If broadcasters like the idea of having one of the streaming audio companies off the political advertising playing field, they have some company. Two-thirds of Americans say they support Spotify’s decision to stop accepting political ad buys. In a survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults by Civic Science, only 8% said they disagreed with Spotify’s decision. One in four (26%) said they didn’t care one way or the other. The move was also more popular among actual Spotify users, of which 69% said they like the idea of no political advertising on the platform. That compares to a 61% approval rate among those who don’t use the app.
In late December Spotify said it would “pause” political ad sales. “This will include political advertising content in our ad-supported tier and in Spotify original and exclusive podcasts,” the company said then, explaining, “At this point in time, we do not yet have the necessary level of robustness in our processes, systems and tools to responsibly validate and review this content.” It did, however, leave the door open to reversing the decision as the campaign season heats up in the coming months. “We will reassess this decision as we continue to evolve our capabilities,” the statement said. But if it’s listening to users, it won’t bother undertaking those efforts.
There is a partisan split in sentiment, however. Civic Science says conservatives were far more likely than liberals to want political ads to remain on Spotify. But it notes that even among people on the right, support for axing political ads outweighed opposition by more than three-to-one.
Some podcasts on Spotify will continue to feature political ads, since any podcast that is produced by an outside company is brought into the platform complete with whatever advertising its sales reps have sold. In some cases, that will mean political ads.
Spotify’s decision is the latest pullback from political in the digital world. First Twitter announced in October that it wouldn’t allow political ads on the social network, and Google announced in November it would no longer allow highly targeted political ads.
Billions of dollars are expected to be spent in the coming year. BIA Advisory Services estimates candidates and outside groups will spend $6.58 billion on locally-targeted ads in 2020. It didn’t release online audio estimates, but BIA did estimate radio would pocket $312 million in local political ad dollars next year.