- Unilever's Dove soap, Anheuser-Busch and KFC are among the brands that began testing interactive ads that respond to voice commands on Pandora, the streaming platform owned by Sirius XM. Pandora this week started the next stage of a voice-powered ads pilot that started in December, per an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer.
- PepsiCo's Doritos, Acura, Lane Bryant, Purex laundry detergent, Purple Mattress, T-Mobile, Volvo and Xfinity also are participating in the beta test, which lets listeners say "yes" if they want to learn more about an advertiser's product or service.
- Pandora is letting listeners request music tracks with verbal commands, along with the option to watch a video ad in exchange for on-demand playback in its "premium access" tier, per its announcement.
Pandora's expanded test of its voice-enabled advertising reflects the positive results marketers saw in its early pilot program. During those earlier tests, 72% of listeners said the voice ads were easy to use, while 47% said they either liked or loved the ability to use their voice to interact with ads, according to a Pandora customer survey. The voice-powered ads open the door for marketers to tell a more complete brand story or drive direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales. Estimates vary on the future size of the voice commerce market, and the disruptions of the coronavirus pandemic have made forecasting even more challenging.
Pandora's video ad format that gives marketers a chance to reach consumers who opt-in to watch a commercial in exchange for access to on-demand music is another sign of how audio streaming platforms are adding more video content. Rival platform Spotify, which also has interactive voice ads, this week announced that it will offer listeners a way to watch podcasts in a video format, Digital Trends reported. The addition of video content helps to make audio streaming platforms more compelling to advertisers. Competitor Apple Music is a subscription-based service that doesn't have ad inserts.
Pandora's expanded test of voice-powered ads comes a few weeks after the company's Pandora for Podcasters platform introduced analytical tools to help creators see more insights about their audiences. Podcast producers can see information including the number of streams, unique listeners, total time spent listening and the number "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" reviews, per a blog post. U.S. podcast advertising revenue will rise 15% to about $1 billion this year, per a forecast from the Interactive Advertising Bureau and consulting firm PwC. That prediction indicates that marketers are dedicating more of their media budgets to reach the growing audience for podcasts.