• Michael Spencer

Soundings: Is the written word being marginalised by image and sound?

By Ronna Porter

The arguments for the prosecution:

· Consumer behaviour, attitudes and expectations of brands are radically changing. Successful companies and individuals will be those well-prepared for the change. The jury is still out on which online social networking, social media, gaming, and internet marketing strategies and tools will become the most effective. However the great majority of these will require audio-visual content, of a fit-for-purpose quality, and optimized for delivery via channels as different as an incoming SMS message, an investor conference, and a music video on interactive television.


· To be distinctive and reinforce relationships of loyalty and trust, strategists must become expert in creating ever more richly-imbued, emotive, and personally meaningful brands. A significant body of research identifies the importance of sound and music in memory, language, communication, social bonding and emotional development. Successful companies will engage the ear, as well as the eye.

· The media continues to fragment. Communicating consistent brand values, via multiple channels, requires a long-term integrated and increasingly global marketing strategy (even for comparatively small organizations). Implementation to achieve the optimal results across multiple channels, each with varying technical and communications strengths and weaknesses, requires the time- and cost-effective input of multiple skills sets. For example, applying consistent, differentiating, ownable, fit-for-purpose, technically feasible and desirable, sound and music to a global brand is extremely complex.

· TV will stay an important mass-marketing audio-visual channel, however a significant proportion of advertising spend is moving online. Of the senses, only sight and sound are internet-, mobile-phone-, or wireless-device- friendly.

· Almost every publication, newspaper, and radio show of note has an online version, and increasingly also requires audio-visual content.

· The public relations industry is changing how it communicates with its audiences, both through mediated channels (TV, newspapers, etc.) and increasingly enabling direct contact via web-enabled services. Notably, the press release will morph into a multi-media web-page, or social media release, enabling journalist, bloggers, analysts and other audiences to ‘pull’ down the content required, rather than have it ‘pushed’ at them. On the whole, we are becoming less tolerant of being told what we should be interested in.

· Meanwhile, email marketing will increasingly experiment with sound and music unless it is introduced so annoyingly and inappropriately as to reduce deliverability.

· Shops, restaurants, airports and other retail and leisure spaces use sound and music. Their challenge will be to identify which combination best suits their brand and actively drives repeat custom and supports sales.

· Creating ‘on the move’ marketing opportunities will be increasingly important for the iPod generation, and where a significant market wants to access information and entertainment while in transit (audio-visual, audio)

What are the arguments for the defense?  Feel free to join in the debate.

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