Campaigns are giving Internet radio providers an earlier look this cycle as companies like Pandora have expanded their ad offerings and are unveiling new data partnerships.
To improve its digital ad targeting, Pandora recently partnered with GOP data provider i360 and is now searching out other firms to help grow its segment offerings, according to Sean Duggan, who leads political ad sales at Pandora.
The company now offers more than 700 targeting segments – moms, hybrid drivers, Latinos, congressional and state legislative districts, political persuasions – up from 30 in 2012, said Duggan: “There’s a lot more granularity.”
That granularity is helping campaigns who want to do multicultural targeting – in particular, if they’re reaching out to Hispanic voters. The company famously boasts some 15-17 million Hispanic subscribers.
Moreover, according to Duggan, Pandora is capable of determining which groups would prefer messaging in Spanish or English (listening to Pitbull is a factor on the latter). “It’s one of the sells that’s getting easier,” said Duggan.
Pandora is also checking boxes for campaigns looking to target voters on their smartphones. Mobile-optimizing advertising plans are crucial this cycle as data shows voters are migrating away from using desktop computers. PC shipments worldwide were down more than 11 percent from the first quarter last year, according to a recent report by International Data Corporation, which tracks computer sales.
Those figures match what Pandora sees in its subscriber base. The company notes that some 85 percent of its 74 million monthly users who are over 18 are listening on a mobile device.
Inventory scarcity is an issue with Pandora, but the company insists that not overwhelming its subscribers is actually beneficial to its advertisers.
“Clients come to us and say, ‘Can we buy you out for the day?’ But we will never go wall-to-wall,” said Duggan. “We can give you a dominate share of voice, but by the time you get someone for the fifteenth time, you got them.”
Now, video has been an option on Pandora since 2012. The ads play when the user is engaged with the screen – changing a station or skipping a song. Though that inventory is going quickly.
That’s part of an industry-wide trend the company’s been riding: earlier buys. Duggan said it used to be around October, when all the TV inventory was bought up, that campaign and advocacy clients would reach out. Now, he’s already seeing orders pick up for everything “from the soft candidate ID … to the anti-candidate ads.”
In addition to the video and display ads the company offers, there’s also an email-capture feature that some advocacy groups have utilized.