It was only a matter of time, I suppose. Pandora has announced that it will be including Promoted Stations. They are described as “native ad units designed to help advertisers drive Pandora listeners into custom content”.
This is the first time that Pandora has natively integrated ad product within a listener’s station list. Those who are currently using Pandora can expect to see some of the Promoted Stations appear in their “Stations You Might Like” list.
Right now, the Promoted Stations are in a “beta launch”. They include playlists from: Kleenex Brand, SKETCHERS USA Inc., StubHub, Taco Bell, and Toyota Motor Sales. More companies may be added as the year goes on.
Obviously, the companies involved are hoping that people will check out their playlist. They hope this will cause people to look favorably upon their products, and that this will lead them to make more purchases. I am skeptical that this is how things will actually work.
For example, as an allergic person, I might decide to take a look at the Kleenex playlist. I buy plenty of Kleenex and like their product. I won’t be buying any more of it just because they have a Promoted Station on Pandora, though. My purchases will be about the same as they were before.
On the other hand, I’m not a fan of Taco Bell (in part because my many food allergies mean that I cannot safely eat their food). I’m not the slightest bit motivated to check out their playlist. If I stumbled upon it, I can guarantee that it will not influence me to start eating at Taco Bell.
It seems to me that the majority of people who use Pandora are seeking out music from bands that they already like and are familiar with. They might decide to give a listen to a suggested band that sounds very similar to one they like. I highly doubt that anyone goes to Pandora to seek out a playlist of random bands selected by a corporation that is trying to sell the listener a product that does not even remotely relate to music.