Interim Pandora CEO on Alexa and The Automobile

Pandora’s interim CEO, Naveen Chopra, spoke at The Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference this week and said the company sees new platforms like Amazon’s Alexa where both listener and advertiser growth will come from. In the automobile, not so much. Pandora has 75 million monthly users who use the service on an average of 23 hours per month. Here’s exactly what Chopra had to see about smart speakers and cars.

Chopra told conference attendees smart speakers are a huge opportunity. “Those platforms are growing like wildfire, they’re the greatest source of audience growth — and they are by definition audio devices. Therefore, there is huge monetization potential on those devices that we don’t tap today; it’s really what mobile looked like four to five years ago, when the advertising capability was not near what it is today. We’re thinking about how to create more opportunities around radio advertising on those platforms — like, you’d hear an ad play and have the opportunity to say ‘tell me more.’ You don’t have that today. My sense is that the platform owners, Amazon, Google, or others, recognize the importance of having a healthy ad ecosystem within those platforms. We’re charging ahead and I think we’ll be breaking some ground in terms of creating ad formats and capabilities there. The car and [consumer electronic] devices do not monetize as well as the mobile platforms. Monetization is optimized when we can target, when listeners interact, and when we can measure. Auto has limitations — obviously it’s difficult to interact while driving. But interestingly, the answer to both of those is voice-based, which is an area that’s very important to us.”

Back in June, Pandora received a $480 million investment from SiriusXM which, when the deal closes, that will give it a 19% stake in the company and three seats on Pandora’s board.


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