Pandora And T-Mobile Roll Out Reward-Based Video In Effort To Boost Engagement

"We’re seeing that by allowing people to opt into their video ads and choose when it’s worth it for them to watch something, that intent drives truly deep engagement," says Pandora SVP Lizzie Widhelm.

Pandora’s latest attempt to battle for the engagement of people on-the-go is turning to video, where the music streaming platform is releasing its performance-based Video Plus ad format to connect brands and listeners.

The video ad product, which Pandora began testing last fall, enables brands to pay only when users watch 15 seconds of a video ad, the company said in a blog post.

The performance-based format comes as retailers and location ad platforms seek to drive engagement — and win the trust — of brands with cost-per-visit ads that promise to “guarantee” by only charging for ads that actually helped drive in-store traffic.

T-Mobile is one of the first Pandora advertisers to roll out the new video format.

In exchange for watching the Pandora video ad, listeners unlock features that are typically only available with a subscription to Pandora Plus or Pandora Premium: the ability to skip more songs and replay tracks. T-Mobile is among the initial brands adding the Video Plus into their media plans beginning today.

“We’re seeing that by allowing people to opt into their video ads and choose when it’s worth it for them to watch something, that intent drives truly deep engagement,” said Lizzie Widhelm, SVP of ad product strategy at Pandora.

Widhelm outlined how Pandora has been “training” its listeners through a few steps:

  • they have a surprise and delight moment during the times when they discover new music and listening features they love, while gaining the sense of control they want
  • they learn they can enhance their listening sessions by watching video ads
  • watching video ads becomes what they expect, and they associate those advertisers with the value they consistently bring to their listening experiences.

“Brands who spend time connecting with listeners during these surprise and delight moments are then associated with adding value to consumers’ daily lives,” Widhelm added.

In terms of the appeal to advertisers, Pandora research highlights a particularly coveted demographic that is primed to respond most strongly to this format: the majority of users who watch these ads are between the ages of 18 and 34 with listeners under the age of 24 three times more likely to opt-in.

The types of listeners opting-in to these new ads and features are some of Pandora’s most engaged – they listen 57 percent longer and “thumb” 65 percent more.

“The competition for consumer attention is only getting more intense,” said John Trimble, chief revenue officer at Pandora Brands need high-quality ad solutions that create lasting impressions and resonate with their target audiences. “Video Plus boosts brand awareness, builds loyalty, captures views and promotes deeper interactions with listeners who are significantly more likely to take action.”