When I was younger, my parents liked to listen to the big soft rock stations in Los Angeles. Once in a while, the sappy love songs would be interrupted by an emotional dedication from a boy/girlfriend to their significant other. It was awkward, but also kind of beautiful. But mostly awkward.
Now it sounds like Pandora has made an impressive gesture toward keeping that tradition alive, while also demonstrating the power of its ad targeting.
So yeah, this happened: Someone, specifically someone named Kyle Taylor, used a Pandora ad to propose marriage to his girlfriend of almost six years. You can read the full account in his blog post, but the Pandora-relevant bit begins after Taylor has decided that this is a great idea, and has sent off a customer support request:
I started to work with the team at Pandora and they told me this has never been done before, so they would be more than happy to help… that’s when I knew this was going to be it. After working with the creative and technical teams to figure out the best medium, getting passed to their audio advertising team to get a script together and recorded by an awesome voice actress, and once it was finalized it went back to ad trafficking to test out my ad and see if it worked. Of course, it worked out perfectly. (Throughout this whole process, I had to lock down my email account and step out for “unexpected” phone calls a lot – luckily I’m a planning ninja.)
That’s the set-up. As for popping the question itself, Taylor decided to do it on the night of his graduation dinner from University of North Texas. It was carefully planned — he picked a restaurant whose driving distance would create the perfect timing for the ad. So he turned on Pandora (which was built in to his girlfriend’s Hyundai Veloster), and as he pulled onto a service road, the marriage proposal started to play.
Now, you might be thinking that while this is pretty damn impressive, it was incredibly awkward for anyone else listening. In fact, CTO Tom Conrad says that’s “very, very unlikely” that anyone else heard the ad, thanks to the targeting that’s powering Pandora’s efforts to steal local advertisers from terrestrial radio. In this case, the ad was targeted at “very old listeners” in a “sparsely populated zip code,” Conrad says. So Taylor entered some fake demographic information to put himself, and no one else, in the target. The result? He used Pandora’s advertising to deliver a genuinely personal message.
Oh, and by the way: She said yes.