Pandora’s Box Is Just A Greek Myth


(By Charlie Sislen) Like the Greek myth it was named after, many of the things that are believed about the audio service Pandora are simply that – MYTHS! Advertisers are spending their dollars not on facts, but on incorrect beliefs. Sometimes growing your billing means protecting the billing you already have.

Don’t let the myth of Pandora affect your established billing.

MYTH #1 – Everyone is listening to Pandora.
There is no question that pure plays have grown in popularity. While it is shifting, Pandora remains the leader. However, their size does not match that of most radio clusters, and even most individual stations within a market. You can prove this with qualitative research. With Scarborough and The Media Audit, you can compare the reach of the pure plays versus radio. Because this is qualitative research, you can even do this comparison on an advertiser’s target audience. For a car dealer, show that your radio station or cluster reaches more of those who plan to buy a new car than Pandora or any other pure play.

MYTH #2 – Pandora’s growth is coming from radio.
While still a fraction of radio’s size, Pandora has grown over the past decade. However, it is not true that all this new listening is coming from radio. Studies have shown that, because of pure plays, the amount of time the average person spends with audio entertainment has increased. In other words, the size of the audio pie has become larger, rather than the radio slice has become smaller.

MYTH #3 – Pandora reaches the right customers.
Most advertisers care about specific geographies. Pandora claims that only those in an advertiser’s defined geography will be served the ad. However, Pandora’s geography is defined by what the person registers when they sign up for Pandora. So if someone moves and does not change their registration, or lies about where they live (who would do that when registering for an Internet service?), the ads that they are served are for the wrong geographic region. With radio, one can be confident they are getting listeners in the right geography.

MYTH #4 – Pandora moves product better than radio.
Nielsen’s Catalina studies have shown that radio delivers a better ROI for advertisers than any other advertising outlet, including pure plays. Moving product for the advertiser is what it is all about, and radio is the best at that.

Pandora is making a major thrust to grab local advertising dollars. Use facts to dispel the myth of Pandora. Don’t let your advertiser open up Pandora’s box.

Charlie Sislen is a partner at Research Director, Inc. He can be reached at 410-956-0363 or by e-mail at [email protected]. This blog post is part of a series titled “Growing the Radio Pie.” To view past articles, visit The Ratings Experts at Research Director, Inc. online here.


  1. This wreaks of desperation. a ‘What is Radio doing to help their listeners/advertisers’ vs. ‘what their competitors are doing “wrong”‘ would be a much more compelling story. Kudos to Nancy for the knowledge check. The end results are the facts.

  2. Results are in the cash register. I’ve tracked an increase not just in traffic, but in actual sales whenever I’ve included Pandora in client’s media mix. It’s happened far too many times to be coincidental. Pandora certainly shouldn’t replace broadcast radio, but it should be included in radio and/or digital campaigns.


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