Pandora: Improved Marketing to Help Win Listeners

Pandora Media’s recovery is showing signs of gaining momentum. On Thursday, the company posted better than had been expected quarterly results, although its listener hours during the quarter declined again relative to the same period one year ago.

CEO Roger Lynch said that Pandora began to gain momentum during March due to benefitting from its new marketing initiatives, as Pandora hired a new CMO at the end of 2017 and started conducting marketing that was data based, whereas previously it had focused on the use of brand marketing.

Marketing that is data-based, involves the use of information that Pandora has on its user’ preferences to listening to entice them to spend more time on the platform listening to their favorite music.

Lynch said Pandora has data-science capabilities that are world class but just never has used them with their own marketing.

He added that March had been the first month in 18 months that Pandora had attracted back more lapsed users than the previous year.

The Premium Access feature at Pandora allows users of the on-line free radio product to unlock a period of listening in exchange for taking the time to see a video ad that is 15 seconds in length.

Premium Access allows listeners to play any song that Pandora has and is not limited to any playlist or song and has drawn comparisons to Spotify.

When asked about being compared to Spotify, the Pandora CEO said that Pandora has the world’s most expansive free music service in existence and that there does exist theoretical limitations to the number of session on Premium Access that can be unlocked by a user, but they are so high in number that the company does not see anyone reaching them.

Lynch spoke about the purchase by Pandora of AdsWizz. He believes the ad-tech business will not just enable Pandora to enhance its capabilities of ad-tech, but allow it also to be a platform for more audio companies and will benefit from broader growth in the industry.

Lynch said that the acquisition of AdsWizz was similar to what was done by Google when it acquired DoubleClick.

CFO Naveen Chopra said from the perspective of finances, the AdsWizz impact would likely not take place until at least 2019 and then beyond, although the company is planning to speak to existing clients that advertise as well as publishers prior to that about some initiatives it has for ad-tech it is going to roll out.

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