Pandora Fatigue and Radio Rising



It seems like the more someone uses the top audio streaming service Pandora, the less they are satisfied with it.  That’s the conclusion of a new study of more than 4,000 Pandora users by Bridge Ratings.

Over time, Pandora user satisfaction deteriorates. As you might guess, new users of the service have a high degree of satisfaction, mainly coming from song selection, artist and title discovery, the reduced number of commercials and customizing music genres to their own taste.Pandora Trends

However, as users work with the service, satisfaction begins to waver. Both time spent listening and the number of streaming sessions per day begin to dip until long term users (more than two years) reduce their daily sessions to less than 20% of their initial use and spend 2/3 less time listening during those sessions.

Pandora vs. Broadcast Radio Users

Listeners give a variety of reasons for this reduction in satisfaction, including increased commercial interruption for free-version users, disintegrating ability to select songs, and song repetition. Apparently, heavy usage exposes negatives which result in shorter time spent with the service and fewer daily sessions.

Additionally, data from the study suggests that over time Pandora users have a reduced awareness of the advertising presented to them. And while a paid subscription model eliminating commercials is an option for Pandora users, less than 20% of the total user base chooses this option.

Conversely, awareness of advertising and brands on broadcast radio is high and remains high over time. It’s likely that user expectations play a part in these results. Users of broadcast radio have always been exposed to advertising, so retention of advertising messages and brands in this type of environment is aided by the expectation.

Fatigue by long-term consumption is a well-known challenge for numerous consumer-based marketers. Many products and services suffer from over exposure and Pandora is experiencing this as well.


While perhaps not a ‘rebirth’ – good ol’-fashioned radio is undergoing something of a resurgence as advertisers large and small and ad agencies and marketers are again seeing the branding ability and consumer connection that can be built with the largest reach medium in the country.

According to a recent Nielsen report, 93 percent of U.S. adults listen to AM/FM radio weekly compared to 87 percent who watch television and the 70 percent who use smartphones in a given week. One reason radio remains more popular than streaming is our local personalities. Delmarva Broadcasting radio station talk show hosts and deejays have built authentic local followings. Their playlists and conversation give you context, information and a connection to your community. With streaming, an algorithm, yes a sophisticated one, decides what plays next.  As one DBCer put it so well, “Pandora can be personalized, but it’s not personal.”

Effects of Radio

Need more proof? Horizon Media, one of the largest advertising agencies in the country, is launching an in-house unit to create campaigns exclusively for audio advertising. Companies like Horizon don’t do such things on a whim, they understand the power of radio and its ability to move the needle for their clients.

Want to learn more? You can check out a previous article about Pandora here. And then contact us to discuss your marketing goals and how we can help you achieve them.

Five Things to Know About Pandora

Pandora getting more media coverage

Over the last two years, few media outlets have grown faster than, or gotten more media coverage, than Pandora.  Many businesses, national and local, have started advertising on the streaming media service.  But is it the right venue for your message?  Maybe, maybe not. Here are five points for you to consider.

1)      Pandora’s ‘ratings’ vs. radio is not an apples-to-apples comparison. 

Pandora claims to have varying levels of listening in markets around the country, even claiming to be ‘the number one station’ in some markets. But they will not participate in the commonly accepted ratings systems such as Nielsen.  Their ‘ratings’ are typically an equation utilizing the number of streaming sessions and time spent listening to arrive at an Average Quarter Hour rating number.

2)      Those ‘ratings’ are for all their formats and market-wide, not a single station

The claimed ratings numbers combine all their ‘stations’ and platforms together to compare against individual radio stations, so if various demographics and music formats were taken into consideration, their numbers get much smaller.

3)      Geographic targeting is not as accurate as one might assume.

Serving impressions and commercials based on a client’s geographic preferences assumes the listener information is correct as entered when they signed up for the service.  The 2010 census says 40% of 18+ Americans move over the course of three years. Is their geo-targeting any longer accurate?  And mobile targeting, where Pandora gets a majority of their listening, is even worse.  A person’s cell phone number (area code) increasingly has little relevance to their actual location as they tote that number from place to place.

4)      Pandora listening does not equal less radio listening.Girl with headphones listening to music

A new study (8/14) of 1100 Pandora users by Nuvoodoo Research examined the relationship between radio listening and Pandora use. The research shows that 62% of Pandora users that listen at least 30 minutes on average per day, also listen at least that much to broadcast radio. For more, visit:

5)      Pandora and other pure-play services can be ‘personalized, but are not personal.’

Local sponsors of DBC Media radio stations benefit from our live and local content.  We are part of our communities and our listeners’ world. We create and deliver content created by programmers who understand the preferences and values of their neighborhood, delivered by personalities that listeners feel attached to as friends. We provide local information; news, traffic, weather, opinions, events, promotional opportunities, and the ability to communicate with personalities and stations to discuss what is important to listeners and their communities.

DBC Media radio stations recently collaborated on the 4th Annual Radiothon to benefit the Nemours A I Dupont Hospital for Children, raising more than $257,000 in two days.  That’s not something that could be accomplished on Pandora, Spotify or other such services.  See more about those stations here:

Contact us and let’s have a conversation about how DBC Media’s radio stations and digital products & services can help you reach your target consumer.



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