In honor of Pandora's 10th anniversary, the senior vice president of ad product and strategy shares the top 10 major changes in advertising that have occurred during the last decade.

lizzie-widhelm-headshotGuest column by Lizzie Widhelm, Pandora.

Shortly after its founding, I joined Pandora as the company's first salesperson.

I've witnessed many dramatic shifts in the past decade, both in our company's evolution and in the advertising industry.

I've compiled my own list of the 10 significant things that have changed in advertising throughout this period of time.

1. Mobile Mania

In 2007, Steve Jobs delivered his most iconic device: the iPhone. Like the Internet before it, the iPhone revolutionized the way consumers connected, consumed, and exchanged information.

Advertising changed along with it, as marketers became responsible for driving mobile revenue.


Audio ads proved a perfect fit for mobile because they allowed brands to reach people regardless of screen-size or location.

The mobile world continues to grow faster than anyone could have forecasted. Statistics show that mobile ad spending is expected to top $28 billion this year.

2. Data-Driven

In today's "show me you know me" culture, people share all kinds of information about themselves.

This shows that consumers have changed the way they think about brands having data on them.

They expect brands to make their lives better because advertisers are able to know more about them.

When consumers enable publisher access to their behavior, it's assumed that all following experiences with ads and content are specifically curated just for them. 

3. Quality Matters

Publishers and ad tech companies are becoming even more accountable for the inventory they sell, and have to invest in more transparency measures.

Marketers need to be open to paying more for real people and real attention, but this does pay off in the end.

The (Read more...) is, will everyone survive the great quest for quality?

4. Bite-Sized Content

As people consume content on the fly, the content is getting smaller and smaller. It also needs to be delivered incredibly quickly. 

The message to advertisers is clear: get the immediate attention of consumers, or they will be off to the next thing.

5. Multi-Layered Media: The Attention Economy Is Here

People used to consume one form of media at a time, but now they have many apps running at once

They're watching TV, while simultaneously on posting on Twitter, viewing their Instagram feed, and shopping on Amazon.


Consumer attention is at a premium, as this fragmentation makes it difficult for marketers to earn it. 

6. Internet of Things

No longer on only a computer, a television, or a phone, people are consuming content where they want and on whatever device they desire.

Now it's wearable, in your car, or even on your fridge. Wherever the content goes, the advertising must follow.

As this trend continues, I predict that audio ads will become more important than ever.

7. Keep It Simple

We first saw this with Google's bare-bones homepage, followed by the debut of Amazon's one-click ordering.

Marketers have heard the message loud and clear: simple services win. If consumers can't do it in three clicks or less, they're not sticking around.

8. Connected Kids with Real Money

Powerful, pocket-sized technology has transformed kids into young consumers faster than any generation before.

Nearly all teens - 92 percent - go online every day and one-fourth is online "constantly," according to the Pew Research Center.

They're not just interacting with friends; they're shopping, too. And frictionless mobile payment integrations will only give these kids more spending power in the future. 

9. Offline ROI in Fewer Than Three Clicks

Someone can see a Domino's ad, click three times, and eat a pizza without ever having to speak to anyone.

People expect to buy what they want, when they want it. Famed Internet analyst Mary

Meeker points out that buy buttons optimized for the mobile users have popped up on Twitter, Facebook, and Google, amongst other interesting trends


10. Consumers are the New Spokespeople

The rise of social media has caused advertisers to lean more on consumers as the faces of their brands.

The consumers bring authenticity as the people who actually use the products, and other consumers trust them. Your friend the "crafty mom," "lazy mom," "hip mom," or "working mom," plus their Instagram followers, is the new media buy.

It is difficult to predict exactly what the coming years will bring to the advertising industry.

One thing is certain: progress over the next decade will move even faster than it has during the last 10 years.

Devices plus connectivity will continue to accelerate and power the transformation of media and the practice of advertising to consumers.

To survive and prosper in this hyper-competitive, fast-moving world, brands must be agile, and able to adapt and react quickly.

They need to let go of tired business practices and old media math models. It's time to celebrate common sense by placing value on meaningful attention and quality brand experiences.   

Lizzie Widhelm is the senior vice president of ad product strategy at Pandora. 

Homepage image via Shutterstock

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