Pandora Focuses On Its Visual Ad Products

pandora opt in videoSpotify made its big debut of programmatic audio, but Pandora’s recent ad products focus on the visual.

While the highest engagement is with its audio ads, Pandora is investing heavily in visual ads. Reason being: It wants to be more than a listening platform.

Sponsored Listening, launched last year, allows brands to sponsor one hour of ad-free music, and listeners opt in by watching up to 15 seconds of a video ad. The advertiser is charged a flat rate when that happens. Gatorade, Propel and Taco Bell have experimented with Sponsored Listening.

Pandora says 59% of listeners who make it past the first 15 seconds of a video will continue to watch a full 30-second video. For a 60-second video, 37% of listeners watch all the way through, according to Pandora’s survey of 208 Sponsored Listening campaigns.

“Throughout the experience we give the user as much choice as possible,” said Pandora senior product manager Jonathan Eccles. “The ability to opt in and a clear way to exit at any point is a really great, clear signal that the user intends to be there and pay attention to the advertiser.”

The company is also experimenting with muted autoplay video that plays on the side of the app while the user is listening. And it’s beta testing a product that targets based on listening preferences.

Pandora naturally wants to try out muted video – pre-roll has a 90% skip rate because it blocks users from the content they want. And also because muted video paid off for Facebook: The social media giant attributes 57% of its Q1 2016 revenue to muted video.

If successful, muted autoplay video will join Pandora’s autoplay video ad product, which activates when users interact with the screen. “There’s a place for both products in our ecosystem, but more and more platforms will [use] opt-in video because more and more advertisers want to give users control of their experience,” Eccles said.

Pandora sees billions of interaction data points with its app on desktop and mobile every day, Eccles said, so there’s definitely money to be made.

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