Pandora starts selling ads for listeners in automobiles

Article by Anita Panait, on January 8, 2014

Online radio service Pandora Media Inc. has started selling advertising that could only be heard by those inside their vehicles.  Pandora said in a statement that companies like Ford Motor Co., BP, Taco Bell, and State Farm insurance have signed on as the first advertisers for the 15- and 30-second spots. Pandora is aiming to gain more of the $15 billion that advertisers in the United States are spending annually on local radio.

The targeted service is built into 130 vehicle models and 270 aftermarket devices since 2010 and has been activated by 4 million users in cars, Pandora said. Simon Fleming-Wood, Pandora’s chief marketing officer, said in the statement that nearly half of all radio listening takes place in the car. “We knew early on that to redefine radio, we would need to seamlessly deliver Pandora through in-dash entertainment systems.”

Through Pandora-enabled cars, drivers could change stations, choose songs and skip tracks using in-dash entertainment systems, the company said. Since it is an online service, Pandora can identify listeners better than conventional radio. Targeting drivers attracted Ford, State Farm and Taco Bell – companies that typically seeks to appeal to drivers. 

“This next partnership phase lets us effectively reach highly engaged customers where they are most likely to enjoy radio and is incredibly exciting for our business,” Erica Bigley, Ford’s digital marketing manager, said in the statement. According to Pandora, there will be fewer ads in cars than listeners will hear elsewhere on the service.

Pandora One subscribers, meanwhile, won’t hear any ads. In December 2013, Pandora posted a total audience listening hours of 1.58 billion across all platforms, from 1.49 billion in November. The service also has 76.2 million active listeners in December 2013, from 72.4 million in November.

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