HONG KONG: Surprisingly, for a music-streaming site, Tencent-owned Joox eschews audio advertising, preferring to focus its monetisation efforts on video and interactive advertising formats, at which it claims some success.

"We don't believe in conversion with traditional audio ads," stated Poshu Yeung, VP/International Business Group at Tencent. He admitted to Campaign Asia-Pacific that users might well expect to hear such ads, "but we have to consider how to sell to them in the best way".

"You really can't measure the performance of audio ads," he added. "We do offer audio ads, but we tell our clients that we can't provide good report results."

The thinking at Joox is that app users – only 1% of its users use a browser – click on the screen several times choosing songs before starting to listen so "there are many 'eyeball touchpoints' on the screen for our video ads to work".

Since these 30-second ads can't be skipped, Joox claims 100% viewability. Yeung outlined a key driver of user behaviour: "if users do not finish viewing a video ad, they cannot get VIP status, after which they listen and download songs for free. This is a universal attraction of our freemium model."

The results would seem to justify the approach, as Yeung reported 50% click-through rates for video ads on Joox compared to the normal figure of around 5%.

Other formats favoured by the platform include "campaign-style ad solutions" that combine online and offline elements, branded "skins", banner ads and splash ads.

The last of these also generate CTRs ten times higher than usual, according to Yeung. "We've checked these CTRs very carefully and compared notes with our partners, and we've found that Joox has more valid clicks than other platforms."

They also "make a bold statement", he said, and are very popular in Hong Kong where 10% of the Joox audience sees the entire splash stream.

This visual focus may work now, but it's an open question as to whether that will continue to be the case. Nestlé, for example, is exploring "moodvertising" and the use of audio to tap into consumer emotions.

Microsoft, meanwhile, believes that marketers need to start thinking about how they can reach the screenless consumer, given the rapid uptake of voice-activated personal assistants.

Data sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific; additional content by Warc staff