CES: Pandora puts ads (but fewer of them) into car listening

pandora logo crystalIn one of the newsiest days of the year, Pandora is grabbing spotlight share with the simultaneous release of its audience metrics (see them here) and a CES announcement of a new in-car advertising initiative. Pandora has signed at least four national brands to anchor its roll-out of in-car audio advertising. Those brands are Ford, BP, State Farm, and Taco Bell.

The new advertising launch applies to Pandora listening that is “natively” installed in cars. That means instances where Pandora is integrated into the dashboard, as opposed to the driver plugging in a smartphone running Pandora’s mobile app. There are currently 130 car models which contain native Pandora integration.

With the related partnership announcement from AdsWizz and HARMAN’s Aha Radio, the industry is given clear signals that Internet-delivered radio is claiming car territory not only with its listening apps, but with its advertising solutions.

Pandora began racing onto digital dashboards in 2010 in Ford vehicles. The company now claims to be available through one connection solution or another in nine out of the 10 best-selling passenger cars. However that is calculated, there is no doubt that Pandora is a leader in connected-car distribution, in addition to listener share across platforms.

One interesting point is Pandora’s note that fewer ads will play in those native installations than in the normal mobile apps or on the desktop — as if Pandora were easing native users into the ad-punctuated listening experience. Of course, even the normal Pandora ad load is far lower than on AM/FM radio. Subscribers to the ad-free Pandora One service, naturally, will not be exposed to the new in-car ads.

Brad Hill