There’s a lot of excitement in the advertising world around ‘native’ ads, which blend seamlessly into (or even look just like) regular content in online services. This week saw new announcements from Pandora and Vevo about how their advertising formats are evolving in 2014.
For Pandora, the new feature is Promoted Stations: branded stations from the likes of Taco Bell, Diageo and Sonos, which will be shown to around 10% of Pandora’s listeners in their Stations You Might Like section, according to AdAge.
10 brands are testing the new format out initially, with Pandora helping them to build the stations. Digital VP Lizzie Widhelm says the company is still figuring out how to charge for this feature, and how to target the different brands to different users.
Pandora’s Promoted Stations is comparable to what Apple is doing with iTunes Radio, as the latter’s initial advertising partners were also able to create their own channels. Pandora’s recent financial results revealed that the personal radio service saw its advertising revenues rise 45% year-on-year to $140.6m in the first quarter of 2014. Promoted Stations could help boost that in the years to come.
Vevo, meanwhile, has teamed up with a company called Mirriad, which specialises in digitally inserting advertisements into existing video – initially TV shows, but now music videos too.
Aloe Blacc’s ‘The Man’ video now has a Levi’s Billboard where there wasn’t one before, for example (although also note the prominent Beats Music shot at the start of the video, which is in both versions). It’s Mirriad’s first partnership in both the US and the world of online video, although it has already worked with brands including Samsung, Coca-Cola and Honda elsewhere in the world.
The technology behind digital ad insertion is well established – it’s no stranger to live football matches in Europe, for example, and there have also been experiments around inserting ads into console games in the past.
It’s new for music videos though: the chance for Vevo to sell space within individual videos on an ongoing basis, rather than labels doing individual deals before the videos are produced. Potential creative niggles are obvious too, though: Vevo tells AdAge that it will be consulting artists and labels on ‘whether or not a brand naturally fits into the video’ to avoid controversy.