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Brands Give Out One Hour of Free Music With New Pandora Ads

Fox and Sony Playstation are first to ink deals

Fox tries sponsored music to tout new shows

Pandora’s new ad product, dubbed Sponsored Listening, lets you skip audio promos for an hour if you click on a video ad. The music service is beta testing with Fox, which is pushing its fall shows Gotham and Mulaney.

The idea behind Sponsored Listening is that a marketer gets to own a set time of Pandora music consumption with branded display ads. Sponsored Listening is initially rolling out on Pandora’s mobile apps—where 80 percent of listening happens for 76 million monthly users—but will be extended to desktop in the coming months.

Sony Playstation will also launch a test campaign in the coming weeks. The ad format will become available to all marketers in the second half of 2015.

Lizzie Widhelm, vp of digital at Pandora, declined to say how much Sponsored Listening costs compared to other advertising on the platform. Previously, marketers could utilize an ad format called Limited Interruptions, which are one-day takeovers of free music. Pandora has also had trial offers for its Pandora One—an ad-free listening product that costs about $5 per month.

"In the past, there have been advertisers who said, 'We’re looking for something big—a stunt,'" Widhelm said. "The difference in this product is we want to do it at scale. We want to make it available to all of our partners versus just a one-day stunt."

Meanwhile, Pandora is the latest music company to tie together free music with advertising. Spotify is testing similar ad formats that give users the ability to opt-in for ad-free listening.

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