Three seconds. 

That’s the tiny window you have to capture someone’s attention with your ad. That window seems especially tiny when the mute button’s been pushed by the platform hosting your material.

Muted autoplay ads are growing more and more common, and you need to radically rethink your digital marketing strategy to accommodate this silent trend

Multimedia has become especially prevalent in our daily lives.

Consumers have grown accustomed to a constant bombardment of audio, visuals, colors, and graphics. Plus, smartphones enable them to walk around like mini motion picture studios and post artful videos and sepia-filtered photographs in real time.

Sensory stimulation has become the societal norm, so what can marketers do when consumers’ senses are taken away?

Making Sense of Sensory Deprivation

Sensory deprivation can actually create highly thought-provoking experiences.

For example, a blindness awareness exhibition called Dialogue in the Dark placed visitors in pitch-black environments and had them blindly negotiate the areas using only their tactile and auditory senses.

When robbed of their vision, participants noticed their other senses perked up. This created a unique and moving experience that people still talk about to this day.

Done right, loosening your reliance on multimedia and stimulating fewer senses will streamline your message while heightening awareness and retention.

Today’s muted ads shouldn’t be looked at as an obstacle, but as an opportunity for enhanced creativity and success. 

Here are three ways to engage consumers without satisfying all five of their senses:

1. Simplify your messaging

Exaggeration, over-promising, and overstimulation causes consumers to become numb to marketing messages.

Overwhelming the senses makes its difficult to boil down the true essence of a product’s offering, while using fewer senses actually removes those unnecessary distractions. 

Hotels.com created a pair of brilliant autoplay ads that are both better when viewed without sound. One of the ads shows the company’s spokesman, Captain Obvious, playing a piano. With the volume on, you quickly learn that he has no idea how to play the instrument, it sounds hideous.

All of the ad’s important information is humorously presented via text: subtitles explain that Facebook mutes its autoplay ads, viewers aren’t missing out on anything because Captain Obvious doesn’t know how to play the piano, and downloading the Hotels.com app will get users a discount on their first hotel stay. 

“Download our app and get a discount.” It doesn’t get much simpler than that. 

2. Don’t rely on fancy images

Flashy and complicated graphics can never express your brand’s true essence. Identify your iconic elements and wow your audience by focusing on them, rather than your ability to produce visually stunning, but less meaningful imagery.

Look at what the Beatles did with the artwork for what everyone refers to as The White Album.

 

At the time of its release, the band was at the top of its game. John, Paul, George, and Ringo’s faces were everywhere: billboards, magazines, television, you name it. They could have paid top dollar for headshots and fancy album art, instead the cover featured a plain white surface with the band’s name in simple gray lettering.

Consumers still frantically scooped up the album and praised it, even without a flashy visual aspect. 

3. Be subtle

Apple’s logo is just an apple. The logo is clean and simple, and Apple’s packaging and store layout also go along with this theme.

The brand is all about subtlety.

When the first iPod came out, commercials showed psychedelic silhouettes dancing around with earbuds in their ears. It was not directly apparent what exactly this newfangled iPod really was, and this confident secrecy built tremendous anticipation that made Apple’s product stand out.

Covert discovery, rather than overt disruption, goes a long way with marketing strategies.

Although muted ads provide a new challenge for marketers, you can easily push past this sound barrier and engage consumers in a more effective fashion.

Limiting the sensory experience will simplify your messaging and free it from the burden of overstimulation. In the end, consumers will feel more compelled to engage with your brand. 

Silence really is golden.

Further reading…

For more insight into effective content marketing and distribution, download our new report How to Go Viral.

Eddie Newquist

Published 10 August, 2015 by Eddie Newquist

Eddie Newquist is the chief creative officer at Global Experience Specialists and contributor at Econsultancy. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.

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