Pandora has been a presence in so many music listeners’ lives for so long that it’s easy to take its ubiquity for granted. But despite the platform’s suitability to the current marketing landscape – Pandora might be characterized as a data company that happens to deliver an A-grade music experience – pharma and healthcare marketers in particular have never truly warmed to it, nor to audio in general.
If Pandora has its way, that will soon change. On Thursday, the company will host Sound Matters in Rx Marketing, an event designed less to sell pharma marketers on Pandora itself than on the benefits and charms of the audio space. While the company has hosted similar events for marketers from other verticals, this will be its first specific appeal to healthcare advertisers.
According to Pandora VP and head of industry for healthcare and pharma Lee Ann Longinotti, a confluence of factors makes this the ideal time for Pandora and other audio platforms to introduce – or re-introduce – themselves to the industry. She points to research noting that 60% of Americans stream audio every week; that the average American listens to four hours of audio every day; and that the average millennial listens to seven hours of audio every day.
Members of the latter group, she says, “are literally getting into their music experience first thing, even before social media and whatever they’re doing over the course of their day… People can stay locked in to music because it’s on every possible device they’re using.”
And Longinotti believes the space is poised for more growth on the backs of smart speakers. According to an NPR/Edison Research study, 118.5 million smart speakers were in U.S. households at the end of 2018, while the U.S. Consumer Technology Association forecasts that 35.2 million more are expected to be sold in the U.S. this year. Per Adobe, the top activity on these devices is listening to music. All this comes at a time when streaming in cars is set to surge, with Statista anticipating that 98% of cars sold in the U.S. in 2020 will come with connected dashboards.
What this means for Pandora, the longest-established player in a market now populated by heavy-hitters Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music, is obvious: now’s the time to pounce.
“We’re capturing more than 1 billion data signals from our listeners each and every day,” Longinotti says. “The insights and learnings we’re able to capture allows us to inform marketers so much about our audience – what their preferences are, what contextual targeting might be appropriate for a particular brand.”
In a nutshell, that’s the pitch Pandora will be delivering to the 175 pharma marketers and media people expected to attend Thursday’s klatch. Given the size of Pandora’s audience — 74.7 million active users in 2018, according to Statista — and the abundance of data it has accumulated, the company can make a fine case for itself as a top-shelf pharma marketing partner.
Longinotti, however, cautions that the appeal needs to be broader in nature than please-give-us-your-ad-dollars. “There has to be that bigger discussion and strategy around audio in general as a medium, because [pharma] has not been in this space historically,” she explains. “There’s a particular conservatism you’re dealing with, because it’s [pharma marketers’] job to be careful. With that comes perhaps a hesitancy towards trying something new. It doesn’t help that the FDA has been lagging in coming up with digital rules and regulations.”
That said, Longinotti notes that Pandora’s audience is “super-targetable” and that the company’s ad tech is HIPPA-compliant. “It’s a matter of telling [marketers] more about the possibilities of putting their brands and their messaging in front of consumers in a medium that’s very personal and creates a lot of emotion in an audience,” she says. “It’s on us to do a good job educating them about the bigger picture around audio.”