adStream: Pre-rolls and second-rolls

adStream is a journal of ad-stalking and interesting commercial sightings in streaming audio services.

adstream - feb2015 - pandora prerollIn recent editions of this feature we’ve looked at pre-roll audio ads (e.g. in Stitcher), and we regard audio pre-rolls as effective marketing that doesn’t strain the listener’s patience. Is audio pre-roll more user-friendly than video pre-roll? We speculate that it is, for two reasons. Videos are often very short, with pre-rolls that can be nearly as long as the content (or longer in extreme cases). That’s a poor deal for the user, whereas in streaming audio the pre-roll usually precedes longer listening, like the start of a station or playlist. Pre-rolls give outstanding marketing exposure to the advertiser, at a low threshold for the user.

We found a pre-roll in TuneIn during a recent listening session. Hoping to trigger another, we clicked like mad on radio webcasts and pureplay stations, but could not incite pre-roll ads. During listening, we saw a parade of banner ads in the Android app — each lasted about 30 seconds and was quickly replaced. Progressive car insurance was in heavy rotation, along with competitor State Farm in the same stream.

In Pandora, we encountered an ad placement that we’ll call “second-roll,” injected after the second song skip in a station. In all instances, two 30-second commercials comprised the second-roll spot break, each accompanied by a companion banner (see the screenshot).

This seems like an interesting placement, with an advantage: the listener is looking at the screen immediately after pressing the skip button, so the companion banner — not normally seen during eyes-off listening — presumably makes an impression.

Of course, short two-spot breaks convey a double advantage, to the advertiser and the user. We have never experienced a longer spot break in Pandora.





Brad Hill