Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: iTunes Radio isn’t a Pandora-killer yet. The latter company announced its December 2013 audience metrics yesterday, revealing that in the final month of the year it attracted 76.2m active listeners, up from 72.4m in November, and 70.9m the month before that.
Pandora recorded 1.58bn listening hours in December, up from 1.49bn in November, claiming an 8.6% share of total US radio listening in December. Cue a 14% rise in Pandora’s share price at the end of a year in which every pre-launch iTunes Radio rumour seemed to make the stock wobble.
The stats were released alongside Pandora’s big announcement at the CES technology trade show in Las Vegas: in-car advertising. The company says that more than 4m people have now registered for its service through a “native integration” with one of its 23 automotive partners, and it’s launching a new advertising initiative to capitalise on this growing in-car audience. Brands can book 15 or 30-second ads to be streamed to Pandora’s driving listeners, while also promising free users that if they listen in their car, they’ll hear less ads than on other devices.
As ever, the target is traditional radio. “With an 8.6% share of total U.S. radio listening and unmatched growth and adoption of Pandora in the car, we are now seizing the opportunity to connect advertisers with a more targeted audience than traditional radio can provide,” as chief marketing officer Simon Fleming-Wood put it.
But there will be strong competition on two fronts – music and in-car advertising – as Apple and Google battle to get iOS and Android partnerships with carmakers, and on-demand music services like Spotify and Deezer bring their ad-supported mobile offerings into cars too.