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Today Pandora Officially Crushes Terrestrial Radio

In any event, on the ground, here's how it looks. Today, a Pandora sales rep can walk into a meeting with a client in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, for example, and make jaws drop.

I obtained Arbitron ratings numbers for the DFW market covering the three demos Triton reports for Pandora in the March ratings period during the Monday to Sunday, 6 a.m. to midnight daypart (for the record, I follow Arbitron's fair use guidelines for publishing details of its proprietary ratings data):

  • Among 18- to 34-year-old adults, Pandora, based on a comparison of Triton's data with Arbitron's data measuring terrestrial radio listening, ranks No. 1 in the market, with a 1.1 AQH Rating. That puts it ahead of the top terrestrial broadcaster in the market, a heritage Top 40 station, by a considerable margin.
  • Among 18- to 49-year-old adults, Pandora comes in tied for first place with the same Top 40 station.
  • Among 25- to 54-year-old adults, Pandora ranks second, just behind the same Top 40 outlet.

Several important notes for the record: First, it's no surprise Pandora sports a stronger showing in the 18- to 34-year-old demographic, as its audience skews to the younger end of the larger 18- to 54-year-old group.

Second, an AQH rating equals the percentage of people listening out of the entire target population, whether or not they are listening to radio. Do not confuse this with AQH share, which measures the percentage of people listening out of all of those listening to radio at a given time. AQH stands for Average Quarter Hour. To show up in the results, a listener must tune into Pandora for at least five minutes during the specified time. In this regard, Arbitron uses the same methodology when tracking terrestrial radio listening.

That's powerful stuff. Maybe more importantly, Pandora can leverage these numbers to not only take an increasing amount of ad dollars from terrestrial radio, but to help buyers make the inevitable shift toward mobile environments with at least a portion of their budget. I outline Pandora's position in that regard in an article I wrote before getting this information.

In concert with new and improved ratings data and proof about the emergence of mobile -- and Pandora's dominant role in the space -- the company's salespeople can, do and will promote the power of Pandora's ability to target its listeners on the basis of factors such as age, location and musical taste.

A recent story drives home the power of targeting. Pandora created an "ad" for one of its users.

A guy in Texas wanted to propose to his girlfriend. They're Pandora listeners, so he hooked up with the company, who ended up producing an ad it played while the couple was listening. Nobody but the couple heard the ad. It was completely personalized to the girlfriend (who said "yes").

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