Radio Metrics and Pandora

For years, buying TV and radio media meant relying on the demographic and other statistical information provided by the stations to place the buy, and spending hours going through station affidavits to verify the accuracy of airing schedule. Ultimately, you never really knew who your spot was reaching. Was it your target audience of women 18-34? Or was it men 50+? If you were reaching people outside of your demographic, why were you paying money to reach them?

Our job as an agency is to be as objective and impartial as possible when it comes to placing media buys. We always look at what’s best for the client’s goals and budget. Radio is often a part of that plan, as are other traditional and non-traditional media options. Regardless of the medium, though, what we crave is quantifiable information. Actual, verifiable statistics about how people acted when interacting with your campaign in some way. Sometimes we can get it, other times we have much “squishier” data, such as when people say “I saw your TV spot and wanted to call.” We’re always looking for as much data as we can to better inform media decisions for our clients.

Enter Pandora.

Pandora has been around for 16 years and offers a sort of hybrid approach of traditional radio + online metrics. It reinvented how we listen to music using the Music Genome Project. Logically, it also gave pause as to how we buy radio media. Because it’s an online music streaming service where you have to create an account to listen (it’s free), they offer precise demographics to advertisers and specific, quantifiable metrics. You can choose as wide or as narrow as a demographic you’d like, among other options, and Pandora will give you a planned number of audio and banner impressions, and trackable stats post-campaign. Bonus: if you have Google Analytics on your site, you can see real-time during the campaign the people who visit your website from Pandora.

Here’s how Pandora and over-the-air radio compare:

Pandora Terrestrial Radio
Target Audience Purchase specific listener demoraphic, regardless of music genre Purchase station format (country, pop, jazz, etc.) and only reach those listeners, even if they aren’t your target
What you get :30 audio + banner ads that run during & after ad Audio only
Measurement Metrics received at conclusion with # of times audio played and banner ads ran None
Verification Check web stats anytime with Google Analytics (if installed on your website) Haphazard: listen to station to try to catch your ad. Possibly get affidavit of air schedule.
Broadcast Options Option of Mobile, Desktop, or both Terrestrial (over the air) broadcast to those who tune to station
Cost $5,000 minimum media buy + production Flexible media buy + same production cost


One of our clients recently ran a Pandora campaign as part of a larger media plan with excellent results. This analysis is specific to the Pandora portion of their campaign as they were curious as to how it would work, so they went to extra lengths in their office to track this information on their end. As part of this effort, they featured a strong offer – 50% off a skin rejuvenation treatment – which is critical to incentivize action. Ultimately, everyone was pleasantly surprised with the results.

Pandora (Planned Media)
Demographics: Women 30+
Geography: Mesa County-ish DMA. Includes Mesa, Montrose, Delta, San Miguel, San Juan counties, and partial coverage of Gunnison, Hinsdale, Dolores counties (and partials of a couple farther south.)
Devices: Mobile-only
Dates: March 14 – June 16, 2016
Total Impressions: 830,882 planned
Reach: 10,965 (number of unique listeners reached)
Average Weekly Frequency: 2.53 times (number of times a unique user hears the ad each week)

Pandora (Results)
Total Impressions: 830,909 served
Reach: 10,471
Clicks: 3,217 (measures a click-thru from the banner ad to the client’s website)
Average Weekly Frequency: 2.6x weekly audio and 1.7x weekly display ad

Client Results
# unique appointments from ad: 32
# who received additional treatments: 11
Total amount spent on additional treatments: $12,218.28
Average amount spent on additional treatments: $1,110.75
Total spend by Pandora customers: $19,168.28
Total Pandora spend: $ 6,056.27 (includes production & project management)
Net Income (Customer Spend – Pandora Spend): $13,112.01

Initially worried about the slow start of the campaign, the client soon realized the effectiveness of Pandora and plans to run another campaign in the near future as part of their next push.

Having solid metrics on the front- and back-ends of a campaign leads to better-informed decision making about media plans. Yes, the media cost of Pandora can be a big chunk to bite off on the front end, but the results can pay off in spades – especially if you look at long-term results, such as clients gained who continue to purchase additional products from you.

Tips for a successful Pandora campaign (or any media plan)

  • Have a strong offer. You need to find a way to incentivize the audience enough to take action.
  • Carefully select your audience. If you’re trying to offer a product to the wrong audience, it simply won’t work. Pick your ideal client for the product you’re offering.
  • Understand seasonality. Have your campaign coincide with the seasonality you experience. Don’t try to force action in the off-season. If selling swimsuits is easier in spring, have your campaign run then instead of in the middle of winter.
  • Look at impressions, reach and frequency. That will help determine the best device for your campaign, whether it’s mobile, desktop, or both.
  • Take time with creative execution. Have a solid script that clearly conveys the offer. Don’t pack it full of 3 other offers along with the main offer. One, singular, clear message is ideal. Same goes for the online ads. It’s even more important that they clearly show the offer.
  • Track results on your end. Ask people how they heard about you. Keep track of it somewhere, whether it’s your POS system, a spreadsheet, or a piece of paper. The more you track, the better you can evaluate the success of the campaign.
  • Customer Service. This one seems like a no-brainer, but if you can provide great service to the client, they will be more willing to return and purchase more products or services. Don’t consider your Pandora offer to be like a coupon; consider it to be a first impression with a client.
  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Pandora should be part of a complete media plan, not the only medium in your plan. Don’t forego TV, print, local radio, or anything else you can afford that reaches the right audience just to run a Pandora campaign.


Pandora isn’t the only fish in the sea when it comes to streaming audio. A number of other services are out there, such as Spotify, but for our area and typical client budgets, are either too expensive (think $10,000 minimums) or don’t have sufficient users in our geographic area to yield meaningful results.

Knowledge truly is power when it comes to deciding how best to spend your marketing budget. If you’d like help pulling together a complete media plan, or any other marketing endeavor, just drop us a line and we’ll work with you to determine what’s best.

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