Pandora's Audience Marketing Director Nidia Serrano on Storytelling, D&I & Advice to Gen Z.

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Cover image for  article: Pandora's Audience Marketing Director Nidia Serrano on Storytelling, D&I & Advice to Gen Z.

Nidia Serrano (pictured at top) is the Audience Marketing Director at Pandora and a champion of diversity and inclusion. She shared her multicultural marketing expertise, her passion for storytelling, and how she educates the industry on consumer behavior. With a Binghamton University Bachelor's degree in sociology, the study of human interaction, Nidia says her introduction to media, marketing, and advertising was a "happy accident." "Sociologists are constantly studying social problems and conducting research to find solutions. Media plays a role in sociology as it influences human interaction as well as our collective consciousness." Over the course of her career, Nidia held a number of Multicultural roles across agencies within WPP and Publicis Groupe before joining Pandora.

Amanda Keaton:What have you found to be most consistent across the organizations you've worked with?

Nidia Serrano: They all had a strong focus on using data and insights to understand human behavior. I was a part of a strong collaborative team that would look at data from a human perspective. That's important because we are not machines or data points, we're people. You need a diverse team to help make sense of all the data so that ad campaigns could resonate with consumers at a human level.

Keaton: As an industry leader in audio and media, Pandora does a great job at trying to understand its diverse audience, like the Press Play study, which reveals insights on the impact of black culture. How does Pandora drive multicultural advertising solutions and how does your role play into that?

Serrano: Music is the strongest and most transparent element of culture. So we tend to look at listening behaviors on the platform to understand who our listener is, what motivates them, and what they want from ads. At Pandora, we offer advertisers a glimpse into the lives of consumers through the music they love. My role is to educate them on consumer to inform their approach to advertising. In my function, I use the power of storytelling to get advertisers to walk in the shoes of their consumers. This comes to life through presentations, white papers, podcasts, articles, videos, or whatever other method of engagement.

Keaton: You are a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion and supporting people of color inside and outside of work. Generation Z represents a growing group of these consumers. Can you give an example of how Pandora supports them?

Serrano: As humans, we have a connection to music that's imprinted in us since we're 14 years old, which is when we develop our taste in music. Knowing this, we use music to support our young audiences. A year ago we announced a partnership with SoundCloud which reaches a sizable teen audience. The platform is so young skewing that teens make up 42% of all SoundCloud listeners. So together, Pandora and SoundCloud reach 78% of all teens online. We connect with them not only through music, but also through experiences that help create a connection between artists, creators, and listeners.

Keaton: You are the founder of Corporate Curve LLC. Can you tell me more about that and the principles behind it?

Corporate Curve is a passion project from a few years ago. It first started as a space for fashion and lifestyle tips from the point of view of underrepresented women (curvy, women of color) and quickly morphed into a community of women looking to curve their career path. The stories we tell are created to help women look outside their nine to five to create the life they want. My ultimate goal is to help all women feel beautiful, smart, capable, and like they could achieve anything.

Keaton: How does Pandora help brands target and connect with younger consumers?

Serrano: It's easy to hone-in on young audiences because we ask them their age, gender, and zip code when they come to the platform. While we don't ask their ethnicity, we study their listening behaviors to create an algorithm that helps us pinpoint a level of affinity towards a particular ethnicity, which we then validate through surveys. This helps us create segments that advertisers can reach with relevant messages. Let's say for example that an advertiser wants to serve listeners a Spanish ad, our segments help ensure that the ads are actually going to reach a Spanish speaker or a Hispanic person versus serving that ad to everyone.

Keaton: You are a fellow photographer. Can you tell me more about that and your community work?

Serrano: I'm very passionate about photography, portrait photography to be exact. I'm passionate about storytelling of any kind and photography is an effective way to do that. With my I aim to provide some level of inclusivity and showcase people who are underrepresented. When you think about stock photography, for example, is hard to find images of people from certain ethnicities. In my case, I hardly see people who look like me.

Five years ago, I have started to make a link between what I enjoy doing, what I do at work, and my service to the community, and that's through storytelling. Whether it's a blog, podcast, photo or video, our stories need to be told so that the world could understand our struggle as well as what we're interested in.

Keaton: You're part of Pandora Mixtape, a resource group focused on championing employees of color. What advice do you have for Gen Z and millennials, specifically those of color who struggle to find allies and affinity groups in their organizations?

Serrano: Pandora Mixtape is great because it brings together work and personal interests in a very unique way. With Mixtape, we educate our colleagues about different cultural groups and uplift ourselves and the community so that we can achieve diversity at all levels. Those who are unable to find an affinity group at their organization should aim to start one. It doesn't take a lot to build one and if you encounter any obstacles, you can join forces with other Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) from other organizations. ERGs are a great way to network too. You never know who at any point is going to lend a helping hand and help you in your career.

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