Pandora Says Its Mobile Video Ads Are Heating Up With Brands

Taco Bell, BMW run pilot; local brands testing waters

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Pandora's earnings call later today, per predictions, should include a boost in mobile revenues as it adapts to digital music listeners' shift from desktops to smartphones. And while mobile audio ads have long been part of the digital music service's marketing platform, its mobile video spots targeting on-the-go consumers are apparently gaining traction among brands, per company executives.

Heidi Browning, svp of strategic solutions for the Oakland, Calif.-based tech company, recently chatted with Adweek about Pandora's one-year-old Video Everywhere platform, which enables advertisers to buy a mix of mobile and desktop ads against audience segments. The firm also lets brands purchase inventory by specific devices, e.g., phone, tablet and desktop.

When asked which purchasing option was most popular among brands, Browning pointed to the Video Everywhere product. "I think when you think about video, it's always audience," she said. "When you think about TV and video advertising, it's about how to get your message or story in front an audience at scale."

Below are other excerpts from the conversation:

So, do Pandora's video advertisers believe that targeting the right people trumps the bigger screen size consumers get with desktops compared to mobile?

I think so. When eMarketer [projects 87 million smartphone video viewers by 2014], it tells me that screen size isn't the important factor there. It's about a mobility mind-set, getting content wherever you are.

Has Video Everywhere changed the types of brands running ads on Pandora?

We've really expanded past entertainment clients to include CPGs, automotive, retail and quick-serve-restaurant chains. Advertisers are trying to extend their audiences, and they've seen the value in our platform—so they are adding video to their plan. We also just extended [Video Everywhere] ads to iPad. We ran an [eight-week pilot] sponsorship with Taco Bell, BMW, Target and USA Network. The product did really well.

Local has been an emphasis for the last few years. What can you tell us on that front?

You can actually see how big our local audience is compared to local radio. In our top 10 markets, we are bigger than the top radio station in each of those markets. The other key is our first-party data, which really makes our targeting work. We ask for age, gender and ZIP code upon registration. That's how we are able to deliver effective campaigns for local advertisers as well as national advertisers.

Are local businesses buying mobile video ads?


Is it a significant number or small but growing?

I'd say it's small but growing. We've seen a lot of marketers with the mantra, "We're a global brand with a local footprint." Our ability to deliver at scale for local is attracting, for instance, automotive brands that have national campaigns but also have local dealer campaigns. They can take their global messaging and bring it down to exact offers for their franchisees by using our targeted media.

Are they repurposing :15 and :30 spots or creating dedicated content?

Yes, they are [repurposing] those spots. We don't accept :60s.

What else are you seeing with your video ads?

As we watch investments shift to digital video from other channels, I think there's still room for growth in this mobile area. We've made it as easy to plan and buy as possible. We're No. 3 behind Google and Facebook for mobile monetization. We're proud of that.

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.