News & Insights

Audience targeting 101: Make your message matter

Depending on your brand, you may be looking to reach a niche slice of the Spotify listener pie with your ads—say, people who prefer romantic comedies over superhero films, commuters who spend at least 30 minutes on their way to and from the office, or adventure travelers with a knack for kayaking.

If you're trying to reach these specific types of listeners, your brand may benefit from audience targeting, a marketing method in which an ad campaign is highly personalized based on unique demographics.

The way we see it, ads on Spotify aren't just ads—they're part of the show. Here's how you can reach the right people at the right time with your digital audio ads.

Find an audience that 'gets you'


Audience targeting helps you create and deliver ads that closely align with a listener's lifestyle and interests—whether those listeners are fitness buffs, frequent travelers, NFT collectors, financial advisors, or a mix of all of the above.

In a nutshell, audience targeting allows advertisers to reach groups of consumers—often referred to as segments—and then personalize ad campaigns accordingly.

There are many different segments you can use for audience targeting, including age group, gender, location, and language. Or, you might target specific behaviors or interests that your audience shares—commuting, exercising, or playing video games, for example. With a self-serve ads manager like Spotify Ad Studio, brands can serve creative to the listeners who are most likely to be interested in their products or services.

Closely aligning an ad with a listener's content experience should be top of mind. You might hear a swimsuit ad play in the middle of a listener's “beach vibes" playlist, for example, or a sneaker ad during a workout playlist. In the case of podcasts, it's important to consider both the episode topic and that podcast's particular demographic.

Why audio ads?


In marketing, content may reign supreme—but when it comes to audio ads, context is king. It's important to craft the right message and deliver it in the right setting, at the right time, and with the right frequency. In fact, research suggests that context-based advertising is the future. Seventy-three percent of U.S. Spotify listeners use audio differently depending on where they are, what they're doing, and who they're with.1

Flexibility is a big reason why advertisers choose to run audio ads. Brands will often run one creative campaign but personalize it for different audiences. For example, an ad might have a few different variations—one with a voiceover that speaks to work-from-home moms, and another tailored to daily commuters. You can also play around with elements like background music, CTAs, and the length of the ad itself. Some advertisers also choose to anchor their campaign around relevant moments like cooking, working out, studying, or partying.

To top it all off, Spotify's streaming intelligence can tell how long a user is streaming—multi-device users stream for about 2.5 hours per day2—and whether the screen is in view. Audio ads are a great fit for on-the-go moments when screens are out of sight, and they create an opportunity for advertisers to make a memorable impression on listeners via strategic storytelling.

Best practices

If you're honing your digital ad strategy for podcast ads or other types of audio, here's what brands using Spotify Ad Studio, our powerful ads manager, have found success with.

  1. Moments matter. Music is powerful—so make sure your ads match the moment to harness that power. Consider what moments, whether seasonal or evergreen (like "working out" or "chilling"), best align with your message.
  2. Context is key. Listeners trust Spotify to understand their likes and dislikes. They know Spotify won't deliver an ad for running shoes while they're five-podcasts-deep in their meditation playlist. Keep this in mind when testing out different segments and targeting approaches.
  3. Find your rhythm. Contextual advertising sounds different depending on your audience. It might take a few tries to get your ad's beat just right. In the case of podcast ads using voiceover, duration matters. If your goal is to drive awareness, our research shows that 30-second voice talent podcast ads hit the sweet spot.3
  4. Test and reassess. Ad Studio's unique targeting tools and easy-to-use ads manager allow you to take full control of your marketing efforts without much of a learning curve. Keep close tabs on your ads as they run, and make adjustments as needed. Test, learn, optimize, repeat.

Audience targeting is a critical part of any marketing plan, and Spotify offers a wide variety of targeting options to ensure businesses are reaching the right people at the right moments. Our data-driven targeting tools help you find your customers—and connect with them authentically across devices, moments, and formats.

Find your stream of context and reach new audiences today.


  1. "Culture Next Report," Spotify trend survey among 500 U.S. Spotify Users 15-37, February 2019.
  2. Spotify First-Party Data, global, based on daily content hours / daily active users, free users multiplatform, May 2019.
  3. Custom Nielsen Ad Format study commissioned by Spotify. Survey conducted from November 20 - December 9, 2020. Sample of 5,999 respondents age 18+ who are podcast listeners and Spotify users.

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