17 October 2014

Mis-synced music proves to be a powerful enhancement for TV ads

by Will Parker

It turns out that offsetting the music soundtrack of TV adverts by an imperceptible amount makes the adverts significantly more memorable in viewers' minds. Researcher Andy Rogers, from the University of Huddersfield (UK), detailed his discovery at the International Computer Music Association's 2014 conference, held in Athens. "The audience at the conference were very interested in the research, and were surprised by the findings because they are counter-intuitive," said Rogers.

Rogers explained how he investigated the responses of a group of people to the screening of two commercials - for a well-known soft drink and a brand of mineral water. The subjects saw the advertisements - which consisted purely of music and visual imagery - in their original form and then in versions which had the audio-visual alignment of the content displaced to varying degrees. Memory tests were then conducted and it was discovered which level of audio-visual displacement resulted in a stronger recollection of the content of the commercial.

Rogers said optimum retention was achieved when the soundtrack was displaced so that the music was slightly ahead of the visual content. As a result, the brain was trying to anticipate information. "The concept of dynamic attending is widely known, but what is new is that we have done a musical displacement based on changes in frequency rather than loudness," he explained.

"The findings will be of value in advertising because we have shown that an imperceptible difference has a marked return in memory response," he concluded. "Some composers have intuitively carried out adjustments in the synchronization between their music and images. Now, there is a scientific basis for this process."

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Source: University of Huddersfield