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Want Toby Keith fans to hear radio ads for your Republican congressional candidate? Or get your Democratic state senator's spots played for Vampire Weekend diehards? Pandora, the Internet radio service, can now help campaigns target voters by musical preference.
"We have experience working with political campaigns and in 2011 we helped these advertisers target by zip code. However, the musical preference incorporation is what’s new here," Sean Duggan, Pandora's vice president of ad sales, said in a statement. "Previously, we were packaging the zip codes as congressional districts and allowing advertisers to target ads to those packaged zips.
"There wasn’t any data science applied in those segments. Based on the success of that targeting, we’ve been working to build these prediction models so that we can infer who within any area leans in a given direction.”
Regarding pricing, Duggan said the cost of the music targeting service will be "within reach for local, state, congressional and other campaigns.”
Pandora started offering advertising clients what it calls "proprietary targeting" in November. That service used zip codes and listening preferences to target listeners for Spanish-speaking and Hispanic segments.
The company, which had 73.4 million active listeners in January, declined to answer specific questions about its new offering, but provided C&E with this explanation of how the political advertising service, which counts Precision Network and Bully Pulpit Interactive as users, works:
• Pandora’s inferences start with the zip code, which listeners supply when they register with the service. Pandora then maps those zip codes to a county, and then looks at the distribution of political party voting in prior elections within those counties. The company does this by using election results reported by news organizations at the county level. For instance, if 80 percent of citizens in a certain county voted for President Obama, Pandora applies that 80 percent of people in the zip codes in those counties have an increased likelihood to be Democrats.
• From there, Pandora overlays the information with people’s musical tastes. Through this process Pandora can draw conclusions such as, users who listen to country music most often are located in heavily Republican zip codes. Also, Pandora listeners that tune in to jazz and reggae most frequently tend to correlate with zip codes that lean Democrat. Electronic is a strong signal for Democrats.