2017: A Year in Review

Eric Suliga, Creative Director

2017 was an awesome year for music and a busy year for advertising.

At Pandora we’ve been laser focused on rolling out new innovations for both our listeners and our advertising partners. We know that the more quality, engagement-based choices you can provide to consumers increases the amount of time they will spend with your brand. We also know that what’s good for the listener is good for the advertiser.

So as 2017 comes to a close, we wanted to take a minute to reflect back on a busy and innovative year by compiling a list of the major advertising trends and highlights of 2017.

Top 7 Advertising Trends in 2017

From mobile, to data, and everything in between, here are the most noteworthy advertising trends from 2017: Trend #1: Engagement-Based Advertising Advertisers know that capturing attention - even for just 6 seconds - is key. We also know that consumers are wanting to be in control of the content and messaging they get served. This has resulted in advertisers trying new ways to capture attention while still putting the consumer in the driver’s seat. What has emerged is this idea of value exchange - where a consumer can unlock exclusive features or other content in exchange for interacting with a branded advertisement. New research from Nielson Media Labs shows that 54% of U.S. internet users actually prefer value exchange offers over both ad-supported and subscription content. We expect to see more brands start to engage in this form of engagement-based advertising, and we’re excited to see what creative offerings brands come up with. (Also, it just so happens that we at Pandora just launched a new value exchange feature as part of our Video Plus product offering. Check it out!) Trend #2: Viewability Viewability is a huge concern for any online publisher, and rightfully so. New technologies and innovations have created an ever-changing landscape of viewability measurement and standards. Tackling these complex challenges has been a major focus for many leading publishers this year, including here at Pandora. However, as we see publishers join forces to solve for some of the biggest issues surrounding viewability, such as the IAB Tech Lab Open Measurement Working Group, we are excited to see some major progress in 2018. Trend #3: Audio Advertising Naturally, we’re most excited to witness a renewed interest in audio overall this year. More specifically, how audio, music and experiences are expected to play a central role in the future of marketing. NPR even hosted a 3.5-hour “summit” dedicated to the subject of audio’s renaissance during this year’s Advertising Week conference, further confirming that the format is here to stay for listeners and advertisers alike. And now with the widespread popularity of voice-activated devices (such as smart speakers), marketers are making the pivot to audio branding because soon consumers won’t be looking at brands’ logos but rather hearing them instead. Rafi Mamalian, Global Director of Content & Influencer Marketing at Undertone summed it up nicely: “In the next couple of years, we’ll trust voice systems more than influencers and celebrities.” Trend #4: Quality Content & Audiences The Economist described the situation best: “never before have so many advertisers raised concerns about what they call ‘brand safety’ all at once.” No, this concept of having ads appear adjacent to problematic content is not new, but growing political and social unrest around the world has pushed advertisers to be ultra careful of where their ads are featured, or else risk a potential immediate and sizeable backlash from consumers. What this really comes down to is quality - not just for adjacent content but for audiences as well. Brands are pushing publishers to better understand both the quality and scope of their addressable audiences to ensure they are making the smartest decisions possible about where to spend their media dollars. 2018 will see a convergence of marketers, brands, agencies and publishers alike fighting to enforce standards and ethics around quality to ensure that every impression is a quality impression. Trend #5: Digital is King Digital marketing has been around for years now, but like any new technology, it has taken a while to overtake older forms of media consumption. However, 2017 was the year that digital finally overtook TV in advertising spend. According to Magna, digital ad spending reached $209 billion worldwide, while TV brought in $178 billion. The continued rise in cord cutters and cord “shavers” has been eroding TV’s dominance over digital for the past few years now, as streaming giants like Netflix and Hulu are taking place of traditional cable TV. Digital will only continue to dominate in 2018, as Magna predicts digital ad spending to grow by 13% next year alone. Trend #6: Experiential Marketing Even though digital is now king, marketers have long realized the power experiences have to connect brands and consumers in ways that can’t be achieved online, on TV, in magazines, or over the phone. Events give marketers the opportunity to engage customers and prospects with exclusive access to content or product updates by handing out desirable product samples or entertaining with an interactive brand activation. Experiences also have the power to profoundly impact our emotions and memories. It’s in-person interactions like these that can make brands more “human” and more memorable. We expect to see brands shift budgets and resources to hosting, participating and sponsoring these experiential events in 2018. Trend #7: Influencer Marketing Social media has introduced a whole new career vertical. No longer does the title of “Social Media Influencer” make marketers roll their eyes. With some influencers making tens of millions of dollars every year, more and more brands are ditching celebrity influencers, who tend to come with steep price tags. Instead, brands are now placing their advertising bets on micro influencers, such as Ashley Kane, and macro influencers, such as Logan Paul, who have carved out audiences of loyal followers by posting about their passions online, allowing them to relate to consumers on a more human level. We’re already seeing research show that brands are carving out more of their marketing budgets in 2018 for these types of influencer initiatives.

Pandora’s Top 7 Greatest Hits in 2017

With a huge focus on innovation, engagement-based ad products, partnerships, as well as continuing to collaborate with labels and artists alike, this year has been a busy and rewarding one at Pandora as we continued to deliver more and better opportunities for marketers to connect with engaged listeners on our platform. Check out some of our top hits from 2017:
Cheers to a great year! Tell us: what were some other advertising hits you noticed in 2017?

We can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for us. We’re kicking off our 2018 at CES in Las Vegas - will we see you there? Stay up to date by following the hashtag #PandoraCES on Twitter.

Want to learn more about our product suite at Pandora? Get in touch with us today!

1. comScore, “Media Metrix Multi Platform,” October 2017 (mobile P13+)