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Is Spotify advertising right for your church (Part 1)

 

By Eric Seiberling

The growth of streaming audio has created a significant opportunity for churches to reach people outside the four walls of the church in a new way.

One of the largest music streaming services is Spotify. More than 90 million people hear ads on Spotify while streaming music every day.

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Using Spotify Ad Studio, you can create and place audio ads to be heard by listeners of their free service during breaks between songs on both desktop and mobile platforms.

Each ad contains up to 30 seconds of audio with a clickable image displayed. The image is linked to an URL of your choice, i.e. your church website, Facebook page or an ad-specific landing page.

At of November 2018, Spotify charges between $0.015 - $0.025 per ad served with a minimum $250 budget. Ad Studio calculates the cost per ad based on selections you make, including demographics of listener, music genre, location, etc. You’re only charged each time your ad plays.

Pros of Spotify advertising

  1. Long reach. Especially for churches, Spotify and other streaming services effectively reach people where visual media can’t or when it’s cost prohibitive. Your church can reach people on their commute, at home, at work or in a park where it would cost a lot to buy billboards in multiple locations or take a lot of time to print and hang flyers.
  2. Microtargeting. Spotify allows you to target ads toward listeners based on age, gender, location, activity and music preference as well as the device used to stream the service. One interesting element to note is “Playlist Category” where you can target people within your audience selection who are listening to music tailored to a specific activity or mood. This can include cooking, meditation, focus or others. Use these variables to connect with people in your community in a relevant and meaningful way.
  3. Strong measurement and the ability to test what works. Churches can stay in control of the campaign in terms of budget, run dates and performance. It also provides the ability to test and improve your communication efforts. By placing two different ads and then comparing click-through rates or placing your ad using two different targeting criteria enables you to test which produces better results. Fine-tune your program until you know what works.
  4. Embedding a call to action. One powerful element of Spotify and other digital ads is that you can ask someone to do something. Ads with a direct call to action have click-through rates that are three times higher than those without. Consider advertising a VBS or family fun event, including a "Register Now" button to encourage instant sign-ups while it's at the top of their mind.
  5. Simple creation. You can opt to upload your own audio or provide Spotify with a script for them to record, mix and create the ad. Be mindful to select the right voice for the ad, determining whether the need is for a male, female or child’s voice. You will also need to create a “cover image” that displays during the ad spot. Use a tool like Canva or Crello to create an image that reflects the identity of the event or your church.

Cons of Spotify advertising

  1. Targeting by Designated Market Areas (DMAs). The more difficult piece of placing your Spotify ad is trying to identify your city or location. Like most media companies, the majority of Spotify’s locations is tied to something called a Designated Market Area or DMA.

    For some locations (like Cincinnati), it’s a relatively confined area of the counties surrounding the city. If you're in a more rural location, like Columbia, Kentucky, it gets more tricky. People attending Columbia United Methodist Church come from three different DMAs (Lexington, Louisville and Bowling Green), which cover a two- to three-hour driving area.

    If your church is in the western part of the United States, the DMAs can cover multiple states. For example, the Salt Lake City DMA covers Utah and parts of Nevada, South Dakota and Idaho. Currently, Spotify does not allow targeting by zip code or geo-radius, so this may limit your church’s ability to use it.
  2. Very short message. You need to keep your script under 75 words to fit the allotted time. This can be challenging for complex events. Focus on a very simple message of what the event is, when and where it will be held, how it may benefit the attendee and where to go to get more information. Create an obvious custom link (i.e., EventName.org) for people to more easily find additional information after hearing your ad. Remember, they’re likely commuting as the ad broadcasts.
  3. Cost. In general, it costs $250 per day to run a Spotify ad in an average size DMA. Ads need to be heard repeatedly (between three to seven times) before listeners notice or tend to respond. Consequently, for a major event, you may need to schedule the ad to run up to two weeks, requiring a significant investment. Costs can be reduced the more you microtarget your audience by type, time of broadcast and DMAs.

For a large outreach event, Spotify may be a good marketing platform for churches with a large budget.

Finding the right ad mediums takes time and patience. Although you are tasked with being a good steward of church funds, you still need to allow grace to try new things. Don't be afraid to "fail forward."

Indian Heights United Methodist Church in Overland Park, Kansas, took the plunge and performed a Spotify ad trial for a large outreach event. Watch for the next issue of MyCom to read about their test results and to help you determine if Spotify could work for your church.

Eric Seiberling

— Eric Seiberling is part of a husband-wife duo working to help the church embody "1 > 99" at brokensheep.com. He leverages his 20+ years of marketing and consulting experience to help churches "baptize" and use secular techniques to be more effective at reaching the lost, the least and the last for Jesus Christ.