- Pandora is letting advertisers target more specific device types with their messages, including voice-powered smart speakers like Google Home or Amazon Echo, along with gaming consoles and smart TVs, The Wall Street Journal reported.
- While Pandora has previously offered broad connected home targeting parameters, it's creating more granular options as marketers attempt to draw interest to their voice applications. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the trade group behind the iconic tagline "Beef. It's What's for Dinner," is one of the organizations testing the targeting capabilities to promote a new informational voice app called Chuck.
- The news could help marketers like the trade group solve the "invisible shelf" and discovery problems associated with voice marketing, especially since neither Google nor Amazon — the two leaders in the market — allow ads to run directly through their assistants. The targeted audio ads are not shoppable or interactive, though interactivity is an appealing prospect, Pandora's SVP of ad innovation Lizzie Widhelm told the Journal.
Pandora's push to let brands better cater their messages by device shows how both platforms and advertisers are moving quickly to build out stronger voice-based ad offerings as usage of the technology grows, but the ability to drive business results frequently proves elusive. True transactional voice has yet to be realized outside of rote, repeat purchases, with a handful of successful case studies, like Domino's Pizza's voice ordering, standing as promising but limited experiments.
Even if Pandora can't yet fully close the loop with interactivity and shopping in its ads, it still might be able to help some marketers get started down that path, particularly in categories like packaged goods. For example, a consumer could hear a targeted audio ad from a brand on Pandora, switch to their voice assistant to place an order and then resume their listening session fairly seamlessly, venture capitalist Adam Marchick told the Journal. The ability to attract more dollars from brands looking to reach voice users could additionally put Pandora at an advantageous position against competitors like Spotify and Apple Music.
Meanwhile, marketers could be growing frustrated with voice as adoption steadily climbs but big branding opportunities remain untapped. Smart speaker ownership in the U.S. will jump 15% in 2019 to 74.2 million, eMarketer predicts. Amazon's Alexa, which became an early leader in the voice category, now has more than 80,000 apps, but few standalone successes that underpin voice's potentially transformative power and unique ways of reaching consumers, Bloomberg reported earlier this week.
There are still some signs that voice-related commerce is on the rise. Roughly one-third of surveyed owners of a voice-activated speaker had used them to make a purchase in the past seven days, according to an October study by Visa and publisher Pymnts.com. Grocery and food delivery topped categories in commanding voice orders, the study found.
Other companies are introducing ad products specifically designed to solve the barriers around connecting with consumers through voice and other audio formats like podcasts. The agency Spark Foundry and technology firm AI Music last week announced an artificial intelligence-powered solution that automatically generates ad creative based on what a user is listening to, such as a particular genre of music. Cox Communications, a pilot partner of Sympaphonic Ads, has increased brand engagement and cut down on costs and production time with the unit, though it did not detail its results.