Political advertising has largely come to an end on Spotify, at least for the time being in the U.S. The company says its decision was based not on a desire to keep the platform politics-free, but is instead an acknowledgement of the challenges of accepting campaign ads in 2020.
“Beginning in early 2020, Spotify will pause the selling of political advertising,” a company spokesperson said in a statement. “This will include political advertising content in our ad-supported tier and in Spotify original and exclusive podcasts. 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. Spotify’s decision was first reported by Ad Age.
Some podcasts on Spotify will continue to feature political ads, since any podcast that is produced by outside companies are brought into the platform complete with whatever advertising their sales reps have sold. In some cases, that will mean 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.
Spotify has already been on the receiving end of political ad dollars from both sides of the political aisle with the Republican National Committee and Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) among those who’ve reportedly bought time on the streaming platform. Spotify declined to say how much political revenue it has received to date. But Ad Age reports the total so far has been relatively small.
Broadcasters hoping to capture political ad buys already had reason to be hopeful with digital companies retreating from the category in recent months. First Twitter announced in October that it wouldn’t allow political ads on the social network, and Google announced last month it would no longer allow highly targeted political ads on its platform beginning Jan. 6, 2020.