How Pandora Is Building Creative Advertising Opportunities Into Its Platform


Over the course of this year, the audio industry has seen a big shift in how and where people listen to content—whether that’s podcasts, music, talk shows or guided meditation programs.

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At nitronet’s virtual summit this week, How Brands Found Their Voice in Audio, Pandora vp of ad innovations Claire Fanning spoke with nitronet’s executive editor Stephanie Paterik on how the platform is connecting advertisers with audio consumers this year.

Early in the pandemic, podcast listenership dropped off significantly as people suddenly began to work from home, cutting out their morning and evening commutes when many people tuned into their favorite shows. But with so much time at home, many subsequently found ways to re-incorporate audio entertainment into their new routines as a result of screen fatigue, said Fanning. And that’s created new opportunities for advertisers to meet consumers where they’re at on audio platforms like Pandora.

Last week, Pandora parent company SiriusXM finalized its acquisition of the podcast platform Stitcher. SiriusXM quickly made the entirety of Stitcher’s podcast library available on all tiers of Pandora, bringing popular podcasts like “My Favorite Murder,” “SuperSoul Conversations from the Oprah Winfrey Network,” “Office Ladies,” “LeVar Burton Reads” and “WTF with Marc Maron” to the audio streaming platform.

“There’s a ton of opportunity” for advertisers to get creative in the audio space, said Fanning, especially in podcasts. “That authentic host ad experience is really awesome, but also tends to stand in the way for advertisers who have a very specific strategy.”

Fanning pointed to some of the ways Pandora has worked with brands to develop more creative ads on the platform, giving listeners the opportunity to interact with those ads—like a playful KFC spot that requires listeners to respond to Colonel Sanders in order to hear the full ad.

Pandora has also worked with advertisers to create branded content that’s customized for the moment we’re living through. For example, Dove’s Tropical Sound Escape is an audio experience that’s aimed at giving listeners a break from the chaos of home life at a time when things are more stressful than ever for so many.

Looking ahead, Fanning said that Pandora’s planning to expand this kind of support for brands that want to advertise on the platform. “We’re going to look to be more prescriptive around how advertisers take advantage of this space in a way that I think has really only been available in more visual environments,” she said.

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