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In the near future, we will continue to be driven by free business in India, says Spotify's Arjun Kolady

The industry needs a lot of evangelisation to figure out how to do great creatives on audio, says the Head of Sales for Spotify India

Arjun Kolady

Audio-streaming player Spotify is building segment and brand-specific solutions to get more advertisers on the platform. 

Arjun Ravi Kolady, Head of Sales, Spotify, told BestMediaInfo.com that the platform plans to be louder and visible in terms of providing advertisers with the right solutions this year.

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“We have solutions for auto marketers, e-commerce and for many other categories while having solutions when one wants to launch a product or according to the brand positioning or content marketing needs,” he said.

Sectors that are exhibiting the most spends on the platform are M&E, followed by tech brands, FMCG and automobiles.

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During the Covid pandemic, Spotify India not only scaled to 100 plus brands and activated podcast promotions, it has significantly contributed to global growth.

According to Kolady, despite the steep growth audio as a medium is witnessing in the past few years, brands are still slowly waking up to the opportunities it presents.

“On every platform, users lead and brands follow. So there’s always a time lag between users being significantly present and brands sort of waking up to the opportunities. So I think audio as a medium is still in the middle stage. Although there are always some advertisers who are forward looking, who always want to try new things and experiment; such brands are already active and spending a lot on this,” he said.

He said audio being at a very nascent stage in India, it is the responsibility of platforms such as Spotify to build that awareness and invest in creating an ecosystem for the advertisers.

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“We need to figure out how to do great creative on audio and do a lot of education around not just the science but also the art of it,” he said.

In 2019, the platform had first launched the API experience for Netflix, the first brand playlist for Listerine, a brand-sponsored playlist with Coca-Cola and also brought programmatic audio to India. It also has been doing multiple events and will continue to do so for better education and evangelisation of audio.

Kolady explained how working with creative agencies is extremely critical for the platform in making digital audio a success.

“We are not only getting involved in the early stages of creative thoughts with the agencies but also running training sessions for creative agencies, and developing abilities for them to understand our data better. It is something we will continue to invest in it to navigate the market better,” he said.

For the platform,  predominant part of its listeners and users come from the top eight to 10 cities. Having witnessed an accelerated growth path in terms of programmatic ad spends in the last year, he hopes it to grow significantly this year.

“The growth over the last year and till now continues to be very strong. The rate with which we have grown across both (premium and free) has been strong. Globally, 46% of users are on premium, but in India, the industry average of premium users across audio platforms is low. We are above that, but for now, our local business will be driven by the free tier. 90% of our revenue, globally, comes from premium,” he said.

Globally, Spotify has been experimenting with the concept of artists taking over and video clips on the platform.

Asked if the brand plans to introduce the same to the Indian market, he said, “We are actively talking to brands and artists for the artist take-over and excited for this in 2021. But our focus will continue to be on audio, whereas video will always be a supplementary to that.”

He said the platform is still processing to understand consumer sentiments more and as it keeps experimenting with various formats around what is the right way to do premium upsell, it will keep improving.

Discussing how programmatic audio can add value to display and video strategies, he said even on audio platforms, combining audio with video and display actually leads to an 84% increase in brand matrix as compared to just doing audio or video.

“So even when brands are considering what to do on Spotify, they should explore all the formats we offer since multi-format campaigns give better results. Also, by doing programmatic, they get a lot more transparency in terms of how their campaigns are doing as they are able to centrally manage via single interface. It also gives additional capabilities for doing dynamic creative. We want programmatic to be growing," he said. 

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