Relevance Drives Receptivity: The Keys to Audio Storytelling

By Marisa Levine, Sr. Manager Ad Innovation Strategy & Susan Cylenica, Ad Innovation Sales

Wherever you are in your day, audio is an increasingly important channel when thinking about reaching your consumer. Audio is the only format that is present in key moments, such as driving, cooking, entertaining, or spending time with friends and family. We’ve always believed that the contextual relevancy of these key moments play an important role in reaching consumers, but we wanted to take this a step further and better understand its effect on audio ads.

We partnered with Nielsen on a study that tested relevant and irrelevant ads across two formats (listening to music and watching TV) and four activities (folding laundry, online shopping, eating, and simulated driving). The results showed that contextual audio ads (e.g., hearing a retail ad while online shopping), were actually more impactful at driving aided recall than relevant TV ads (+9% to be exact)1. These results prove that considering the context and state of your audience is crucial for consumers to be receptive to your messaging.

The concept of relevancy can translate to a number of different consumer touchpoints. Is your message relevant to who you’re reaching? Is it relevant to what they’re doing? Equally as important to the who and what, is the when. Pandora understands listeners’ moods, allowing advertisers to tap into a frame of mind at a particular moment. We all have unique, personalized soundtracks that power our daily routine and moods. For this reason, your audience targeting should go beyond a consumers segmentation and tap into these contextual moods and moments. Once you’re positioned in the mind of your consumer, you then want to think about creative strategy, and how to tell your brand story - which we believe should be rooted in personalization.

By the time the holiday season comes, we’ll each have been exposed to over one million brand messages in this calendar year2. Marketers are turning more and more towards personalized experiences to stand out—in fact, 51% of marketers are investing in personalization and consider it a top strategic capability to create better experiences for their consumers3. Varying levels of marketing personalization and segmentation have been around for years, but translating this from a strategy into reality is no simple feat.

Reaching people in the right moment with the right message is challenging, but one of the tools you can use to make this easier is automation through dynamic creative, which Pandora has pioneered for nearly two years. You can achieve this through a suite of creative tools, including Dynamic Audio (real-time data signals), Sequential Audio (telling a story over time), and even Short Form Audio (creating brand awareness in short, impactful moments). If audio spots are personalized and tailored to your consumer, the ability to resonate and capture their attention will increase. We’ve seen this move the needle when comparing personalized creative to standard creative—driving higher lifts in purchase intent (+125%)4, aided recall (+13%)4, visitation (+3.33%)5, awareness (8.7%)6 and message association (+17%)6.

Advertising is all about telling your brand story. By considering the context and mood of your audience and reaching them with a personalized message, you can drive receptivity and thus more positive outcomes. Our yearly Definitive Guide to Audio dives into this further, outlining some of the best ways to personalize, including the future of audio, tips from industry experts, and best practices for audio creative. Download the guide here or experience the guide online in our new digital tour.


  1. The Impact of Context and Relevancy, Nielsen commissioned study by Pandora, February 2018
  2. Ad Week “Despite Recognizing the Importance of Personalization, Marketers Are Still Missing the Mark”
  3. Adobe 2017 Digital Marketing Report
  4. Veritonic Audio Effectiveness Report, 2018
  5. Placed Study, December 2018 - February 2019
  6. Pandora Surveys, April - June 2019