What: Sirius XM has announced the acquisition of Pandora Media Inc for US $3.5 billion. Why it matters: The merger will create the biggest audio entertainment company, capable of competing against streamers like Spotify and Apple Music.
Sirius XM Holdings Inc, an American company that offers radio services via satellite, has announced it will acquire music streaming platform Pandora Media Inc, in an attempt to compete against rivals such as Spotify and Apple Music. Sirius XM, owned by John Malone’s Liberty Media Corp, provides over 175 radio stations to car drivers mainly, but the rise of streaming services and mobile content has forced the company to rethink its strategy in order to survive.
Reportedly, Sirius XM will acquire Pandora in an all-stock deal worth US $3.5 billion. Pandora’s CEO Roger Lynch says the massive merger will help it to grow its ad business and subscription offerings. “The combination creates the world’s largest audio entertainment company, with more than US $7 billion in expected pro-forma revenue in 2018,” said SiriusXM in a blog post announcing the buyout.
Pandora says it has 70 million monthly active users. SiriusXM has 36 million paying subscribers in the U.S. and Canada. This merger could create a company able to compete successfully against Spotify. SiriusXM had previously invested US $480 million for a 19 percent stake in the streaming service back in June 2017, leading to speculation that it might intend to buy the company outright.
We are introducing a bi-weekly summary of the most exciting recent news in marketing technology and trends. If you’re trying to keep up, consider this your one-stop shop.
Meltwater has announced it is opening up its AI platform, Fairhair.ai, to give developers and data scientists the tools to: connect and organize internal and external data by a knowledge graph; access pre-trained, configurable AI models; and create real-time insights to make forward-looking, data-driven decisions. According to Meltwater, Fairhair.ai makes it easier for businesses to gain a real-time pulse on everything from market research to risk management.
Equity investor Beringea sees a bright future for Popular Pays’ model of helping brands create content for social media. Beringea will invest US $5.5M investment in the Popular Plays platform that provides workflow management tools and integration with a community of content creators.
Consumers are snapping up smart speakers in the US faster than any other device since the smartphone, according to new research by eMarketer. Sales of smart speakers in the US are projected to increase by 47.9 percent between 2016 and 2020—from 16 million to 76.5 million units, eMarketer says.
Investors have ponied up US $20M in additional funds for Eyeview, the video technology company that personalizes video ads for TV, desktop, mobile and Facebook. Top brands using Eyeview’s technology-driven platform for creating one-to-one videos include Lowe’s, Walgreens, Honda, BMW and Uber.
Owners of so-called “smart TVs” connected to the internet are eight percent more likely to view a view an ad to its finish (38 percent), compared to mobile users (30 percent), according to a new report by Extreme Reach. The report looked at billions of video ad impressions in the second quarter of this year across multiple devices. The Video Completion Rate for desktop, mobile (smartphones) and tablets, all increased.
Initial success has propelled Pandora to expand its programmatic ad-buying service on its music platform. The platform is powered by AdsWizz which Pandora acquired this year. According to DMNews, 92 percent of Pandora’s audience is ad-supported, vs. 56 percent for Spotify.
A survey of 433 decision-makers in Europe and the US by Forrester Consulting showed that almosthalf plan to make major AI spends within the next year. eMarketer reports a YouAppi survey of 425 digital marketers globally found 36 percent reporting AI investments this year.
A recap of major news on the marketing and media front from around the web compiled by Portada Digital Media Correspondent Susan Kuchinskas.
Denny’s “Likes” Hispanics
The restaurant chain is expanding is Hispanic marketing with a dedicated Facebook page that will offer original and curated content. Denny’s vice president of marketing John Dillon told Nation’s Restaurant News that, while the company actively reaches Latino consumers in a variety of ways, in both English and Spanish, ” So instead of taking a general-market idea and pushing it in the same way to Hispanics, why not create content targeted more directly at them? That should get better engagement.”
At the same time, Denny’s has found that Hispanics like the same mainstream grub that general-market consumers do – with the occasional addition of chorizo.
Pandora Beats Hispanic Streaming Sites
We knew that Pandora was popular with Latinos, but this popular? According to ComScore’s June numbers, 25 percent of Pandora’s total 76.4 million active monthly unique visitors are Hispanic. This makes it the top streaming music site for Hispanics – beating Univision Digital’s 10.5 million monthly uniques.
Billboard notes – as we have before – that Pandora has carefully created channels to appeal to a wide variety of tastes, with subgenres for Latin, Puerto Rican and Mexican. Meanwhile, Pandora’s strength in mobile appeals to highly mobile Hispanics.
Marketers Miss Out on Digital Hispanics
Lee Vann of Captura Group analyzed Adage’s latest Hispanic Fact Pack – and found that media buyers are under-spending on digital to reach this group. He points out that, while Hispanics over-index for all kinds of digital media, last year marketers invested only 7 percent of their Hispanic budgets on digital. Vann wonders whether the current buzz about the total market approach has led advertisers to think – or hope – they can reach Hispanics with general market advertising. He begs to differ.
Enough of the Hot Latinas, Please
Finally, here’s an opinion from an actual Hispennial. Jose Gutierrez, a staff writer for San Diego State University’s Daily Aztec, complains about the stereotypical Latino characters in TV and movies, those of the hot blood, exotic features and Spanglish. He writes, “As people, we are far more than stereotypes. As humans, we deserve to be represented as such. It goes without saying the media influences and shapes our perceptions about the world. Seeing Latinos represented almost exclusively as the aforementioned stereotypes is incredibly damaging and doesn’t go without negative repercussions.”
On the other hand, Modern Family, home to possibly TV’s best-loved Latina, has turned Sofia VErgara into a major star complete with red-carpet coverage and endorsement deals. Last year, Vergara defended the character, saying that while everyone is different, Gloria has aspects of women she knows.
What do you think is the best way to represent US Latinos?
Agencies are paying attention to internet radio services, thanks to the move to mobile and the demand for consumer choice. Research firm eMarketer estimates there will be 159.8 million digital radio listeners in 2014, and that figure will grow to 183.4 million in 2018. That doesn’t mean, however, that they’ll grab ad dollars away from terrestrial radio. Rather, digital listening in all its permutations will become part of the multi-channel and multi-media marketing mix. How to do a multiplatform (Hispanic Audio Buy).
Internet radio, aka streaming audio aka digital radio, comprises digital-native services, as opposed to the digital offerings of terrestrial radio stations. As such, they’re true hybrids, marrying audio with the tools for delivering, tracking and analyzing consumption.
Putting together an audio campaign is a collaboration between digital and audio planning teams.
Most have similar ad models: audio pre-rolls, display ads on the interface, branded custom stations and playlists. And they’re eager to work with agencies to develop custom programs, according to Mina Kamarasheva, associate managing director, audio and promotions, for Horizon Media.
“They understand this is the future and are now beginning to offer custom promotion opportunities. For Pandora, that’s limited to national campaigns versus local. But this is an area they see tremendous growth to come,” Kamarasheva says.
Stacking up the stations
Nielsen’s purchase of Arbitron last year is expected to lead to industry-standard audience measurement of audio content, letting internet radio stack up, apples-to-apples, against terrestrial radio. Until that day comes, media buyers must rely on the services’ own audience reports delivered via press release or SEC filing. Pandora is the top service, in terms of audience and brand — and the only one that responded to requests for comment.
Pandora: 73.4 million active users
iHeartRadio: 40+ million registered users
TuneIn Radio: 40+ million active users
Spotify: 6+ million paying users; 24 million active users
Getting the Hispanic ear
Reaching Hispanic consumers means being as device-agnostic as possible, and this is an area where Kamarasheva gives Pandora high marks. “Pandora has invested in proprietary cross-platform targeting using psychographics and behavioral attributes, in addition to registration data. That means we are following our target demographic online regardless of what they are listening to,” she says.
Pandora likes to start an advertiser relationship by identifying the target audience. “From there, we can provide counsel on both their media buy and the creative solutions that will reach their target audiences,” says Mike Reid, executive director of multicultural sales at Pandora.
In fact, according to Reid, Pandora now offers more than 100 targeting points. “In the case of Hispanic targeting, we have been able to build even more robust models, based on registration information and public sources, which also help us tie music preferences to our Hispanic audience.” This also lets the service reach Hispanics regardless of their musical taste. Pandora estimates that one out of four Hispanics in the United States listens to it.
“Looking back on my previous experience in the Hispanic media business, advertisers traditionally had to go to Spanish radio to reach Hispanics or try radio stations with a Hispanic leaning. With Pandora, advertisers can reach Hispanics more directly through our targeting capabilities,” Reid says.
One campaign for T-Mobile used Pandora Premieres, which provides an exclusive pre-release of a new album every week. In June 2013, the sixth Premieres featured “Vives En Mi,” by La Maquinaria Nortena, an emerging banda/chichuaha group from Mexico. Mexican electronics manufacturer Famsa recently joined the roster of national and local brands working with Pandora to target Hispanics.
Horizon’s Kamarasheva says the ability to create custom stations or sponsor categories or genres is important. “It presents a unique opportunity to customize an audio campaign. You can’t do that with terrestrial radio.”
Buying streaming audio is a bit more complex than buying digital or radio, simply because it’s a bit of both, and also because of the ability to add display or branding to the interfaces. Horizon has merged the buying of every kind of audio ad, including terrestrial and internet radio. Says Kamarasheva, “We believe the way consumers consume audio these days is across multiple platforms. Therefore, putting together our campaigns is collaboration between digital and audio planning teams.”
“We purchase these platforms similar to the way we evaluate other digital properties, but there are some differences,” says Jamie Snider, associate director of digital media at Lowe Campbell Ewald. “Of course, we want to make certain that they deliver the audiences most important to us, both in total and within key geographic markets, and we must make certain that consumers are engaging with the brand.”
Lowe Campbell Ewald has run a number of successful Hispanic campaigns on internet radio, including work for Kaiser Permanente. The agency likes to incorporate video as well as audio advertising, either as pre-rolls or combined with custom stations. Video ads usually run automatically when a listener changes stations — and all creative is optimized for both Android and iOS devices.
Agencies can take advantage of robust tracking and analytics provided by each station. Again, they need to take a hybrid approach, says Snider, looking not only at clicks but also the number of station downloads and the number of minutes listened.
Future of radio
Late last year, Clear Channel bought iHeartRadio, which lets people listen to live radio or custom stations, or create their own, offers pre-roll ads, as well as the ability to create branded custom stations. Horizon recently inked a partnership deal with Clear Channel that includes some customized shows at iHeartRadio Theaters in New York and Los Angeles. The national media owner and the agency also plan to fuse their research: The two companies believe that Horizon’s proprietary audience research and analytics tools combined with Clear Channel Media’s music and consumer research can help them develop new models for media.
This kind of consolidation could be in the future for most or all internet radio stations. Having an owner with deep pockets, wide audiences and integrated advertising capabilities could let streaming music services thrive, while traditional media companies expanded their reach even more. There’d be a bit of irony to the digital natives being gobbled up by old-timers but also a lot of sense — and possibly a lot of cents.