Pandora’s head of ad innovation can’t wait to be in your shower
Lizzie Widhelm is a super veteran of CES. This is her 12th trip to Las Vegas for the electronics boondoggle, all with Pandora, though this year marks her first consumer electronics show since Pandora was officially acquired by SiriusXM last February.
Here, the svp of ad innovation explains what she’s looking for on the floor for the music streamer—and she reveals what technology might prove to be the most potentially “life changing” for her personally.
What do you come to CES for?
I love coming for me because I love seeing what’s happening with consumer electronics, with things I might like.
Favorite CES memory?
There’s no time like the first time. Many, many years ago, I was in my late 20s and Pandora was here for the first time. We were only a website; we weren’t even on mobile. We were here with Yoko Ono and Will.i.am [who] were introducing people to Pandora and to talk about songwriting and to talk about the future of music and streaming. I can’t believe that was 12 years ago and here we are today. It was fresh and new and fun. Now it’s … tiring.
Name an over-hyped piece of tech.
I’m not so sure about the foldable screens and the foldable glass. Everyone is talking about it as a phone innovation. I think about solar and what could you do with foldable solar and what could you do to help humankind with foldable glass. I don’t necessarily know that that’s going to be in my pocket. I think that might be over-hyped.
What I spend a lot of time thinking about in my life is sleep and how to get more of it. There’s a lot of wellness technology here. When I think about understanding my sleep behavior and everything I’ve seen thus far—I have the weighted blanket and it’s kind of working for me—I think buying a couple of the devices I’ve seen just in the last day might change my life.
What does Pandora hope to get out of CES?
Ubiquitous connectivity has been a huge opportunity for us to grow as a streaming service. When I think about all of the devices that will be screenless and will have so much power with 5G, that’s a big opportunity for us to bring not only the best of mobile but also the best of what it means to connect to Pandora in moments you maybe can’t [currently] connect. There’s a connected shower head that’s here at the show and you think about Pandora or Sirius streaming through that, and then the opportunity for advertisers, if they want to be in that moment in the shower. That’s new.
Where do you hope tech goes in the more distant future?
My hope is that the opportunity for brands to understand me and have all of this data and connect to me through all of these devices with this really powerful signal that I’m giving them allows them to almost be a friend to me. That this thrash we’re having around privacy and consumers [who] don’t want you to know them and “I don’t want to give up my data”—I hope that’s not the case. I hope it’s: “I want you to have what you need to make this thing work best for me and for me to get the best content experience, the best user experience, the best output.”