ILM:10: Pandora … Coming to a Car Near You

At ILM:10, Pandora’s Cheryl Lucanegro (senior VP of ad sales) and Brian Mikalis (VP of performance sales) made it very clear where the popular Internet radio service is headed next — to your car dashboard.

The company is leveraging two fundamental insights in driving (pardon the pun) its migration into the vehicle: More than 50 percent of all radio listening occurs in the car, and more than half of Pandora’s traffic is mobile (with more than 100,000 mobile activations each day) … a natural transition for on-the-go users.

Currently, Pandora’s auto strategy is nothing more than basic Bluetooth phone connectivity, but that will change in 2011 with manufacturing deals having been announced with Ford, GM and Mercedes.

Auto represents just the latest turf traditionally reserved for over-the-air broadcasting that Pandora is now loudly treading on. Now, the Oakland, California, service is targeting local businesses, many of which have longstanding relationships with legacy stations.

Mikalis runs an inside sales team that mainly prospects national and mid-market clients but has also begun local outreach. He emphasized that Pandora is also “aggressively talking to companies with feet on street to allow them to include Pandora as part of their network to find distribution for their advertisers.”

Pandora users personalize streaming stations around their favorite music genres and bands. This behavioral information, combined with gender, age and ZIP code, gives its sales force the ability to do multi-layer targeting for local business advertisers. Lucanegro said it distinguishes Pandora’s value propositon from traditional radio by allowing clients to “reach the right person with the right message at the right time,” and then measure how well they’re doing this.

Advertising can assume several formats (Web, mobile, audio, video, banner) and create multiple consumer experiences (branding, direct response, engagement, multi-screen). For instance, businesses can direct audio commercials to consumers, coupled with companion banners that allow them to simultaneously act on it (including unlocking local offers). The net effect, Lucanegro said, is pushing a message in front of consumer “more dramatically,” and at a price point that is competitive with its traditional broadcast rivals.

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