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Click now: Spotify adds call-to-action feature to podcasts

Podcasts new call-to-action cards aim to make it easier for advertisers to engage with podcast listeners.

Brands can now get one step closer to podcast listeners via Spotify’s new “call-to-action” (CTA) cards.

Podcasts are booming, and so is the ad revenue that they generate. To get marketers one step closer to listeners, Spotify has launched a new feature — called “call-to-action (CTA) cards” — as a part of its popular podcast streaming service.

Here’s how Spotify’s new CTA cards will work: when an episode of a podcast is paused for an ad, the listener will now see a small, interactive button near the middle of their device’s screen, which they can touch to be redirected to an advertiser’s website landing page. This is meant to give Spotify podcast listeners an easier route to learn more about brands, products, and services that pique their interest. At the same time, advertisers will now be equipped with a tool that will put them one step closer to actually engaging with prospective customers — rather than merely having 15 or 30 seconds to pitch a product or service before potentially losing that listener’s attention forever. CTA cards are also intended to make it easier for listeners to remember useful information from advertisers — such as promo codes and vanity URLs — that otherwise might go in one ear and out the other.

Spotify is currently the number one podcast streaming service in the world, with more than 28 million podcast listeners in 2021. Apple Podcasts is a close second. The platform’s success in dominating the podcast streaming industry stems largely from its 2019 acquisition of Anchor, a digital platform which helps creators to produce and monetize original podcasts. In 2020, Spotify announced that Anchor was responsible for roughly 80 percent of all of the new podcasts that had been launched via the streaming service that year.

Ulta Beauty was one of the first companies to test the new CTA cards on Spotify. Advertising via podcasts, says Christine White, head of content at Ulta Beauty, is all about “finding the right connection points” — those moments where it’s possible to grab and hold listeners’ attention.

“We know that consumers are largely multitasking at all times. We all are," says White. "As we think about advertising experiences, we have to look for ways to engage consumers in the moment. CTA Cards enable the consumer to select the moment they want to be discovering and shopping on their own terms, which enhances their experience.”

Spotify’s ad revenues have skyrocketed in 2021. The company’s Q3 earnings report from last year showed that its year-over-year earnings had jumped by 75% — and its investments in its podcast streaming infrastructure was the major catalyst behind that growth.

Demand for podcasts has been rising precipitously over the past several years, and Spotify has thus far been the streaming service that’s been most well-equipped and financially prepared to take full advantage of their enormous market potential. Take, for example, the $100 million deal that the streaming service recently struck with Joe Rogan.

Total ad spending in the podcast space can be expected to double from $1.31 billion to $2.71 billion between 2021 and 2025, according to data from Insider Intelligence.

“Spotify’s innovation or contribution to this space has been to basically look at podcasting within the broader ecosystem of audio, and to serve up podcasts with all the daily recommendations that they send out,” says Paul Verna, principal analyst at Insider Intelligence. “That's becoming par for the course now for other companies, but Spotify was the one that really saw the light, and they were the first to start making these big acquisitions, and just to see it as a way to engage their audiences and boost their ad revenues.”

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