It’s More Than Data When You’re a Music Company

Eric Suliga, Creative Director

We love data as much as the next marketer. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to play personalized music for our listeners day in and day out. In fact, it’s our data and depth of listener insight that helps us understand who they are and what they want to listen to. But when placed in the hands of our advertising partners, our data is also the secret weapon that allows brands to make smarter media buys and create more effective ad campaigns.

Yet while the promise of “Big Data” is truly magnificent (especially when done right), we also recognize the risk in having too much data. In between analyzing an audience, determining the ROI of an ad campaign or reach of a marketing event, it’s easy to forget about the people behind the numbers. Stats and graphs alone can sometimes miss the real meaning of actions taken or not taken. It’s this element of humanity that makes data so valuable, so it’s important to do everything in our purview to ensure it remains intact. And to be specific, what we’re really talking about here is the emotion behind the stats.

Finding the Emotion in “Big Data”

On a fundamental level, emotion is already deeply ingrained in the data we collect as a music company. There isn’t a song or album out there that doesn’t feature an artist pouring out their emotions to a melody. Indeed, it's this emotional side of music that causes people to feel such a strong connection to certain tunes. Most of us already know this because we experience it every day.

Many of us also already know the impact emotion has on advertising. Simply put, we are much more likely to recall an ad that pulls at our heartstrings in some way. Does anyone remember the Hyundai ad that played during this year’s Super Bowl? The one that used a 360-degree camera to give deployed soldiers the chance to watch the game with their family? So do we, because that ad touched on all our soft spots.

These kinds of feelings--happiness, empowerment, sadness and nostalgia--work in advertising because they help store a brand message in our long-term memory. And when messages are stored in long-term versus short-term memory, the odds of us recalling the information down the road (even a year later) jump significantly. According to a 2016 study conducted by Nielsen using neuroscience technology, they found that ads with the best emotional response actually generated a 23% lift in sales volume. (We dove into more of this concept in our own neuroscience study and in Episode 3 of the Power of Audio podcast.)

Music Brings the Humanity Back to Data

One way to incorporate emotion into an ad is through content. But another way is to align it with “adjacent content” that is already emotional, like music. The powerful effect music has was the subject of Pandora’s recent ad campaign, “The Next Song Matters,” in which a diverse group of listeners try to explain what music feels like to them. See it for yourself here:
Doesn't that give you the chills? Music has an uncanny way of telling us a lot about both the artist and the listener. So when it comes to Pandora’s data, the insights we offer go way beyond the general demographic information provided by most publishers. We can actually infer deep insights about the emotional and mental state of our listeners from what their favorite genres are, what songs they thumb-up most, and when and where they like to listen. This takes “Big Data” and adds a layer of humanity to help our advertisers craft more contextually relevant messages. For instance, our data tells us that when men want to feel happy, their go-to genre is rock whereas, for women, it's pop tunes that take them to their happy place.1

Our new Audience Explorer tool was engineered to help us do exactly this, but even quicker. With an easy-to-use interface, Audience Explorer allows our advertisers to extract the real meaning from our treasure trove of data. Plug in your target audience and it will automatically populate with loads of interesting insights--from whether an audience prefers humorous lyrics to how likely they are to be a swing voter during election time. There's no limit to how far we can go.

Good Data Starts at the Source

“Big Data” is exactly that: Big. But that doesn’t mean we have to lose sight of what we’re trying to understand. And in most cases, that’s real people doing real things. Being selective in the data source we choose to work with ensures that you're working with meaningful insights. It also means you’re one step closer to creating a marketing campaign that truly works.

To start a conversation about how your brand can do a better job of leveraging Pandora’s music-based data, get in touch with us by filling out this short form.


Sources: 1Pandora Soundboard, Music and Mood Poll, May 2016