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Sound; very much switched on – by MEMS’s Nadeen El-Hadidi

Social media, gaming and the pandemic are just some factors behind the rise in music and sound as a means of connecting with consumers, writes Nadeen El Hadidi, Media Manager, MEMS

By Nadeen El-Hadidi, Media Manager, MEMS – Egypt

In today’s age of fast-paced visual media stimulation, it’s difficult to miss people crouched over their phones. Have you also noticed the increasing number of individuals wearing headphones? Today, more people are tuning in to music and audio than ever before, enabling ample opportunities for your brand to be heard at scale.

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The increased popularity of streaming services, digital audio, voice messaging and technological advancements means that ‘sound off’ is being overtaken by a sound that is very much ‘on’.

Music has played a vital role in revolutionising a wide range of modern technologies, including gaming consoles, smartphones and social networks. Its influence is expected to surge even further in the 2020s as part of a broader wave of digital audio innovation. This article aims to define the fundamental elements of music within the context of advertising and its interaction with consumers to highlight a few promising outcomes.

Digitisation encourages a more audio-centric environment allowing brands to forge deeper connections with their audiences through sound. Due to the overstimulation of visual media experienced by turning from one screen to another, reaching out to audiences through the additional experience of sound is a crucial milestone to implement. Accordingly, ensuring that you are heard by your audience is key.

Recent studies across multiple fields have highlighted the importance of music in marketing and its influence on behaviour. Music aids the efficiency of communications across the commercial landscape, and understanding its significance across different forms of communications appears to necessitate an understanding of how, when, and why music works.

With technological advancements, sonic branding (such as jingles and audio slogans) has taken an entirely new turn and shows greater effectiveness when combined with other elements which create memorable brand associations. From analogue to digital audio, strong, distinctive sounds featured in your ads should be played across all touchpoints. Sonic branding can be realised through various assets, like the “Krrrrrr” effect that ATM Machines generate while dispensing cash, the customised sound when you turn on your car, or that heart-warming chime before the PA boarding announcement at the airport. Endless possibilities for getting your brand heard are currently on the rise, and staying ahead of the game could be remarkably beneficial.

Audio streaming platforms offer the best possible quality for targeting audiences, making room for better engagement and connections. Each streaming platform has a distinguishing feature that draws users in and turns them into loyal followers eager to pay for the service. For instance, 55 per cent of Anghami users praised the user-friendly experience along with personalised recommendations suggested to them based on their Musical DNA. This indicates what users are most interested in when selecting their favourite channel.

The way we shape our daily reality and how we consume entertainment have evolved, and audio streaming apps are gaining popularity. Anghami, a major platform in the MENA region that hosts both Arabic and English audio content, was featured in 40 per cent of conversations specifically addressing audio streaming brands, followed by YouTube, Soundcloud and Spotify. Anghami’s accessibility and user-friendliness have given it a competitive edge in the market. Audio listeners devote their undivided attention, but the content must be creative enough to attract and maintain engagement.

Content marketing is a force to be reckoned with. Incorporating music into audio commercials magnifies their impact and provides brands with an opportunity to stand out from the competition by adopting unconventional approaches toward greater recognition, stronger ad recall, and perhaps even more sales. Music allows for powerful storytelling, enabling brands to transcend creative benchmarks.

Covid-19 has had a substantial influence on MENA media spending patterns. While revenues from on-ground advertising declined, digital audio, despite the pandemic, continued to grow. Covid-19 and its repercussions propelled the future forward, as consumers increasingly took control of their media consumption. In 2020, Anghami reported a 25 per cent increase in listeners vs. 2019.

The pandemic led to Ramadan adverts becoming more creative, with brands attempting to overcome the stagnancy they endured in 2020. Failing to do so makes it far more difficult to connect emotionally with your audience.

Over the past few Ramadan seasons, triggering emotions became a key priority for any commercial piece of content. As the world experienced adversity and limited social interaction, and families struggled to come together physically, brands seized the opportunity to remind users of the warmth and cosiness that would come once everyone was reunited.

While some brands leveraged emotion, others were inspired to cater to audiences by offering practical tips on dealing with quarantine and the activities in which they could partake during the lockdown.