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Brands see 30pc lift in purchase intent with Sponsored Listening on Pandora

Land Rover North America was one of the first brands to leverage streaming service Pandora?s Sponsored Listening advertising feature, which saw lifts of 30 percent for purchase intent and 12 percent for brand awareness during the testing period. 

Sponsored Listening is now available for all advertisers, and enables Pandora customers to receive an hour of commercial-free listening following engagement with a branded video or media unit at the beginning of their session. Corona Extra, Gatorade and Yuengling are among the marketers joining the program now that it is rolling out more broadly and adding new ad units. 

?We have a thoroughly mobile-first mindset at Pandora, especially since over 80 percent of our listeners use our services via mobile platforms,? said Jonathan Eccles, product lead on Sponsored Listening at Pandora, Oakland, CA. ?Enjoying streams of personalized music is a naturally mobile thing ? we like to customize our tastes and content on devices that are uniquely are own, and we listen to music in countless portable contexts.?

Significant results
Pandora?s results from the Sponsored Listening beta testing period showed the service experienced a 12 percent lift in brand awareness and a 30 percent uptick in purchase intent for advertisers. The music streaming platform also claims that consumers praised Sponsored Listening on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Once mobile users engage with a sponsored ad, they may listen to a continuous stream of music that is free of other advertisements for one hour. The increased disruption of ad units in streaming services will likely make this an attractive feature for music fans.

?We are ad-averse - when ad spots run, we mute, leave the listening/viewing experience, or just actively try to avoid giving thought space to brand messages,? said James McNally, director of business development at Fuzz Productions, Brooklyn, NY. ?The interstitial ad spot on a streaming service may always have a place, but streaming listeners have different expectations than previous generations' expectations around ?traditional? radio - consumers are more empowered, and the commercial block of terrestrial radio days is really not going to cut it on streaming services. 

?Brands that are willing to tell consumers ?engage with us for a minute now, and we'll pay Pandora so that you can listen uninterrupted? are being more respectful of the music experience that brings users to Pandora in the first place.?

The sponsor will be visible for the next hour in several elements of the mobile interface, in case listeners would like to click through and further engage with the brand. After the uninterrupted hour is completed, consumers will be greeted with a goodbye message from their sponsor.

The concluding audio piece was designed as a way to thank the user, and offer one final call-to-action to cement the connection between the brand and potential customer.

?Sponsored Listening offers a variety of video and rich media options that share a common requirement ? consumers must actively choose to interact with an advertiser, spend at least 15 viewable seconds engaging with their content, and then receive a sponsored hour of uninterrupted listening with persistent visual branding,? Pandora's Mr. Eccles said.

?Video engagement activities can range from 15 seconds to 2.5 minutes, while rich media activities offer brands the chance to tell a story through an interactive content slide show, or to showcase their product in detail via a 360-degree animated unit,? he said.

?When running videos longer than 15 seconds, we've seen a notable percent of people choose to continue watching beyond the required 15 seconds, and an exciting amount of interaction per rich media engagement session.?

Enhancing Pandora?s services
The barrage of music streaming services in the sector, including heavyweights such as Spotify and newbies such as Apple Music, is giving consumers more opportunities to choose the right service for their tastes while providing advertisers with additional marketing channels to tap.

However, Pandora?s Sponsored Listening has the potential to tip the scales in its direction, due to the outpouring of consumer support during the beta period and the non-intrusive nature of the advertising units.

Advertisers now have more choices in what types of units they would like to employ for Sponsored Listening. Some brands may opt to roll out video advertisements or swipe-able slideshows, while others may choose to tap 360-degree product views.

Land Rover has extended its partnership with Pandora into the post-beta phase. The streaming service has also added new marketers including Gatorade, Corona Extra, Yuengling and truTV to its advertising roster.

Brands are increasingly finding creative ways of leveraging Pandora?s streaming to reach consumers.

Earlier this month, Hormel Foods? Chi-Chi?s salsa and snacks brand blended American and Mexican cultures as well as mobile video and streaming music in a comprehensive campaign on Pandora that adds spice to the usual humdrum branded station (see story).

?The amazing opportunity within this mobile mindset is the power of the human ear,? Mr. Eccles said. ?While more and more messages everywhere are competing for our visual attention both on and beyond our phones, listening to what we love can capture our attention and emotion is a more focused way than anything else.?

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York