This morning while listening to my Feist radio station on Pandora something unusual caught my eye. Like everyone else, I’m fairly ad-blind and tend to ignore everything on the right edge of the screen but for some reason this ad caught my attention. It could have been the sultry looking brunette, but I like to think I’m a bit more evolved then that.
For months Pandora has been changing the look and feel of the station page that surrounds its player to match the look of the ads it runs. Some advertisers have even been sophisticated enough to embed controls directly in their ads that allow users to pick the theme of the page. However outside of a fleeting cool factor, the value seems limited. No one I know that uses Pandora spends time on the site looking at anything, especially not the ads.
However the ad that caught my eye, didnt change the theme of the station page it did something completely different. It presented a list of alternate stations tied to the advertisers product (this ones an OK new show on NBC). The show, a modern day version of Mrs. Columbo, is about a reporter that jumps back and fourth in time solving mysteries. On Pandora however the ads for the show included, stations like “Hits from 1987 – 1992″ (the time period the main character jumps to) and “Hits Time Travel”. The stations attempted to tie your activity on Pandora with the show while providing you another way to explore music. Brilliant! Advertising as a service! Imagine the coordination and conversations between Pandora and the Ad agency that this required.
The sheer brilliance of this form of advertising, call it advertising as service, struck me. Sure folks have been talking about advertising 2.0 for years but this particular execution really brings it home. Connecting your users activity with advertisers message in a seamless, and more importantly, useful manner is the future of advertising.