Pandora has launched mobile interactive voice ads to build upon the hands-free feature, “Voice Mode,” it introduced to users in July. Brands like Doritos, Unilever, Comcast, Wendy’s and Ashley HomeStores have already tested the voice ad functionality, which prompts listeners to answer a “yes or no” question before providing more information about a brand or product. If a user doesn’t respond within a couple of seconds or says no, music resumes playback so as not to disrupt the listening experience.
Pandora says it used a series of voice-based tests within focus groups and internal betas to understand the best practices for marketers looking to utilize the new voice-based offering. It found that voice ads reduce friction within the listener experience as consumers saw the benefit of being able to interact hands-free when content was relevant and when creative allowed for a simple “yes.” To capture listeners’ attention and drive higher verbal engagement, Pandora helped brands use clever, useful content and explicitly informed listeners that the voice ads are a new way to engage.
The streaming platform scripted and produced voice ads for a number of brands that were invited to utilize the capability. Among the major advertisers that tested the new ads were Unilever and Nestlé while others like DiGiorno’s and Hellmann’s also gave them a shot. The audio ads give listeners a brief explanation of how they work before playing a short, branded message. For example, Hellmann’s promoted its Best Foods Mayonnaise with the following: “This is a totally new kind of ad, one you can talk to . . .want to find out how to take your grilled cheese from cheesy to yes-pleasy?” After the user responds, the ad goes on to explain how mayonnaise spreads easier than butter, ending with the sound of a crispy crunch.
Pandora started its audio initiative earlier this year when it gave users hands-free control of the app via “Voice Mode,” which according to Pandora, has been adopted by millions. With the US population spending more time with digital audio, Pandora knows voice-based ads are the new way to reach rapidly evolving audiences. According to eMarketer’s April 2019 forecast, more than three-quarters of US internet users will listen to digital audio formats like streaming music and podcasts at least once a month. Additionally, the average US adult will spend more time listening to digital audio than listening to radio in 2020.
“The rapid adoption of smart speakers has made people more comfortable and excited about general voice habits, whether on a mobile device or smartphone. Marketers, rightfully, always seek to interact with consumers through the most frictionless and native experiences. But there are also gaps in measurement in the audio space. While we know it’s effective and have means to prove that, a quick signal has not been as readily available. Voice enables people to speak back, which also provides a signal to measure,” Claire Fanning, vice president of ad innovation strategy at Pandora, tells us.