Pandora Tests Voice-Activated Ads, Hopes To Drive Greater Engagement With Brands

Pandora began testing new voice-activation ads Dec. 12 to a limited number of its app users. The direct-response ads posit a question and listeners are promoted to say “yes.”

Doritos, Unilever, Comcast, Wendy’s, Turner Broadcasting, Ashley HomeStores and Nestlé are among the first advertisers to try the format, per Tech Crunch. The Wendy’s ad asks listeners if they’re hungry. If they say “yes,” a recommendation is suggested.

Once listeners respond, the ads provide additional information about the product. Interactive ads could also determine if listeners want to learn about a product. Interactivity is expected to drive greater engagement with brands.

The ads utilizes the app’s smart voice assistant Voice Mode, which also lets users control music hands-free. If there is no response to the ad, or a “no,” the music resumes.

Pandora, a subsidiary of SiriusXM, thinks these types of ads are a boon to advertisers, since it’s easier to measure reach.

In the spring, the music streamer announced it would begin voice-ad tests in the fourth quarter. At the time, Eric Picard, Pandora’s vice president, product management, said: “Voice will change the very nature of the way consumers interact with brands on Pandora.”

The voice-activated ads represent a larger digital shift kick-started by Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant.

Rival Spotify also ran a small voice ad test in May. Unilever tested ads or personal-care brand Axe that asked listeners to say “play now” to hear a curated music playlist that included ads.

In January, Pandora launched an in-house audio consultancy called Studio Resonate.

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