With the exception of radio ads, advertising tends to be considered as a visual medium. However, if you’re creating a video ad that relies on both sights and sounds to sell something, you need to think carefully about the role your background music plays.
Of course, it’s possible to produce a video ad without a musical backdrop, especially if you’re trying to go for a minimalist approach. But most ads can be enhanced by choosing and integrating the right music.
Original Music vs. Stock Tracks
If you’re working with a budget, you might consider trying to use stock music tracks in the public domain; these tend to be cheap or free, and can provide a decent enough backdrop to the rest of your ad. However, they tend to be used by a lot of brands and may make your brand seem unoriginal.
It’s usually much better to purchase the rights to a recognizable track, or even better, come up with original music of your own. You can recruit musicians online to write and perform a custom drum track, and incorporate other instruments as you see fit. With the level of customization and flexibility available, this makes it possible to create the “perfect” track to represent your brand or product.
Rhythm and Energy
The distinct “energy” of a song can also factor into its impact. Pay attention to the beats per minute (BPM) of the song; if you want to convey a sense of excitement or enthusiasm, something with a higher BPM is better. If you’re trying to evoke a feeling of sentimentality or sadness, something slower and more somber is more effective.
Lyrics and Instrumentation
Pay close attention to the instrumentation of the piece, as well as the lyrics (if there are spoken words). Heavy percussion can give your product an energetic or militaristic feel, while light woodwinds can make it seem ethereal or whimsical. Rock instrumentation, like distorted guitars, can give your brand an approachable, relatable appeal, while traditional orchestral instrumentation can give your product an air of elegance or class. Be especially mindful of the lyrics; it’s not necessary to choose a song with lyrics that match up with your brand or product, but make sure those lyrics aren’t actively working against you.
Genres and Audience Connections
Genres and artist selections are your best gateway to connect with a specific demographic, and these connections often make intuitive sense. For example, would you use country music, rap music, and EDM music to appeal to all the same demographics?
Also consider the artist preferences of your target demographics, especially when broken down by age. For example, 13-year-olds might prefer new and upcoming artists in the pop scene, while 64-year-olds will prefer classic established artists like Roy Orbison, the Everly Brothers, or the Doors.
Associations and Nostalgia
Nostalgia has always been a powerful force in marketing and advertising, and you can capitalize on that by choosing a popular song from a strategic time period. For example, if you’re marketing to people in their 50s and 60s, you can choose songs that were popular when the graduated high school (in the 1980s and 1990s) to evoke reminders of their teenage years. You could also choose songs associated with popular films and TV shows if you want to call to their existing fan base (assuming you can get the rights to the music). You may also be able to capitalize on similar associations, like songs that are affiliated with specific locations, moods, or scenarios.
Role in the Ad
You’ll also want to consider how the music helps the ad flow, especially if you’re incorporating a spoken narrative or audible dialogue. In some cases, pairing strong visuals with nothing but a powerful song in the background can create the effect you want. But in others, you’ll want the main focus to be on the words of the narrator; in these cases, it’s important to edit the music to be audible, but out of the way when someone is speaking. For example, you might cut to sections of the music with no lyrics, or lower the volume during moments of speech. You might also choose to time the song, so its climax or most important section corresponds with the end of the ad, or with a call to action.
Music is an art form that, when executed properly, can take your advertising game to the next level. It’s not something to be shoehorned in at the last minute, nor should you simply choose a song because you like it. There are hundreds of variables that need to be considered, and the deeper you dive, the more likely you are to come up with an ad that speaks directly to your target audience.