Voice-activated ads are hear—we mean, here

When it comes to advertising, the following streaming platforms are exploring innovative new avenues to spur audience engagement and foster content interaction. One area of growing interest to these brands is voice-enabled technology. According to analysts at Juniper Research, the number of digital voice assistants will grow to 8 billion by 2023, and the following brands are already tapping into voice assistant usage and getting their audience to tell them what they want, with their own voices.


Popular music platform Pandora is adding interactive voice ads to its lineup in between song plays. This new ad strategy is an extension of the company’s hands-free feature, “Voice Mode,” which Pandora added in July 2019. Interacting with the ads only requires a simple “yes” or “no” response from the listener; if the user doesn’t reply or says “no,” the music will resume. A “yes” prompts the ad to continue relaying information about the product or brand. Pandora got the ball rolling by scripting creative ads for major advertisers like Unilever and Nestlé to show the benefits of hands-free, voice-activated ad content that grabs listeners’ attention, even when they’re streaming their favorite tunes.


Spotify is investing in voice-enabled ad technology to lead listeners to branded podcasts and playlists. These ads will give users the chance to be directed to a suggested podcast or playlist if they say “Play Now;” if the user says anything except this, or nothing at all, the internal mic will turn off and the ad will end. The ads will only be distributed to users with the free mobile version of the app during the test of this functionality; listeners will also be able to opt out of these voice-enabled ads through their settings if they wish. For now, Spotify will only be advertising the content contained on its app.


NBCU’s forthcoming streaming service Peacock promises to keep all advertising to a maximum of five minutes per hour on both its free and premium tiers. Not only will the ads be brief, but Peacock also won’t run the same ads inside a 30-minute streaming period. What's more, Peacock plans to make its commercials more engaging and audience-friendly with strategies like Engagement ads (that solicit viewer engagement via trivia or product galleries), ShoppableTV (which gives consumers the chance to purchase items related to the shows they’re watching), and On-Command ads. On-Command ads use Comcast Xfinity voice technology to allow viewers to speak into their remote to interact with the ads.