Pandora Begins Running Interactive Voice Ads

Listeners to Pandora’s streaming audio may hear ads asking for their response starting this week. The interactive voice ads, first teased in April, are built on Instreamatic’s technology platform.

Pandora’s Voice Box

The new ads on Pandora will start with a brief explanation of how the interactive aspect works. Once the ad is over, the listener will be asked if they want to know more. They can then respond affirmatively in order to receive more information about the brand behind the ad. If they aren’t interested, they can say no or be silent for a couple of seconds and the ad will end. For the initial test run, a mix of food and service companies have made interactive ads for Pandora, including Ashley HomeStores, Comcast, Doritos, Nestlé, Turner Broadcasting, Unilever, and Wendy’s.

The new advertising test is part of Pandora’s larger strategy for voice technology. The interactive ads use Pandora’s Voice Mode voice assistant, released back in January on SoundHound’s Houndify platform. Voice Mode allows for voice control of Pandora and the advertising simply extends that to a command for more information. Even before Voice Mode came out, the company had been tracking smart speaker users and ran a promotion for premium service for 90 days to new Google Home owners. Voice Mode took these efforts to the next level.

Adding Interactive Ads

Choosing to work with Instreamatic for the ads also fits Pandora’s long-term development. The data Instreamatic collects and analyzes from the ads can be a major boon for Pandora and the brands in the ads as they try to craft and target their sound bites. In a case study by Instreamatic, 40% of people who hear an interactive ad respond to it in some way and even when these ads represented only 1% of ad impressions, they generated 10% of the total revenue from digital audio.

Instreamatic’s success has already attracted other partners of late. The company acquired a long list of potential clients just this month after partnering with the extensive Salem Media Group to put make Instreamatic’s platform available to advertisers on Salem’s multimedia distribution service. Back in September, Instreamatic reached an agreement with digital ad network provider AirKast, followed not long after by a similar deal with streaming technology provider SurferNETWORK.

Beyond Instreamatic, experiments by NPR with interactive audio ads using XAPPmedia started more than five years ago. Pandora’s client Unilever also has experience creating interactive audio ads after Spotify ran some for Unilever’s AXE brand through its streaming service. Pandora’s enormous pool of listeners could be a key step to making the idea of ads you talk back to a mainstream proposition.


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