This morning we went to the new Swedish American Institute to see Kim Luegers, Pandora’s Director of Mobile Marketing speak to a group of early rising marketers about mobile advertising.
Kim’s enthusiasm for Pandora was clear from the start, and most of the presentation was spent talking about the history, capabilities and ubiquity of Pandora and less about the rise and proliferation of mobile. Which is just fine as we’ve all been hearing about the growth of mobile for the last 5 years.
So here is a brief overview of Pandora:
Pandora is in all the usual places like tablets, mobile phones, cars (deals with 26 auto companies), desktops, etc. But did you know they can also be found in your refrigerator? Well, only if you have the Samsung RSG309. Talk about ubiquitous! Jokes aside, they have 125 million registered users listening to the Pandora catalog of 900,000 songs for a total of 1 billion hours a month. They are the #2 most downloaded free app on iPhone, and #7 on Android. They can target users based on age, zip, musical tastes and more.
Kim did say that main mission of Tim Westergren (founder of Pandora) is to create a middle class of musicians, much like there is for any other established industry – so that 22 year old Johnny won’t worry his parents when he tells them that he wants to be in a band. Pandora is selective when it comes to who they put into their catalog – musicians have to be available for purchase on either iTunes, Amazon or public sites. This decision allows users to bring their listening to its logical conclusion…a purchase!
Kim did state that Pandora doesn’t exist to make tons of money, but instead to bring music to people and to connect users to brands. Unlike commercial radio with 7-9 ads per hour, Pandora only shows 1 audio commercial every 15-20 minutes.
Musical tastes are highly subjective, and the 25+ employees who categorize the music are a rare combination of musician and data nerds with advanced degrees in music theory and musicology. All the songs are listened to numerous times and ranked on a scale of 1-5 for roughly 450 different parameters.
Users then take this music and make their own stations and over time adjust the Pandora algorithm to fit their precise tastes (removing all traces of Dave Matthews, for example). From there they can share this station with other users.
While the presentation came off as a general capabilities pitch for Pandora and less like an insight into mobile, we do agree that it was an effective pitch, and I’m looking forward to conversations with our clients on how we might be able to work Internet radio into their media mix.