The Viability of Spotify for Public Relations

By: Anna Gilstrap

For Spotify users, listening to “thank u, next” 38 times in a row, creating playlists for every vacation and jamming out to rap one minute and then country the next are all just quirks of their music taste and habits. For Spotify however, these behaviors are data; and for companies and businesses, this data is how they can use Spotify to build their brands.

Public relations almost never aims at a mass audience; it usually breaks the general public down into segments to reach specific intended markets. Spotify keeps tabs on its 180 million active monthly users from their age and gender to their preferred language to their current location and time, according to Spotify For Brands.

Departing from the obvious data listed above that every social media platform can provide, Spotify gains insight from its niche: music.

Spotify For Brands explains that 68 percent of millennials stream on mobile devices and mothers are 25 percent more likely to be listening early in the morning around 5 a.m. Early technology adopters are 41 percent more likely to listen to music that feels “defiant.” Companies can take this data unique to Spotify and make conclusions to reach their markets.

Analytics to action

Once brands gather data about Spotify users and determine who they want to reach, the question remains of what advertising and public relations formats are available for use on the platform.   

One way is the well-known thirty-second audio ad that pops up during a non-premium subscriber’s listening session. Fortunately for companies who go this route, of Spotify’s 180 million users, almost 100 million are not subscribed to premium and will therefore hear the ad. Another perk of this format is that audio is a component of every streaming style: mobile, desktop, gaming console. All targeted listeners will be exposed to the ad whereas with visuals, exposure is not guaranteed.

Brands can also provide the classic “the next 30 minutes are free thanks to the following sponsor” to listeners. According to Spotify For Brands, this method “drives brand affinity.”

For a more creative and less strictly advertising approach, brands can sponsor Spotify playlists that have a loyal fan base like New Music Friday and Rap Caviar. They can also do an interactive “homepage takeover,” making the brand the first thing desktop users see when they open the application.

For all of the methods, Spotify provides ample measurement of brands’ advertisements to assess the success of the campaign. It informs companies of the reach of their ad, meaning if it was seen by their target audiences, as well as the perception of the ad regarding awareness and message association. Spotify also measures users’ reactions in terms of purchases made as a result.

Real-world examples

For the skeptics who aren’t sure Spotify is a worthy outlet for PR compared to the usual suspects — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter — here are two stories of companies putting Spotify to use for their brand.

Spotify found data that claimed users listening outside of their usual genre were more likely to be hungry, so Snickers applied that information to target people listening outside of their usual music preferences for their “you’re not you when you’re hungry” ads.

For the World Cup, McDonald’s sponsored regional playlists for each of the countries of the top eight soccer teams in the tournament and advertised for special regional burgers on the playlists as well, proving them to be a “worldly connoisseur of music and food alike,” according to PR News Online.