Where do you put your advertising dollars between Pandora and Spotify?  Attempting to determine the differences between the two groups of listeners is not difficult.  There is a lot of information to be found, and a quick Google search has the capability to overwhelm you with graphs, statistics, charts and comparisons.  Nevertheless, the vital differences between the two giants of audio streaming are observed in the considerable amounts of demographic information that keep appearing in each study.

First to note, Spotify listeners are somewhat younger by comparison.  Whatever the reason may be: the Spotify user experience or the youthful branding, there is no denying it. According to eMarketer.com, “nearly two-thirds of US Spotify users were between the ages of 13 and 29, with 18-24 year olds accounting for the largest share”.  Pandora users skew somewhat older, with the greatest number of users falling somewhere in the 35-44 year old age bracket.

Arguments can be made for both targets when media buying.  Perhaps Spotify is a bit more in tune with those that are promoting higher education.  But to a financial planner or mortgage broker, Pandora is music to their ears.  The best part is, both can be segmented, optimized, programmatically placed and thoroughly tailored to your intended audience, which makes either streaming service an extremely savvy component in a well thought out digital media plan.

Pandora’s audience is not just a little older, wiser and more experienced.  Their platform mimics those traits, in that it is more evolved.  Since Pandora has concentrated on building their advertising offerings, they have gained a greater degree of sophistication in both their creative and targeting capabilities.  If you have a high-tech, high-impact creative put together, Pandora may be the better fit for your efforts. If you have a limited budget and highly-targeted demographic, Pandora plays well there too.  However, don’t get too comfy with those ideas.  Spotify has recently implemented programmatic inventories and they are guaranteed to catch up to Pandora quickly.  Digital marketing is always changing and adapting so there’s no resting on your laurels.

If you choose to add streaming to your media mix, make sure to keep one major metric in mind: “addressable audience”.  This is a group of consumers that listen to their own content free, with advertisements.  Non-addressable means that the audience is utilizing the paid version of the audio-streaming program and therefore are listening without advertisements, thus they cannot be reached by any campaign. Currently, Pandora has an advantage. Although Spotify recently boasted about 72 million active users in the U.S., the amount of ad-supported Spotify listeners is likely closer to 54 million addressable consumers. Pandora’s numbers are more like 86 million active U.S. consumers, and approximately 81 million of these are non-paid, ad-supported and addressable.  That’s a big difference.

When it comes to mobile and digital marketing (streaming included) its often more important to monitor trends instead of current statistics. If you abide by this rule of thumb you need to note that Spotify’s audience numbers have been steadily trending up in a much faster pace than Pandora’s.  The bottom line is, while both Spotify and Pandora both have their advantages and disadvantages, the greatest thing to keep in mind is that streaming radio is still an effective and efficient place to generate highly-targeted consumer engagement, launch a branding campaign, or expand upon your existing advertising plan.  Just make sure you keep up with all that data.