Thursday, January 28, 2010

MEDIAPOST: Opening Pandora’s Box For Internet Brands

Is it me or is Pandora suddenly everywhere?

I feel like it was just a few months ago that Pandora wasn’t doing so well. They weren’t seeing the ad revenue they’d been shooting for and rumors were swirling wildly, but now the rumors are faded and real (good) news is taking its place! Pandora was everywhere the week of CES, with a number of companies including Pioneer, Ford and of course Apple taking about Pandora as a valued partner. The Pandora iPhone app is a leader and both Pioneer and Ford are bringing Pandora into the car. It seems as though Pandora is making the jump, rather successfully, from Internet wunder-company to true cross-media brand that could signal a significant revolution in radio.

Many of you may ask if this is written because of a relationship with Pandora, but I have to be honest in saying that I know no-one over there. I have no relationship with them at all, I’m just an average, “ordinary Joe” consumer who listens to a lot of music and in the last few weeks I’ve been reacquainted with the brand because of all this latest wave of press, the various distribution deals that have surfaced and my experience has been overwhelmingly positive!

A number of years ago, when it first launched, I played with Pandora and while I thought it was great, it never had the consumer resonance with me. The fact that it was tied to my computer was the single biggest challenge I saw. Of course that was coupled with the fact that I didn’t listen to radio and I only listened to my iPod but in recent months I find myself re-expanding my horizons and finding other ways to access music through the web. All these partnerships are finding ways to insert Pandora into my daily life and very little are a result of advertising. Even my Samsung Blu-Ray player has Pandora and I love it!

The take-away of this observation is that Internet brands can succeed offline when the right partnerships are struck and the Internet is expanded beyond the keypad of your computer. The last few years have seen a “virtual” explosion as more and more devices are connected to the Internet. Back in 1998 I made a presentation to some clients about the future of the Internet and how it would power your television, your car, your refrigerator, and even the security system to your house. That future is upon us as the mobile revolution, led by the development of the mobile app store as a means of distributing focused applications, is primarily responsible. Apps were first applied to the web, then to your phone and now to all sorts of devices. TiVo was the first to open the door and Sling and Vudu cracked it wide open, but Amazon, eBay and upstart brands like Pandora are there to make sure that they get an invitation to the party. Internet brands are branching out because the Internet is no longer confined to the keyboard. And of course, in just a few short weeks, Apple will roll out it’s tablet to add fuel to the fire that Kindle and the Nook have stoked and convergence will be a thing of the past as we find fewer and fewer “holistic” devices and more fragmented access to Internet content strewn across the landscape of our day. Pandora’s box has been opened and consumers are more than willing to have multiple devices that access different applications if they add value to their daily experience.

Pandora is doing things well right now and my hat is off to them. They are strategically creating relationships that will offer an option for their users to be unbound from their computers. More Internet brands will be following suit in 2010, so keep an eye out and see what you can learn!

Who else is doing a great job of breaking away from the borders of the Internet brand space? Let us know by visiting the Spin Board and sharing it with us!

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