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Why Spotify ads are more likely to hold people’s attention

New research from dentsu International’s Attention Economy series found that Spotify ads are more effective at holding peoples’ attention compared to other platforms.

Marketers, meet the new performance metric in town: Attention.

Dentsu International recently released phase two of the Attention Economy, a research project that focuses on the consumer experience of interacting with media and how it differs across digital platforms. This research has resulted in a new attention-based metric for measuring ad performance, which gives marketers a better understanding of how their ads perform across formats, platforms, and devices.

“The main goal of our Attention Economy program is to build a more sustainable media ecosystem that will result in more meaningful experiences for consumers, as well as more effective media for our clients,” Joanne Leong VP, Director, Global Media Partnerships at dentsu, said. “For phase two, we knew it was crucial to include digital audio, one of the fastest-growing mediums globally.”

We collaborated with dentsu and Amplified Intelligence on this latest round of research as their first-ever audio partner, with the goal of understanding how Spotify ads — both audio and video, tested separately and together — score in their attention model. Now, the results are in: Spotify’s intimate and engaging ad environment scored extremely high in dentsu’s attention metrics, and is among the top-performing platforms in the study.1

  • +14%

    Spotify audio ads drove +14% greater attentive seconds compared to the platform average

  • +155%

    Spotify video ads drove +155% greater attentive seconds compared to the platform average

The experiment

Our goal was to understand how attentive people are to Spotify ads, and how that attention drives brand choice. Phase one of the research tracked consumer ad exposure across three platforms: linear TV, in-feed video on social media, and preroll on video platforms.

Phase two of dentsu’s research surveyed a group of 1,000 users in the U.S. and U.K. who were exposed to specific ads while listening to music on Spotify. They then used questionnaires and brand choice methodologies to better understand the impact of the ad attention on subsequent recall and intention to purchase. Dentsu also used additional data to see how sound and video on Spotify affect users’ attention.

Here’s what dentsu’s research found — and our top takeaways for digital audio advertisers.

Which factors drive attention?

While impressions (which are treated equally) and device-based metrics are easy to measure, dentsu argues, they don’t represent meaningful exposure. Dentsu’s attention model dives deep into the drivers of not just attention, but also on the value of attention.

Because not all attention is equal, dentsu’s model combines factors like viewable time, whether or not an ad is skippable, duration, and device. They also looked at factors of attention that are typically harder to measure, like creative. In one part of the study, dentsu isolated the impact of creative by preselecting ads and inserting them into the consumer experience, while keeping all other factors constant. The different creative types were then scored based on their ability to drive attention, recall, and choice. In phase two of the study, dentsu measured the impact of recall each of those factors has on a “typical” 3.2 seconds of attention.

And the single biggest driver of how hard attention works? Strong ad creative. The study showed that the difference between good creative and poor creative can impact ad recall by 17%.2 Additional key factors included volition (whether attention is earned or forced), sound, and duration.

Why attention matters

So where does attention fit into your current measurement model?

The study showed that attention, which is measured by “effective attentive seconds” based on dwell time and outcome, was a key driver of performance across ad recall and purchase intent. That’s why in addition to driving strong performance in attention, Spotify also drove significant purchase intent uplift. That means attention isn’t just a nice-to-have — it’s the foundation for strong campaign performance.

Spotify is the place to find your leaned-in, attentive audience. People stream Spotify an average 2.5 hours per day,3 which means we’re constantly learning about how people listen in real-time through our streaming intelligence — first-party, contextual data that reveals listeners’ context. That context fuels great ad experiences for our users, and for brands: 51% of Spotify Free users say they pay more attention to ads on Spotify because they are more relevant or tailored.4

The key to attention on Spotify? Combining video and audio

In the study, audio and video alone were seen as highly attentive. But one reason why Spotify likely achieves more attention than other platforms? The powerful combination of digital audio and digital video ads.

Our own research shows that when audio ads and video ads work together, they drive significant brand impact. In fact, we’ve found that multiformat campaigns on Spotify result in a 90% increase in ad recall and 2.2X in brand awareness.5

What this means for marketers

Dentsu’s Attention Economy research shows that Spotify ads are more likely to hold users’ attention — and drive results. Spotify’s audience is uniquely attentive, giving advertisers the opportunity to focus on the quality of the message, strong creative, and contextual relevance.

  • Environment matters. Dentsu’s experiment showed that a platform’s ad environment as a whole (not individual ad products) is responsible for results. Compared to other platforms, Spotify’s unique combination of audio, video, and display ads are proven to drive higher rates of attention and engagement.
  • Personalization is key. Ads on Spotify are served to users based on their listening context, which means they’re more relevant, more personalized, and more likely to resonate. Our recent Sonic Science research breaks down the neurological reasons why Spotify’s personalized, interactive listening environment is more engaging and memorable than social media, TV, and digital video.
  • Creative takes center stage. We’ll say it again: Nothing is more important for holding people’s attention than strong creative messaging. Spotify ads give marketers all kinds of creative tools to tell compelling stories across multiple formats — from an audio ad during a popular playlist or podcast, sound-on video ads, and immersive soundscapes with 3D audio. Get inspired to kick off your next Spotify campaign with our quick-start guide to creating digital audio ads.
  1. Source: dentsu International, “Unlocking the Currency of Attention,” October 2021
  2. Source: dentsu International, “Unlocking the Currency of Attention,” October 2021
  3. Spotify First Party Data, global, based on daily content hours / daily active users, free users multiplatform, May 2019
  4. Source: Spotify/Kantar TNS Research Study 2020, Total Audience, US, Attention=Full/Most
  5. Nielsen Brand Effect on Spotify, March 2020

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