Expert Interview: What Recent Changes Mean for Pandora Advertising

Will 2019 be the year for programmatic audio? If you’ve been watching the headlines, it just might be. From Pandora’s acquisition of AdsWizz to SiriusXM’s play to buy Pandora, recent signals have many in the industry believing that programmatic audio is finally reaching marketplace maturity. We talked with Sarah Scherer, Media Product Manager at Goodway Group, about how these changes will impact Pandora advertising and the digital audio landscape. Earlier this year, Pandora purchased the programmatic audio platform AdsWizz. What has this acquisition meant for Pandora advertising? AdsWizz is a supply-side platform specializing in programmatic audio inventory, like iHeartRadio, podcasts and other audio sources. By purchasing AdsWizz, Pandora gained access to the pipes needed to sell their own audio inventory programmatically. Being full stack means Pandora doesn’t have to rely on third-party SSP tech anymore, like most other publishers. What are the benefits of Pandora going programmatic for advertisers? Of all the recent changes at Pandora, going programmatic brings the most significant benefits for advertisers: 1.      Enhanced targeting. The targeting capabilities through a DSP are typically much more robust than what’s available through a publisher direct buy. Now, Pandora’s advertisers have the ability to layer on sophisticated geotargeting, to seamlessly integrate first-party data, to access thousands of third-party audience segments, to apply enhanced optimization, and more to customize their campaigns. 2.      Expanded reach. Typically, each household only uses one audio platform, be it Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, or something else. It’s similar to selecting a cable provider. You choose one and then access the account across all of your devices. Advertisers who purchased audio exclusively through programmatic pipes in the past weren’t reaching the majority of Pandora households. Now, they can tap into Pandora households through the same programmatic platforms that they use to buy their other audio inventory. 3.      Holistic reporting. Previously, advertisers buying Pandora inventory had to get it direct from Pandora. This meant that after the campaign, advertises needed to pull any reports from Pandora and manually integrate them with other media reports to compare how each channel performed. Being able to buy Pandora advertising on programmatic pipes gives advertisers all their reporting in one place. Compared to other ad formats, audio has been slow to catch on programmatically. What is holding audio back? A variety of factors have held back programmatic audio, but none more than the creative assets required. Most brands have messaging and images they can pull together with limited effort for a display campaign. And some even have video that they can quickly edit for a 15- or 30-second online ad. But audio creatives are a totally different beast. Advertisers must tailor their audio ads to a channel where the audience almost always has eyes elsewhere. I don’t think that most advertisers have historically had high-quality audio assets readily available to activate campaigns. However, I do think more money will flow into programmatic audio in the coming years as advertisers recognize the cost efficiencies and optimization benefits compared to linear radio. These benefits will drive the creation and execution of programmatic audio ads well beyond what we’ve seen in recent years. Last month, Liberty Media, the parent company of SiriusXM, made moves to acquire Pandora. How does this impact the digital audio landscape? The potential combination of SiriusXM with Pandora is game-changing. SiriusXM’s business model was built on leveraging automobiles to sell their subscription service. Joining with Pandora would allow SiriusXM to expand their footprint across devices, making their exclusive sports, radio and celebrity content available on phones, tablets, in-home assistants and more. What does all this change mean for advertisers already in digital audio or those looking to get in? There aren’t any immediate changes for advertisers already running digital audio. But remember that Pandora advertising still requires certain minimums, even if you run programmatically. While it is important to ensure you have a presence across all audio inventory that aligns with your target audience, make sure you can meet the requirements to run on Pandora inventory. And for those looking to get into programmatic audio, the future has never looked brighter. Heading into 2019, advertisers can plan their media buys – inclusive of digital audio – to achieve a holistic, omnichannel approach for maximum impact. Plus, the audio space is one of the safest environments, with most buys transacted via low-fraud private marketplace deals. If you are looking for a high-quality, proven upper-funnel or brand-awareness tactic, programmatic audio might be right for you. To learn more about where programmatic audio is headed in 2019 and beyond, talk to us. We’re listening.