SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Democrat or Republican? Independent or other? Whether or not people think music choices say a lot about them, one Northern California company is banking on the belief it does.
Pandora Radio, based in Oakland, Calif., plans to launch its new advertising service next week, based on a user's perceived political leanings. By applying data science to advertising delivery, Pandora hopes to ensure relevant political advertisements are delivered to its 73 million users, and that advertisers are reaching their intended audience.
With the mid-term election just around the corner, many political campaigns and media agencies are now starting to think about their media buys. Pandora wants to make sure these groups are aware of the offering and will consider it when planning their marketing strategies for the fall.
So, how does this all work? The company starts with a zip code, which all listeners supply when they register for the radio streaming service. Pandora then maps those zip codes to a county, and then looks at the distribution of political party voting in prior elections within those counties, based on previous election results reported by news organizations.
For instance, if 80 percent of citizens in a certain county voted for President Obama in the last election, Pandora applies that roughly the same amount of people in the zip codes within those counties have an increased likelihood to be Democrats. From there, the company said it will be able to overlay the information with people's musical tastes and can draw some conclusions such as, users who listen to country music most often are located in heavily Republican zip codes. Also, Pandora listeners who tune into jazz and reggae most frequently tend to correlate with zip codes that lean democrat. Electronic is a strong signal for democrats.
It is important to note all of the above models are a prediction, similar to how Pandora predicts which song to play next when a listener uses the radio streaming service. Some may call this stereotyping, but based on initial testing, company officials say their ad targeting predictions have been 75 to 80 percent accurate. These numbers will likely increase in the future as Pandora factors in user feedback.
Listeners who want to opt out of all advertisements, including political messages, can pay a monthly $3.99 subscription fee to upgrade their service to Pandora One. Other benefits include a higher number of skips per hour, as well as access to higher quality radio.
Pandora wants to ensure relevant political advertisements are delivered to its 73 million users, and that advertisers are reaching their intended audience.