Bigger Data, Bigger Ideas

March 29, 2017

Data is everywhere—and rather than simply using it to identify audiences and measure success (as we must), it can be the inspiration for wildly creative marketing executions.

One brand getting creative with data driven marketing is the music-streaming service Spotify, which rolled out its largest global advertising campaign yet last November. Instead of simply touting cold, dull figures (such as its 50 million paid subscribers or average daily listening time of 148 minutes per user), they chose to tell relevant, timely stories with their data. Large billboards showcased interesting, albeit bizarre, listening habits of local users with the message, “Thanks, 2016. It’s been weird.”

One UK billboard read: “Dear 3,749 people who streamed ‘It’s The End of the World as We Know It’ the day of the Brexit vote…Hang in there.”

Another one in Manhattan: “To the person in NoLIta who started listening to holiday music way back in June…You really jingle all the way, huh?”

And, my personal favorite: “Dear person who played ‘Sorry’ 42 times on Valentine’s Day…What did you do?”

Spotify's Data Driven Marketing Campaign
Images by Spotify via Google

The campaign continued with an end-of-year e-mail to customers summarizing his or her Spotify usage statistics, along with a “Top 100 Songs of 2016” playlist based on his or her most frequently played songs. When I received my own “2016 In Music” e-mail of personalized quirky facts and figures, I immediately shared the stats with friends and family, eagerly pointing out how various figures related to important people/events in my life. My parents got a good laugh that my top played track was a Billy Joel tune—proof that their love for the Piano Man has been passed down to me after years of subliminal grooming—and Spotify got free word-of-mouth marketing.

These campaigns celebrate users’ individuality to generate buzz, with Spotify as the common denominator to every discussion. Spotify continues to build off this approach in 2017, shifting its focus to poke fun at the wacky names users create for playlists.

How Spotify Uses Data Driven Marketing
Images by Spotify via Google

Spotify also tapped into its celebrity rolodex to release video ads of artists reacting to the unusual names of playlists that feature their songs.

In one video, the band DNCE ponders the selection of their upbeat dance anthem “Body Moves” for a playlist named “Play this at my funeral.” “That’s a pretty messed up funeral,” muses lead singer Joe Jonas, as a tearful procession attempts to dance to the song while carrying a casket.

By celebrating the “weirdness” of its user base, Spotify is humanizing itself as a music brand, rather than a technology company—a goal it has been striving towards since rebranding in 2015. Other than prompting users to create playlists, the subtle call to action is for users to promote their own individuality and, in the process, Spotify. As one of our other posts on content marketing observed, “Content marketing makes your audience brand ambassadors without their even realizing it,” just as I did when I blasted my Spotify-branded “2016 In Music” stats to anyone that would listen.

Think of your own brand: are you leveraging data driven marketing? Or are your current marketing campaigns frenzied because they lack analytical insights that make them more relevant to your audience? Perhaps you’ve been sitting on a mountain of “useless” internal user data—could you reframe your big data in a fun, unique way to tell your brand’s story the way Spotify has?