Spotify’s Playlist Targeting Takes Behavioral Marketing to the Next Level

After successfully launching Video Takeovers and Sponsored Sessions earlier this year, Spotify is focusing on audience segmentation by offering Playlist Targeting for brands.

Playlist Targeting will use first-party data to help brands track listeners’ journeys across devices and allow for targeting based on activity and mood and music tastes. According to Brian Benedik, vice president of North America Advertising and Partnerships for Spotify, says that Playlist Targeting takes behavioral targeting to a new level.

“We feel that there’s something special here,” Benedik says. “I’m not sure if we’ve solved the riddle of right message, right moment, right audience, but we’re getting closer. That’s one of the big opportunities for Playlist Targeting; the notion of behavior targeting has been around for the last five to 10 years, but I think we’re taking behavioral targeting to level two now by being able to message to our users that are in the moment.”

Brands can use the names of user-generated playlists, such as “Workout” or “Dinner Party,” to target messages based on user activity, and they can also use Spotify’s curated playlists that are also specifically labeled. “We’ve got 1.5 billion playlists that are currently active on the platform globally,” Benedik says. “We find that users label their playlists very specifically. So not only are users declaring a moment by creating a playlist, they’re labeling it for us. We’re able to gather all of those interesting data sets to create these audience segments. Then we have a browse feature for Spotify curated playlists that are labeled as well with mood labels like ‘chill.’ The labeling of these playlists really informs the activities behaviors and moods that people are in, and we were able to package that up for brands to take advantage of.”

Spotify has used first-party data to understand the moods and needs of its users throughout the day, and brands can now take advantage of that date by telling targeted stories across devices throughout the day using sequential messaging.

“Let’s say in the morning users fire up Spotify while they’re taking a run, we know they’re listening for this amount of time on this device with these playlists around these activities,” Benedik says. “Then in the office they use the Spotify desktop app, and then when they go home, they’re picking up on mobile again. Brands who like to do some cool storytelling are able now to tell some interesting sequential stories across the day. Perhaps users get a piece of creative from Coca-Cola in the morning on a mobile device and a different piece of creative in the afternoon on desktop, then perhaps there’s a third piece of creative from Coca-Cola at the end of the day, but all of it is related to sequentially tell a story.”

Playlist Targeting is currently offered separately from Sponsored Sessions and Video Takeovers, which give users 30 minutes of uninterrupted listening in exchange for a 15- to 30-second branded message. However, Benedik says the two ad products could soon be combined.

“Video is very new on the platform, so we just wanted to make sure we got it right in our first quarter and worked with brands in a way that was acceptable to them,” Benedik says. “But we’re absolutely moving forward with the idea of combining Playlist Targeting, sequential messaging with video ads, audio ads, and the like.”

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