Pandora Fatigue and Radio Rising


It seems like the more someone uses the top audio streaming service Pandora, the less they are satisfied with it.  That’s the conclusion of a new study of more than 4,000 Pandora users by Bridge Ratings.

Over time, Pandora user satisfaction deteriorates. As you might guess, new users of the service have a high degree of satisfaction, mainly coming from song selection, artist and title discovery, the reduced number of commercials and customizing music genres to their own taste.

However, as users work with the service, satisfaction begins to waver. Both time spent listening and the number of streaming sessions per day begin to dip until long term users (more than two years) reduce their daily sessions to less than 20% of their initial use and spend 2/3 less time listening during those sessions.

Listeners give a variety of reasons for this reduction in satisfaction, including increased commercial interruption for free-version users, disintegrating ability to select songs, and song repetition. Apparently, heavy usage exposes negatives which result in shorter time spent with the service and fewer daily sessions.

Additionally, data from the study suggests that over time Pandora users have a reduced awareness of the advertising presented to them. And while a paid subscription model eliminating commercials is an option for Pandora users, less than 20% of the total user base chooses this option.

Conversely, awareness of advertising and brands on broadcast radio is high and remains high over time. It’s likely that user expectations play a part in these results. Users of broadcast radio have always been exposed to advertising, so retention of advertising messages and brands in this type of environment is aided by the expectation.

Fatigue by long-term consumption is a well-known challenge for numerous consumer-based marketers. Many products and services suffer from over exposure and Pandora is experiencing this as well.


While perhaps not a ‘rebirth’ – good ol’-fashioned radio is undergoing something of a resurgence as advertisers large and small and ad agencies and marketers are again seeing the branding ability and consumer connection that can be built with the largest reach medium in the country.

According to a recent Nielsen report, 93 percent of U.S. adults listen to AM/FM radio weekly compared to 87 percent who watch television and the 70 percent who use smartphones in a given week. One reason radio remains more popular than streaming is our local personalities. Forever Media radio station talk show hosts and deejays have built authentic local followings. Their playlists and conversation give you context, information and a connection to your community. With streaming, an algorithm, yes a sophisticated one, decides what plays next.  As one FMDer put it so well, “Pandora can be personalized, but it’s not personal.”

Need more proof? Horizon Media, one of the largest advertising agencies in the country, is launching an in-house unit to create campaigns exclusively for audio advertising. Companies like Horizon don’t do such things on a whim, they understand the power of radio and its ability to move the needle for their clients.

Want to learn more? You can check out a previous article about Pandora here. And then contact us to discuss your marketing goals and how we can help you achieve them.