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Opinion: 5 Things Spotify Must Do To Win in America

Better Advertisements When Listening to the Free Version

By this point the rational public understands that for free music, advertisements are part of the game. We don’t like it, but we understand. The money to create and operate services—and of course write and record the actual music—has to come from somewhere.

However, with Spotify’s ads, consumers may change their minds.

Granted, I have not heard the entire book of advertisements, nor have inspected their targeting engine, but I can tell you this: Spotify, intentionally or not, has ads that drive you away from the free service—and potentially the service all together. They are bad. And they are obtrusive. And they often seem so strangely untargeted that you wonder if their only purpose is to annoy you into buying the premium version. That might seem like a crafty business decision, but these ads should, instead, function as a dependable source of revenue in the free model. Not only does Spotify have visibility into your entire music collection, but if you’ve integrated with Facebook, they can also see your demographic and your interests (if settings allow). They don’t appear to leverage any of this to create quality advertisements.

For instance, I’m listening to Bon Iver and various indie acoustic artists, a pleasant way to fill the airwaves as I work. What ad did I get? An auto-tuned, pop flavor-of-the-month that I’ve never heard of, nor—if you take a gander at my iTunes, which Spotify has—would I ever consider purchasing. The only action my profile, my interests and my music collection would indicate I’d take when hearing this garbage is slamming the mute button. Which I just did.

More importantly than anecdotal gripes, is the business model for the free version. Such grossly mistargeted advertisements mean that advertisers are going to see less and less bang for their buck—and, in turn, pay Spotify less for each placement.

Pandora’s ad targeting—again, if they have your info—is so good that I receive ads about “Thursday nights at the California Academy of Sciences” around the times I might be thinking about my evening plans. Would I rather listen to music during that 15 seconds? Of course. But as a listener and as a consumer, I sense how these ads fit into the financial ecosystem and I’m okay with the short detour, because at least the ad did have some value to me.

Spotify needs to correct this quickly or they’re going to have a lot more people slamming the mute button—then clicking Quit.

  • reprotected
    I come to Tom's Hardware and see horrible ads that don't even target me; like this Nike crap, and Ugg boots, and True Religion that I can't even afford. It would seem smarter for them to advertise "cheap Nvidia cards", "ram(gskill,patriot,corsair)" or "Intel 6-cores for $200" to at least trick some reader here.
  • back_by_demand
    10 out or 11 of the previous posts are SPAM

    And, laughingly enough, the article itself waxes lyrical about the annoyance of non-targetted ads having the potential to drive away customers.

    Tom's, there's an old saying about people in glass houses - sort this out because I have already read several entries from other forums users that say they have quit for good because of it - it really isn't funny anymore and laying it on the forum mods to clean up and delete them isn't a fix, a targetted blocking is what you need, like every other tech website out there.
  • Tomsguiderachel
    Dear Readers: We hear you. Thanks for commenting.
  • I got a invitation to Spotify and I really don't see the big deal? Its Pandora like with a listing of top played artists and albums. The streams sound OK and its very responsive. It does have annoying ads but I am not sure that will cause me to stop using it. What will cause me to stop using it is the ads saying how great it would be to buy the premium version without ads. I was trying to play an album one evening and I think the ads were at least every other song!. Long annoying ones at that! Yes, I think advertising is OK. But you are not selling products Spotify. You are trying to annoy me into buying into your paid subscription model. I can take the third party ads trying to sell me shampoo,cars,food,etc. Just not the constant "Please buy the service" crap!
  • christop
    Yeah thanks for the invite. I am playing around with it now.

  • Takuhi
    Spotify was great in the UK, until the record companies in the US decided to impose some ridiculous restrictions to even consider letting them enter the market.

    Before Spotify had intentions of breaking into the US market, you had to have an invitation to join Spotify. You could listen to everything for free, there were no play limits, no usage limits and only a few adverts.

    And then Spotify thought it might be a good idea to get into the US, at which point the record companies decided that the advert based business model didn't work. Now all users are subjected to constant adverts, a 5 replay limit per song and a maximum of 10 hours of listening for the entirety of their account. That's not 10 hours a month, it's 10 hours in total ever.

    That's why I stopped using Spotify. It takes me more than 5 listen throughs to decide whether a CD is worth buying, and I could easily hit the 10 Hour mark. Spotify claim that most users use Spotify to discover new music, which is correct. But with these limits, it's actually stifling the music industry. People have less money and need more incentive to pay full price for an album, Spotify was a fantastic remedy for that, at least until earlier this year.