All Brands Can Now Buy Hour-Long Sponsored Listening on Pandora

Tests lifted purchase intent 30%

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Pandora listeners are about to get a lot more free music—if they agree to watch ads.

Last fall, the music-streaming service rolled out a new ad format for select brands called Sponsored Listening. Ten months later, it's now available to all advertisers and Pandora's 80 million active listeners.

Sponsored Listening prompts people to watch a short video or click on a rich media ad to unlock one hour of ad-free listening. Per Pandora, those pilot ads boosted purchase intent by 30 percent and brand awareness by 12 percent.

Each video ad is at least 15 seconds long and can run up to two-and-a-half minutes long. Jonathan Eccles, Pandora's product lead, said people are interacting "tremendously" with content for more than the 15-second requirement.

In addition to the videos, marketers can also ask people to click on a rich media ad to start the hour of sponsored listening. Those promos take over a big chunk of a mobile screen and can now include 360-degree views to show different angles of a product.

Land Rover, for example, used the tool to show different angles of a car driving through sand.

About 20 brands participated in Pandora's beta program, and new advertisers include Gatorade, Corona Extra and Yuengling. Gatorade plans to use the ads on workout-themed playlists that target athletes.

"The real biggest thing we wanted to test for ourselves was, 'Is this something that really changes how consumers perceive advertisers?'" Eccles said. "Is this something that makes people really happy to encounter an ad? What the beta proved out is that, yes, it is."

Sponsored Listening is only available on mobile, which is how 80 percent of Pandora's users listen to music.

Those tuned-in users are clearly helping make Pandora money. The Oakland, Calif., company reported its second-quarter earnings last week, bringing in $230.9 million in ad revenue, a 30 percent year-over-year jump.

"We want to put a lot of deep focus on where the majority of our listeners and our engagement is," Eccles said. "When it comes to the value that advertisers are really looking for now, mobile really is the heart of it."

@laurenjohnson Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.