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Brands adapting to new normal, rebound visible in auto, tech and FMCG, says Arjun Kolady of Spotify

The Head of Sales, India, Spotify, says advertising from several categories are coming back on the platform. In a conversation with BestMediaInfo.com, he also shares their revenue plans

Arjun Kolady

The lockdown has led to a steep increase in the growth of audio-streaming platforms in India. With people spending more time at home, there has been a 50% jump with more people turning to the audio medium to become content creators. 

Though advertising has shrunk in the last few months, Spotify has seen this entire period as an opportunity and has engaged more with brands and agencies to ensure their spends on the platform keep increasing despite an industry-level lull.

In a conversation with BestMediaInfo.com, Arjun Kolady, Head of Sales, India, Spotify, said Spotify is working with multiple agencies and brands that are diverting spends towards audio.

As awareness and consumption for audio streaming increases, he said, “We will see a steady increase in ad revenues from audio.”

There was a short period of time in the last few months as the world we live in has changed. Brands that continued to spend during this time included video streaming, food delivery, and e-commerce (for essentials delivery) platforms.

“Now that the situation is somewhat more relaxed, brands are adapting to the new normal, and thinking of innovative ways to reach their audience. We are seeing sectors such as auto, tech and FMCG rebound,” he added.

Globally, the music streaming ad revenue opportunity is worth $1.5 billion, and it’s expected to reach at least $7 billion by 2030 (source: Spotify: The power of audio: Chapter 1).

When you look at India, in 2019 revenues from music streaming amounted to $11 billion, and today the audio OTT market today is worth only 2.7 billion (source: Deloitte study).

With greater transparency in measurement on audio streaming platforms, he said an increasing number of brands are including audio as a part of their advertising strategy to make it more personal, social, and engaging for their audience.

With a 100% logged-in audience on Spotify across devices, Kolady said the platform delivers high on target reach.

“We also know we impact core brand metrics for advertisers who work with us. To ratify and standardise this, we work with global partners such as Nielsen, MOAT, and IAS and we offer advanced measurement capabilities across reach, resonance and reaction,” he added.

In fact, Spotify has worked with over 75 brands in India over a period of one year.

While podcasts have been around for more than a decade now, recent innovation in monetisation is presenting a whole new opportunity for both creators and advertisers. And the global popularity of podcasts is also making its way to India now.

There’s been an increased interest from listeners, creators, and advertisers alike, for this medium.

And as awareness and consumption of podcasts grow globally and in India, Spotify is investing in technology that addresses the fragmentation and measurability issues for this medium.

Kolady said, “With listeners in India increasingly turning to podcasts for reflection, education and entertainment, there’s a growing opportunity for brands to have a voice and reach their audience in a more meaningful and targeted way. We hope to bring Spotify’s Streaming Ad Insertion here soon.”

Spotify’s Streaming Ad Insertion (SAI) provides brands and podcast creators data on actual ad impression, frequency (number of times a listener heard the ad), reach and anonymised audience insights (age, gender, device type).

Puma was among its first partners to test SAI and the results were major. The brand ran host-read ads during Spotify’s Original podcast, Jemele Hill Is Unbothered, and the ads resulted in ad recall lift by +180%.

In fact, Spotify research shows that a staggering 81% of listeners have taken an action after hearing audio ads during a podcast.

Kolady discussed how moment marketing can be explored in the audio-streaming industry.

The listeners’ relationship with audio is far more intimate because it soundtracks everything they are doing — working from home, doing chores, cooking, working out, spending time with the family, or even just meditating.

He said, “Technology has made audio a ubiquitous and connected experience. You can seamlessly switch from your phone to connected speakers, and from your gaming console to your favourite wearable. This presents brands an untapped opportunity for companies to connect with extremely engaged audiences across moods and moments.”

Also, advertisers can have access to Spotify’s Streaming Intelligence to hyper contextualise their communication, reaching the right audience, with the right message, and at the right moment.

A great example of this in India is adidas, which targeted Spotify listeners of ’90s music, and those interested in fashion and fitness, to promote a specially curated playlist for their Home of Classics campaign.

Kolady believes that personalisation of communication is better in the audio segment.

For instance, a brand could tailor messaging based on if the consumer is listening to music in the car versus a PlayStation or home speaker.

Audio is the oldest form of communication. Our brains process information through audio 22x faster than through visualisations, triggered through emotions, memories, and motivates people into action.

“The ubiquity of audio offers advertisers a premium content environment and multimedia ad experiences to connect brands with fans. Brands can use this deep connection to provide an elevated sensory experience with a full sonic palette — ASMR, 3D audio, immersive effects, entertaining narration, and great music — to tell stories that people remember. This, along with the real-time dynamic audio, can create thousands of creatives on the fly, tailored to the audience’s state of mind. In short, it’s time for marketers to think about the sound of their brand,” he said.


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