Pandora Launches Audio Ad Marketplace As Voice And Brand Safety Demand Rises

“The launch of our programmatic audio marketplace will give advertisers the unique opportunity to efficiently reach Pandora’s audience," says Pandora CRO John Trimble.

Pandora is expanding its programmatic ad offerings to marketers who are increasing calls for media environments promising “brand safety” as the role of audio advertising experiences a new focus with the growth of voice-activated devices and platforms.

The addition of Pandora Audio Marketplace will allow advertisers access to the internet radio platform’s inventory and audience reach of roughly 73 million monthly listeners within an ad environment entirely managed by Pandora. The Pandora Audio Marketplace is intended as an extension of Pandora’s existing programmatic video and display.

The moves come as rivals IHeartRadio and Spotify, which have been touting their own respective programmatic audio ad sales expansions since last year.

For Pandora, the audio marketplace also is meant to help it better capitalize on its own extensive immersion into voice activated devices and connections with platforms like Amazon Echo’s Alexa and integrations with Sonos speakers as part of its efforts to embed itself in consumers’ Connected Homes.

Pandora began emphasizing its marketing philosophy that “voice is the new touch” last year.

“The launch of our programmatic audio marketplace will give advertisers the unique opportunity to efficiently reach Pandora’s audience—the largest set of listeners in the U.S.—in a targeted way, within a brand-safe environment,” said John Trimble, Chief Revenue Officer at Pandora. “With the rise of voice-activated devices, the demand for quality audio inventory is rapidly accelerating. This offering positions us for growth by meeting the needs of our current buying partners and unlocking market opportunities in the near future.”

The notion of private marketplaces like that one Pandora is setting up for audio have appealed to both publishers and media buyers for the past decade, as real-time bidding has taken off and upended traditional sales models.

Generally speaking, a private marketplace puts more control in publishers’ hands by providing clear controls to more easily select what kinds of buyers can view and bid on their inventory. The idea of a private marketplace that is tied to location-based advertising and voice activation further narrows the field for publishers like Pandora, who, in theory at least, will have better reasons to offer higher quality ad placements that have those aspects.

That appears to be the appeal to Volkswagen, which is a launch partner of the Pandora Audio Marketplace.

“Cars and music both have a way of eliciting an emotional connection. At Volkswagen we’re always looking to effectively reach drivers consumers in ways that move them while maintaining scale in a brand-safe environment,” said Jim Zabel, SVP of Marketing at Volkswagen. “By working with Pandora for its programmatic audio pilot we’ll now have the opportunity to efficiently reach a large base of listeners with the quality first-party data that our campaigns require.”

The Volkswagen campaign was run by Volkswagen’s media agency of record, Omnicom’s PHD as part of an exclusive collaboration with Pandora.

The campaign will use demand-side platform (DSP) The Trade Desk. Pandora is making its audio inventory available through deals with The Trade Desk, AdsWizz’s AudioMatic and MediaMath during the pilot and will include additional DSPs in the future. The marketplace is powered by AdsWizz’s AudioMax audio programmatic platform.

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.