12/10/13: Pandora’s year for localizing sales

Brad Hill
December 11, 2013 - 3:10pm

RAIN has moved!

CLICK HERE to enter the new site, RAIN News. (www.rainnews.com)

Did you expect to see Tuesday’s RAIN Newsletter in this space? No worries; we’ve got it for you. CLICK HERE FOR TUESDAY’S NEWSLETTER.

If you subscribe to the daily email, you will continue receiving it. (If you don’t subscribe, click the purple button to the right! Join thousands of influential readers who rely on RAIN’s news and analysis every day.)

So what’s going on, anyway? READ OUR PRESS RELEASE HERE.

The RAIN mission remains the same: to be the leading source of information about the future of radio and online audio. The new RAIN experience will be more dynamic, engaging, and conversational. We think you’ll love the new site.

Thank you for reading RAIN, and welcome to our new era.

Brad Hill
December 11, 2013 - 3:10pm

Pandora is scrutinized for its usage metrics -- active listeners, listening hours, and share of market. Behind all that is the sales effort which funds the enterprise. 2013 has been a pivotal year in which Pandora built out a local sales network that resembles the revenue support systems of large media companies.

Steven Kritzman, SVP of Sales at Pandora, made that point to us in a conversation a few weeks ago. “Looking a couple of years down the road, our local/national advertising mix will look pretty similar to most major media companies.”

Pandora does not break out that mix, but the local effort is clearly outlined by the number of local sales offices and size of the local sales force. NetNewsCheck reported this week that Pandora now has 30 offices, doubling its local presence in 2013, and 250 sellers operating in city markets.

Kritzman sees the national/local balance as an equal-footed hybrid. “Both are important pieces of our business. With the scale we have now, north of 70-million people nationally every month, we are a national branding opportunity. It’s a huge piece of our business. In the last two years, our scale has gotten to a point at the local level where we are, from an audience perspective, as large as many of the biggest radio stations in any individual market. We’re getting as exciting responses locally as we did nationally.” 

Pandora recently introduced audience segmentation that goes beyond location. Ad targeting that surpasses the capability of broadcast radio is a differentiator for Pandora that is certainly part of the local sales conversation. But Pandora is not alone among Internet audio companies in pushing that advantage. The Echo Nest, a music intelligence firm that provides user-intelligence technology to hundreds of competing music services, recently released its own audience segmentation product. TargetSpot, the largest digital audio advertising network, is The Echo Nest’s first partner and client. But Jim Lucchese recently told RAIN that he regards music services as highly qualified customers.

As Pandora continues to build its local sales network, the larger story is the gold rush for advertising dollars, national and local, across broadcast and online audio. On the Internet side, precise audience targeting is a reality that has been ignited in 2013, and will doubtless accelerate in 2014.

Brad Hill
December 11, 2013 - 3:10pm

Songza updated its iOS and Android apps today, adding Chromecast capability. Google Chromecast is a thumb-sized WiFi device that plugs into a digital television’s HDMI port. when activated, Chromecast streams content from partner providers, or from anything playing on Google’s chrome browser.

The little Chromecast device has made big noise as a cheap ($35) WiFi enabler for TV sets, competing directly with Roku and Apple TV.

Songza joins Pandora among Chromecast-enabled music services, as well as Netflix and Hulu among video sites. Distributing music service to the TV might not seem intuitive, but it covers situations in which a TV room does not have any other audio system in it.

Also in Songza’s press release is an announcement of new Christmas playlists -- 75 of them, from “Classic Christmas” to “Mad Men Christmas” (the latter for when drinking many glasses of eggnog, we presume).

Brad Hill
December 11, 2013 - 3:10pm

Calm down. Christmas is still two weeks away. Plenty of time to shop, wrap, decorate, cook, and prepare for invading relatives.

If the holiday rush is starting to jangle your nerves, turn on Calm Stream, a Russian downtempo electronica station. An occasional smooth jazz vibe creeps in -- but calm, always calm. There is zero holiday cheer in this station.

Even the site is soothing, with its snow-white background and minimal, no-hassle, in-line music player. This site defines elegance. It is also a social hub of a sort -- most of the page features an international chat window where you can practice your Russian. (Get out your Cyrillic keyboard.)