DTS says mobile marketers should focus on better audio over video
By Chantal Tode
April 17, 2014
Audio's role in enhancing mobile experiences is often overlooked
Often in mobile the bigger emphasis is placed on video quality over audio quality when delivering entertainment and brand experiences, but according to audio technology firm DTS, it should be the other way around.
The company recently teamed up with neuromarketing research firm Neuro-Insight on a study that found improvements in audio quality drove higher engagement levels than video quality enhancements for mobile users. With video content viewing exploding on mobile, the findings are pertinent for wireless carriers, entertainment owners and marketers as compromises often have to be made due to bandwidth limitations.
“It is the biggest deal for the mobile space because more and more viewership of content is happening on tablets and mobile devices and bandwidth comes at a premium,” said Kevin Doohan, chief marketing officer at DTS, Calabasas, CA.
“This study is most important for mobile in terms of delivering video entertainment,” he said. “The same thing would be true for advertising – if you have great audio the engagement with your ad is going to be better.
“If you have compromises to make, make them in the video and not in the audio.
To date, much of the focus on improving the mobile entertainment experience from handset manufacturers, entertainment owners and marketers has been on better image quality.
The report from DTS suggests that the next step is being able to provide a rich audio experience.
The "Sound Matters" study measured the brain activity and impulses of viewers watching mobile video. The results showed that audio delivered using DTS’ Headphone:X technology generated a bigger pleasure reaction and better recall than video.
The results could impact the way mobile operator and online video communities manage and maximize bandwidth, since enhanced audio using Headphone:X takes up very little bandwidth and can be delivered at a much lower cost than higher quality video.
By focusing more on enhanced audio, wireless carriers could save money and deliver a better customer experience.
Audio is only part of the equation when trying to telling compelling stories on mobile, according to Nikao Yang, senior vice president of business development, monetization and marketing at AdColony, Los Angeles.
"We'd argue that it's really the combination of HD quality video and audio that drive results, not one or the other," Mr. Yang said.
"This study measured 'enjoyment' via monitoring changes in activity due to outside stimulus," he said. "That's very interesting, but when you're working with advertisers, sight, sound and motion are what moves the needle.
"Video is an incredibly powerful advertising medium to tell a story and convey a message, as evidenced by the tried and true brand metrics that prove ROI like increases in purchase intent, brand awareness, recall and more."
Talking about audio
With most consumers using headphones to engage with entertainment-related content on mobile, the focus of DTS right now is on improving the quality of sound in mobile headphones.
However, the company at some point might also look at ways to enhance the quality of sound coming out a mobile device’s built-in speaker.
The Vivo Xplay3s is the first smartphone launched with Headphone:X
“Tablets are improving the technology in terms of resolution but we don’t talk about audio that much,” DTS' Mr. Doohan said. “Marketers in general are not as focused on audio, and that is one of the reasons why we call our study Sound Matters.
“When we talk about mobile, the audio in general is not great — it is coming out of tiny speakers, it feels like an afterthought,” he said.
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York
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