Pandora Eyes Programmatic Audio In 2017

pandoraPandora will launch in-stream programmatic audio ads later next year, although no timeline has been specified.

“We’re really excited about where programmatic goes in 2017,” Pandora Chief Revenue Officer John Trimble told AdExchanger on Tuesday at a company-hosted event in New York City.  “We’ve built a really strong business on the mobile side. We’re looking forward to both video and, on the back half of the year, audio will be a game-changer for us.”

The event was convened to announce Pandora Premium, a subscription-based, on-demand streaming product that rivals Spotify and Apple Music. Despite buzz around the new product, which hopes to boost the platform’s stagnating listener growth, Pandora still has its ad-supported product top of mind.

Programmatic audio is nascent in the digital ecosystem.

Spotify began supporting it in July, setting up private marketplaces on mobile inventory with AppNexus, The Trade Desk and Rubicon Project. Programmatic exchanges like Triton Digital’s a2x and UK-based Digital Audio Exchange house both broadcast and digital audio inventory. Last year, iHeartRadio teamed up with Jelli to create a programmatic exchange for broadcast radio.

Pandora has been noticeably late to exchange-traded audio, preferring to focus its programmatic sales efforts on display.

Trimble called audio ads Pandora’s “secret sauce.”

“While display and video are great opportunities for Pandora, our point of difference, our game-changer, is the audio ad,” he said. “How do we utilize the audio ad to drive integration with the video platform?”

Aside from audio, Pandora will focus on fine-tuning partnerships with advertisers and agencies to use its listener data for targeting. The platform collects roughly 1 billion listener data points every day.

“We’re getting better at working with partners on how to collaborate and utilize our data,” Trimble said. “We went into the market fairly conservatively last year because we wanted to understand what the advertiser wanted. Now that we have a better sense of what they’re looking for, we’ll continue to create partnerships that can tap into the value of our data.”

First announced at an investors’ day in October, Premium is Pandora’s latest bet to boost listener growth, which has stalled at around roughly 80 million listeners since 2014. For a $9.99 monthly subscription fee, listeners will be able to select the music they want to stream, save songs to playlists and listen offline. It’s a pivot from Pandora’s flagship radio product that resembles Rdio, which Pandora acquired in late 2015.

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