Pandora Begins Testing Interactive Voice Ad Functionality

The audio streaming service has its own native voice assistant

Pandora voice ad
Doritos was one of the first brands to test interactive voice ads on Pandora. Pandora
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Audio streaming service Pandora is expanding on the Voice Mode native voice assistant it introduced for its mobile experience in July by testing interactive voice ad functionality.

Brands including Ashley HomeStore, Comcast, Doritos, Nestlé, Turner Broadcasting, Unilever and Wendy’s are part of the initial test group.


“Voice is an extremely hot topic today,” said Pandora vice president of ad innovation strategy Claire Fanning. Voice Mode was first released “to encourage voice as an interface and create the frictionless experience that is so sought after. This is setting us up for success as we explore introducing voice into ad functionality.”

The company added that voice ads provide the opportunity for brands to reach listeners wherever they are and during hands-free moments such as driving, cooking or exercising, when they would ordinarily be unable to engage with content.

“Brands will need to work harder than ever to get their consumer to not only pay attention, but to speak back,” Fanning said. “To grab earned engagement—in this case, the act of responding ‘yes’—requires a conversation around utility: What are you providing, and why would someone opt to hear more when they could instead go back and listen to their favorite song?”

The format also holds the potential for future development of brand equity and authentic experiences via voice-enabled audio.

On the measurement side, Pandora pointed out that tracking clicks leaves out audiences during hands-free moments, while voice ad engagement provides a better signal of intent to learn more about products and services.

“Preliminary results from our alpha test show unprecedented engagement rates,” Fanning said. “My hypothesis is that this is partly due to the new and exciting environment, but also because the creative is incredibly powerful and driven by utility. Voice ad creative may set a new bar for ad effectiveness, although we have a lot more to test and a lot remains to be seen.”

In an email, Doritos senior director of marketing Leslie Vesper said the brand is always looking for ways to challenge advertising norms. “Voice allows us to engage our hyper-engaged, tech-forward audience in a way that excites and intrigues,” she said. “We’re excited to test, learn, and better understand how we can use voice to start a new type of conversation with our audience.” David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.