If you were hunting for another reason not to use Spotify for podcasts, the streaming platform may have just delivered one on a silver platter. The company is adding new ‘call-to-action’ cards that are effectively visual advertisements linked to the audio ads you’d typically hear while listening to a podcast.
Spotify announced the new cards on Thursday via a blog post and confirmed to Gizmodo that the cards would be available across the desktop, mobile and tablet apps. For now, the ads won’t appear in web browsers, and to start the cards will only show up on Spotify Original and Exclusive podcasts in the U.S.
As for how these ads work, well, it’s pretty straightforward. When an ad starts playing in a podcast on Spotify, a small card pops up in the app with the brand name, some information and a clickable button that takes users to the advertiser’s website. These ads will show up for both free and paid users.
Further, Spotify will resurface the call-to-action cards for users who listen to an ad with the app closed or their phone screen off. For example, if you listen to a podcast while doing the dishes, you might see the call-to-action card next time you open Spotify and look at that show’s page.
To be clear, I’m not against advertising. It pays the bills for a lot of content creators and podcasts have relied on ads for monetization for some time. But so far, most podcasts advertise by reading ad copy (or playing pre-recorded audio) to listeners. Ads are contained to the show and usually to a specific ad segment at the beginning, middle and/or end.
My concern with Spotify’s approach is that it pulls the ads out of the show, which could open the floodgates for some of the scummier advertising practices that have run rampant on the web — for example, tracking and ad targeting. Additionally, the call-to-action cards add extra clutter to Spotify’s already less-than-stellar podcast interface. Oh, and serving the ads to paid Spotify subscribers is also frustrating since people pay to not have ads.
That said, there are some benefits to Spotify’s approach to ads. As the company points out in its blog post, most podcasts rely on special URLs or promo codes for ads — Spotify’s call-to-action cards remove the need for listeners to remember these codes since they can just click the card instead. And for advertisers, Gizmodo notes that Spotify found when testing call-to-action cards that they doubled site visits compared to non-clickable podcast ads.
Images credit: Spotify