One of the best things about my job at Pandora is working closely with my incredible colleagues who happen to make great music. Adam Zabarsky on our Music Maker product team and Chris Dunn leading our advertising engineering team produced a great body of work in StoneDog. I’ve been listening to it at home and in the Pandora office. The album has variety yet definitely has a distinct sound and feel.

I work every day with Adam on our Music Maker products including AMP and AMPcast, and Chris and I sit 10 feet from each other in the office. The personal relationship I have to them both is a significant part of the connection I have with their music. It opens me up in different ways than if I didn’t know them personally. This added dimension to the relationship I have with their music deepens my connection to it. A deeper connection to good music can only mean a happier Shamal. So this is definitely something worth shouting about. Listen to StoneDog now and enjoy. Sailaway is my current favorite and reminds me of a Phish song. I love the bluesy, soulful Illiterate and play it all the time for the awesome lyrics (‘I must be illiterate, cause I can’t read you girl/My hearts an open book, baby take a look’). Au Revoir feels like a good song to sing along to at a Jimmy Buffet concert, and Lipgloss is for all the Cars fans. Enjoy.

Every now and then, occasionally but increasingly frequently, I’m blown away by the efficacy of today’s targeted advertising. It may be purely coincidental ad placement, but sometimes the accuracy of an online ad is precisely right. When it hits the spot, advertising can actually be a good thing for everyone involved: a prospective buyer getting more relevant information on goods they actually want to purchase, an advertiser who ultimately transacts with a new customer, and the platform on which the connection was made. As wonderful as it can be, it feels a creepy when the targeted ad is so exactly right. How did they know? What information are they using to surface that particular ad at the most opportune moment? Was my information gathered without my permission or knowledge and traded to other parties in order for the ad to be delivered? I don’t know, and this lack of understanding makes me wonder and causes a bit of concern as to what other profile and behavioral information are being mined and traded about me.

These eerily accurate and spooky ads do haunt me at times when they hit the nail on the head. With so much at stake in the arms race of advertising, it seems that these types of spooky ads are happening so much that I’m going to start tracking and documenting them as #spookyadvertising.

Here’s the first example with context. On Saturday July 2nd 2016, I went into a Banana Republic in Union Square San Francisco and looked at their men’s shirts. I was looking for shirts that I could wear untucked at work, because in general I hate tucking in my shirt. I looked around the store and even asked someone who worked at Banana Republic about shirts that I could wear without tucking them in. After browsing a bit, I left without buying anything. Later that day, I got this ad on my twitter. This ad was for an online apparel company called Untuckit that sold shirts that are to be worn untucked. It was essentially a perfect ad. I browsed the site a couple times over the next two days and made a purchase.

 

Ads

 

How did they know I was looking to buy untucked shirts? It could be pure coincidence, or perhaps there was insight derived by my visit to a physical store at Banana Republic. I find it hard to believe that this ad was targeted based on the conversation I had in the store with a Banana Republic sales clerk. I’m still wondering exactly how they knew to surface that particular ad to me since it worked well in many different ways. Perhaps it’s a damn good guess as to what I would want to see in ad, and considering over 99.999% of ads surfaced to me don’t work, perhaps finally the odds were in this ads favor. #spookyadvertising.

Like untucked shirts yourself and feel like buying through Untuckit? Sign up through this link to get 25% off.

 

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By Dr. Motte

The world is mourning right now. The UK in aggregate voted to leave the EU. It will have massive implications. I have a stake in this decision, because my two children are British as is my wife. Many others closer to the center of Brexit are more impacted, and I feel for them.

The UK leaving the EU will mean travel limitations and barriers to employment, which are beyond significant inconveniences. Worse are the financial consequences for the additional overhead and constraints in trading. The worst part is that culturally, our new norm is a new low. We’re living in tacit acknowledgement that the majority of our fellow humans would rather segregate than unify. Many tie the decision to leave the EU with low intelligence or unwarranted fear. Others claim more severe xenophobia. In any case, we are taking two steps back, and it will take decades to repair and right the course. This is what we are grieving over. What could have been if we all came together not just in the EU but all over the world? There is a possibility that this referendum amounts to nothing and the UK remains in the EU, but the damage has been done as we start drawing lines on the basis of where people come from.

Needless to say, I’m feeling pretty bummed, and so is my family. We’re not the only ones. Brexit is such a huge global bummer that it set the world record for the number of times the word ‘bummer’ was used to describe how people felt after the results posted.

Bummer trend

From a Google analysis of the word bummer.

My only hope is that people will continue to stand up for what is right. More and more people around the world are taking a stand and many are taking stands different to each other. It all gives me faith, because it means people care and are not happy with the status quo. Our humanity gives us meaning and vulnerabilities. Only by working together can we enrich ourselves fully since we’re all connected. I am committed to the forces of tolerance, unity, and peace. We will eventually overcome the isolating rhetoric, fear-mongering, and misguided nationalism that prevents us all from progressing to a better place.

David Starfire sent me his latest album, and I’m digging it on a rainy Sunday afternoon. It’s been raining in the Bay area for more than a week, and everything is dismal. My family of four with a three-week old newborn is sick. It sucks when all of us are ill. It’s like the walking dead and grumpy. Thank god I have some good music to bring me back to life and shine happiness on us all. David’s sound has exotic themes and sounds with a cutting edge break keep me jazzed and piqued. It cleared up my sinuses too. Check it out below.

AMPcast logo

It’s a good day for artists on Pandora. Today, my Music Maker team at Pandora released an exciting new product called AMPcast where artists can record a message on their mobile phone and send it through their Pandora app directly to their fans. AMPcast is part of the Artist Marketing Platform (AMP) that our awesome team manages at Pandora.

AMPcast lets artists craft more spontaneous, timely, and fun messages. They can attach an image from their phone to their audio message and place it before or after a specific song if they choose. One of the coolest things about this feature is the personal context that artists are giving to their music. Hearing the story and meaning of their songs in their own voice makes me appreciate their music more.

Artists can also use AMPcast to easily promote whatever is important to them. Each message can have a CTA link to click through to a tour announcement, a specific show, a new release, a boxed set, a friend’s creative project, a personal/social/political cause, or just about anything they care about. Since these messages are authentic and coming directly from the artists, it doesn’t feel like an interruption or an ad, but rather an enhancement to the way I’m connecting to the artists’ music. The fan engagement of AMPcast artist messages are also off the charts – orders of magnitude on a completely different level than an ad with click-throughs as high as 18% for new music releases and close to 10% on tours and show announcements. See the press-release for more details. As artists capture their fans genuine interest with these messages, they will be able to materially impact their bottom line with this level of fan interest.

AMPcast is groundbreaking and unique to Pandora. It’s particularly exciting given the massive number of artist-to-fan connections in Pandora. There have been over 65 Billion Thumbs on songs from Pandora listeners to date, and each one is a preference statement that lets us target the right artist message to the most interested fan. More than 100M active listeners tune into their favorite stations on Pandora every quarter and most of them are in the US. What better time to speak to a fan than when they’re listening to your music? It’s all about intent and context. Given the magnitude of Pandora’s audience, it’s no exaggeration to say that we’re building the most powerful Artist Marketing Platform on the planet, and there’s much more to come.

Check out the video here for AMPcast below, and if you’re interested in trying it out when the Beta is more widely available, sign up here.


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