Personalization expert Pandora's pharma practice takes off after patient-data partnership

It’s all about personalization on Pandora: Its Music Genome Project algorithm divines musical attribute preferences and serves up the perfect-for-you playlist. And as pharma marketers look to personalization to create better engagement with consumers, they’re turning to Pandora for a similar kind of ad targeting.

The music streaming and recommendation engine has more than 2,000 different audience segments, including more than 100 specific to health conditions such as allergies, headaches, diabetes or arthritis, as well as prescription drug categories, Lee Ann Longinotti, director of the healthcare vertical at Pandora, said in a recent interview. Pandora partnered with Crossix, which mines anonymized patient data, last September, allowing Pandora’s pharma practice to take off, she said.

“We’re all about a personalized music experience, but we are at heart a data company—it’s our DNA. We have the ability to target by geography, age, gender, and by device, but also by audience segments like moms or prescription medicine shoppers,” she said. Pandora can also run "conquest targets" campaigns, or target people who take competitors’ medications, she added.

In the past years, 20 pharma clients, including AbbVie, Allergan, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and Teva have marketed branded drugs (40) or unbranded disease awareness campaigns on Pandora.

For brand BioPharmX, which wanted to build awareness about its products by driving listeners to its website, Pandora created a campaign targeting women ages 30-44 in key test markets Los Angeles, New York and Houston. The results? A 300% increase in website visits in those cities. Another client, a branded OTC pain reliever, wanted to build awareness among Hispanic women ages 25-49, so Pandora used its segment targeting to create a Spanish-language campaign that resulted in an increase of 213% in awareness with those women.

Pandora offers other ad formats along with its radio audio ads, including video, mobile display, web audio and display ad as well as sponsored listening and custom mixtapes.

Longinotti points out that Pandora not only has tremendous reach with more than 89 million monthly users, but also ranks at the top in mobile time spent in comScore Mobile Metrix ratings. For instance, in comScore's March ranking, Pandora users averaged 20.7 hours for the month, ahead of Facebook, Spotify and SoundCloud, which all averaged just over 12 hours.

“We have scale, the reach, and the time spent—all of the metrics that pharma is looking for right now on the consumer end—to drive performance and to drive objectives and KPIs,” she said.