Spotify says yes to using data for ad success!

Spotify is a digital music, podcast and video streaming service that saved worldwide many music listeners. The service gives members access to millions of songs for artists from all over the world. This gives Spotify access to a load of music data from all their members. Spotify can use this data in their communication, for example listening data could say a lot about a person’s mood and interests. In 2016 they launched a campaign where they analyzed members’ music habits and converted them into stories. Billboards were placed at key locations in 14 countries worldwide, the campaign was personalized for every country. Spotify became a voice and started asking questions about members’ listening history.

‘’Dear person who played ‘Sorry’ 42 times on Valentine’s Day – what did you do?’’

The reactions to the campagne were extremely positive. Let’s find out the success factors.

Is there one golden rule for effective data-driven advertising?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Most of the time it is a combination of several key factors, the same goes for the success of Spotify’s campaign. First of all it is important to decide when your campaign is effective. Spotify wanted to strengthen the brand and to attract new users. Their main goal wasn’t focused on sales. They were starting a conversation with the world. This led to millions of people around the world sharing the ads on social media and the campaign started to become a hot topic. The popularity of the campaign was also attributed to other factors. A lot of brands use digital data to create advertisements. But Spotify used data in a creative way. The advertisements contained humor and they showed that big data could be a source of inspiration. In this case it provides information about the emotions of the users. They tell a story and make it personal. Because Spotify used data per country, there is a big chance that someone can identify themselves with a story. At least, Spotify did a great job with the location of their advertisements. They knew their target group and placed their advertisements on places where their target group passed by every day.

Zero negativity?

Perfection doesn’t exist. Before the launch of the campaign users couldn’t be aware of the fact that Spotify uses their listening data. Now they do. This could have led to users getting the feeling that their privacy is violated (remember the Facebook scandal from last year?). It might also cause users to change their listening behavior: for example a man listening to the ‘Ladies night’ playlist could become conscious of the fact that his data is analyzed, or a feeling of being watched. This is, of course, not desirable. So from an ethics perspective, Spotify should consider what the consequences of their data analyses could be for their users. Even though such analyses might be ethical from a legal perspective, feelings of privacy and anonymity violations can be fatal in terms of user experience.

By launching this campaign Spotify showed the opportunities of big data and worked it out in an effective way. No focus on sales, instead,  creativity, humour, storytelling, personalization and knowing their target group made this campaign sound like music in the ears. Should we already create a ‘Brexit’ playlist?