The Personalization of Audio

Our tone and tempo inherently change based on who we interact with on a daily basis. For example, the way you speak to your boss is likely very different from how you speak to your grandparent. This level of innate personalization has existed forever, and now, the technology we interact with is catching up. Consumers have also come to expect personalized experiences and tend to engage with branded messaging that is most relevant to them.

So what does this mean for advertisers as they look to create a meaningful impact? How do you develop a creative strategy that meets, and even exceeds, consumer expectations?

At Pandora, personalization is built into our DNA, beginning with our algorithm, The Music Genome Project. Did you know that we house over 78M Drake stations on Pandora? [1] Would you also be surprised to know that not one Drake station is identical to the other? Each station is hyper-personalized based on our listeners’ preferences and behavioral signals, such as thumbing, skipping, track completions, etc. We take pride in this and have worked hard to incorporate personalization into our ads leveraging Audience Segmentation, Contextual Targeting, and Ad Load Personalization via our proprietary “Intelligent Ad Delivery” platform.

Today, we are thrilled to be building on this foundation with three new audio ad capabilities that allow our advertisers to take their personalization strategy to the next level: Short Form Audio, Dynamic Audio, and Sequential Audio.

  1. Short Form Audio – Ad format for shorter length :04–:10 second audio spots, complementary to standard length offerings
  2. Dynamic Audio – Serve ads tailored to listeners in real time, based on Pandora’s listener data
  3. Sequential Audio – Tell a brand story through sequentially targeted audio ads, in real time, to drive them further down the purchase funnel

Over the past year, we’ve been deeply curious about how personalized audio strategies can advance advertiser goals and as a result, have tested with over 20 select partners to understand effectiveness in this realm.

Ad Length Testing

We live in a society that thrives on brevity and often find ourselves preferring text over calls and emojis over words. As interpersonal communication continues to evolve, we started thinking: are we providing our advertisers with the right tools to best communicate with their audience today?

That’s not to say that you should immediately cram all :30 seconds worth of content into a :10 spot, but rather focus on the core message you are trying to convey and cut straight to the chase.

We went into testing short form audio with the belief that brevity could be a driving force for advertiser KPIs such as brand lift, foot traffic, sales lift and conversions. However, we also went into this knowing that standard length (:15s and :30s) would still remain crucial to success.

We were pleased to discover that we saw instances where short form really shined: Lays found that :10 spots drove 56% higher ROAS than :30s, deeming it more effective. [2] On the other hand, Esurance determined that while :10s drove higher quote initiations, :30s drove more conversions.[3]

This discovery meant that varying lengths can actually work in tandem to meet advertiser goals – :10s playing a crucial role in priming the audience and piquing interest, while :30s drives the conversion home.

If you never questioned ad length before, now is the time to consider your current message. What would you do if you only had :10 seconds?

Dynamic and Sequential Audio Testing

While shorter spot length is proving to pack a punch, we can’t ignore the importance of the creative message itself. Imagine being able to hyper-personalize audio ads to listeners in real time based on listener data such as gender, age, location, weather, and even which genre of music they’re listening to at that moment. The technology strings together pieces of an audio ad—in a matter of seconds—to get a particular message just right for each listener.

Now, also imagine being able to capture and engage listeners by sequencing audio ads in real time. The concept of storytelling is actually simple, but it requires powerful technology to execute at scale.

Sequential Messaging allows advertisers to not only tell a brand story, but also opens up other opportunities such as serving different products/features to different audiences, serving different messages based on day or time, and even avoiding wear out. After months of testing, we’re excited to see promising results that prove our Dynamic and Sequential Audio ad capabilities are working for our advertisers:

All this is to say, treat audio uniquely. Make it personal, make it count. It’s important to note that each audio campaign’s success and effectiveness rely heavily on the product, advertiser, message, creative, and measurement strategy.

In pioneering these efforts, we are committed to providing the right guidance to ensure success. In order to best tap into the potential of each capability, consider these best practices:
Dynamic Audio

  • Segment Your Audience & Optimize on your Key Message: a Retail brand may want to promote swimwear to females 18-34, and video games to males 18-24.
  • Vary Dynamic Elements in Meaningful Ways: a QSR can leverage day and dayparting to promote their breakfast, lunch and dinner menus along with daily specials!

Sequential Audio

  • Plan with Frequency in Mind & Play with Varied Ad Length Creative to Tell Your Story: a Commercial Appliance brand may want to showcase varying creative that highlights their product suite ranging from microwaves and refrigerators to washer and dryers.

What’s Next?

We’re purposefully releasing these three capabilities at the same time because we truly believe they can work together to bring about powerful results. We’re excited to lead the personalization of audio conversation and help advance advertiser goals in the most optimal way possible.

Ready to supercharge your audio personalization strategy? Get in touch with a sales rep today.


1. Pandora Internal Metrics, 2018
2. Millward Brown, 2017; Nielsen Catalina Solutions, 2017
3. Esurance 2P Data, 2018

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