In their typically savvy way, Pandora has implemented a strategy for taking political ad dollars. Taking the listener registration information that they already have on every listener, they have created a turnkey way for political candidates’ campaigns to deliver their messages to custom voter zones. The service also offers rich media attributes, enabling campaigns to utilize display and video components in addition to audio.
Once again, Pandora is aggressively going after broadcast radio dollars with this strategy. Chief Revenue Officer John Trimble said, “With the 2012 political campaign season in full swing, advertisers realize that personalized, internet radio is a powerful platform to reach a desired set of voters. Pandora’s new targeting features maximize effectiveness of ad spend that has historically been wasted reaching voters outside of election districts. Political, national and local advertisers all benefit from our scale, precision targeting and personalization to reach a passionate and engaged audience on Pandora.”
Pandora gathers zip code data at account registration and a back-end system maps that information into specific regions, making it easier for a campaign to maximize effectiveness. These new features add on to the previously available targeting parameters of age, gender, zip code, time of day, music genre, seeded artist, interaction, mobile and first impression.
Political ad spending has been climbing for years and – thanks to the elimination of campaign spending caps – will be higher than ever for 2012. In 2008, the last presidential election year, political ad spending was $2 billion, last year, without a presidential election it reached $2.3 billion.
While Pandora can offer a nicely targeted ad campaign within precise voter zones, one thing candidates will not get from Pandora is the FCC mandated political rate card. Radio broadcasters are required under FCC regulations to provide all political candidates with a fixed rate at the lowest available rate on their stations. Pandora and other Internet radio stations are not beholden to such rules.
KUSF, the University of San Francisco radio station, has been a stalwart of college free form programming for many years, but no more. The University sold the station’s FCC license for radio frequency 90.3 FM to Classical Public Radio Network, which is launching a non-commercial classical music station in the Bay Area. CPRN is owned by University of Southern California.
The call letters, music and logo were not sold and USF will continue to air the station online. According to an announcement by the University, all staff will be retained. The announcement also points out that the station can now expand its audience further: “The move to online-only distribution gives KUSF a powerful opportunity to grow its worldwide audience. Previously, the station was limited to 100 online listeners at a time, but capacity will be increased to accommodate thousands of listeners.”
“After all, to give students experience in broadcasting you don’t need an actual FM transmitter/license. For example, San Francisco State University has a decent broadcast program, and no FCC licensed station, only a streaming one.” says Rusty Hodge, Founder of San Francisco based Soma.FM.
Hodge adds that “the loss of KUSF is a big one for the community.”
While it may be a big loss for the community, it does sound like a win for the University and its students. The school gets cash and freed from expensive maintenance and licensing worries, the students pick up access to a nice streaming enterprise that gains them newer technology experience and a more global reach. And the students may well be more drawn to listening to and producing online programming than they were to broadcasting..