Weekly Digital News Roundup: July 23 – July 28
Pandora rolls out Sponsored Listening for all brands
- According to the LA Times, Pandora fans can now listen to a full hour of music uninterrupted by ads – if they agree to watch or interact with an advertisement first. The streaming music company rolled out its Sponsored Listening feature to all advertisers Tuesday, giving companies the option to buy a video or interactive advertisement that can range from 15 seconds to 2.5 minutes in length. Once Pandora listeners watch or interact with the ad, the advertiser “sponsors” the next hour so the listener gets an hour of uninterrupted music.
- The new feature applies to the free version of Pandora’s music service. Those who pay a $4.99 per month subscription fee to Pandora’s premium service can avoid ads
- In a pilot of the Sponsored Listening feature, brands that took part were able to increase audience engagement – a key metric that advertisers seek because it means potential customers are actually viewing their ads, Pandora said in a prepared statement. The Oakland, Calif.-based company reported a 12 percent increase in brand awareness and 30 percent jump in purchase intent for advertisers after they took part in Sponsored Listening.
A Steady Percentage of Americans Still Do Not Go Online, Study Says
- According to the New York Times, for the first 13 years of the decade, Americans embraced the Internet at a whirlwind pace. The percentage of Americans who use the Internet grew to 84 percent in 2013 from 52 percent at the turn of the century. But since 2013, the percentage of American adults who go online has remained virtually unchanged.
- Those Americans who remain offline, do so for a number of reasons: the cost of buying a computer and paying a broadband or cellphone bill, the perceived relevance of Internet content or even the physical ability to use devices. The elderly, for example, face the dual barriers of making less money and having difficulty reading computer text, typing on keyboards and manipulating touch screens.
- Just last week, when the Federal Communications Commission approved a merger between AT&T and DirecTV, the agency required the company to extend access to high-speed broadband Internet to 12.5 million new customer locations, including schools and libraries. “There hasn’t been a real effort to address the affordability barrier at the federal level,” said Michael Scurato, policy director of the National Hispanic Media Coalition. But he and others are optimistic about a new plan by the F.C.C. to expand its Lifeline program, which subsidizes phone service for low-income Americans, to help pay for broadband Internet access as well.
Facebook testing LinkedIn-style personality tags on profile pages
- According to Mashable, Facebook is quietly testing a new feature that lets users tag friends with a word and phrase that describes their personality or interests. The feature, first spotted by The Verge, is not unlike LinkedIn’s capabilities to tag users on the site with job-related terms.
- “We’re testing a new feature called profile tags,” a spokesperson said. “Created by a small team as part of a Facebook hackathon, profile tags are a creative tool that lets you and your friends add tags to your profile to highlight the things that describe you and what you’re into. You can control what tags are shown on your own profile.”
- For the small pool of users with access to the tool, a user can visit a friend’s profile page and tag them with a free-form word, phrase or even emoji. Consider: bike enthusiast, good listener, ambitious or eating competition winner — all of which are arguably good conversation starters. Users, who are notified of the tag, can either approve or decline it (so cyberbullies trying to abuse the tool will be shooting blanks). Tags that are approved will show up publicly on a person’s profile page, and they’ll appear in order of how many Likes they receive by others.