The No BS Guide to Custom Music As Branded Content, Part 3: Results 1783 words · 9 minute read

Cue the Rocky music — you’ve made it up the metaphoric art museum steps, defeated your personal Apollo Creed, and survived the arduous journey of executing a custom music strategy.

Now, as you raise your hands in sweaty triumph and marvel at your perseverance, perhaps you’re also looking around for your championship belt. The shiny affirmation to your trials. The whole reason you sprinted around Philly at dawn every day (in a matter of speaking).

“Where is the damn ROI?” you might be yelling now. “Adrian?!”

OK, calm down Mr. Balboa, and listen to these wise words of wisdom from Pete Krainik, founder of the CMO Club, before we continue this convo any further. And put down your gloves for heaven’s sake!

“With the obsessive focus on marketing ROI, it’s reasonable to assume that ROI is most CMOs’ number one priority. However, during hundreds of CMO dinners and individual conversations — and also supported by comprehensive research — that’s not their top priority. In fact, a 2014 Korn Ferry study with 215 CMOs found that a mere 27% of marketing executives rank the connection of marketing outcomes to bottom line results as their top priority.

So, if ROI isn’t the sole driver behind effective advertising, let’s explore how marketing executives might earn their studded boxing belts for a custom music job well done.

If you must have measurements, measure the obvious.

Was that too suggestion too obvious?

Even if bottom line results aren’t likely to be your top priority, they’re probably still on your list of priorities somewhere, right?

Well, if you’re looking for the impact of custom music on your brand’s sales, then begin by culling the same data you normally do to determine the success of a campaign. For example, following its 2014 Winter Olympics campaign, which featured the new song “Odyssey” by up-and-coming band No Wyld, McDonald’s shared with us some of the metrics on its sales success:

“The February Olympics 20pc Chicken McNuggets program delivered strong incremental sales and guest counts, despite the declining baseline. In Q1 2014, only Chicken and Breakfast experienced positive Comp Sales every month of the first quarter,” reported the brand. Further, total McNuggets sales during the Olympic Promotion increased 18% over a declining baseline.

We’d love to say that music was the number one reason behind these sales bumps, but in good marketing conscious we cannot. Rarely can you attribute all the success of a campaign to any one factor in particular, be it the music or the media placement or a guest appearance from a celebrity frog. Nonetheless, we think there’s quite the correlation in strong music paired with strong visuals that produced such an effect on the audience.

Go ahead and see for yourself. We doubt you’ll disagree that music played a significant role in the success of this campaign.

Consumer Buy-In vs. Consumer Buying

  • Measure the Positive Emotional Lift, which you can determine by comparing the total positive emotional expressions that relate to the custom music during the campaign to your brand’s average brand mentions on social media.

  • Analyze the total views of your ad content across broadcast and online platforms.

  • Analyze the total song interactions, including streams, downloads, and purchases across services like Spotify and iTunes.

  • Analyze the total PR reactions to the music in media relations

Your brand probably already measures these things through one of a hundred different services out there, so it should be easy to measure the role of music in something like positive social media buzz surrounding your brand.

How to Attribute Music to Success

Attribution is one of the hardest parts of everyone’s job in this industry, and this is especially so with music in marketing. Our goal is to help make that attribution a little less arbitrary by discussing why music drives consumer engagement, a topic our founder Eric Sheinkop explored at length in his book, The Return of the Hustle: The Art of Marketing with Music.

“Creators of all content types, whether that’s brands, video games, television or film, use story to guide consumers along the customer experience (CX) journey from awareness to advocacy.”

“Music strategy is the process of applying music to branded content and storytelling platforms that span the customer journey. There are three key functions to music strategy: attraction, immersion, and extension.”

“Music attracts consumers, immerses them into the content, and extends the relationship between brand and consumer after or between product experiences.”

These core business values for marketing with music set your benchmark for measuring the impact of your custom music strategy on consumer engagement.


Those individual experiences can include watching a branded video online, looking at a billboard during traffic, glancing at an aisle display while grocery shopping. Every experience affects consumers differently — those that deliver something of real value to them will result in higher consumer engagement, which, as Pete explained, is the real goal for most marketers.

Is Consumer Engagement Really More Important than Bottom Line Sales?

Custom music that amplifies the branded experience and delivers intrinsic value to consumers accelerates them along this CX journey from awareness to advocacy.

Obviously, the purchase stage of the CX journey is an important one. A spike in consumer buying is a surefire indicator of a successful campaign.

A focus on consumer engagement, however, helps ensure that those numbers will indeed happen eventually. As Olivier said, your consumers aren’t always in the market for your product — and no amount of price-gouging or competitor-slamming will convince them otherwise. So, smart brands use that touchpoint to deliver something of value, like music, rather than purely pushing product.

Even if you don’t prompt consumers to buy your product now, a campaign that successfully drives consumer engagement progresses them along that CX journey. So, while they may not buy your product today, an engaged consumer is far more likely to shop your stuff in the future than an unengaged consumer.

So yea, focusing on crafting a memorable experience that engages your audience on a real level can be immensely more rewarding in the long run than worrying about hard and fast KPIs like bottom line sales.

As Craig Inglis, marketing director of John Lewis, explained on the 2015 Advertising Week Europe panel when asked how brands justify investments in content:

“There is no one measure. Leaps of faith are involved too. Make no judgements on a single measure. It’s about what’s right for the brand. Don’t be driven by linear KPIs. KPIs are not going to give you a platform to take a risk. You need to get people aligned to allow you to take those risks.”

How To Get Stronger Results from your Custom Music Strategy

Take a moment and reimagine how sports assign points to a scoreboard. Balls in the net, pucks in the goal, etc. What if a “Win” was defined by a totally different set of rules, like time of possession or players knocked out (for the active-aggressive in all of us)?

Other than making it super confusing come bracket season, a different set of rules would redefine how teams play the sport.

Similarly, when your focus shifts from purely bottom line sales to instead driving consumer engagement, you should also change the way you play the game to score the most points. Here are a few easy ways to adjust your campaign to get the best results:

  • Upload the Song Online: If you decided to opt in for a full song buyout (remember that from Part One? ), then this should be as easy as uploading the track to iTunes and Spotify. Otherwise, just ask the artist who owns the song to do so. This is imperative for the music to extend beyond the lifespan of the campaign and maximize consumer engagement.
  • Share the Song Company Wide: For brands big and small, it can be easy to let something like custom music fall into a silo of the marketing department. Share the song with everyone, encourage it to be used in ads across different markets, and integrate into all processes, from sales to social and beyond.
  • Music Call to Actions: One of the key functions of music in media is attraction—getting more eyes and ears to tune in to your content. If the music successfully got people to whip their heads around or turn up the TV, they obviously want to know more. Include a CTA in the ad that directs viewers to the song, such as a Shazam logo
  • Artist Descriptions: Check out the Comments section of any YouTube ad that used awesome music to tell its story and you’ll see the same responses over and over again: “What’s the name of this song?” “Who’s this artist?” “Where can I get this track?” Add artist descriptions, as well as links to the song, to maximize the potential for further engagement.

Ideally, your custom music campaign can drive both customer buying and consumer buy-in. These KPIs are certainly not mutually exclusive — in fact, the right campaign can support several different goals, as Joe Belliotti, Head of Global Music Marketing for The Coca-Cola Company, explained in Return of the Hustle:

“It’s really about extending the reach of what we do as far and wide as possible. There are ways to measure that through impressions, expressions, and chart positions, but I think there’s a lot of work to be done on both sides to really nail how to capture the measurement of success for both sides.”

What Good Does Data Do?

Whether you work on the brand side of the fence or the agency side, you’re probably tracking a ton of numbers for a myriad reasons. The last thing your morning roundup needs is another set of data to analyze, right?

So, why are we suggesting you commit to even further work when you’ve already gone above and beyond by sourcing dope custom music for your campaign?

Well, because the more you look into these numbers, the more you’ll realize how important they really are to maintaining a strong community and guiding consumers along the customer journey. As Geoff Cottrill, former CMO of Converse and current President of Mullen Lowe, explained in the book, Hit Brands:

“Strategically, how are you interacting with your consumer base between purchases? Because that is the time that people decide whether they love you or not. Between purchases. When they might be using your product, but not buying your product.”

Good custom music gives your consumers something of yours to enjoy when they’re not purchasing your product. That extra effort will keep your brand top of mind next time they’re in the market for a pair of shoes, a new car, or even a fast-food meal.