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Pandora's Voice-Activated Ads Annoying or Pure Genius?

Pandora's Voice-Activated Ads Annoying or Pure Genius? Blog Feature

April 5th, 2019 min read

Nine times out of 10, when something new happens in the marketing world, marketers get super excited and consumers get really annoyed.

As a marketer myself, I'm no exception. So when I learned about Pandora introducing voice-activated ads, naturally, I got pumped! One, because IMPACT has a kick-butt production team and this is just another avenue for us to explore for distribution. And two, another thing for us to test -- and that’s always fun!

But, on the other side of this, we always hear “Great, another way for marketers to ruin my experience on an app that I love.”

So, is this a good thing for Pandora or a bad thing? Let’s dive in…

But first, Pandora hasn’t launched this yet

Let’s just get that right out of the way. THIS. HAS. NOT. LAUNCHED. YET! They are testing. Testing a new product or service before launching to the masses is so incredibly important to the success of the “thing” you want to make money on.

Second, what IS a voice-activated ad?

It’s truly the next step in video ads and engagement. Instreamatic, the company Pandora has partnered with to create this technology for their platform, confirmed the agreement to test interactive voice ads where listeners engage by speaking back to the ad.

How cool is that?

More importantly for advertisers, the data from this will enable them to develop a far greater understanding of how consumers are interacting with ads. Traditional audio advertising falls prey to the “click challenge,” meaning that it’s difficult to measure and attribute the impact of ad campaigns if you can't click on the ad.

Because audio ads are not clickable, it is extremely difficult to measure results. You cannot track sales/conversions, return on investment (ROI), cost per click (CPC), cost per thousand impressions (CPM) or cost per acquisition (CPA).

With Instreamatic’s platform, this challenge is solved by allowing advertisers to utilize interactive voice ads that promote consumer engagement by allowing them to respond verbally to offers, negative or positive.

How does it work?

A listener is served an ad on the app along with a verbal call-to-action encouraging them to learn more about the features or benefits of the product/service. The listener can then respond to that ad by speaking to their device.

They have two choices when it comes to their voice response -- they can get more information or skip the ad. This give more measurable results to advertisers on how their audio ads are performing and whether advertisers need to pivot or change the offer, voiceover and more. It’s also easier to track ROI.

The idea here is that Pandora advertisers would be able to target people during the times they aren’t able to respond with a click or a tap -- for example, while running, driving, cleaning, cooking, etc.

We’ve all been there! You’re listening to your favorite music and all of a sudden an ad comes on. You aren’t able to see the ad, because you’re away from your phone, or it’s in your pocket, or you’re driving. Even if you wanted more info on the cool product you’re hearing about, you can’t click on the ad. You also can't skip it if you find it annoying.

With this new technology, consumers will be able to engage with the ads served on Pandora without ever touching their phone. In the same breath, you might also be annoyed that an ad is disrupting your jam session. How dare these marketers! This new ad technology will make it easier for you to skip those ads that are keeping you from your Dance Party USA!


Measuring the effects of a new product or service through testing

As a marketer, you might be asking yourself, if I can’t measure the effects the service has on my existing customers, how will I know if they are going to get annoyed with it and quit, therefore losing business and revenue?

Of course, the age-old saying rings true here. You can never please everyone all of the time -- but you also don’t want to annoy the majority of your fan base either.

Companies want the ability to predict consumer acceptance of any new service or product launch. This will determine whether something will sell well, be accepted as the new norm, and if it will actually work.

Test and then test again!


What does this mean for marketers?

Not only does Pandora have an agreement to test this format with Instreamatic, it also plans to support other third-party vendors, like AdsWizz. This means that publishers or advertisers will need to provide their own voice solution or rely on these vendors if they want to participate.

Get those vocal chords ready, OR start looking for really great voiceover actors!

That’s all we’ve got for you right now. Pandora isn’t sharing any other details about this technology or it’s strategy at this time, but once they’ve run more testing, they’ll be able to provide more details to interested advertisers, so stay tuned!


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