- Nestlé and Unilever are among the major advertisers testing Pandora's interactive ads that respond to voice commands. The ads prompt listeners to answer a simple "yes or no" question before providing more information about a product or brand, according to materials shared with Mobile Marketer.
- PepsiCo's Doritos snack brand, Wendy’s, Turner Broadcasting, Comcast and Ashley HomeStores also are participating in the test, which is limited to a small group of Pandora app users. The ads explain how they work before playing a short message, asking a question and awaiting a spoken response from a listener.
- Wendy’s ad asks listeners if they’re hungry, and provides menu recommendations to people who respond in the affirmative, as one example. Nestlé's DiGiorno pizza offers the punchline to a pizza-themed joke to people who indicate they want to hear it. The ad for Ashley HomeStores provides tips on getting a better sleep, per the materials.
Pandora's voice-powered ads boosts its audio streaming platform as a vehicle for direct-response marketing by making ads interactive beyond a simple tap. The initial tests urge listeners to respond to a simple "yes or no" question, a call to action that produces a measurable response not found in traditional radio. Marketers can gather that response data and use the information to hone their audio creative for better targeting and response. The test may foretell of expanded voice commerce features, such as direct ordering of products and services. The interactivity also helps to drive deeper engagement with brands.
The voice-powered ads are another application for Pandora's voice-powered technology, which is part of its Voice Mode introduced earlier this year. The virtual assistant gives Pandora listeners hands-free control of the app. The interactive ads mark the first time that Pandora listeners can respond to a sponsored message with a voice command instead of tapping on the app or visiting a website for more information about a brand.
Pandora's test follows a similar trial by rival Spotify earlier this year. Unilever in May tested ads personal care brand Axe that prompted listeners to say "Play now" to hear a curated music playlist that included ads. Spotify limited the test to a group of U.S.-based listeners of its free, ad-supported service. While it remains to be seen how listeners will respond to the voice-powered ads, consumers are becoming more familiar with using verbal commands to interact with electronics devices. Apple's Siri, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are not only available on smartphones, but also on a growing selection of Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
Pandora this summer launched an in-house audio consultancy called Studio Resonate that works with brands on their audio marketing strategies and collaborates on creative planning, media production and web and mobile experiences. Ashley HomeStore was a pilot partner with the consultancy.