The year 2020 nudged the world in the direction of all-things-online. Result? We have online schools, online music lessons. And, this is just the beginning. We now know that a large number of people are working from home and events running virtually. This hasn’t changed too much even with hybrid formats.
I don’t know about you, but I feel like having a bit more time in my tight schedule without all the travels. So you could say, people are now spending more time online with their headphones on. Maybe entertainment content or beloved Zoom calls that could be so much better.
This is where the attention lies – in the technology that delivers immersive spatial audio experience. So how can spatial audio be used for marketing projects? Find out in these case studies:
What is Spatial Audio?
Also known as binaural audio, the 3D sound is a recording technique that captures the sound to give a completely immersive experience with 3 dimensions and surroundings. Think of it as virtual reality for your ears. In a typical surround sound audio, you simply hear two dimensions of the sound (left-right, front-back). To be fair, there are multiple terms and they slightly have a different meaning depending on the content. Here, we want to focus on binaural stereo for online marketing. In the following, it is called 3d audio or spatial sound.
So, with 3D audio recording, you get to experience the entire environment in its three-dimensional ambience. You pick up on the little details such as the distance of sound from the microphone. The sound is recorded with two microphones placed across different positions relative to the subject. After that, engineers like myself use a digital process to manipulate the sounds. Result? You have the virtual illusion of the space; as though you’re actually there.
It’s of course not just about the technology, but the content. If you are curious about the spatial audio recording methods, read more here. Also, spatial audio is – and this also applies to everything else – not something to fix in the studio post-production.
The ideal approach is to focus on both production elements as I do with my services. Or even better: Think of projects that work with spatial audio from the get-go. This is where content is again the key to a successful spatial audio marketing project.
Why Spatial Audio works?
The Internet has always been a plays for disruptive formats and content. Here, billions of people have already been listening to spatial audio on headphones. But the content is fairly simple and hasn’t been thought through. So there already is a proof of concept that people really enjoy spatial audio. Additionally, there is so much more potential to make use of that for marketing. Let me show you what the state-of-the-art is on social media platforms such as YouTube is:
ASMR Videos on YouTube
The format is not new. It’s been in the making for decades now. But, the most prominent example using spatial audio is the ASMR videos popularized on YouTube. It’s short for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. You can think of it as goose bumps on your head. Sounds like a weird German saying that I made up, but it’s legit science:
When you hear a typical ASMR audio demo with the headset on, you get a tingling sensation generating at the base of your spine. The whole experience is chilling and relaxing at the same time. Common triggers for relaxation are tapping on objects, whispering, and water sounds. This is literally what so-called ASMRtist are producing. Basic sound recordings with a special microphone, such as a dummy head. I’m using a 3Dio omni-binaural pro that can even be used for VR and head-tracking.
ASMR videos use 3D binaural sounds to evoke relaxation and calmness. As of right now, there are 6+ million ASMR videos. Many of them have millions of views. It’s proof that consumers already have a familiarity and a taste for these immersive tracks. It, therefore, presents a novel opportunity for companies and marketers around the globe. The following video shows that the effect is nice, but there is so much more you could do with that:
OK, I’ve mentioned 8D music already multiple times. But since nobody talked about it at the Tonmeistertagung, I still have to drop it here. There is a dedicated article about how 8D audio works and why it’s so interesting for spatial audio.
Long story short on the one hand 8D technology (which it is often called but not even something I’d call tech, rather: gimmick) shows how good spatial audio can work on headphones or even earbuds.
On the other hand somebody just used stereo-music, ran it through a spatializer and made it circle around your head. Meaning there definitely are ways to make that better in a spatial audio marketing context.
Professional Use-Cases of Spatial Audio as a marketing tool
Luckily, there already are some projects out there that successfully show how it can be done right. Find videos or audio-only experiences that bring sound to the next level. Specifically produced for online websites and social media campaigns.
This is probably the most relevant and finest example of integrating spatial audio for advertisement. If you visit the website, you will find a bunch of videos recorded all across Germany. OK enough self-praise, but the campaign made millions of people experience traveling in an innovative way. With the follow-up production “Colorful and creative Leipzig in 3D audio” we could win numerous laurels in international film festivals. So I can claim it’s legit work, yeah!
In times of pandemic where travel options are limited, these videos with binaural 3D audio soundtrack are the closest thing to reality. They let you explore the country’s uniqueness and diversity. It’s an elegant way to give people a taste of what they can expect when they land in Germany.
But as I like to say “don’t try to just recreate reality for immersive media”,
The approach was even extended. We collect sounds as an immersive tourist and interact with the points of interest. It was super interesting for me to see that the clients had to think about their sightseeing not only from the perspective of how they look. Suddenly we had to think how landmarks sound like. And since it was Beethoven’s 250th anniversary, I combined all the sounds into four of his most famous masterpieces.
This is just one concept that I was consulting from start to finish and worked really well. But you can guess there are endless marketing potentials, so let’s have a listen to other spatial audio marketing success.
The Belgian ice cream brand Magnum joined hands with Miley Cyrus – the pop sensation. Together the collaboration created an exclusive show by Miley using the same spatial audio technology. It was a pre-recorded session in a studio that was then live-streamed to YouTube. With over 15 million subscribers the influencer marketing here was strong. So I was witness how the comments were exploding about the innovative use of spatial audio marketing.
Magnum is going to be probably the first brand to take this technology to brand new levels; having delivered an exclusive captivating track by the singer and songwriter. The 8D audio with classic stereo mix is a real winner here.
But wait? 8D audio? So the sound is literally just circling around your head? Nope, they were smart here! The producers took, what works for 3D audio and combined it a solid stereo-mix. This is why the mix didn’t fall apart which is the problem with most productions in Dolby Atmos Music.
The full concert is not online anymore but you can find re-uploads on YouTube or just get hyped with the trailer:
8D Audio Audi e-tron GT
I was involved in a similar production for Audi that I was recording for and consulting with. To highlight the new electronic sound of the Audi e-tron GT. Here, the two sound engineers who created the sound were in focus. So it really made sense to have the soundtrack follow their perspective and be special. That’s why spatial audio was used, or 8D sound experiences as it was called for marketing reasons.
Merkelphone / Virtual Barbershop?
Let’s close our eyes for one second because there is also plenty of possibilities to use spatial audio not only in combination with visuals. So here is an example of an audio-only experience. Sometimes the image can support the ears, but when the content allows it, there is another way to get immersed.
One production that made sense on many levels is “Merkelphone”. Remember, when the chancellor’s private phone got wiretapped by the NSA? Imagine the content got leaked and we can hear what extraordinary normal life Angela Merkel has. From state affairs to the Merkel family recipe for the plum cake, everything is on offer.
High-quality recordings and a spatial audio mix create an immersive listening experience that can’t be heard anywhere else. The format and content are unique and really are a genre on it’s own. It’s not supposed to be a studio cinema-soundtrack. To get the feeling of being there was rather the objective. And guess what: The app will also support head-tracking, so there is now explicit content out there or devices such as the Apple Airpods. More info is here.
Why Do Spatial Audio Campaigns Make Sense?
Let’s say you want to advertise some outdoor equipment, fishing roads, boats, tents, or something similar. Perhaps you want to advertise a place like a banquet hall or a palace. You would want to capture the feel, the ambiance and make it as realistic as possible. You would want to capture the audiovisuals of the breeze, maybe a bonfire, a river flowing, a tour of the hall, etc.
A spatial audio experience is the closest thing to reality because it just sounds natural. It is almost like being outdoors, under the stars sitting next to a bonfire. Combined with binaural beats or ASMR it can create an impact on potential customers like never before. The experience is innovative, inspiring, and highly immersive.
This shared closeness with reality and beyond is what makes spatial audio campaigns in marketing such a promising enterprise. It used to be a problem that not everybody owns a pair of headphones. Today: not an issue anymore and there is so much more to come with soundbars and smarspeakers.
What’s more, the technology is highly versatile. Meaning, you can incorporate it in everything that uses the internet.
- Websites (Landingpages, Branded Sites)
- Apps (iOS, Android, XR etc.)
- Social Media (TikTok, 9Gag, LinkedIn)
- Streaming-Services (Spotify, Podcasts) Stereo is available on every relevant social media platform. So we can “hack” that with 3D audio. And with platforms such as Apple Music, YouTube or Facebook / Meta, we can even make use of multichannel audio.
So now is the time to create new content that people have never heard before. Interested? Contact me know!