Scaling Audio Ad Personalization in 2018

Eric Suliga, Creative Director

It’s no secret that at Pandora we’re passionate about personalization. From our very earliest days our personalized music experience has been the foundation of everything we do, and in parallel we’ve been hard at work harnessing the technology at our fingertips to make sure a listener’s ad experience is as personalized as their music experience. This pursuit aims to contribute to increased listener satisfaction and opportunities for advertiser effectiveness. Our approach to this involves a number of initiatives:

Intelligent Ad Delivery Gone are the days of a fixed number of ad breaks per hour; we now have powerful proprietary technology that allows us to leverage multiple machine learning algorithms to determine when listeners are most receptive to receive ads, allowing us to serve them an ad at the right time, customized to the individual listener. For example, we won’t serve an ad if a listener has just thumbed down a song. We’re also able to identify if a person responds better to ads during particular times of day, or certain days of the week... So ad sensitivity is a dynamic threshold that keeps changing on an individual level, and this helps advertisers make sure they reach their target audience at the right moment for the listener.

Shorter Length Audio Ads As with ad delivery tempo, our concept of an optimal ad experience continues to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach, as we know that advertiser messaging varies, and who they speak to varies. We’re testing ad lengths to understand when ads of different lengths make sense for both advertisers and consumers. We’ve talked about our efforts to help brands stay current with changing communication styles by testing shorter length audio ads, since consumers today are adept at doing more (communicating) with less (time). As a result, we’re testing shorter length spots (:06 - :10 seconds in length compared to our standard :30 second spots) to understand which spot lengths resonate best with what listeners. Do football fans punt on shorter ads? Are EDM listeners electrified by the in-depth messaging available with longer spot lengths? We’re on a mission to find out, and also believe there is value in utilizing a shorter length audio ad as part of a media mix of varying ad lengths. We’ll be continuing our testing this year to bring these best practices around ad length to our advertising partners.

Dynamic Audio While marketers should be thinking about personalizing the audio ad experience for their consumers, it’s not just about when, and how long, but also how to best achieve the next level of personalization with what they serve, meaning the message itself. Dynamic Audio allows advertisers to serve ads tailored to each individual listener in real time, based on their age, gender, where they live, etc., and we’ve spent the last year working to bring this cutting edge technology to life for our advertisers through our partnership with the UK based company A Million Ads.

When we first announced our partnership we were imagining a world full of personalized audio creative, and the endless possibilities it could bring to our advertisers. The days of imagining are over, and we’re testing this technology at scale with our first advertisers: Audible and The Ad Council.

Behind the Scenes

Dynamic creative for display ads has been around for some time, but enabling this for audio ads is much more challenging. Creating dynamic audio ads requires complex product tools and user experience improvements to enable the spots to sound seamless and natural. While A Million Ads has the toolset to power this dynamic technology, Pandora’s best-in-class Advertising Creative Services team has been along for the ride - hard at work on the ideation, creation and production of the dynamic creative.

Fast forward to the production phase, which takes place in Pandora’s state of the art recording studio in our Oakland headquarters. This is where the magic happens, and it’s been quite the journey so far.

We’re helping advertisers create more meaningful connection points by making their message feel like someone who the listener would normally engage in conversation with.

Steve Dunlop, CEO of A Million Ads, shares our vision around the humanization of technology:

“We can take everything we know about a listener, combine that together with a script from an advertiser, to create a completely personalized, custom and different version of each advert that each user hears. If we can make branded messages feel more connected to a listener and aware of their context - what the weather’s like where they are, which city they’re in, which day of the week it is, - that's going to make them feel more familiar and therefore make that message more engaging and have higher recall and performance.”

Audible and The Ad Council were eager to come along for the ride and test Dynamic Audio with us. Beth Ellard, Head of Media & Innovation at The Ad Council had this to say about their experience:

“Given the Ad Council’s focus on media innovation, we’re thrilled to partner with Pandora on their Dynamic Audio platform for our social cause campaigns. The ability to target specific audiences, personalize audio creative, and deliver sequential messaging enables emotional storytelling at scale. This is what drives  measurable impact and true social change. We’re excited to extend the Ad Council’s work with Pandora through innovative offerings like Dynamic Audio."

What's Next

Our partnership with A Million Ads has been invaluable, allowing us to work together in such a way that strengthens our position as the leader in Audio, by mastering the art of dynamic creative and making this first to market opportunity available for our advertisers. Paired with our proprietary and game-changing “Intelligent Ad Delivery” platform, we’ll not only be able to serve the right message to the right listener, we’ll also be able to serve that message at the right time, which is equally as important.

Optimizing to what is resonating and connecting best with consumers is the future, and what we believe will drive positive brand results for our advertisers. And while there’s still a great deal to learn and uncover about Dynamic Audio Creative, Pandora is proud to be able to offer this technology to a limited number of advertisers over the coming months.

With all of these efforts combined, our goal in 2018 is to make the ad experience on Pandora more personalized than ever. We’ve got a lot that we’re still learning, but we’re confident these changes will help make Pandora a more effective platform for advertisers, where they can reach their customers listening to the music they love.

Interested in learning more? Get in touch with a sales rep today: Contact Us!