How Sound Effects Make All the Difference with Audio
Imagine listening to your favorite music. At the end of the song, an ad starts. You hear it but may not give it your full attention unless it is something of particular interest to you. Suddenly, that ad stops.
There is silence. Then footsteps slowly advance while ominous music plays quietly in the background. A door creaks open. It captivates your attention. Your heartbeat increases, and you hold your breath, anticipating what is next: is someone in danger, or are they about to get bad news? A voice exclaims, “Oh,” and you jump before realizing the following words are, “There you are, Fluffy! I’ve been looking for you!”
This example of a pet product retailer ad grabbed your attention even though you may not have pets. Where you may have heard a voice-only ad and dismissed it as unimportant, you reacted emotionally to the one that set the scene with sounds. That’s the difference between an audio ad using sound effects to tap into different sensory perceptions and one that only delivers straight copy.
Sound effects can transform the experience, elevate engagement, and create a perception of high production quality for radio and digital ads.
Sound Effects Make Audio More Engaging
Sound effects make audio ads more engaging because they tell a story. Hearing is a vital part of our brain’s process of assimilating and storing information. Sound allows your brain to put you in the place of characters and connect emotionally to their experience. Sound effects convey information without spelling it all out to the audience.
Think of a travel ad that starts with a cacophony of sounds like a baby crying, pots and pans clanging as someone tries to get dinner ready, and a spouse asking if their favorite shirt is clean. Or perhaps it starts with traffic sounds as people yell and horns honk. Then, without any words, the sounds change abruptly to soft ocean waves, the wind blowing through palm fronds, and a long, deep sigh.
No words are needed to encourage thousands of people to identify with the feelings of being overwhelmed and frustrated before they breathe easier simply by hearing the sounds of someone relaxing on a quiet beach.
How to Use Sound Effects in Ads
When you have essential information to deliver, sound can still enhance it. Background music or sounds that create an immersive feel can elevate the experience and highlight the message without overpowering it. Think of how allergy commercials often have birds singing in the background and people sneezing to remind you of the side effects of spring blooms. It sets the stage for you to listen to see what the solution is.
Ads work best with singular, concise messaging and economical pacing. Sounds can include characteristics like voice modulation, background noises to put the listener in a specific environment, or instrumentals to set the stage. Whether you choose a soft, emotional melody or uplifting beats, sound effects allow the listener time to immerse themselves in the mind space where they are more receptive to the information you want to impart.
Creating a Professional Sound
Creating the sound of a full-scale production doesn’t require a large budget. Economical options such as sound libraries are available to add interest and emotion to your messaging. They can replicate some of what a professional sound crew could do at a much lower cost. However, it can come with some tradeoffs.
A sound library may be ideal if you need simple sounds that you can’t easily replicate or some basic background music. However, they aren’t easily customizable; some say they lack the dynamics necessary to create inspiration or engagement. Others feel that too much sample sound can seem clinical or overly-sequenced, making the message flat. Conversely, hiring a professional can be more budget-friendly when you factor in the time saved on production and the customer response to a more attention-grabbing ad.
Audio Conveys Emotion With Sound Effects
Sound design is part art and part science. Science tells us that our brain uses sound to help process and store information. It can recreate a scene from our past and evoke similar emotions we felt at the time. The art is designing sounds that make the listener more alert and receptive to the information the advertiser wants them to act upon or receive.
A professional understands the interplay between the art and science of sound design. They are well-versed in subtleties that the average person may not know could make the difference between intrusive and immersive. Those combinations of modulation, sound effects, and music can set your ads apart. Your audience may not know why they respond to your ad, but the right sound design ensures they do.
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