Sound is a “fundamental part of life”, says Alex McGibbon. To illustrate his point McGibbon – Vice President, Client Solutions at GroupM’s programmatic business Xaxis – serenaded the audience at IAB Interact (Warsaw, June 2019) with audio recordings of his two children. In one clip, attendees heard a baby gurgling with pleasure during a game of peekaboo; in the other, a young girl screeched in frustration at her broken toy. Sure enough, the two sounds elicited the desired responses, from sympathetic smiles to the gnashing of teeth.
“From the moment we come into the world, you’re able to recognise your mother’s voice, having heard it in the womb. The sounds that new born babies make are literally the key to their survival. If they don’t cry, they don’t get fed. As parents, the reason we know to feed a crying child is because of the deep emotional impact sound has on us,” he said.
Sound can result in the most unlikely of behaviour changes. McGibbon cited the example of Lancaster, a small town in Los Angeles County. To combat a surge in crime, local officials decided to play the sound of birdsong along a half mile stretch from a network of 70 speakers. Within a year, minor crime had fallen by 15%, and serious crimes was down by 6%.