Context and Advertising: the Next Frontier

I haven’t updated in a while, due to plenty of interesting projects diverting my attention. One such project is working with my agency (VCCP)’s innovation team to cover and analyze in-house talks given by industry leaders in various tech-y fields. I thought I’d share an excerpt of my latest coverage on Spotify. You can see the article in full context here.

Let’s go!

We’re all used to thinking of Spotify as a music streaming and discovery service, but given the way it’s used – and its ubiquity – we should be thinking of it as a powerful medium for capitalizing on context. 41% of playlists on Spotify are context related, after all. To get you started, here are 5 ways to think about context when developing campaigns.

1. Place (aka Location and Physical Context). This is a territory (lol) marketers are already aware of and operating within through tactics like geotargeted campaigns, Proximity OOH, and ring fenced messaging. Spotify can be used in some of the same ways, from targeting different geographic locations to leveraging some of Spotify’s partnerships with companies like Starbucks to target people based on being in-store.

2. Time of Day (aka Temporal Context).We listen to music morning, noon, and night, meaning Spotify can help you reach people at specific times throughout the day – and might even be the key to getting them to consume your product. Case in point: Dunkin Donut’s campaign with Spotify in the states, where cities with peak “coffee break” listening received pop-up gigs in select stores (with free coffee, too).


3. Activity-based Context. When we’re listening to music, we’re usually doing something. Whether it’s something active like working out or partying with friends or more passive like commuting, you can think about these activities and target ads accordingly. This is another way that that Spotify’s partnerships with companies can come in handy, like their set up with Playstation (gaming/entertainment) or Uber (let’s be honest: drunken commutes).


4. Preference-based Context. This one might take a second to wrap your head around, so bear with us. People’s preferences, attitudes, and interests lead to different digital behaviours and patterns, especially in relation to information consumption and shopping. These digital spaces – and in particular the overlaps between them – create powerful contexts for interest-based marketing pursuits. Bose’s “Art of Sound” campaign is a brilliant example of how preferences and digital behaviours can both inform content creation and create a basis for targeting. ASOS’s campaign is another good example, merging seasonal context and preferences to pair destinations and music with wardrobes.

5. Emotional Context. This might be the most interesting context to play within at the moment. The talk was topped and tailed with points on how important music is to how we feel. From unwinding after a long day to getting psyched up for a presentation, consumers consciously choose what to listen to based on how they’re feeling – or how they want to feel. As storytellers of a sort, we think about developing creative that elicits certain emotions. Now, we’ve got the opportunity to piggyback or augment existing emotions, exponentially impacting the power of our messaging.

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