Creative Best Practices for Sponsored Listening Campaigns

The ultimate goal for almost any advertiser: having your consumers willingly participate in a branded experience. When users opt into an ad, they’re bound to be more engaged—which is why reward-based advertising has only grown in popularity since its inception.

With Sponsored Listening, Pandora listeners are offered one hour of uninterrupted, ad-free music in exchange for 15 seconds of active attention and engagement, with a brand’s video or rich media activation. This “golden” moment is a chance to create an instant connection with your audience—and it can belong solely to your brand. Since its announcement in 2015, Pandora’s Sponsored Listening has proven to be an extremely successful advertising solution, generating high click through rates, and increased product awareness- sometimes as much as +26%!1

As the largest digital audio advertising marketplace in the U.S., we’ve analyzed the behavior of our audience, considered the findings, and compiled a few best practices to help you get the most out of your Sponsored Listening campaign.

1. Maintain consumer attention after you have captured it

Compelling brand creative makes all the difference—period. To maintain their focus, your creative should build up and reveal its key message at, or after, the 15 second mark. This ensures that your listener is tuned in, and continues to follow along with your content. And it works: our Sponsored Listening campaigns achieve a 73% activity completion rate on average.2

2. Make the most of rich media

What’s more engaging than a video? An interactive rich media activation that allows listeners to actually interact with your product or ad. (Imagine: swipe galleries, 360-degree product spotlights, and more. Really, the possibilities are endless). When brands used rich media, they saw significant interaction, especially from younger audience members. With viewers ages 13-17, they saw a whopping 13.89% click-through rate and 12.96% engagement rate.3

3. Personalize for your Pandora listener

Listening to Pandora is a perfectly curated music experience, and successful advertising on Pandora reflects this. Using a conversational tone and a clear call-to-action complements the personalized experience for your target audience. Also, make sure to think about your target consumer, and tailor your ad creative to that audience. HP saw an 87% lift in ad awareness when they engaged Gen Z and Millennials in a one-of-a-kind, interactive rich media ad featuring a guitar and HP’s new Inking Pen. (Read more here.)

4. Make it relevant

Take advantage of opportunities to place your brand in seasonal or significant moments. Incorporating these moments into your campaign can help contextualize your brand, and increase engagement. If building a custom campaign isn’t available to you, you can still demonstrate your brand’s relevance by adding a holiday template, a Fourth of July themed banner, or a Halloween-based activity.

Sponsored Listening has shown to be extremely effective in maintaining listener attention, prompting follow through, and promoting brand awareness. To leverage this option to access your audience, contact a sales representative who can answer your questions and help you get started!


  1. Taco Bell + Pandora Case Study
  2. Pandora Internal Metrics, Q1 2019
  3. Pandora Internal Metrics, Q1 2019