Instreamatic reaches agreement with Pandora to test smart voice interaction with audio ads

Ad tech platform is announcing today its agreement with Pandora to test interactive voice audio ads that are smartened up with artificial intelligence. If this platform continues its preliminary success and grows, the result could be like the conversational relationship people have with smart speakers and mobile voice assistants, applied to the consumer-advertiser relationship.

Instreamatic’s technology allows advertisers to create audio commercials that prompt listeners to verbally reply to offers. In one simple form, the user might reply to a call-to-action ad by asking for more information, or even to skip the ad. That last option might seem counter-productive, but any direct feedback from consumer to advertiser is valuable.

That basic interactivity is not completely new; XAPPmedia started a voice-activated audio ad platform in 2014, and acquired $3-million of venture funding to support the enterprise.

Today’s announcement describes features and potentials that seem to indicate new technology — an extension of how interactive and conversational the ads can be. One of these described capabilities is called “natural language understanding” (apparently important enough to deserve an acronym: NLU) which can enable the listener to engage with an audio ad “far beyond ‘yes or no’ interactions.” this is where the AI (artificial intelligence) comes in — the ads tech is designed to understand user intent, and continually refine that understanding through what the company calls “deep learning mechanisms.” Along the way, the platform continually builds its vocabulary and predictive power.

The idea here is two-fold. First, give the listener a way of responding to commercials in common screenless situations such as phone-in-pocket. Second, make ad campaigns more informative and successful for advertisers. A more global perspective is that voice control is spreading out to include marketing in addition to content. In a sense, advertising becomes content if it is sufficiently smart and interactive.

“The age of voice has arrived, yet there’s remained a stark need for meaningful consumer engagement – and measurable metrics – in the audio ad space,” said Stas Tushinskiy, CEO, “We believe Instreamatic provides the ideal ad platform to serve this marketplace. We’re excited to be engaged with Pandora to bring this AI-enabled technology to its listeners and advertisers, and prepared to scale these new experiences very quickly once deployed.”


Brad Hill