We’ve seen 263%+ listening leap in GenZ for family-relevant podcasts: Arjun Kolady

Spotify ventured into the Indian market in February of 2019. The first brands that they partnered with included Budweiser, Brand USA and One Plus, whose campaigns ran for the first 3 months of Spotify’s presence in India. The audio streaming platform then introduced programmatic audio ads delivery in India.

Speaking at Spotify’s virtual event yesterday (March 2, 2021) Arjun Kolady, Head of Sales - India, Spotify, remarked, “This was a way for people to use their demand side platform to buy and run ads on Spotify. We were giving that flexibility and transparency capabilities that clients wanted. India is a very hot market for programmatic and we’re happy to say that our solutions are best in class.” In 2019, Spotify also announced their first sponsored playlist with Coca-Cola, as well as branded playlist with Listerine. They also launched their first API experience with Netflix the same year.

Kolady also shared audience insights and listening behaviour of Spotify users, emergence of new multi-format campaigns, trends that defined 2020, sectors leveraging programmatic ad delivery, growth of podcasts and also trends to look forward to in 2021 with programmatic audio ads delivery.

Consumer Insights

Many reports including eMarketer suggested that in 2020, Digital Audio will surpass Radio and that the golden era of digital audio is finally here. Kolady says, “We were very fortunate to see some kind of positive results on our platform in spite of the pandemic.” Kolady presented a graph of listener consumption from Home and Cars on Spotify. The 6 months of peak pandemic times showcased that consumption from Home grew to even 20-30+ per cent while consumption from cars were negligible. Kolady says that as we were going through the pandemic and slowly entering unlock mode, they witnessed an increase in monthly active users on their platform that they wouldn’t have been able to see in pre-pandemic times. Time spent on the platform also witnessed a similar trajectory. Talking about the eMarketer report, Kolady says that music streaming apps were the number one apps users were in urban India were using the most with 49 percent respondents as off April 2020. Kolady also says, “In terms of time spent, Music streaming in the number 2 activity that people have been spending most time on. It is above Video streaming and only 2nd to Social networking. We’ve seen this user behavior on our platform as well.” Furthermore he adds, “ The nature of audio streaming is such that it is a companion for a user along with other activities. Spotify today, is available across 2000+ devices whether it’s a phone, car, Playstation, etc., which creates a massive opportunity for brand to tap into these screenless moments. Spotify is omnichannel and omniscient. We reach out to consumers wherever they listening, whenever they are listening and whatever they are listening on.”

Further in the presentation, Kolady talks about the fact that families have embraced audio at home and it has become an activity for the family to come together in the pandemic times. He says, “84% of parents have said that being connected in fundamental to thriving today. There has been a +263 per cent listening leap amongst Gen Zs and millennials to family-relevant podcasts on smart speakers. It has become a point of convergence for families to unite during this time.”

Business Insights

During the pandemic Spotify scaled to 100+ brands, won several awards and also promoted podcasts in the country extensively. In terms of verticals, Kolady says, “Media and Entertainment continues to be a top vertical for Spotify in terms of ads. It seems like a natural fit.” He adds, “This continues to be our strongest verticals for which we won a bunch of awards with Netflix.”

The 2nd vertical most important for Spotify was Tech which includes gaming, consumer technology etc. Kolady says, “We’re able to target these ads specifically to gamers when they are listening via Spotify is also able to target gamers for their tech vertical (2nd strongest vertical for Spotify) when users are using their Playstations or other consoles for listening. Kolady says, “For our ‘Avengers’ Creative for Intel, we could also identify which Avenger a user represents according to their listening behavior and target ads accordingly.” He adds, “We witnessed incredible results via this. There was a 7% increase in brand awareness along with an 83% increase in intent to buy Intel.” In the tech vertical, Spotify also partnered with brands like Levono, One Plus and Philips.

Another key vertical for Spotify is also FMCG which took to audio rapidly. They did a lot of work with companies like Mondelez. Kolady says, “One of the reason why FMCG brands like to work with us is that across our user base of parents, GenZs and Millenials, users love to make the most of D2C initiatives and services. Our listeners want convenience on the go and Spotify users are 47% more likely to subscribe to an online delivery or other services provided by FMCG brands.”

The Auto sector also was vital for Spotify and as the resurgence of Auto happened in the second half of 2020, Spotify created various campaigns for Auto giants like Audi which enabled them to tap into audiences and sell cars at a time where the Auto sector was looking to bounce back. Spotify enabled auto campaign knowing for a fact that 70% of Spotify listeners own a car in their household which was a testament to the quality of audiences that Spotify has for the auto sector. This, bundled with their in-car targeting, made Spotify a perfect platform for the Auto sector for their communication. Kolady also mentioned that e-commerce, retail, BFSI and B2B are some of the verticals that are still emerging on Spotify and the future seems bright for Spotify working with these verticals.

Kolady mentions how playlists have been vital for Spotify not only in terms of user engagement and time spent, but also for brands who sponsor these playlist and garner reach and visibility. Similarly, Podcasts have been vital for the platform and podcast advertising has really worked for them. Kolady says, “41% of podcast listeners have reported of trusting ads more if heard in a podcast and 81% of podcasts listeners say they have taken action after listening to a podcast ad. Podcast are very personal and users normally listen to people they feel a connect with and trust or value more.”

Plans for 2021 and beyond

In the future, Spotify plans to bring audio to more brands than ever with their Ad Studio which will soon be introduced to India. It is a self-serve audio/video platform which will give more options and flexibility to brands.

Brands will be able to sponsor the “Discover Weekly” playlists which is a personalized playlists for each user according to their taste, but contains 30 songs they haven’t heard before. Spotify users spend most of their time on this playlist.

Personalization will be big for Spotify will be big for the platform as they look to work with their partners to bring personalization to their ads according to the user behavior on their platform.

Streaming ad insertions will be big to help monetize podcasts on the platform and yet make ads seem seamless and not pre-recorded spots in the podcasts. This will enable Spotify to take podcasts to the next level.


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