How to Pick the Right Music for Digital Ads

image of music over ad in editing program

If you’re in the process of creating digital advertisements for your brand, there’s a lot to consider. What graphics you’re going to include, whether you want product or lifestyle shots, and what supporting text you want to use as copy. These are all essential components of a successful ad, but what about the background track you’re going to use? Do you know how to pick the best music for digital ads?

Selecting the right audio to accompany digital ads is just as crucial as selecting imagery and copy. Music is a highly emotive element of human life. It has the ability to lift us up, motivate us to keep going, and it can even make us cry. When properly used in a digital advertisement, the right music can help build relationships with potential customers and drive conversions.

6 Tips for Choosing Music for Digital Advertisements

When selecting music for digital ads, it’s essential to consider a few key things.

1.      Understand the Brand and Audience

The most important factor to consider when selecting music for digital ads is the brand itself, along with the product or service you are featuring and the intended audience. Consider what feelings you want your brand to evoke in customers, and who is likely to buy your product.

For example, if your product is focused on helping consumers sleep better, high-energy music is not appropriate for the ad. Alternately, if you’re selling a fitness product, avoid music that induces feelings of drowsiness with slow melodic beats.

2.      Consider the Platform of Your Advertisement

Knowing where you are going to place your ad is crucial, particularly in the digital space. For example, Instagram stories loop until a user opts to move on to the next screen. If you are choosing music for an Instagram ad, choose a track that loops seamlessly. It will be less disruptive to the user and they are likely to stay on the screen for a longer period of time. An abrupt end to or uneven loop is more likely to signify to the user that your advertisement is over, prompting them to skip to the next story.

3.      Familiarize Yourself with Licensing Laws

You’ve probably heard some great car commercials that play top 40 hits, or popular songs of the past. However, it’s essential to know that these companies did not just select these songs and run them in their ads. Most music is licensed, meaning that an individual or company owns the rights to the track. In order to use that track in an ad without violating copyright law you must purchase the rights to use the song.

But not all brands have unlimited funds to pay royalty fees, which can be particularly high if you’re looking for a familiar tune. Instead, look for royalty-free music on platforms such as Sound Stripe, PremiumBeat, Audio Jungle or YouTube that you can purchase for a small fee or use for free.

4. Think Mobile First

If you’re in the digital ad space, you’re likely familiar with the proper sizing for mobile ads. This is crucial to providing users with the best visual experience. It’s essential to take that same mobile-first approach when selecting music. The majority of digital ads appear on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. These devices don’t have the same sound output capability as an in-home entertainment system, for example.

For this reason, avoid picking music for digital ads with heavy bass lines as the sound won’t properly emit through the speaker when a user views the piece.

When in doubt, test the track you’re considering through your phone before you purchase it to ensure it retains the sound you’re going for.

5.      Don’t Forget the Sound Effects

While picking the proper music for digital ads is important, don’t forgo sound effects. Sound effects emphasize key movements in your video or motion graphic, such as slide transitions or points of visual interest like an item hitting the floor.

These effects heighten the impact of visuals, drawing the user in and focusing their attention on key points you want to ensure they see.

6.      Volume is Key

If your digital ad does not have a voice-over or sound effects included, there is no need to worry about sound interference. However, if there is a video script or visual elements you are looking to highlight with sound effects it’s important that your background track complements this audio, instead of drowning it out.

The volume also plays an important role in building momentum in your ad, creating excitement, and bringing the user on a journey. You may choose to increase the volume of music as your ad reaches a peak point, or slowly fade your music out towards the end. This choice is unique to the story you are telling in any particular ad.


Garrett Appleton: Garret is a video and motion graphics animator at Lamark Media, with ten years of experience in digital media and a focus in both 3D and 2D animation. In his free time, Garrett models 3D assets for video games and creates engaging content for twitch.tv content creators.

Joseph Cicchesi: Joe is a video editor at Lamark Media, with fifteen years of experience in video production. In his free time, Joe studies the art of film and storytelling.