Why Pandora Ads Target Hispanics and Spotify’s Don’t

While 20 percent of Pandora's audience is Hispanic, Spotify doesn't know its ethnic makeup

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Pandora recently wrapped up its first Spanish-language-only musical artist video campaign, sponsored by State Farm. It's an example of how the digital music service has gained a foothold in the Hispanic market, which now accounts for 10 million monthly users or 20 percent of its total audience.

"We have a variety of marketers who advertise to that audience in Spanish, Spanglish and in English," Priscilla Valls, a vp of ad sales for Pandora, said Friday (Oct. 5) after speaking at Advertising Week IX. "What we are finding is that brands are using their general budgets to also reach a Hispanic audience. It's growing so quickly and pervasively that it's less about syphoning off a Hispanic budget and more about reaching their entire audience in the best possible way."

The Hispanic demographic is known for being younger, more mobile and more socially connected than the general market, and Pandora's experience bears that out. Eighty percent of Pandora's Hispanic users listen via mobile devices, said Valls. "Two-fifths are on either Facebook, Twitter or another social channel while listening," Valls stated during her panel discussion in midtown New York.

Valls also noted that Pandora has 7,000 Latin artists that contribute 70,000 tunes to the platform.

She offered up that information while sharing the stage with rival salesperson, Jon Mitchell, a vp of Spotify, as well as marketing reps from Univision Radio, Shazam and the Internet ads firm TargetSpot. Mitchell was the only one on the panel—which focused on Internet radio advertising overall—who didn't chime in about marketing to Hispanics.

After the 45-minute event, Adweek found out why while chatting with the Spotify exec. "From a data capture perspective, we don't take that information at registration," Mitchell said. "That's why I kept quiet."

He said that asking potential new users to declare a ethnicity/race can inhibit sign-ups. "If you ask people to fill out too much information about themselves, they won't [complete the form]."

Interestingly, Pandora doesn't ask for ethnicity/race in its sign-up process, either. The San Francisco tech firm conducts an annual survey to produce its demographical breakdowns for advertisers.

At any rate, in an email later on Friday, Spotify's Mitchell provided more backdrop about his platform's lack of Hispanic-focused ad opportunities. While it could attempt to target Hispanic listeners due to their listening habits, he said that idea would probably prove to be foolhardy to advertisers.

Mitchell explained, "I may love Spanish songs but am not Hispanic…We therefore don't offer Hispanic targeting currently. We have been asked to—but not currently."


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