrade Original was central to the YouTube ad. For stock audio, this is 74%. It is important to note here that this effect refers to how well the brand is remembered, not the product. On product recall, we see no differences: in both groups, around 50% remember that yellow curry was the product advertised.

People rather watch a YouTube ad with sonic branding

When we look at the rating of the YouTube ad, expressed as a report grade for both the commercial as a whole and the use of audio, custom-made audio consistently scores slightly (+0.2 point) higher on both parts. Nevertheless, these differences are small and not significant.
However, when we zoom in on ratings for specific parts of the video (think: credibility, entertaining or boring), a video with custom-made audio is clearly more enjoyable to watch, less boring and less irritating.

Custom audio has the most impact on brand preference and ambassadorship

Finally, the impact of tailored audio on brand KPIs, such as brand awareness, brand preference and purchase intention of Fairtrade Original, was examined. What emerged? If you watch a YouTube ad with tailored audio, you score significantly higher on brand preference and are more likely to recommend this brand to others.
Viewers of the commercial with tailored audio…
➤ remember (+17%) and consider (+24%) Fairtrade more often
➤ have a significantly higher preference for the brand (+39%)
➤ are more likely to buy Fairtrade (+24%) and especially recommend it to others (+64%)

Sonic Branding Effect on YouTube Advertising

In addition, viewers found the YouTube ad with customised audio more authentic and accessible than viewers of the YouTube ad with stock audio.

Influence the effectiveness of your YouTube ad with sonic branding

All in all, we can say that customised audio scores significantly higher than stock audio on most of the surveyed components. So, do you choose customised audio for your YouTube ad? Then you positively influence the effectiveness of your YouTube ad. Let us briefly list the main conclusions.
➤ Using customised audio has a positive effect on the memory of your brand.
➤ A YouTube ad with tailored audio is less boring, less irritating and more fun to watch.
➤ Viewers of the YouTube ad with customised audio also remember and consider your brand more often, have a greater preference and are more likely to buy and recommend your brand to others.

Learn more about optimising your YouTube ad impact

Are you an advertiser looking to learn more about advertising successfully on YouTube? In our brand new white paper ‘YouTube for Advertisers’, you will receive answers to the most frequently asked questions about YouTube advertising, we anticipate the biggest advertising trends for 2023 and you will discover how research can help increase your ROI on video content. Download your white paper here.

White paper YouTube for Advertisers Mock up

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