Pandora expands programmatic offering with Adobe integration as digital audio space grows

Pandora adds Adobe Ad Cloud as programmatic partner

As the digital audio space grows, Pandora has made its audio, video and display inventory available programmatically through an integration with Adobe Advertising Cloud.

Sahil Gupta, director of global partnerships at Adobe Ad Cloud, said Pandora's purchase of audio adtech company AdsWizz last May helped bring the offering to market.

Pandora, which formed an ad sales partnership with SoundCloud in October, has an expanded audience of 120m US monthly users at a time when digital audio consumption is climbing. According to a report from Adobe, consumers are 8% more likely to consume digital audio than they were last year.

Over the next year, about a quarter of consumers plan to spend more time listening to podcasts, Adobe found.

Gupta said he's seeing advertisers experiment in digital audio as they try "to figure out where in the funnel" it sits.

"One thing is, a lot of these audio ads, especially in the mobile apps, can be paired to a display call to action, so that lends itself really well there," said Gupta.

Brian Gilbert, senior director of programmatic operations at Pandora, said he's seeing "a cultural shift" resulting from the growth of digital audio, and that's impacting how advertisers approach their media strategy.

According to a report from Adobe, nearly half of the organizations surveyed plan to increase their digital audio ad spend by an average of 35% compared to last year.

However, the problem with the reach and scale that programmatic buying promises is that it can come at the cost of personalization.

Since Pandora touts its ability to offer brands targeted addressability, Scott Walker, senior vice-president of strategy and analytics at Pandora, recommends that advertisers take a hybrid approach.

"Our recommendation is always to build a hybrid of both [scale and personalization], and to test and learn as you go with the capabilities of running experiments, gaining insights and looking at analytics to see what's the right messaging strategy," said Walker.

Walker added that a "vast majority" of audio ads are played through to completion, and display and video ads have high viewability numbers because Pandora triggers them only when a user interacts with the app when it's in the foreground.

Pandora also rolled out its podcast offering in December. Walker said the company is "focused on monetizing" podcasts as quickly as possible.

"For podcasts to become as big an ad market as it potentially can as adoption grows, they have to trade in a currency that the market trades in at scale, at that's impressions and CPM," said Walker.

Walker added that right now podcasts are primarily sponsor-driven, as the challenge of injecting ads into podcasts could cost the medium its "colloquial," host-read feel.

Adobe found that for digital audio as a whole, conversion (47%) and awareness (28%) are advertisers' primary measurement tactics.

Adobe also announced a partnership with Roku as they look to address the pain points of ad buying on OTT.

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