Pandora Goes After Local Advertisers

Personalized Internet music provider Pandora is looking to pull more business from local advertisers in 2010 with a new sales team aimed solely at small and mid-size businesses. The company is also partnering with AdReady, a do-it-yourself ad platform that helps smaller advertisers place display ads with publishers.

The move comes in response not to a deflated ad market, said Pandora’s VP of performance ad sales Brian Mikalis, but to a swell of inquiries from local advertisers that were taxing Pandora’s national sales staff.

“We’ve been getting a lot of request from small to mid-size businesses, and we had our premium direct sales teams fielding a lot of those calls,” said Mikalis, who claimed Pandora had been doubling its business year over year. “We want our premium team focused on the largest Fortune 500 brands, but we didn’t want to do nothing with those other requests.”

Mikalis has been tasked with managing the new local sales staff, which will be stationed in Pandora’s Oakland, CA, headquarters. Mikalis joined Pandora a year ago after leaving his post as director of business development at AdReady.

If MIkalis’ comments are any indication, that new staff will be trying to sell Pandora to advertisers as less of a Web site than a radio station.

“One of the differentiators for Pandora from other traditional sites is every single one of our users registers and gives us their zip code, so we can do that local marketing down to the DMA level very easily,” he said. “If you’re advertising on local markets on radio, you can do the same thing on Pandora.”

Pandora, which stems from the music genome project launched in 2000, now claims more than 45 million registered listeners and a database of over 700,000 songs. National advertisers include Nike, Microsoft, Honda and Procter & Gamble.

An earlier version of this story misstated the number of Pandora’s registered listeners and song database.

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