Spotify, the audio evolution and the strengths of the Australian market

An entire generation streaming and discovering represents unprecedented opportunity for brand building and engagement. Spotify’s Sunita Kaur explains why the Australian market is the perfect launchpad for the next big move in audio.

This article is part of Marketing’s special focus on audio and voice in marketing and was sponsored by Spotify »

Cover AV18 200Along with just about everything else, the way humans consume media has gone through rapid shifts in recent times. Audio’s no exception. The world of streaming has revolutionised the way artists distribute their music, and in turn, the way listeners enjoy music and discover and engage with sounds old and new.

Streaming’s vast ubiquity has dramatically changed how we listen. Australians spend a quarter of their waking moments listening to audio content. Spotify connects musicians with over 180 million fans globally.

In this country, however, only 7% of media spend goes to audio. This represents missed opportunities for brands not playing in the space, and the potential to still tap in to a new consumer trend with big winners and early adopters.

Over the past decade, advertisers have leveraged an era of consumers obsessed with screens, focusing on visual advertising in its many forms. Streaming, though, is still on the rise. Add to that the promise of more sophisticated voice recognition technology, and it’s no surprise that progressive brands are working on perfecting and streamlining screenless brand experiences and interactions with customers.

Sunita Kaur, VP Asia-Pacific at Spotify works with a focus on the advertising side of the business. Taking the post after five years as managing director for the Southeast Asia region, Kaur is the perfect person to talk through the platform’s capabilities, and how they’re delighting bands, brands and listeners alike.

“On the free service, our users have grown substantially,” she says. “Time spent on our service has also grown. The ad business has grown. A lot of the products and features that we’re building are really for brands and agencies to utilise to reach Millennials and beyond, across the world.

“We are a music company at heart, but our data and technology makes us unique to advertisers.”

The music people listen to, and how and when they listen to it, can tell us a lot about who they are. Beyond just a gauge for taste and preference, it can give an indicator of mood and behaviour .

Millennials today are passionate about music, and while three quarters say music is how they define who they are, they are far more open-minded about trying different styles and genres. Unlike past generations, they enjoy constantly discovering the new, with 84% saying their tastes span multiple genres.

Instead of being selected based on scene or geographic location, Millennial streamers instead select genre based on mood and setting. With popular playlists like ‘The Office Stereo’, ‘Monday Motivation’ and ‘Weekend Hangouts’ as examples, one thing is clear: Millennials are literally soundtracking their lives.

In marketing today, it’s increasingly difficult to define demographics and targets by gender, geography, age and career choice. The shift to always-on streaming presents new opportunity to deliver a message through personal, contextual communications that match mood and occasion.

Streaming habits can offer insight into a user’s habits, where they are and how they listen. Online and social media activity, says Kaur, sees users cultivate an image, whereas what a person listens to offers a far more honest look.

“Music is so personal,” she says. On social media platforms, we filter our lives, curating a public profile for our friends to see. Streaming music, on the other hand, is a mirror – a unique reflection of who we are, what we’re doing and how we’re feeling in any given moment. For marketers, that means there is an opportunity to understand your audience better than ever before

Sophisticated analysis of listening habits can begin to reveal patterns in offline behaviour too, such as the ability to tell when one user commutes, works, exercises, socialises, eats and sleeps.

The streaming economy creates rich opportunities for brands. Leveraging the trusting relationship it enjoys with fans, Spotify can offer a platform to deliver content uniquely tailored to each listener, hitting them at a time when they are in the right mindset, mood and context to receive it.

“The Spotify campaign to Tourism NT was a fantastic way to target the Millennial audience within Australia,” says Monika Tonkin, manager of consumer communications at Tourism NT.

“We know that this audience is turned off by traditional advertising, but Spotify being such a well-known brand with the Millennial audience was a great way for us to really talk to this audience in a relevant way.”

Tourism NT’s ‘Start NT’ing It’ Spotify campaign saw an increase in visitation to NT from the Millennial segment, as well as four times more time spent on the Tourism NT Spotify hub than those users would spend on Tourism NT’s website.

Spotify’s streaming intelligence, developed from a dataset of millions of moments spent on the platform provides advertising partners with the opportunity to place inspiring ads in ways that resonate deeply.

In 2017, for example, Snickers UK set about identifying ‘key hunger moments’ among listeners. Using streaming data, Spotify was able to pinpoint when users were not listening to their usual choices of genre. Usual listeners of grime rock and pop were delivered Snickers’ ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’ message, and on-genre spoof tracks that trolled the listeners with such lyrics as “You’ve been acting rather strange. Feel a bit peckish? You’ve got hunger pains.”

Delivered across the genres, the campaign delivered more than 78,000 clicks, unique reach of more than 1.7 million and more than 6.8 million overall impressions.

As listening, streaming and tech trends continue to shift, the potential for innovation and new systems of engagement leaps ahead. Spotify’s Active Media function puts unprecedented control in the hands of listeners. Launched in Australia in July, it gives users the ability to skip ads.

The kicker for advertisers is that they will only pay for completed listens and views, minimising cost and wasted investment. The introduction was seemingly a win-win-win for listeners, advertisers and for Spotify, too, as skipped ads inform the platform in its effort to deliver more personalised ad experiences and offer advertisers better cut-through.

“To have Active Audio, a world first ad innovation, launch in Australia, is a huge testament to the strength of and opportunity in the Australian market,” says Kaur.

Reaching listeners while they stream – no matter when or where they are – is getting easier for brands. Spotify Ad Studio, the brand’s ‘self-serve’ audio advertising platform made its way to Australia this year. Since launching in the US last year and spreading worldwide, the platform already been used by thousands of advertisers to create and manage their own campaigns, reaching the right people in the right moments.

Another feature that excites Kaur is Spotify Codes – giving bands and brands alike the means to reach an off-platform audience and drive them onto Spotify. The scannable tag can appear online or in print, and by viewing through Spotify’s in-app camera will direct to content on the platform. This feature was most recently used in Spotify’s mural activation with Hilltop Hoods in Byron Bay during Splendour in the Grass.

For Kaur, it’s just another example of how “brands push the envelope even more.”

Where we sit today is just the beginning. “Twenty years ago, we were talking about how half the world was using the internet. Now we’re talking about how half the internet is streaming.”

“As a company we think about the responsibility we have to be able to surprise and delight in this new age of consumer behaviour and content ingestion.

“That is probably the main thing on our minds.

“Across all forms of media on Spotify – whether it’s audio, whether it’s video – it’s very exciting. We continue to build for that future,” she says.

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