Meaningful connections through the passion of Music

We always like to start things off with who are you, what do you do, and why do you do it?
Hi! I’m Heidi Browning and I am the Senior Vice President of Strategic Solutions at Pandora. I lead the B2B marketing team, responsible for supporting our advertising business as a key driver of revenue for the company. Our goal is to educate brands and agencies on the value of Pandora’s passionate and engaged audience to deliver results for marketers.

Every Pandora campaign or custom program is fueled by a singular mission: to create meaningful connections between artists, brands and fans through the passion point of music. I love that my teams helps make this happen! We have a team of strategists who bring brands custom ideas that solve a business challenge through immersive and measurable music experiences.

Why do I do this?
My happy place is the intersection of media, tech, music and culture. Pandora has it all!

What are the most exciting projects that you have worked on recently? What were the outcomes and what are the learnings that would be interesting for our audience?
Right now I am most excited about a new, proprietary research project on Pandora’s Generation Z listeners. I can honestly say I was blown away by what we learned! This generation engages with music, technology and brands in a unique way. The study looks at Gen Z’s listening habits and behaviors, mobile usage, social media, concert attendance, attitudes towards brand sponsorship and engagement, and so much more. We can’t wait to share these insights with our brand and agency partners!

Any marketer will be curious about what’s in this study—so, you can expect to see more information on youth culture and how music influences their daily lives coming out on our blog and social media. Also, (sneak peek), I’ll be revealing some of the most compelling insights during my keynote at the 2016 YMS NYC event.

What has most surprised you about the youth marketing landscape over the last year? Maybe it is a great campaign, maybe it is an uptake in certainly technology? A new cultural trend?
It seems like just when we got the swing of talking about the mobile, multitasking millennial, Gen Z comes along and takes multitasking and multisensory experiences to a whole new level. Literally wired since the womb, Gen Z’s have an intrinsic “tech mindset.” They are the first digital-native, smartphone-native generation—and for that reason are rewriting the rules of engagement around communication, entertainment and commerce.

While it may not be surprising, it’s worth pointing out that teen behavior is changing media consumption. They are inclined to consume lots of digital content quickly, and then move on equally as fast.

I like to say teens filter content at the speed of light, but music can make them slow to the speed of sound.  3 out of 4 teens say music is their top choice of entertainment1. Despite the come and go of new social nets, messaging apps and augmented reality games, music remains an essential and lasting medium teens will hold on to…dearly. Although every generation has embraced music in their own way, we can expect teens to do so in a way entirely their own—one inspired by digital and more ever-present than ever. 1 Source: Nielsen Music 360 2014 U.S. Study

What do you see as the future of the youth marketing landscape over the next 12 months?
The secret of marketing to youth generations is—and always has been—deciphering how and where they spend time. So, where is it? On mobile, with their earbuds in.

Our research shows that two-thirds of Pandora teens are plugged into earbuds an average of 3.5 hours a day. This makes sense because earbuds are the natural companion of the mobile phone. Now that mobile has 98% penetration, it is no longer a teen’s favorite accessory—it’s more like an appendage!

I firmly believe that reaching Gen Z’s through audio will be an important way to engage them where they spend time. Marketers that prioritize developing a “sonic” identity, just as they would a visual identity, will win in the next 12 months and beyond. Doing so is important for both capturing attention and mastering marketing to today’s youth.

What does the next year look like for you? Any exciting new projects we can look out for?
Pandora has a very exciting year ahead. In 2015 we made three major acquisitions to help us create a scaled music marketplace where digital radio, on-demand and live music come together under one roof. Now, it’s full steam ahead.

Our listeners, music makers and brand advertisers will be able to take advantage of new platform features, content experiences and distribution channels. Some of these new innovations and experiences have already started rolling out, but you can expect more in the future.

I’m very excited to see our vision come to life, turning the beloved Pandora radio into a next generation music marketplace totally new to the industry.

Heidi will be speaking at Youth Marketing Strategy NYC, 21-22 September 2016. Catch more of her insights in the session, “Next Big Disrupter: Gen Z” where she speaks about how music influences and inspires Gen Z’s today, and how to win their attention.