There might not be sound in space, but thanks to ScreamingBob.com, cyberspace is chatty, musical and downright vociferous. This venture from Sound Images aims to take the guesswork out of high-quality audio production for new media.

 

"People are expecting more out of their web sites than just information," says Sound Images President Jack Streitmarter, Consumers expect sites to tell a story, or at least entertain.

 

With the rise in new media, everyone at ScreamingBob knew it was only a matter of time before advertisers started budgeting for audio on their web sites. However, they had to wait for advertisers to reach that point. No one was sure of how to fit web audio into the advertising budget. Would costs be similar to that of a commercial? Plus, Streitmarter explains, union voice talent was grappling with international rates, since there is no such thing as a "local" web site.

 

Enter the Quot-O-Meter, ScreamingBob's online gadget that prices out any sound package. Whether you need one voice and 50 words or five voices speaking 2000 words with a minute-long song, the meter can give you a rate to work into the budget.

Though Streitmarter jokingly calls audio "the step-child of the advertising industry," he says advertisers are now budgeting for web audio. He points out that plenty of web sites, especially those selling products, are using stories to draw people in (visit ScreamingBob's own site for an example"”it chronicles its once-beleaguered namesake and his online audio troubles).

 

ScreamingBob officially launched in late 2006. But it's not just a site, it's a character, which becomes obvious when Streitmarter and "Chief Ear Courier" Grant Cambridge consistently call the site "Bob."

 

"We refer to him as a person," Cambridge says.

 

To reach web developers, ScreamingBob is taking a new media slant by advertising with Google ads, even a Myspace page and YouTube videos.

 

The marketing strategy must be working, because Bob's had a lot of work to do. One of the more interesting jobs involved creating audio content for a web site about a candy bar that ties into the mythology of the TV show Lost. Does it get more new media than that?

 

"That's part of the whole new media thing, pulling people to a show via a fake candy bar site," Streitmarter says. "Reminds you that you're supposed to be in front of the TV instead of the computer."