How Pandora Mined Data to Create Lexus-Backed Concert Series

Finding crowd-pleasers for Southern California millennial audience

Pandora wants to guarantee that marketers will have a die-hard audience at its branded concerts—and it's leveraging its user data to back that promise.

The streaming music radio service is partnering with Lexus for a free, four-date southern California concert series, each of which will feature a single act, including Nico & Vinz, Magic! and Kongos. Each show also will showcase the Lexus F Sport, the luxury automaker's millennial-targeted vehicle. The first concert, with Magic! in Camarillo, Calif., will take place today.

While the location for the events was up to Lexus, Pandora helped select the artists based on the brand's target market and information from its listener base, including age, gender and music preferences. Then, it sent out emails and call outs to fans of the acts in the area, hyping them up for the show. 

"The payoff is we can connect the artist with their fans," said Pandora chief marketing officer Simon Fleming-Wood. "We connect listeners and surprise and delight them with a free live show, which is a gift from Pandora and the advertiser."

Many companies are tapping into their proprietary information to help customize campaigns, using consumer behaviors to target online advertising. Pandora believes it can use such information to create real-life experiential events. That said, Fleming-Wood cautioned that brands should be wary about how accurate those statistics are.

Pandora's extensive data comes from having 76.4 million active users who average 20 hours of listening a month, according to Fleming-Wood. So, if a marketer wants to target a specific group—say Hispanic millennials—Pandora conceivably can identify the best artist to reach them.

"Data and the targeting it enables is transforming the media-buying process, but there are watchouts along the way," Fleming-Wood said. "Not all data is created equal."