Pandora uses listeners’ music preferences to help target political advertising

Katie Callahan Contributor
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Country music fan? Republican. Jazz? Democrat. Classic rock and hip-hop? Well, that’s a toss up.

Pandora Media Inc. now uses listener musical preferences by zip code to match them to political organizations’ targeted advertising.

The basis of this targeted advertising is that certain artists are frequented by certain political affiliations more than others, reported the Wall Street Journal.

Candidates can reach voters through demographics like age, location and music preference. Pandora stated that this method has 75 to 80 percent accuracy in showing how listeners will vote, the National Journal reported.

However, Pandora does not collect this information when listeners sign up for the music-streaming service.

Political advertising is a way for Pandora to boost competitiveness with other companies, like Spotify, and approach Facebook in their demographic marketing, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“Targeting users is basically the currency in data right now,” Jack Krawczyk, Pandora’s director of product management, said to the Wall Street Journal.

While in November of 2011, Pandora supported a targeted ad strategy based on zip code, now Pandora will provide political advertisers with a more accurate profile of listeners on the basis of musical preference and other characteristics.

Based on that theory, Wall Street Journal provided this example: if 80 percent of listeners in a county voted for Obama in 2012, 80 percent would be identified as leaning Democrat; and if that occurred twice, the algorithm would place those zip codes in a “strong Democrat” category.

The distinct musical preference of individuals interests advertisers as it reduces risk for hitting the wrong audience, Wall Street Journal reported. Already, two political advertising firms, Precision Network and Bully Pulprit Interactive, signed up for Pandora advertising.

The next step is factoring income into the zip code formula, because according to Krawczyk, listeners with higher income have a wider variety of musical preferences, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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