INSIGHTS

The essential guide to audio creativity

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We’re here to share just a handful of bespoke audio creative guidelines built using Spotify’s Streaming Intelligence, from the fun to the functional. These tips and tactics are here to help, whether you’re taking the first important steps into exploring the power of audio on Spotify, or you’re an audio denizen aiming to unlock next-level opportunities for you and your brand.

Now’s the time to act. We’re entering a second golden age of audio: the percentage of Americans who listen to streaming audio has doubled since 2012,1 and each of our 124 million Spotify Free multi-platform users around the world are listening for 2.5 hours daily.2 That’s a lot of eartime!

But it’s not just the audience size and engagement that’s on the rise. The creative potential of audio is greater than it’s ever been, and it’s only enhanced when tailored to surround our audience’s moments and mindsets. With 56% of Gen Zs telling us in a recent survey that screenless moments offer a nice escape from a world of visual overload, we know they’re open to receive your message.3

Here, we’ll share some basic best practices for audio creative on Spotify, explore the massive potential of podcasts, and then spin it all into the future with our Next Practices, which we hope will inspire you to try some things that haven’t been done before. And those ideas are on the house.

On that note, let us kick things off in a way that makes the most sense, with an audio demonstration of what an audio ad is, from our Anatomy of Ads series.

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Just Getting Started? Try This

On Spotify, advertisers can surround specific moments, genres, and audiences with their messages — all of which amplify the power of audio to enthrall and delight listeners. Obviously, Spotify didn’t exist in 1998 when Luke Sullivan wrote his iconic guide to copywriting, Hey Whipple, Squeeze This, but we like to think that he’d happily apply this statement about radio to the world of streaming audio: “[I]n radio the canvas is large, stretching off in every direction. Radio lets you do impossible things — things way too expensive to make into TV commercials.” Consider spending that intellectual capital on ideas built specifically for audio.

Here are a few top tips about how advertisers are making those impossible things possible on our platform:

1. Take your time
On Spotify, our free users know that their music will continue after the ad break. Nielsen estimates that 79% of audio consumption takes place while consumers are engaged in activities where visual media can’t reach them. No one’s touching any dials, so honor that intimate, one-to-one connection. Tell a story. They’re listening. To date, we’ve found that listeners are less concerned by the length of a creative, and more about the message itself.4

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Hear how Carhartt helped patient, hungry listeners find the sizzle they deserved.

2. Context & content matter
Spotify listeners rank the quality of the ad content and its personal relevance to them, as the top two contributors to a satising ad experience. Our streaming intelligence allows us to develop rich targeting segments to foster that relevance. Spotify helps brands reach users in the right moment, And frankly, the results speak for themselves with 2.7x higher awareness and 5.3x higher intent than campaigns with basic demographic targeting.5 Now, delivering quality creative is up to you!

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Hear how Axe reached listeners in chill moods and offered a playlist to make the moment hotter.

3. Communicate benefits
Talk about exclusives, sales, or promotional codes in your audio ad. Time sensitive messaging, for example, instills a sense of urgency leading to greater purchase or footfall opportunities. When paired with listeners on the move your message can lead to 2x higher CPG return on your advertising spend.6

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Hear a host read from popular kids podcast, The Two Princes, that informed listeners about a 50% offer for The Farmer’s Dog pet food.

4. Use your audio identity
If your brand has an audio signature or jingle that’s beloved, don’t be shy! That familiarity offers an impactful way to enhance the user’s sonic environment and effectively get their attention.

5. Include a call-to-action
CTAs are crucial for driving offline action. Creative that has a direct Call-to-action can see a 4.4x lift in footfall than those that don’t. 7

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Hear a ghoulish 3D audio spot that demonstrates the benefits of noise-cancelling headphones with a clear and concise CTA for listeners.

6. Be clear and stay on message
Focus on the most important point you want the listener to walk away with. Keep speaking voices conversational. There’s no need to scream! Remember that you’re most often speaking to just one person at a time.

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Hear how artist KYLE encouraged fans to watch Spotify’s “Unclassified” video series.

7. Match the CTA how they listen
On Spotify, people spend the majority of their time doing something in addition to listening. When they can’t reach their mobile device from that yoga pose, consider another way to encourage a response that doesn’t require a click or tap.

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Hear an irreverent spot from Oasis, whose CTA simply asked listeners to buy more soft drinks — so the brand could advertise less.


Next Practices: Taking audio ads to the next level

Let’s face it, if the best had already been done, we would all probably be out of a job — or looking for something better to do, because that’s the nature of creativity. But it’s safe to say there’s always room for improvement; that’s what we mean by “Next Practices.”

Here’s something to think about, first and foremost: Disrupt. Don’t interrupt. Consider audio when you’re trying to disrupt (innovate or improve) and not interrupt (frustrate or suspend) the audience’s experience.

We’ve assembled a few forward-thinking ways that we hope might inspire the next great work in audio.

Mobile first is audio first
You can’t be truly mobile when you’re staring at a screen. Audio means you don’t have to choose between understanding a post or walking into one.

Lululemon embraced mindful relaxation with custom audio experiences for stressed out people on the go. Listen to the audio.

Optimize for sound up
Let your brand speak. When you create a utility or entertainment, why would you not speak up about it? Be heard. Sometimes, silence is louder than words.

Marie Claire used silence to deliver a poignant message about violence against women.

Curate and create culture
Music is a great measure for culture. When something happens in the real world, we see it reflected on Spotify. Tap into the most relevant cultural moments and make a stronger connection.

As its new season launched, American Idol reached out to music fans from the same home states as its contestants, aligning with up-and- coming trends in local music.

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As its new season launched, American Idol reached out to music fans from the same home states as its contestants, aligning with up-and-coming trends in local music.

You have voice – use it
When it comes to a call-to-action, context makes all the difference. On Spotify, brands will soon encourage listeners to launch a link, playlist or podcast using only their voice, handsfree. Magic!

We’ve just tested our first-ever voice-enabled ads.

Read more.

Immerse with 3D audio
If you want your audience to really feel and not just listen, then 3D audio’s power to provoke emotion is 10-fold. From earphones to in-car audio devices, immerse a listener in your brand.

A responsible-driving campaign in Mexico by AB InBev compared the results of a bad decision to drive home (listen to your left earphone) vs. calling a cab (listen to the right earphone).

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A responsible-driving campaign in Mexico by AB InBev compared the results of a bad decision to drive home (listen to your left earphone) vs. calling a cab (listen to the right earphone).

Talk of fame
You could pick any old celeb to represent your brand, but why not consider a voice your audience is already listening to? That could be a podcast host or an artist close to their heart.

We teamed with Sprite to surround RapCaviar, one of our biggest playlists, with a compelling, custom narrative series.

Read more.

Become a podcasting pioneer
Not all podcasts need to live as long-format. Think of them as an episodic series that can surprise audience expectations.

Chompers is a 2-minute, twice-daily toothbrushing show for kids. It works as a podcast and as a smart-speaker skill, and it’s a game-changer, helping kids learn to do something no kid likes to do. Oral-B and Crest have been sponsors.

Listen to the podcast.

Accessorize with audio
Audio can be used as an extension to a campaign or an original idea. Our research shows multi-format campaigns with audio drive significantly higher impact with 27% higher contribution to sales,8 while audio on its own can [also] be a strong driver of brand impact; 36% average lift in Message Association and 23% lift in Brand Perceptions.9 Whatever you have in mind, we’re all ears.

Snickers boldly converted the “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign into audio-ad reminders that let listeners know when hunger forced them to stray from their go-to genres.

Read more.

Time is precious
We believe short attention spans are for people who haven’t found what they are looking for. When you know what interests people, they spend more time with you than anywhere else.

Adidas took over our running playlist in the UK and aligned their ad tempo with that of running aficionados.

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Adidas took over our running playlist in the UK and aligned their ad tempo with that of running aficionados.

Give your eyes a break
Consumers around the world are reaching binge-watching burnout. Help listeners escape the onslaught of visual stimulation with imaginative audio during screen-free moments, like driving.

We help listeners imagine what the ultimate drive might sound like for those exhausted by exhausts.

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We help listeners imagine what the ultimate drive might sound like for those exhausted by exhausts.


Further reading (and listening)...

Creativity you can’t see
A micro-podcast series designed to encourage you to think about Spotify another way: as a consumer-behavior platform.

Listen to the podcast

Anatomy of ads: Spotify audio ads
Audio ads that demonstrate the creative potential of audio ads using the formats themselves.

For Entertainment
For Tech
For Automotive
For CPG/FMCG

Thought leadership from Spotify Advertising:
The new golden age of audio
Podcasts and the next level of influence

1 Edison Research and Triton Digital, The Infinite Dial Study 2019 2 Spotify First Party Data, Global, 2018, based on daily content hours / daily active users, free users, multiplatform 3 Spotify Culture Next trend survey among 4,000 respondents 15-37 globally [U.S., MX, BR, FR, DE, U.K., PH, AU], February 2019) 4 Spotify user survey, 2018 5 Spotify Nielsen Brand Effect Studies, 2018 6 Spotify Nielsen Catalina Solutions Analysis 2018 7 Spotify Placed Studies 2018 8 Spotify Nielsen Catalina Solutions 2018 9 Spotify Nielsen Brand Effect Studies, 2018

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