At a breakfast for technology and media folks in Cincinnati recently, Pandora founder and primary spokesperson Tim Westergren said Pandora has more listeners in market than some broadcast stations, according to a report in RAIN yesterday. As an example, he said Pandora has 30,000 listeners in Cincinnati, the 27th Radio Market. Assuming he’s citing a weekly cume, and not a monthly or total number of subscribers who have ever listened to Pandora, that’s a 1.8 cume rating, which is probably about the size of the smallest broadcast station’s broadcast audience in the market. Unfortunately, Pandora is one of the few large online stations that does not subscribe to comScore Arbitron or AndoMedia’s Webcast Metrics, the two companies that provide third party audience measurement to the industry.
Westergren believes that their approach to radio, which he calls personalized radio, will replace radio in the future. I like Pandora and listen often, while I’m working and now, in my car on my iphone. I’ve introduced my 14 year old daughter to it and she and all her friends think it’s cooler than their ipods. Pandora is great at giving me music I love and introducing me to more music that I will probably love. But replace radio? I don’t think so. Pandora is a national brand. Radio stations are local brands, with local advertisers, local news, traffic, and a general local presence that can’t be replaced. Radio stations that understand that and offer an excellent local product that listeners want will survive.
Pandora is leading the Internet radio industry into mainstream media with its popularity, excellent distribution on iPhone and other devices, and extensive press coverage. Recently, they have started to sell audio ads in addition to display ads on their site, which is a good thing for the industry. Apparently, Pandora is leading the way for Internet radio with advertisers as well. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Westergren was in Cincinnati to meet with advertisers, among them Proctor and Gamble, one of the largest advertisers in the world.