Pandora has announced a reseller program that enables companies with local sales teams to sell Pandora ads as part of their portfolio. This is a way that the company can expand beyond the top tier markets where they have their own sellers, to smaller markets. Apparently it’s been in place for a few months now – and it’s working – the local advertising strategy has resulted in more than 800 local advertising campaigns scheduled to run this year, a 100 percent increase from just two months ago.
This year, Pandora has been placing lots of emphasis on expanding its ability to sell ads market by market – a strategy previously considered the turf of local broadcast stations. They hired Edison Research to parse data and create local market comparisons to Arbitron data subscribed to by local radio stations, and more recently contracted with Triton for market by market ratings.
With 70% of their massive audience on mobile devices, Pandora can offer local market media companies a lot of extra clout in reaching mobile customers. Mobile impressions are probably more valuable as location based ads, targeting listeners who are close to an advertiser location. A local sales team can drill down to that level and find advertisers suitable for those impressions.
Pandora Chief Revenue Officer John Trimble said, “Consumers are increasingly mobile, and advertisers want to be where their consumers are. We have a clear advantage, both in our scale of more than 100 million people accessing Pandora on mobile, and our unique ability to help advertisers reach targeted audiences through both visual and audio ad formats.”
Some of the media companies maximizing their reach through the Pandora Local Reseller Program include:The Miami Herald (a McClatchy newspaper), The Salt Lake Tribune, The Tacoma News Tribune (a McClatchynewspaper), The Ventura County Star (an E.W. Scripps Company newspaper) and U-T San Diego.
If you’re a regular reader you know that I’m a Mary Meeker fan. In her latest presentation Meeker, one of the smartest people on the planet when it comes to mobile trends, said that the mobile opportunity continues to be huge. IPhone’s impressive game-changing adoption rate has been dwarfed by that of IPad and Androids, and despite the tremendous pace, smartphone adoption has a huge remaining upside.
Mobile traffic now accounts for 10% of the Internet. Up from 1% in late 2009. And despite all the negative things you may have heard about mobile monetization, Mobile Commerce accounts for 8% of eCommerce, with spending practically keeping pace with time spent with the medium.
Unfortunately, as you have probably also heard, average revenue per user for mobile is not keeping pace with desktop stats. Meeker uses Pandora, along with Zynga and Tencent as examples and actually Pandora is doing a pretty good job of monetizing mobile ad revenue, compared with some of the others. (Personally I think it’s all about the user experience – those ads on Words With Friends are so annoying!)
Actually, what has happened is that mobile activity has helped boost clicks, which is driving down the cost per click. For now. The good news is that mobile monetization will catch up. In fact Meeker says that in 1 – 3 years it will surpass desktop.
More than a quarter of mobile subscribers listened to music on their phones in April, according to new data from comScore. 25.8% of US mobile subscribers used their mobile device to listen to music, a number that is up 1.3% from the first quarter stat. Texting is the most popular activity at 74.1%, with app use, browser use, social interactions and gaming being the other popular activities.
The increasing popularity of mobile music listening is having an impact that is interesting to observe. Last week I wrote about Samsung as the latest mobile phone manufacturer to purchase a streaming service, recognizing the opportunity that lies in providing music content. SiriusXM recently announced a major upgrade to its mobile streaming offering – in the future, hanging on to their subscribers will likely require more and more competition with streaming services that are mobile-ready.
Meanwhile broadcasters are pressing for FM chips in phones to be mandated by congress, despite resistance by phone manufacturers. This could be a critical piece of broadcast radio’s future survival as mobile listening continues to grow. But the question remains, will listeners choose to listen to fm services when streaming services are available? Given the higher degree of interactivity offered by most streaming options, this is a big question.
Pandora now has more than 150 million registered users, and more than two thirds of that number has listened on a smartphone or tablet. More than 70 percent of all listening to Pandora occurs on a mobile device.
To that end, mobile revenues grew from $25 million in 2011 to $100 million in 2012 for the most listened to online radio platform in the US. That puts them second only to Google in terms of mobile advertising revenues, according to a recent press release. This is a good response from Pandora to Wall Street analysts who have been skeptical of the company’s ability to monetize its mobile ad inventory.
Pandora also noted that they are now included in the dashboard of 48 models of cars, and have partnerships with 25 brands of autos and auto aftermarket devices.
Pandora’s mobile strategy has been a key component of their growth – they were early into the iTunes app store and experienced enormous popularity from the beginning that continues today as a mobile platform. With more than 70% of their listening occurring on mobile, their ability to monetize that listening is critical. $100 million sounds like they are on the right path..
CBS RADIO has signed a non-exclusive deal with tunein, giving tunein listeners access to news, sports and talk content on more than 40 CBS RADIO stations. This news flies in the face of several exclusive deals recently leveraged by Clear Channel on its iHeartRadio platform, where some major broadcasters were signing away their rights to work with multiple online portals to engage listeners, and instead agreeing that the online online portal they would work with would be iHeartRadio.
“We have always believed in the value of great local content, and this agreement validates the demand we know exists for our original programming while at the same time creates a new revenue source for the company,” said Ezra Kucharz, President, CBS Local Digital Media. “By forging relationships with premiere distribution services such as tunein, CBS RADIO will significantly grow its audiences by exposing our content to new listeners.”
The CBS RADIO deal make a lot of sense, although it’s disappointing that only talk radio content is included. This may be due to tunein’s global appeal – CBS Radio restricts streaming of its music stations to the US. tunein has a suite of very popular mobile apps as well as deals with many devices and automakers, high rankings on iTunes for its popular app. According to Alexa, it’s one of the most popular websites in the US and world, ranking just above the top 1000. That’s a lot of potential listeners…
It’s all but confirmed that mobile phone company HTC will purchase on-demand streaming service MOG via their Beats Electronics high end headphone brand. Which is a very interesting play for the folks at MOG. That service, while interesting, might have been dismissed not very long ago as one that was getting sidelined by other on-demand services like Spotify and even long timer Rhapsody, which recently reinvigorated itself with the purchase of the legal remainder of Napster.
Following in the footsteps of the mobile phone/streaming service pairing between Muve and Cricket, this deal looks like a good one for MOG, which was founded by David Hyman in 2005 and had raised $33 million. MOG reportedly has about half a million users.
HTC, the fifth largest smartphone maker in the world, took a controlling stake in Beats last year. That company is tied in tightly with Universal Music, the largest of the big record labels, which adds yet another interesting twist to this deal.
So MOG, or whatever it becomes, will become an on-demand music source built into a large number of smartphones. Sure – those folks can still subscribe to Spotify or Rhapsody, but if HTC comes with a free service that offers the same thing why would they?
Tablet users are quite willing to pay for their content, according to a new study by Nielsen released this week. In fact, most tablet users have already paid for content – 62% for music, 58% for books, and 51% for movies, in the US. Those numbers are much higher than Euro tablet usage percentages – far fewer Europeans are willing to pay for their content.
More than 33 million folks here in the US already own a tablet and that number will balloon to more than 90 million by 2012. eMarketer estimates that currently, 31.5% of tablet users are ages 18 to 34, while 55.5% are 35 or older. By 2014, 18- to 34-year-olds will acount for 34.8% of tablet users, while those ages 35 and up will comprise 49.3% of the total. Tablet users skew male at present, but data suggests that this will even out in the next couple of years as well.
Tablet usage is being driven mainly by the iPad, which has about 28 million users now and will more than double to 60 million plus by 2014.
In case you’ve been reading the barage of stories about SXSW this week and wishing you were there, Tunein has the next best thing. Using their app on your mobile device you can search for “SXSW” and end up with a listing of all kinds of (primarily non-commercial) stations that are streaming the concerts.
TuneIn has partnered with top radio stations in the U.S. to deliver every broadcast from the festival in Austin this month to the world, including performances from artists such as Keane, Ingrid Michaelson, Nada Surf and James Mercer of The Shins. TuneIn is the only way, other than by attending the festival itself, that listeners can access these performances from one place.
KGSR, KEXP and WFUV are the primary sources of these concerts, and Tunein is the only place where you can get all the offerings listed in one place. TuneIn has more than 50,000 AM, FM, HD and Internet radio stations and more than one million on-demand programs streaming from all over the world. In addition to via their mobile app, you can access this offering online at www.tunein.com by searching “SXSW” and on the more than 150 platforms that carry the TuneIn service.
This is a nice offering from Tunein and some of their public radio/college radio partners. No doubt, these stations are benefitting from the additional traffic from listeners all over the place that are discovering their programming through TuneIn, which has one of the most popular music apps on ITunes. And this is precisely the reason that stations would not want to restrict access to their streams to just one portal…
Nearly 40% of smartphone owners have used their device to listen to a streaming music service while in their car, according to new research by NPD Group on automotive connectivity. Devices and ways to connect them have become a serious focus for the auto industry. 79% of car owners are using a digital device in their cars.
It appears at this point that streaming in the car is used to supplement listening to traditional radio – according to NPD’s Ben Arnold, seventy three percent of drivers report still using their FM radio “always” or “most of the time” during car trips while more than half (57 percent) of vehicle owners say a CD player is vital in their decision to buy a car stereo or entertainment system.
The desire to consume connected content is a challenge for the auto industry as well – as they focus on best ways to integrate mobile connectivity into the car with minimal driver distraction. Apple’s voice controlled Siri and Microsoft’s motion controlled product found in Kinect are technologies that automakers are looking to integrate into the equation.
Meanwhile, in place of smooth integration, consumers are finding ways to connect their mobile devices using auxillary inputs (18%), USB ports (11%), and Bluetooth technology (56%). This fact – that consumers are so interested in developing workaround ways to use their connected devices in their cars, is a huge indicator of the desirability for a more connected dashboard.
“The key is for auto makers and traditional audio manufacturers to facilitate consumer use of connected devices in the vehicle, allowing content from the smartphone, tablet, or digital media player to easily stream or be controlled through the deck mounted in the dashboard,” Arnold said. “We’re only going to see greater consumer attachment to social media, streaming audio and video, and other services as content options grow.”
One of the lesser known streaming music services announced as an integrated streaming partner with Facebook was Myxer. Until recently Myxer was primarily a leading site for ringtones and other media for mobile phones, and they were doing pretty well traffic wise with that formula, claiming more than 15 million mobile and Web unique visitors per month.
Late last year Myxer added a streaming music service that offers users the ability to create their own stations, invite their friends, share what they are listening to on facebook, and join other’s listening parties. While this may not sound all that different from some other offerings such as turntable.fm, Myxer has a couple of things going for it, not the least of which is that it’s already widely used as a source of ringtones, and has significant traffic going on. Ringtones are primarily sold to users of feature, as opposed to smartphones. It turns out that building brand recognition with this market could be a valuable advantage for Myxer.
In the first seven weeks of its launch, Myxer announced that it had signed up 150,000 new users for Myxer Social Radio. ”We’ve clearly built a strong trust with consumers that lay the groundwork for continued growth as we bring new innovative mobile content solutions to the marketplace. We expect continued success in 2012,” said Myk Willis, Founder and CEO of Myxer.
As smartphone usage continues to grow, the ringtone market, primarily associated with more basic phones, should fade. This move gives Myxer a great way to convert that market to mobile streaming listeners as they become smartphone customers. Myxer’s Social Radio App was featured as a best app of 2011 by Rolling Stone as well.