Using Spotify Ads to create context-friendly marketing moments

Whether or not you believe Spotify’s claims that their free streaming service reaches more listeners than commercial radio, it’s undeniable that the potential audience for Spotify Ads is huge, and includes consumers who never listen to radio over the air. And with the ability to target users based on their interests, mood, and even in the middle of specific activities, Spotify Ads allow brands to get their messages to listeners at moments when they’re ready to act.

Spotify’s ad audience set to overtake commercial radio

Last year, Spotify made the claim that it’s ad-supported service attracts more unique listeners than UK commercial radio. That was disputed by Radiocentre, the industry body for commercial radio, which contends that live radio accounts for 70% of all time UK audience listening time.

Regardless of who’s right, the Spotify study made clear that there’s very little overlap between its audience and the audiences of commercial radio, suggesting that Spotify Ads are the only way to reach the streaming service’s 9.1m active UK users while they listen to music.

What kind of audience are we talking about? Spotify says that while the users of its free service have a similar gender breakdown to commercial radio listeners, the demographic skews towards millenials. We’re also talking about an audience that is connected to the internet at the time of listening (since you can’t use Spotify Free offline) – a crucial difference to live radio listeners, who may not be within range of an internet-connected device.

How do Spotify Ads work?

Spotify Free users hear audio ads periodically as they listen. The ads, up to 30 seconds long, play between tracks, about once every 15 minutes, and can’t be skipped. While the ad is playing there’s also the option to deliver an image and scrolling text to the user in the area where you normally find the cover art for the track that’s playing.

Spotify Ads Example

With ads on a live commercial radio station, advertisers would only be able to obtain estimates for the number of listeners reached, their demographic breakdown, and location. With Spotify ads, you can track on a dashboard exactly how many listens your ads get, as well as the number of unique listeners reached and the number of clicks received by any call to action in the display part of the ad. This allows you to immediately assess the reach and impact of your ads and fine tune the creative for successive iterations. And that’s not the only advantage: you can also restrict the audience for your campaigns to specific demographics, locations, devices and, here’s where it gets really exciting – the themes of the playlists they’re listening to.

Spotify Free offers users a huge number of curated playlists organised according to genre and mood. The similarity between Spotify listeners and commercial radio listeners is that both want to listen to music passively, i.e. they don’t want to have to choose what tunes are going to play next. The difference is that while commercial radio listeners could be doing anything when they hear your ad, a Spotify user playing a ‘Workout’ playlist is likely to be doing only one thing. The same goes for users who have chosen a ‘Gaming’ or ‘Sleep’ playlist.

This allows savvy advertisers to craft creative audio ads that speak directly to their targeted audience at moments when they’re more likely to be receptive.

In-workout ads attract sponsored sports challenge participants for charities

Every year, charities are challenged with signing up participants for health and fitness fundraising events. With 35% of people having sponsored someone in 2017, (whilst most participants will take part because of their affinity to the cause), it’s equally important to reach new supporters. Manifesto saw an opportunity to attract sign ups to these events using a digital acquisition campaign.

We realised that a large part of these audiences would be people already interested in health and fitness. In other words, people who worked out. While we would be able to reach these people via other paid channels, the opportunity to reach such an audience while they were actually working out was too good a chance to pass up. (When better to inspire people to take on a charity fundraising challenge than when the endorphins are flowing freely?)

We crafted 30-second Spotify audio ads to speak to our audience in the workout moment, adopting the voice of a personal trainer to congratulate them on their efforts thus far and introduce the challenge of the sponsored event.

Running the ads over the month leading up to the start of the challenge, we gained access to nearly 25,000 potential participants, with members of that audience hearing the spots 2.2 times, on average. And, of course, all those listeners met the demographic, location and device criteria that we’d specified. Because we anticipated that our audience would be rather busy working out, our main call to action was a search term, but tracked links in a second CTA in the accompanying display units allowed us to assess just how likely this audience was to go on and sign up for the challenge.

It’s the kind of targeting and visibility that you’d never achieve through ads on commercial radio.

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