Audio and video watermarks help consumer brands identify their target customers and engage with them to improve brand engagement
By Sudeshna Singh
Over the past year, advertisers around the world have turned to digital marketing to reach potential customers. The strategy has proved especially fruitful in navigating the challenges of a pandemic-afflicted world, where people, locked at home, have increasingly turned to digital tools to work, socialise, and spend their leisure time.
The numbers show the pace of this digital adoption. According to a Morgan Stanley report, internet users in India are set to rise to 914 million by 2027, while the number of online shoppers would jump to 590 million, growing by 300% since 2020. Furthermore, a report by India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) has also projected a 66% increase in smartphone users between 2019 and 2022.
If these statistics are anything to go by, advertisers in India have a massive opportunity to tap into – and it is only natural that they are now looking to amplify their digital initiatives with new-age advertising tools. However, even as they turn to technology to find answers to the questions they have not even begun to ask, newer innovations such as audio/video (A/V) watermarking are already redefining the game by changing the advertising playing field.
Audio and video watermarking: What is it and how can it help brand advertisers
One of the most important developments in marketing technology, A/V watermarks are unique identifiers embedded within an audio or video signal. Indistinguishable to human senses, these watermarks can be captured by digital devices and have, traditionally, been used by marketers to identify ownership of copyright. Recent tech developments, however, have made way for the use of A/V watermarks to integrate messages in the broadcast feed. These messages, once received, act as the trigger to provide users with real-time notifications, promotions, and offers. Marketers can even use these watermarks to send CTAs (Call to Action), polls, and surveys directly to their consumers’ smartphones.
By employing cutting-edge technology to deliver ads to the right person at just the right time, A/V watermarks provide advertisers with a direct link to their target audiences through the device that finds the maximum usage – the smartphone. In doing so, they are helping advertisers overcome traditional restrictions faced while broadcasting video and audio advertisements.
During the 2015 Australian Open, for example, KIA Corporation used audio watermarks in its television commercials aired during the tournament. During commercial breaks, viewers received alerts to use the company’s app ‘Game On’ and return a serve by Sam Groth, the world’s fastest server. Viewers who successfully returned the serve then entered a competition to win a KIA Cerato Koup Turbo. The result was an incredibly efficient campaign; more than 370,000 viewers downloaded the app, spending an average of 15 minutes playing tennis on it, while KIA cars registered an 8% increase in sales.
The technology is also a nifty solution for brands with physical stores. Most of the signage boards deployed in these stores are unsuccessful at sending the right message to consumers, who are also likely to not pay attention to the in-store video advertisements. For such brands, audio and video watermarks can make their advertising much more effective as customers can receive proximity-based notifications, promotions, and CTAs to complete their purchases. These brand messages can also be embedded in and transmitted through digital displays and ambient music to amplify consumer engagement and purchase sentiment.
The technology presents a wide range of benefits for all stakeholders in the marketing value chain. Brands, for instance, can use audio and video watermarks to reach customers directly in their drawing rooms through televisions ads to increase engagement. They can also drive more business by providing in-store customers with updates and information about the latest collections and deals as they shop. To enable greater participation, brands can also create reward programs for consumers based on the visual and audio files they receive and engage with. This, from a privacy perspective, is beneficial as, even though their smartphone mics constantly capture sound, consumers can rest assured as none of their audio samples leave their device.
For networks, audio and video watermarks could provide real-time TRP, which can help them and their partner brands to analyse the preferences and viewing habits for different audience demographics. By engaging with their audience through tools like polls and surveys, networks and brands can also receive real-time feedback and data on the effectiveness of their campaigns.
Customers, on the other hand, benefit from a seamless experience that the technology enables. Targeted offerings significantly enhance their online and offline shopping experience by providing customised messages and promotions, allowing them to avail of offers and discounts in real-time. While teleshopping, they can also purchase items with a single click while watching the product advertisement, as well as instantly receive product and billing information – seamlessness that is currently missing from the teleshopping customer journey.
Ultimately, audio and video watermarks help consumer brands identify their target customers and engage with them to improve brand engagement. They help meet the need for an integrated approach to marketing that is not restricted to a particular device, making way for two-way communication between brands and their customers. In effect, the A/V watermarking technology helps brands identify unique end-consumers, retain customer attention, and provide instant gratification to loyal customers and merchants – all in real-time.
The author is head marketing of ToneTag. Views expressed are personal.