Pandora is now testing interactive audio ads, the company announced Thursday. The ads require users to verbally engage before the rest of the ad’s content is played.

The interactive voice ads are also accompanied by an on-screen ad. Audible and visual prompts cue the user to respond verbally. Source: Pandora.

Say “yes” at the tone. For its initial rollout, Pandora has partnered with Doritos, Ashley HomeStores, Unilever, Wendy’s, Turner Broadcasting, Comcast and Nestle to create audio ads that entertain, present tips, etc. to grab users’ attention and entice them to listen to the rest of the ad.

For example, DiGiorno’s ad presents the listener with a joke, “What did the Digiorno rising-crust pizza say to the oven when things started getting head?” then, the user is prompted to verbally respond “yes” to hear the rest of the joke.

At the beginning of each ad, users are explicitly informed that they are listening to a new type of ad that requires verbal engagement. If the user says “no” or does not respond within a few seconds, music playback resumes.

Why we care. Targeting and accurately measuring the return on audio ad campaigns has been a struggle for advertisers. By adding a layer of engagement, advertisers may be able to extract more insights on what users are interested in, which can enhance targeting and help to justify their ad spend.

YouTube’s TrueView ads that allow users to skip after five seconds have been a hit with advertisers, who pay only after the five-second mark. Pandora’s inversed opt-in approach may also strike a chord with advertisers and users. Prompting users to respond to the ad also helps to capture their attention, which may make ads more effective.

About The Author

George Nguyen is an Associate Editor at Third Door Media. His background is in content marketing, journalism, and storytelling.