“In a busy setting, do animation and sound in particular distract viewers from absorbing your messages, or do they help to draw attention? How much is too much?”
It depends on the setting and audience. It’s proven that audio with moving content contributes to the ability to retain the brand and experience. However, if the audio is competing with other sounds, then it is ineffective. If the setting is home to offices or lobby receptionists and it repeats, then it will drive the denizens crazy, sometimes with drastic measures like unplugging the speaker wires. It is also proven that moving images help audience retain messages, because it catches our peripherals and makes us look.
The content might be able to do exactly that, distract, or it might be to inform and sometimes both. Remember when QSRs started with digital menus? But the menus changed quickly so you, the customer, couldn’t absorb the contents. Then, they learned and only changed the photo or center ad screen. Pictures sell more than text! But, move too fast and the recall rate is diminished. In employee communications, 100 messages are not as effective as five really good ones. Again, it depends on the setting, the goals and the audience. Measure, adapt, and try again!