Should You Advertise on Pandora or Spotify?

“Why aren’t we advertising on Spotify instead?”

I’ve gotten that question here at Balcom more than once, usually in a meeting about a digital media buy when I’m giving the ad specs to the creative team.

“Yeah, everyone I know is switching to Spotify,” someone else might chime in.

Spotify certainly has seen a ton of growth since it launched in 2006, but when it comes to advertising with online music services, the numbers still heavily favor Pandora.

The Difference

  • Pandora is like a radio station, great for discovering new music. You choose a genre or artist and it serves up related music.
  • Spotify is a streaming service; it allows users to build their own playlists and listen to exactly what they want.

Pandora Still Wins the Numbers

  • Pandora has twice the total users. 86 million monthly unique visitors vs. 43 million for Spotify.1
  • Pandora has three times the number of monthly mobile users. 73 million Pandora vs. 28 million Spotify.1
  • Pandora users listen longer. About four times longer, across multiple platforms.2 That includes mobile millennial users, who listen about 2.5 times longer on Pandora than on Spotify.1
  • Ads reach 96 percent of Pandora’s audience, vs. only 75 percent of Spotify’s. Spotify has a higher percentage of subscribed (ad-free) users, which is good for them, but not so good for advertisers.3​
“It’s a competitive market, and things could change fast.”

… Unless You’re Going International

Due to licensing constraints, Pandora is only available in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, whereas Spotify is available in 64 countries, and is the top audio-streaming service in eight of 10 European countries.

Keep an Eye Out

It’s a competitive market, and things could change fast. Last year, Spotify introduced a new feature, Discover Weekly, that helps users discover new music. Pandora may yet release a new feature that allows users to create playlists. It’s anybody’s game.

We always run the numbers. Whether you’re advertising on digital radio, traditional radio, online or on TV, Balcom puts in the research to get you the best reach for your budget. Contact us to learn more.



  1. comScore, Key Measures Multi-Platform, Aug. 2015
  2. Spotify presentation, Pandora internal metrics
  3. Public Metrics, June 2015

Tags: Web & Digital, Branding & Advertising

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