Meet the new music taste-makers of the Internet: Kleenex, Taco Bell and Sketchers.
In its latest attempt to increase its advertising revenue, the streaming radio company Pandora Media Inc. is testing so-called Promoted Stations, which are designed to drive listeners to targeted commercials from major advertisers.
The sponsored stations are not rolling out for all users yet.
About 10% of Pandora's 76 million monthly users will see these new customized stations pop up under their "Stations You Might Like" tab, marking the first time Pandora has placed ad products within listeners' station lists.
This will encourage listeners "to consider a brand's content alongside existing and other recommended stations," the company said Wednesday.
The brands, which also include event ticket-seller StubHub and car maker Toyota, can customize their Promoted Stations with music from particular artists or a mix of songs powered by Pandora's music recommendation technology to best entice their target audiences.
The "StubHub's Next Stage" promoted station features exclusive content, such as interviews, and songs from the Canadian indie rock group Tokyo Police Club. Kleenex is betting on country music, by highlighting songs by artists such as Jason Aldean and Kelly Pickler. Taco Bell has a station aptly named "Feed the Beat."
Ten brands are now participating in the Promoted Stations test, and the roster is expected to grow throughout the year, the company said.
Pandora makes the bulk of its revenue from advertising. For the first quarter of 2014, about 78% of its $180 million in total revenue came from ads.