Pandora is moving slowly with its voice technology that permits listeners to interact with ads, but not because it has any doubts consumers actually want to have a conversation with a snack advertisement.
Pandora, the third biggest music streaming service according to Statista, is sensing that customers need to be eased into the technology. Interacting with ad would require a behavioral shift. This means customers need time to adapt, according to Claire Fanning, Pandora’s vice president of ad innovation strategy.
“They are just learning they need to talk to ads, and we need to give them time, but we think voice will introduce utility to audio that hasn’t been seen before, and we’re really excited to test into the future,” Fanning told The Drum.
Copenhagen-based Pandora’s system appears to be ushering a new chapter for the lucrative and burgeoning audio advertising market. In the U.S. audio advertising industry is growing rapidly, increasing by 30% in the first half of this year, according to the Internet Advertising Bureau report.
Pandora announced plans to test the ads earlier this year, partnering with Doritos, Ashley HomeStores, Unilever, Wendy’s, Turner Broadcasting, Comcast and Nestlé. The format grew out of the company’s hands-free technology aimed at drivers. The ads prompt listeners to answer “yes” if they want more information about a product.
Consumers are growing comfortable using interactive speakers that collect and send information, often private, over networks. One-third of Americans will use a voice assistant this year, a nearly 10% gain over 2018, eMarketer estimates. Amazon said earlier this year that it has sold 100 million devices with Alexa installed.
Sensing that demand is there, Pandora is seeking to lead the market for voice advertising and is experimenting with which kinds of ads will get users talking, The Drum said. Fanning told The Drum that a variety of formats are being tested, and that complicated commands aren’t favored.
“The opportunities are endless, but we are working consumer-first and having empathy for where they are with this sort of technology,” she said. “It’s totally new – an ad has never asked them to talk back, and they are used to more proactively engaging with voice assistants.”