Channel 4

World's first audio personalised advert

A world-first in audio technology for adverts

The Big Idea

C4 were asked by Mindshare to come up with THE most attention grabbing idea ever for the UK release of 20th Century Fox’s movie Alien Covenant. Following the world's first personalised video campaigns, we wanted to push personalisation up a gear and test the hypothesis commonly known as the the 'cocktail party effect', where the human brain is able to tune into one's own name even in a crowded environment such as a noisy cocktail party... or in this case, a break full of ads. 

Our big idea was to create the world’s first broadcast advert that used audio named personalisation to grab viewers’ attention like never before and perhaps scare them in to going to watch Alien Covenant by showing them the horrifying trailer then telling them by name to ‘RUN.


“We are delighted to be working with Channel 4 and to be the first to use this new technology. Alien promises to be the most terrifying and exciting movie event of the year. The audio personalisation complements and enhances the alien footage perfectly.” Chris Green - Marketing Director, 20th Century Fox

Making it Happen

Following the pitch, 20th Century Fox and Mindshare felt we were on to a winner….so the work began. There were a number of barriers we had to overcome to make this happen: extensive technical work required across numerous partners including C4’s Data Science team, Freewheel (All 4’s ad server) and Innovid (C4’s interactive video tech partner). We’d delivered visual named personalised campaigns in the past, but audio personalisation was a whole new challenge. To create a seamless experience, we created individual voiceovers for 200 names,  which covered off 7.5million of our registered user base. The remaining half would see visual personalisation only.

To do this we worked with the official Alien Covenant voiceover artist. Names then had to be ingested into the Innovid creative before being sent to the Freewheel ad server. At the end of five long months, numerous meetings and various stress induced concerns that this simply wasn’t technically possible we were finally in a position to serve the World’s First Audio Personalised Broadcast Ad!

The campaign and halo effect helped Alien Covenant to open at No. 1 at the box office!
An incredible 54% uplift in engagement compared to standard benchmark

The Results

What began as a small element of the film’s release soon gathered momentum across media due to the level of innovation involved. The campaign caused widespread discussion across TV, press and radio outlets. BBC News covered a 3min discussion piece which included the whole Alien Covenant Trailer which, if you could advertise on the BBC, would be worth an estimated £98,000, more than double the budget of the iVod campaign! The coverage also appeared on Sky News as well as across at least seven radio stations including BBC Radio 4 and TalkSports and was covered by at least 12 press titles both online and in print. The estimated value of coverage was in the region of £0.5m. 

But the most important result was the box office takings. The campaign and the halo effect caused by the associated PR helped Alien Covenant open at No. 1. The audio campaign showed an incredible 54% uplift in engagement compared to the standard benchmark and drove masses of social conversations across all the major social networks. What started as a five word pitch ended as one of Channel 4’s noises campaigns ever!