Pandora Local Ads Not Just for Car Dealers

Local advertisers are the bread and butter of radio, so it’s no surprise streaming radio service Pandora has emphasized local ad sales offerings. While the company is selling to the obvious car dealers looking to reach a targeted area, advertisers such as St. Jude Retreats, a substance abuse rehab program, currently are aiming ads at the Manhattan, NY market.

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism is another current advertiser running mobile and online ads to potential visitors in Atlanta, Baton Rouge, Nashville, Dallas, New Orleans, Memphis, and St. Louis. The advertiser also has a branded “Beach Radio” station, which it promotes on its Facebook page. Ads displayed on the Beach Radio page link to specials on vacation rentals in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Detroit’s Wayne State University has aimed ads to teens and young adults in Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Toledo.

Pandora has also become a popular place to promote local music events. New York area listeners may have been targeted with audio and display ads from Firefly Music festival recently. And, yes, listeners in the New York and New Jersey area will hear ads for auto dealership Planet Honda.


Though Pandora has sold geographically targeted ads for years, including to political advertisers like Meg Whitman – who ran for governor of California unsuccessfully in 2010 – the company has beefed up its local sales staff in the last few months.

“Our effort is really to bolster our entire sales organization with local expertise,” said John Hilton, executive director of sales strategy for Pandora, who said the firm has hired away sales staff from terrestrial radio.

“It’s part of our mission to redefine radio – local is ingrained in that,” he told ClickZ last week. Part of that redefinition involves mobile. According to Pandora, 70 percent of its total listening hours happen via mobile devices. While terrestrial radio is heavily sold around commuter drive times when more people are listening, mobile access “opens up the amount of day that you can target your user,” said Hilton. The firm typically sells mobile and online ads in a package buy.

Half of the 500 people on staff are in sales for the company, known for its intricate Music Genome song categorization. Pandora has sales offices in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York.

Smaller, local businesses usually don’t have the luxury of working with agencies to develop creative the way national advertisers do. “We help local advertisers develop audio campaigns,” said Hilton, who said advertisers can run with pre-existing audio, or develop an original script.

In the last couple months, Pandora has run around 400 ad campaigns, though the company would not say how many advertisers were running those campaigns.

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