Paul Smith, AdTonos’ SVP of Sales, shares his thoughts on the biggest music award shows.

While the recipients at awards ceremonies are sometimes contested, and the events themselves at times controversial, there is no doubt that legacy celebrations of the arts – Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Grammys – hold considerable sway over the population.

From a cultural perspective, recognised works set a benchmark for the industry. For creators, this trophy becomes something to aspire to, to work towards, and to be inspired by. From a business point of view, winning or being shortlisted will elevate your status and reputation, inviting new work opportunities, encouraging consumer trust, and attracting new talent.

Meanwhile, being rewarded for the hard work, skill, and graft you’ve put in is a motivational boost that is just as valuable as the gains made from social and cultural recognition.

Recognising the cultural winners of today

It’s also an important step for any cultural or creative sector to have their genre included into the awards programme – there is a level of expertise, inclusion, and appreciation that accompanies an award accolade.

Therefore, for the Grammy Awards to add a new category for video games especially, means two things: first, video games have progressed to a point where neither their popularity, nor their ingenuity, can be underestimated. From the technical to the storytelling skills involved, video games are interactive microcosms that have amassed billions of fans worldwide.

Last night a DJ saved my life from killer zombies

Second, the significance of audio and sound within these microcosms must also be understood as fundamental to their creation, their believability, their capacity to transport the player into another dimension, and to lead them down a particular pathway. A soundtrack is as much a part of the story as the visuals, suggesting how a player should feel – tense? Celebratory? Focused? – and has developed to interact with its public in an emotional way (you need only Google gaming music to find genres and playlists aplenty).

Music and audio warns us of impending danger, it applauds a high score. I have said before that audio cues are as important to us as any of our senses to understand, contextualise, and perceive the world around us. What sensations, ideas, and expectations are triggered by voices, sirens, specific songs? Which associations are buried deep, only to be awoken at the sound of a brand jingle? Seasons and birthdays are defined by the songs that anticipate and surround them.

Is it really a surprise that one the biggest music award shows in the world recognises such a feat?

Music and games: no child’s play

Interestingly, the award category includes “any other interactive media” which may well include mobile gaming, but may also extend further. The category delineation seems vague enough to include or exclude a number of media without any clear indication, which can be seen as both a positive or a negative.

In any case, it seems clear that audio is revamping the audio ad sphere, injecting a layer of detail and value into the mix. And the importance of the audio aspect is what advertisers need to think about when they want to use this medium as a path to previously out-of-reach audiences such as Gen Z, millennials, or the over-50s.

But if we know how conducive audio can be to creating a seamless, encompassing experience, we also know that using it wrong can be incredibly jarring and disruptive. This means that, especially if this is a new venture for you and your brand, you need to make sure to do your due diligence when it comes to using it correctly.

As with any advertising creative, the format fits the medium. Players will not enjoy – in fact, they will most likely loathe – being interrupted during an important gameplay moment. Being smart about advertising has always been necessary, so why should gaming be any different?

The Grammy awards announce a new category for video games, which includes interactive media, mobile gaming and more. Do we understand and appreciate the power music and sound has within this space ? Emotion and sentiment, complimented by message and tone? – questioning Paul Smith, SVP of Sales, AdTonos

Level up

Advertisers need to think about the ways audio advertising can enhance the consumer experience, how they can insert their ads seamlessly without inviting the ire of gamers. They may have more leeway with mobile gamers, who are used to ads supporting free games, but not so with video gamers.

In-gaming advertising technology has come far. Specific tools can automatically play ads at a time when a player achieves a new high score or completes a mission, or can allow the player to trigger an ad themselves to win points or other in-game rewards.

In every scenario, the audio ad needs to fit the environment. Working with trusted partners and technologies and understanding the genre is vital. Now that even the Grammys are recognising the importance of audio, there is more incentive than ever to get investing in this space.