Zero in on the Right Choices for Audio Advertising

Ron Rodrigues, Sr. Audio Strategist

If you’re a small-business owner looking to add audio advertising to your arsenal of marketing tools, congratulations! You’ve taken the first step towards adding a powerful and persuasive medium to your marketing strategy.

Audio’s ability to stir emotions, trigger memories, and move people into action makes it perfectly suited for all aspects of the day: from getting out the front door in the morning, surviving traffic, and enjoying family time back at home. After all, we’ve been living and breathing audio since first hearing our mother’s heartbeat before we were even born — and it’s why people now listen to four hours of audio per day.1

3821 SMB Broadcast localAudience r2 pull

AM/FM has been a companion to our lives for over a century. However, from an advertising perspective, not all audio impressions are the same. As a single-direction, one-to-many medium, there will always be doubt around the accuracy of the number of listeners, or if it's even the right audience hearing your ad.

The good news is there are solid alternatives to broadcast audio. As an ad-supported streaming audio brand, Pandora serves your ad on a one-to-one basis and only to your designated listeners. The numbers are precise, the delivery is guaranteed, and the clean ad environment will make your ad “pop,” like the sound of hail on a corrugated metal rooftop.

Three key comparison points between AM/FM and streaming audio advertising:

Campaign Frequency Matters: How Pandora Gets It Right Radio prides itself on a “93%” weekly reach. The problem is, a Super Bowl-sized ad budget couldn’t get you anywhere near that reach, and a realistic budget can only get you to a fraction of this population. Worse still, while your post-campaign wrap report might reflect an impressive “three-frequency,” that number is an average, and it’s likely that a lot of those listeners heard it nine times while a great number heard it only once.

With Pandora, in markets both large and small, across the age spectrum, our audience is competitive with the top radio stations. Thanks to Pandora’s frequency caps, listeners are not served the same ad more than a specified number of times per hour, per day, and per week. Instead, your campaign impressions are spread across a greater number of listeners.

Pandora Connects Your Brand With the Right Audience Radio’s only targeting ability is based on a profile of listeners to a particular format. There’s nothing particularly wrong with that, but it’s not the most efficient way to address your potential customers. “Adult Contemporary” radio might be the most efficient way to reach women aged 25-54, but you then miss out on the many women in this age group who prefer Country, Classic Metal, or Delta Blues.

On Pandora, your ad reaches your target audience regardless of their listening preference, and it doesn’t get served to people outside your desired audience.

Pandora’s Clean Ad Environment Guarantees Maximum Impact Next time you’re listening to the radio, try this exercise: count the number of ads in a break between music sets. In most large markets, you’ll find ad breaks can stretch to nine units in a row, with an ad break lasting up to eight minutes. Radio crams as many ads as possible into the fewest number of breaks as a programming strategy to inflate its quarter-hour ratings. This strategy certainly doesn’t benefit the listener and it doesn’t set up the ads for success either.

We keep it simple: Pandora serves a maximum of two ads per break, and typically four minutes of ads per hour. With this considerably lighter ad load, your ad and your investment, are more likely to stand out and be heard.

Here are some success stories of SMBs who’ve used ads on Pandora to further their business goals:

  • Caro Smart Financial Solutions leveraged Pandora Mobile Audio to build brand awareness and drive downloads of their app. The campaign drove 7,000 member engagements and 2,500 app downloads — doubling campaign goals.
  • Cleveland State University yielded 28% of its campaign inquiries from a Pandora Audio Everywhere campaign, which only accounted for 11% of its ad budget.
  • Memorial Healthcare System opted for Pandora Audio Everywhere to target 40-55-year-olds to drive traffic to its online cardiac risk form. The campaign resulted in a 500% increase in mobile traffic to the form and 37,000 clicks among qualified targets.


As you research your audio marketing opportunities, consider these factors:

Don’t be seduced by reach alone. Radio’s reach numbers may include incidental exposures to a radio, such as in a convenience store, for as little as five minutes. • Look at the ratings. Average Quarter Hour rating takes both reach and time spent listening into account and is the accepted metric by which you can build your list of radio stations and streaming platforms. • Do a thorough post-campaign analysis. When looking at your wrap reports, take a deep dive into your reach and frequency distributions to determine if your rating points (or impressions) went mostly to a station’s heavy listeners.

As you consider an investment in audio advertising, we invite you to check out all of your options. Once you have, you’ll see that Pandora has the scale, superior targeting, and clean environment that will maximize your marketing investment.

Want to learn more about The Power of Audio? Download our 2019 Definitive Guide to Audio, or fill out this form and a Pandora rep will get right back to you!

  1. Edison Research Share of Ear Study, Q4 2018