Pandora’s John Trimble: “Mobile represents 75% of listening” (@Portada’s Annual Conference)

John Trimble. Pandora’s CRO

John Trimble. Pandora’s CRO

Digital radio in your refrigerator? Why not? When it comes to digital radio, the sky is the limit for Pandora, the Internet-based radio service which to this day has amassed 56 million monthly users. In August, those users consumed over 1 billion hours of Pandora... and of those, 75% listened to Pandora on their smartphones. something that poses both a challenge and a huge opportunity for the service.

Pandora’s CRO John Trimble was interviewed Thursday by Rudy Rodriguez, Multicultural Marketing Manager, General Mills, at Portada’s 6th Annual Hispanic Advertising and Media Conference in New York. An edited transcript follows:

Rudy Rodriguez: Who is your core target?

John Trimble, CRO, Pandora: “What’s great about 56 million users is that we cover a real broad spectrum of the U.S. population and the audience segmentation really goes from teens to boomers, though the largest growth we’ve seen in the past 8 to 10 monts is among the teen audience. We’re seeing 1 in 7 users is raising his hand as Hispanic.”

When you launched Pandora.. is that the audience that you set out to service?

[laughter] “My nose would grow if I said yes... it’s been 7 long years of testing, sampling, growing. As we launched with a desktop model, we saw some early adopters and then we saw other adopters as we moved to the mobile phones.”

What would you say are the biggest challenges for a company like Pandora?

“We’re way past the start-up phase, and we’re going through a phase of rapid growth... Rapid growth is a widely fantastic problem -and opportunity- to have. When you are in rapid-growth mode you have to fulfill certain expectations. One of them is to learn to deal with emerging platforms. All of us, marketers, must tackle the challenges on how to utilize the power of mobiles, tablets, etc. The digital extensions are multiplying.Another challenge is measuring, both for brands and agencies to come up with an apples-to-apples measuring opportunities.”

What do you see as some of the biggest opportunities in the next few years?

“If you look at what’s happening in the mobile space... Last stat I heard was that smartphones now have a 50 percent penetration in the U.S. In the advertising world we need to start cracking the code of mobile. eMarketer said about two weeks ago that the mobile advertising market is going to be $2.6 billion this year, doubling every year.
How do we take advantage of this? Look at our business! Mobile represents 75% of Pandora’s listening, so... we’d better figure out how to monetize this; and we’re doing a nice job doing so.
I can tell you that of the top 50 spending brands, 35 are using Pandora on their mobile platforms. We have also huge opportunities at the local marketplace. Now that we have sales growing, local is very important.
We have launched sales teams at the local level and we’ll continue to leverage that in the near future.

What’s your take on Spotify?

“They are a very different business model than us; on demand, versus our business. We offer Internet Radio and we have seen smaller players enter this space, but that is a validation that we’re in the right direction. This is a category that is evolving and growing. For Pandora, the audio ads are really impactful; especially in the mobile space.”

How do you tackle the automotive category?
W”e’ve been out in front of this. For the last 4 years working with every major automaker and talking about what this means for their business as a feature. We have deals with almost everyone. it will take some time to get mass penetration.”

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