Birds eye view

Spotify Wrapped: a genius marketing campaign

By Naomi Linturn, Digital Account Manager

No doubt you’ll have recently seen Spotify Wrapped all over your Instagram Stories as people share their funky visuals, top artists and even their ‘listening personality’. The annual Wrapped campaign has become somewhat of a phenomenon and continues growing as the platform has reachedĀ 195 million subscribers.

For anyone who may not be aware of what I’m talking about, Spotify provides an annual review for each of its users. This review provides a breakdown of your listening habits and genres, then your top artists, songs and podcasts. It shows you granular details right down to how many hours you’ve spent listening on the platform this year and how many times you’ve played your favourite song.

As you read through your stats, it plays some of your top songs whilst presenting funky visuals that take you on a personalised journey. We know that no one size fits all, so data analytics and technology are key to tailoring user experiences to feed into this personalisation journey. Brands that speak to users with tailored content will see the strongest engagement, asĀ consumers associate it with positive experiences of being made to feel special, which is likely why Wrapped is so popular.

It got me thinking, why do we not seem to mind that Spotify knows our mood in the morning, exactly how many hours we’ve spent listening to an artist, or even what percentage of listeners we fall into for a particular artist? The granularity of data is quite shocking, so why aren’t we put off by this in the same way that we are when we hear about cookies and apps tracking our every move? If we saw an Instagram review of how many hours we spent on the app this year, how many profiles we visited or how many times we visited a particular profile, I’m sure we’d all be quite concerned. And I’m sure very few people would want to share their top stats!

So how did Spotify do it? When you create an account, you’re accepting the privacy policy that enables the platform to collect your data to provide you with your Wrapped playlists. The policy reads that Spotify can collect information such as ‘search queries, streaming history, playlists you create, browsing history etc..’ meaning they’re GDPR compliant once you accept. From this point, you’d need to listen only on a ‘private session’ to prevent tracking. A private session not only hides your listening from your friends but also ensures recommendations aren’t affected and, crucially, won’t be accounted for in your Wrapped!

But how do they turn tracking us into fun?

The Wrapped function doesn’t give you the typical boring list of what the platform has been tracking and how it uses your data that would often worry most to be presented with upon logging in. Instead, it provides a fun, visual twelve-slider that shows stats about ourselves that we want to share with others. We’re happy to share our favourite music and want to boast if we’re in the top 1% of listeners. The app makes us feel proud of ourselves and uses positive language to reinforce the good things Spotify has helped us achieve this year. Nobody feels bad for spending 30,000 minutes listening to music over a year or listening to a podcast every day. This clever campaign means we’re all happy to see our data summarised in a fun game rather than angry about it being collected and wondering what it’s being used for.

As marketers, the level of tracking is great. We can target people based on their moods and listening habits to deliver audio campaigns to suit our client’s needs and to reach the right audience at the right time. Of course, we aren’t using the granularity to target a fan in the 1% of listeners enjoying a slow ballad. Still, we want to target those in a relaxed piece of mind, for instance, through interest, genre and real-time context (and hopefully, our clever targeting means that the user wants to listen and engage with our ad). Average listen-through rates on the platform reach 95% thanks to this efficient targeting which makes this platform an attractive proposition for advertisers.

Not only is the user data great for Spotify and growing their already huge brand, but the Wrapped campaign is PR genius. We eagerly await the campaign each year, waiting like kids on Christmas Day to open our presents (or, in this case, see our musical wrap-up). We are then encouraged to share our Wrapped stats through easy, shareable links. This feeds wonderfully into Spotify’s earned media strategy. It means that for a week every year, our social media newsfeeds and stories are flooded with organic content from customers and brands, providing free marketing for the app that genuinely no person on social media can escape!

In addition to the shared links that are everywhere to be seen, the meme game is strong. If you haven’t seen someone’s Spotify Wrapped, then you may well have seen a meme about it, or an article, or a Tweet; if you’re not sharing your lists, then you’re still talking about them, and Spotify is reaping the glory of being the talk of the town.

I wonder who is next to take a leaf from Spotify’s book? The next time I visit a website and see a banner asking me to accept cookies or sign up to create an account, what’s in it for me? The standard cookie banner prompts us to click accept to enhance our browsing experience or receive better-personalised ads. Any account creation promises discounts or personalised offers, but how can brands be more innovative here? The whole Wrapped campaign is completely unique to Spotify so how can other brands make their mark in a similar fashion?

What can they offer to give us the same sense of pride as knowing and sharing that we’ve listened to one song 348 times this year? Watch this space!