Pandora Falls Prey to Ad Network Shenanigans
Add Pandora to a growing list of platforms and publishers suffering from the unintended consequences of working with mobile ad networks.
Thousands of Pandora users recently opted in to a push notification asking them to share their smartphone calendar information. Pandora insists the push notifications were not associated with ads Pandora sold directly. Rather, they were served by an ad network used to fill Pandora’s unsold inventory.
The ad network push notification was sent to thousands of users and, without disclosing how it was brought to Pandora’s attention, Pandora said it quickly worked to stop more from going out. Despite the music service’s efforts to stop the push note from being served, there are still thousands of Pandora users who opted in to the notification and are thus sharing their professional or personal calendar information with Pandora.
Pandora does sell an ad product that allows marketers to place event reminders on people’s smartphone calendars. These ads, which Pandora has sold for years, require users to tap on them and agree to adding a reminder to their calendars. Pandora said that it does not plan to place event reminders on users’ calendars without explicitly asking for permission.
Pandora sells most of its advertising inventory directly. But like many highly trafficked publishers, Pandora uses third parties to sell a slice of its ad inventory. Pandora is one of the most mobile-centric publishers, with 71 percent of its more than 78.7 million unique U.S. visitors in October 2013 coming from mobile-only users, according to comScore.
Pandora declined to comment on which ad network was responsible for the push notifications and whether or not it would continue its relationship with that company.
Mahi de Silva, CEO at Opera Mediaworks, said that Pandora works with some of the largest mobile ad networks in the business, but declined to identify them by name. Opera Mediaworks provides Pandora with platform technology that allows the music service to sell through exchanges and de Silva said Pandora is typically vigilant about policing networks.
“If they have a network that conducts offending behavior, they get put in the penalty box,” de Silva said of Pandora.
While highly efficient, ad networks exert downward pressure on CPMs and open publishers up to the risk of serving unwanted ads. Likewise, marketers using ad networks put themselves at risk of having their ads run adjacent to unsavory content.
Dirk Rients, svp of mobile at DDB, said brands, agencies and publishers are conducting more direct buying in order to avoid such mishaps. “You see some of the bigger publishers ramping up their sales teams and I think that’s why,” he said.
A Pandora spokesperson provided the following statement regarding the accidental ads:
“Last month for a brief period of time a minuscule portion of Pandora users received an erroneous notification requesting access to their calendar. This affected a minuscule portion of users. Upon our discovery of the issue, it was swiftly resolved. At no point was any calendar information transmitted to Pandora. At no point did Pandora intend to acquire calendar information. The privacy of our users is of utmost importance, and the only information that we access is first-party registration data including age, gender, zip code and listening behaviors. Users who consented to the message in question can see that they granted calendar access to Pandora in their privacy settings. If they’d like, users can easily change their permission setting.”
‘We’re netting out with higher revenue’: Publishers reaping the benefits of Snapchat’s strong second half
With CPMs up as much as 20% year over year in the fourth quarter, many Discover publishers are bullish on the upstart platform for next year.
How Cosmo is building brand affinity with younger audiences through its focus on commerce
Cosmopolitan's focus on e-commerce through a line of branded wines and its own shopping holiday has led to a 254% increase in product sales.
‘Go to market faster’: The Washington Post’s Arc goes outside the tent for payment and data integrations
Subscriber revenue has become more of a priority to the Washington Post's Arc clients since it launched its subscription tools last year.
SponsoredPublishers will lead the charge as cookie-less advertising becomes the norm
Steve Wing, managing director, EMEA, Magnite As the advertising industry moves closer to a cookieless world — one in which browserless environments including connected TV (CTV) and mobile in-app are an increasingly large part of ad budgets — publishers will have an increasingly important role in developing the future of identity. Segment creation and identity […]
‘Profitability in the back half of next year’: BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti (and Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan) on their big merger
A special Digiday podcast episode features Interviews with BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti and Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan.
‘People have had permission to experiment’: Pandemic expedites rethink on 9-to-5 work structures
Starting out as a short-term fix to weather the coronavirus storm, employers are seeing work hours outside the traditional 9-to-5 week as a new normal.