Changing the emotional-semantic perception of visual scenes with music: A large-scale investigation into the effects of audio branding.

Image credit: Unsplash


Advertisements frequently pair music with visual imagery to convey information about brand value or identity (Allan, 2008). Whilst such pairings have been investigated in film music research (Cohen, 2014), they have received less attention in advertising research. Dual-process models of decision-making, which posit both implicit and explicit channels for processing incoming cognitive information, are important to consider. Hence, we aimed to build a new quantitative testing procedure to determine the effects of music on the evaluation of short visual stimuli and investigated: a) to what degree music is able to alter the semantic content of visual scenes and b) the magnitude of differences between explicit and implicit semantic ratings of visual-music pairings. Across three experiments (N = 2,642, N = 1,554, N = 251), participants rated the semantic content of short videos paired with audio stimuli taken from two corpora of professionally produced audio assets (1. Brand anthems, ~30s; 2. Audio logos, ~5s). Results indicate that, overall, visual information dominates audio information in the interpretation of visual scenes. However, using variance component analysis and generalization theory (Brennan, 2001), we demonstrate how, through item selection, subsets of videos can be used to form a test with high internal generalizability (equivalent alpha reliability = .95) and sensitivity (i.e. audio explaining between 20.49% and 36.68% of variance in ratings of 14 emotional-semantic attributes). The ratings of audio branding assets from our new implicit test correlate substantially with traditional explicit ratings of the same audio assets, but correlations vary considerably by attribute (r = .16 - .74). We discuss a) our robust modeling of the influence of music on visual scenes based on substantial empirical evidence, b) our novel approach for testing the emotional-semantic content of music in audio branding contexts using an implicit assessment procedure and c) the differences between implicit and explicit assessments of music.

Jan 1, 0001 12:00 AM