By: Jonathan Eccles, Product Manager
The past 11 months at Pandora have been an exciting time for engagement.
We’ve been busy beta testing our newest native ad product, Sponsored Listening, on a small subset of our listener base — and even at limited exposure, we’ve seen over 4 million unique listeners choose to engage with these ads in exchange for an hour of uninterrupted listening time. Some listeners have so far only dipped a toe in the water with their first Sponsored Listening session, while others have developed a recurring habit of opting in every chance they get.
Inspired by these results and the outspoken excitement we’ve heard from listeners and advertisers alike, we are thrilled to announce today that Sponsored Listening is now available to all advertising partners looking to capture the attention of their target audience, while also facilitating an enhanced listener experience.
What is Sponsored Listening?
For those who have yet to experience Sponsored Listening, this engagement-based ad product is yet another manifestation of Pandora’s advertising philosophy of what’s good for the listener is good for the advertiser. In exchange for at least 15 seconds of active brand attention, listeners are rewarded with 1 hour of uninterrupted listening. Active brand attention includes watching a video or engaging with a rich media unit, like a swipeable slide gallery or interactive 360-degree product spotlight. Within the Sponsored Listening session, the advertiser has 100% share of voice, which fosters an intimate connection between the brand and the listener.
We’ve Been Listening and Learning…
We used the beta phase of Sponsored Listening to listen and learn about how users and advertisers interact with the product. To ensure the best experience possible, we recently added new features like enforced video viewability and additional options for high-impact rich media interaction. We also built new systems that enable marketers to purchase on a zero-waste, Cost Per Engagement basis, in which no impression or click is billed without a user actively choosing to engage with the sponsor’s activity for at least 15 viewable seconds.
Already we’ve heard positive feedback from our advertising partners on the measurable ROI they’ve experienced with Sponsored Listening. In addition to engaging with Sponsored Listening ads at far higher rates than standard media, we found that listeners also continue to interact with sponsored content even after the uninterrupted hour is granted. Additionally, our beta partners experienced positive movement on key upper funnel metrics, including a 12% lift in brand awareness and a 30% lift in purchase intent after running Sponsored Listening ads.
Brands that have utilized this new ad product include Land Rover North America, Corona Extra, Gatorade, TruTV, Yeungling and others. Lauren Fitts, Director of Integrated Campaigns at Gatorade, had this to say about her Sponsored Listening experience:
“This kind of value exchange is rare in a fast-paced, fragmented media environment. By sponsoring an hour of free listening, we can help fuel a better training session or workout — and that is a really authentic touchpoint for our brand with athletes.”
Redefining Engagement with Attention-Based Products
In today’s cluttered advertising landscape, it is more important than ever to leverage solutions that capture attention and drive quality time spent with your brand. We know that when people listen to music, they experience an elevated state of emotion. When marketers can tap into emotional moments like these, they will be rewarded with life-long brand loyalists.
And this impact extends even further. During our beta, we discovered thatSponsored Listening content encouraged our listeners to become more loyal and frequent Pandora users. People love the experience so much that they are flocking to social media to share their delight:
As a Product Manager at Pandora, it’s this kind of feedback that warms my heart. Sponsored Listening is helping us transform how we think about advertising on Pandora — and it’s all about redefining engagement as capturing attention, while giving listeners what they love. This goes beyond simply driving viewability or brand awareness. By empowering marketers to think about their advertising in new ways, we are not only adding value to the listener experience but also helping redefine consumer perception of advertising in itself.
Sponsored Listening is truly a win-win ad format. No music lover should be without it, and brands everywhere should look to it as a new gateway to authentic consumer attention.