Pandora looks past the tracking cookie by mining user data

“Pandora wants advertisers to know: No cookies, no problem,” Tim Peterson reports for Advertising Age. “Even if privacy concerns and a shift to mobile devices neuter the web’s ‘cookie’ tracking software, companies like Pandora can still target consumers with the data they get every day when users sign in.”

“Now Pandora is pitching ad buyers on two audience segments it’s assembled exactly that way, one for Hispanic listeners and another for Spanish speakers in particular,” Peterson reports. “The Internet radio company — which counts more than 200 million registered users and 70.9 million monthly active listeners — stocks up on first-party data by collecting an individual’s age, gender and zip code information when someone signs up for the service. Recently Pandora began digging into that registered user data to mine specific audience segments that are similar to the cookie-based ones to which online display advertisers have grown accustomed to.”

“Late last month Pandora finalized the first two of these proprietary audience segments — one for Hispanic listeners and a sub-segment of Spanish-speaking listeners — and has been pitching these audience targets to agencies over the last few weeks,” Peterson reports. “To create the first two sub-categories, the company cross-referenced its registered user data with U.S. census data (i.e. publicly available first-party government data) to identify zip codes with high populations of Hispanic and Spanish-speaking people and ran tests overlaying the two data sets to infer which listeners fit into those buckets… Pandora aims to add two new segments every four to six weeks, depending on how quickly it can access and assess the data needed to model those listener groups, Mr. Krawczyk said. The next batch will surface listeners with high-household incomes through the combination of census data and registered user information.”

Read more in the full article here.

20 Comments

    1. Like I always say to people who use Google products – you are not the customer; you are the product that Google is selling to its real customers – its advertisers.

        1. Well, in the USA the push from the Corporate Oligarchy and their puppet pals is to force full blown ads into Public TV and Radio. There are already a lot of full ads on Public TV and the Public TV website. Gradually, this disease is infiltrating into Public Radio as well.

          I can point to the nasty Neo-Conservative for the gradual denigration of Public Media. They either want it destroyed OR turned into just another commercial TV outlet. And no, I won’t be bothering to respond to propaganda to the contrary. What I’ve stated above is extremely well known and well documented.

      1. Mr. Peabody: I appreciate that you have a handle on the past, due to your Way Back Machine. But you’ve got some learning to do to comprehend the modern world of the 21st century.

        It is no longer good enough to just foist generic whatever ads at ‘the product’ known as ‘the customer’. What’s required here in modern times is to know exactly what the customer wants and then foist TARGETED ADS at ‘the product’, ‘the customer’. That means:

        A) Surveillance of the customer
        B) Invasion of the privacy of the customer
        C) Nefarious technological methods for accomplishing both.

        Example: The ‘Ever Cookie’. You’ll find my post about it further down the thread.

        So please Mr. Peabody, catch up with the modern world. Oh, and say ‘hi’ to Sherman.

  1. I have no problem with this. First, the ad-free version of Pandora is so ridiculously cheap, I have no problem paying for it. However, if someone really wants it free, then the ad targeting isn’t particularly intensive… much less so than here at MacDailyNews. I’m not knocking MDN either, we have a choice for accepting content on the terms of targeted ads. I’m just pointing out that the targeting here is far more intensive.

    I mean really, ads targeting Hispanics if their zip code is in a Hispanic neighborhood and they’re listening to Spanish music channels? I’m a blown away that the targeting isn’t far more detailed than that and hasn’t been for years now.

  2. It is important to understand that companies that offer free services have to get revenue somehow.
    If you don’t like it then stop using the service.
    I, for one, have stopped using Google services, including search. I won’t buy any Samsung products.

  3. Security on the Internet has become a convoluted strategy. One of the worst, most nefarious concepts, one applicable to Pandora and other such services, is the:

    evercookie

    http://samy.pl/evercookie/

    ever cookie is a javascript API available that produces extremely persistent cookies in a browser. Its goal is to identify a client even after they’ve removed standard cookies, Flash cookies (Local Shared Objects or LSOs), and others.

    evercookie accomplishes this by storing the cookie data in several types of storage mechanisms that are available on the local browser. Additionally, if ever cookie has found the user has removed any of the types of cookies in question, it recreates them using each mechanism available.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evercookie

    Evercookie is a JavaScript-based application created by Samy Kamkar which produces zombie cookies in a web browser that are intentionally difficult to delete. In 2013, a top-secret NSA document was leaked citing Evercookie as a method of tracking Tor users.

    1. Spelling Police: The word is ‘evercookie’, no matter what my spell checking program believes. Sorry it keeps being replaced as ‘ever cookie’. I’m forcing the correct spelling down my spell checker’s throat right now…

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