Pandora Shakes Up Ad Model; Google Named In Ad Refund Suit

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Pandora’s Music Box

Pandora now allows nonsubscribers to listen to music on demand after watching a 15-second video ad, a major change to its service and revenue model. Pandora’s 73 million unpaid US users cited song selection as their top request last year, and in beta tests, two-thirds of users were satisfied with watching an ad in order to choose the music they wanted, SVP of ad product strategy Lizzie Widhelm tells George Slefo of Ad Age. Its key rival Spotify’s unpaid version allows a listener to choose artists or kinds of music but not to select specific songs. And YouTube, meanwhile, racks up immense video ad views from people listening to music. More.


Google is being sued by digital ad platform AdTrader for failing to provide refunds to advertisers who bought fraud through AdX. According to Business Insider, Google kicked AdTrader off AdX in May for placing ads with “misguided navigation” issues like linking to nonexistent content, and promised to refund the $476,622 that went to fraud to its advertisers. But AdTrader, which acts as both a buyer and seller of inventory for clients, claims it was able to see that the money was never refunded. Google is denying the claims, which are based on a surreptitiously recorded phone conversation between a Google exec and AdTrader staff, citing “a long-standing policy of refunding advertisers for invalid traffic.” The company hopes to bring an individual case against Google for the confiscated funds and also a class-action suit on behalf of other advertisers. More.

Heard That

The IAB published revised podcast measurement guidelines after a public comment period [AdExchanger coverage]. The new version builds on the IAB’s original 2016 guidelines by providing instructions to analyze log files for audience reach and downloads. Based on public comment, Thursday’s version clarifies a 24-hour window for generating metrics, eliminates the partial download metric and reorganizes the five-step measurement process into a more logical sequence. It also encourages more transparency around the publisher’s methodology for defining a listener and adds a few recommendations for podcast players, like avoiding autoplay and preloads. Read the guidelines and the blog post.

The Loot Chute

Every year, new toys and games vie to be the yuletide season’s hot holiday gift. But this may be the breakout year for video game “loot boxes,” in-game rewards that can also be purchased. The tactic is common fare among smartphone app games, where users buy upgrades, but is making its way to console games that cost $50 to $60, reports The Wall Street Journal. Players have pushed back because of the advantages afforded to deep-pocketed opponents, and a Hawaii state representative went so far as to denounce the availability of loot boxes to minors, without a barrier to running up high charges. But Wall Street loves the strategy, propelling already-strong growth across the video game category. More.

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1 Comment

  1. I’d just a moment and recommend “Cryptocurrency Mining Becoming A Popular Malvertising Choice” linked to above. It’s a good read into something that is going to be increasingly popular in the future. These sort of programs (malware? attack? misappropriations?) are really bad for the user experience and can (and will) seriously degrade the trust a user has in the sites they visit. Trackers and beacons are one thing, but like them or not, mining with someone else’s computer or phone is something else altogether and is going to set off a new wave of adblockers.