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Audio has a distinct edge over video, says Arjun Kolady of Spotify India

During its virtual event ‘2021 Love Audio’, Spotify India highlighted FMCG advertising trends, audience target areas and more

Audio-streaming player Spotify hosted 2021 Love Audio, a virtual event where it shared its plans to reach listeners via multiple touchpoints, and highlighted FMCG advertising trends, audience target areas and more.

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Arjun Kolady, Head of Sales, Spotify India, said the platform has built segment and brand-specific solutions to get more advertisers.

“The platform has been louder and more visible in terms of providing advertisers with the right solutions this year and look forward to attracting more advertisers with our effective brand-specific advertising solutions,” he added. 

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Kolady said that Spotify, with 365 million monthly active users, is present in 178 markets worldwide.

In India, a predominant part of its listeners and users are from the top eight to 10 cities. “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."

Kolady said Spotify enabled 10 billion artists discoveries per month. “The monthly search result is magical not just for us but advertisers too. Brands evaluate the platform on the basis of monthly discovery results. It helps us to provide micro-moments of joy to our listeners.”

Sharing content insights on the platform, he said Spotify features 70 million+ tracks, four billion playlists and 2.9 million podcasts.

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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 of audio in the past few years, brands are still slowly waking up to the opportunities it presents.

Audio emerging as a stronger medium than video

“Brands and marketers think of audio as reaching the unreachables,” he pointed.

When asked what makes audio streaming apps so popular, he explained that the time people spend with music is mostly screenless. On an average, 79% of audio consumption takes place when visual media cannot reach them, which makes audio a significant platform for brands.

Connecting the lines with digital marketing, he said video is seen as one of the strongest mediums of communication in the digital age but it is full of clutter and engages people for short spans compared to audio.

“Video is much more time-taking, competitive and difficult than audio,” he highlighted.

Video-based communication reaches people only when they’re dedicating time to the screens. However, on the other hand, audio works even while driving, bathing, traveling in public transport, cooking and so on. Music has become a permanent partner of consumers while performing all these activities, and it gives a number of moments to advertisers to indirectly communicate with them.

Music apps: A favourite of FMCG brands

FMCG brands such as Coca-Cola, OnePlus, McDonald’s, etc., are cashing in on Spotify with their creative content. So what makes Spotify a favourite of FMCG brands? Kolady said the major reason why FMCG brands are more attracted to the platform is the kind of moments they get to connect with listeners.

“Our audience listens during key moments for FMCG brands,” he said.

People prefer listening to music while doing other activities such as relaxing, cleaning, cooking, reading or working. All of these are moments when audio is present but the listeners are not necessarily available for screens. These act as key moments for FMCG brands, so they depend on audio-based applications to tap in the moments. For example, if a person is listening to music while cleaning the house, it is a great moment for a detergent brand or if you’re cooking and listening to Spotify, it becomes a relevant moment for food and nutrition brands to appear and make the listener feel their presence in a subtle way.

Which category in FMCG is more interested in advertising on Spotify? Sweets and confectionaries, followed by beverages, he said.

Moment marketing: An emerging trend in audio industry

Moment marketing is a popular communication trend, which is now leading the audio industry as well. Interestingly, people have moment specific playlists such as ‘songs to listen to while going for vaccination’, ‘songs to listen when you’re back from the vaccination’, songs to listen to when you’re stuck on the Suez Canal’, and so on. Brands are also joining this moment marketing trend on Spotify.

Sharing an example, he said Netflix turned the launch of Sacred Games into a moment for itself by launching playlists dedicated to each character.

Behavioural change among millennial parents

The pandemic has brought in various new trends and changes in listening patterns. During the pandemic, smart speakers emerged as a pandemic must-have among millennial parents, Kolady said.

“79% millennial parents listen to music and podcasts through speakers, whereas 80% millennial parents say their kids now often take control of the household entertainment devices. 62% millennial parents own at least one smart speaker and 93% said they plan to buy one in the next 12 months,” he said.

This behavioural change among millennial parents helps brands connect in small but meaningful moments from daily life.

Content is the key for advertisers

According to Spotify, when it comes to advertising, content and the way brands deliver it to their target audience become most important. Brands should focus on establishing a connection with customers, building trust and answering the audience's questions through what they present.

“I feel brands should have a content-first approach while planning their marketing communication campaigns, '' Koladi emphasised.

Explaining how their brand-specific advertising solutions work, Kolady said, for instance, if a brand wants to reach a gaming cohort, they should align themselves with top gaming podcasts to drive home the message.

Further, he said content powered by the discovery search data can help brands to be a major component in the audio culture and reach multiple touchpoints.

“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.

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