There is a long history between reaching digital music fans and brand advertising. Pepsi and the Apple iTunes Store famously teamed up to giveaway to 100 million free song downloads. At its height, MySpace would charge brand advertisers $100,000+ for sponsored brand pages to reach community members. Even SXSW’s history beginning as a music festival has evolved into a marketing carnival followed by a music fan after party.
Today the impact of music fans is felt in mobile advertiser budgets everywhere. Pandora alone has US mobile ad revenues larger than Twitter and until recently was only surpassed by Facebook in mobile ad revenue in 2012. Pandora also generates 3x more mobile advertising revenue than mobile ad network Millennial Media. The impact of mobile ad spend on radio advertising budgets, once also thought of as being “mobile”, has been enormous. Pandora is nearly number 1 in terms of listening in most local radio markets and conglomerate Clear Channel, with its iHeartRadio app, is racing to not leave its advertisers behind.
Why the impact on brand advertisers? Reaching the mobile consumer who won’t take their earbuds out are unlikely to listen to your message in other ways. Music is inherently engaging, audience driven, has social influence, and is a structured paid platform to build on. Music fans define their taste in music as a personal choice and know the value they place on what they exchange for listening. These are strong bonds brands want to be a part of. Even startups such Foursquare used music as the venue to gain users and early brand sponsorships.
Modern smartphones evolved out of the capabilities of yesterday’s portable music players. If your brand makes it as shout-out in a pop song, you have to imagine that the vast majority of your mentions take place on someone’s mobile phone. The culmination of which today can by seen in Jay-Z’s Magna Carta album with 1 million paid upfront digital downloads by Samsung. Even spammy ringtone marketing companies made millions initially, though their appeal today is largely inconsequential.
The influence of music fans on brand advertisers will continue to increase, but will compete heavily with mobile video viewers for interaction. Future advertiser marketing budgets will be hitched to mobile location campaigns as brands continue to ever dance closer with us, whether it be on Pandora or YouTube music videos.