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Spotify Europe VP: ‘when other walled gardens say no to data questions, we say yes’


By Seb Joseph, News editor

March 17, 2017 | 5 min read

Spotify’s charm offensive on the advertising industry is gathering pace, with its vice-president for Europe pitching it as a far more collaborative partner when it comes to data compared to other technology platforms.

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Speaking at the IAB Data & Innovation conference, the streaming service’s top executive Marco Bertozzi in Europe set out its stool for a business keen to exploit what he calls the “ringing death knell” for cookie-based targeting. Where Facebook, Google and Amazon have forged businesses on being able to target people (not cookies) across the web for some time, rumblings around brand safety, ad fraud and viewability has pushed more advertisers and agencies to ponder the post-cookie measurement. And this is where Spotify hopes to profit, using the plethora of insights it gleans from the 100 million users it has to barge its way on to media plans.

For a more in-depth look at how Bertozzi and the rest of his team plan to do this read our in-depth interview with the marketer here. In a nutshell, his explanation boils down to a willingness to share its data with brands at a time when its peers would rather not. He summed it as “some of the other, bigger data owners say ‘no’ to almost every question. With us it’s more open and more likely to be yes around some clear parameters”.

Bertozzi is referring to what some industry observers call the “walled garden era” of advertising, whereby online juggernauts – namely Facebook and Google – restrict third party ad tech companies from plugging into their networks, Naturally, marketers have questioned whether players that take that system can be trusted to treat all inventory objectively instead of redirect more spend to their own media properties. Spotify’s recent deal with LiveRamp in the US is testament to its own commitment to establishing an objective adtech stack, one Bertozzi hopes will catch the eye of advertisers looking to shake up their media strategies.

“We’re clearly going to claim to have a lot of unique insights around streaming music and I’m confident in that story,” he told delegates at the conference. And with quirky insights such as there being 450,000 ‘shower’ playlists, it’s starting to become clearer how an advertiser could use that data to target people’s moods or state of mind. It’s Spotify’s riff on the deterministic targeting that underpins Facebook’s people-based approach to advertising.

He explained how the business is “moving down the path” of allowing “clients to combine their data with ours” otherwise known as custom audiences. While he admitted Spotify is privileged to have an advertising proposition around music, something people value, he warned other publishers not to believe the hype around their own data.

"The challenge for most publishers,” he continued, is that too many “assume your data is valuable when it isn’t”. "That’s not to say its poor quality," he asserted, "rather the data may not be unique enough – I think now people want something unique."

"They [advertisers and agencies] want insights rather than presentations on ‘how valuable our audience is. They want to understand something new. Too many publishers don’t do that. Too many publishers sit in their own silos and live in this separate bucket."

Bertozzi’s observations come amid a wider chorus of marketing executives on the current state of the media supply chain. From WPP’s Johnny Hornby to Mondelez and Procter & Gamble, pressure is growing on executives at Google and Facebook to become more transparent when it comes to opening their data to third-parties.

Spotify’s rush for more ad spend will likely fuel ongoing discussions around its anticipated IPO. Recent reports claim the Swedish streaming company could delay its arrival on the stock exchange until next year after many analysts tipped it to float later this year. Regardless of when it does, showing investors that it has sustainable revenue plan beyond paid subscriptions will be key to driving up its value.

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