Pandora Debuts New Logo and Push for Ad-Free Subscriptions

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Credit: Pandora

Pandora has a new logo and a new digital campaign push to go along with it, as the company looks to convert millions of its free listeners into paying subscribers to its ad-free service.

The music streaming giant seems like it's been around as long as the internet, but it has changed its logo only once in its 16-year history.

Pandora introduced a new logo, featuring a lighter blue and lower-case letters. The previous logo, above, was introduced in 2013.
Pandora introduced a new logo, featuring a lighter blue and lower-case letters. The previous logo, above, was introduced in 2013. Credit: Courtesy Pandora

"The last time we changed our logo and brand identity was a couple of years ago, but it was a very subtle change and I think you'll see this is not a subtle change," said Lisa Sullivan-Cross, VP of growth marketing at Pandora. "It really reflects the change of the product and declares to everyone that there is something new and different and exciting happening at Pandora."

Pandora's in-house creative team handled the design. The new logo lowercases all letters in the company name, reversing the previous all-caps rendition.

And the company's new app icon departs from the standard-text "P" on a grey background with a solid letter "P" and a white background. The company said it plans to use the asset in creative ways, such as changing the color to the beat of music — as showcased in its latest promotional video.

"It isn't just blue anymore," Ms. Cross said. "We are using it in really interesting ways. We are creating these living and breathing music experiences. Our new logo does that in a way our old one didn't. It is a window into that musical experience."

Pandora's new app symbol, on the right, replaces a version in use since 2013.
Pandora's new app symbol, on the right, replaces a version in use since 2013. Credit: Courtesy Pandora

The new logo is part of a broader plan to increase the number of paid subscribers for the Pandora Plus offering to 11 million by 2020, an 182% increase from its current paid subscribers. The latest figures from Pandora indicate that it has 3.9 million paid subscribers and 78 million monthly active listeners.

Pandora Plus is an ad-free experience allowing users to replay music, skip as many songs as they'd like and stream even when they're offline for a monthly fee of $4.99. Pandora Plus, which was introduced last month, is an improved and rebranded version of Pandora One, which debuted about eight years ago.

Although Pandora says it will also look to attract new, non-paid users, the effort is table stakes when compared to the increase it's seeking in paid listeners; the company wants to increase its overall user base to 110 million by 2020, a 41% increase from today.

Starting next Monday, Pandora will run a highly targeted marketing campaign to help it achieve its goals. The company's approach will rely on using its in-house data science team plus data management platform Krux and programmatic partner DataXu.

That combination will allow Pandora to show a sequence of ads for its ad-supported and Pandora Plus offerings as it finds consumers across paid channels as well as its own email messages, mobile push notifications and in-product messaging, Ms. Cross said.

"We work with our data science team to build a likelihood to subscribe model," she said. "It's a gradient boosted tree, which is a machine learning technique, which produces predictions in the form of decision trees. It predicts how likely a given listeners is to convert to a subscription product and takes into account hundreds of data points and listening patterns of product usage."

A listener who skips a lot, for example, might be interested in paying for Pandora Plus while someone who seldom skips and only listens to one station might not. Meanwhile, the company wants to lure back former users with new offerings such as the ability to skip more songs by watching a video from an advertiser.

"Our approach is not to convert people to subscription at all cost, it is to optimize against our whole portfolio of products and price products including free based on each listener's preference," Ms. Cross said.

Pandora is eighth in terms of unique visitors for mobile apps, making it one of only two in the top 10 that aren't owned by Google or Facebook, according to ComScore. For contrast, Spotify is the 21st most popular app and sees about 33 million unique visitors each month.

The company saw revenue of $343 million during the second quarter this year, an increase of 20% year-over-year. It reported a GAAP net loss of $76.3 million, compared with a net loss of $16.1 million in the equivalent quarter the year prior, and an adjusted EBITDA loss of $25.1 million, compared to a profit of $16.3 million.

User engagement, meanwhile, reached an all-time high of 24 hours per active user per month. Pandora is set to announce its third quarter earnings later this month.

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