Brian Berner recently joined Evan Dulaney and Andrea Book on an episode of Breakfast First to discuss the latest platform and advertising developments that have been happening at Spotify. 

He begins the interview with an overview of his role at Spotify, which gives the listener some context into the insights he will discuss throughout the episode. Brian Berner oversees advertising sales and partnerships throughout all of the United States and Canada. He manages a large team that offers creative solutions for clients and marketers looking to reach their intended audience through audio and visual aids.

According to Berner, Spotify’s ambition has always been to be the world’s largest audio platform. In the past, their offerings were primarily music-focused, but now they’ve begun expanding into podcasting as well. 

Below are some of the insights Berner brings up over the course of the podcast. If you’d like to listen to the whole interview, you can find the full episode here.

Content and advertising: a delicate balancing act

At one point, Andrea asks Brian Berner how Spotify balances their advertisements so as not to annoy the listener. In his response, Berner points out that one of the best things about their platform is that they are truly one of the only freemium/premium streaming services. If users want to opt out of ads altogether, they can pay a small fee every month.

Yet, despite the ability to easily switch to Spotify Premium, free users still make up the majority of their audience base. Berner says this is because their consumers understand that having access to unlimited content comes means that they are willing to listen to short ads for the benefit of their own entertainment. This is also because the ads that Spotify serves their users are personalized to their unique preferences. Brian Berner and his team are constantly doing A/B testing to analyze their user’s receptiveness and happiness levels when hearing ads. And their users are still only hearing a third less ads than that of other streaming services. 

Pros of Spotify exclusivity

When asked about why certain creatives would want to be exclusively on Spotify, Brian Berner explained the benefits from a creator standpoint.

With podcasting, a user can download a podcast to their computer or smartphone and listen to it whenever they want. The only problem is that it sits in a black box. You don’t know who is listening to it or where they’re located — all important information to guide content creation. But Spotify gives creators tools that allow them to see insights like the gender, age, and location of their listeners, as well as when listeners are the most likely to play a new episode.

This data guides a creator’s editorial strategy. They can see what episodes are performing better than others and use this to inspire future episodes. It can always help them understand what release dates would lead to an increased number of listeners, which is great for their platform. 

A roadmap forward

To conclude the episode, Andrea and Evan were interested in learning more about Spotify’s roadmap for the future. For advertising, Brian Berner noted that one of their prominent focuses will be teaching clients about more effective audio creation. This will include workshops, tutorials, and other resources that detail how a marketer can make their advertisements stand out.

Berner also states that agility and flexibility will be the new currency for advertisers. It’s important that clients have more control over when they turn their campaigns on or off. It will be beneficial for advertisers to be able to swap out creatives, like in the case of a crisis or perhaps a fun play off of something that’s happening in society at the moment. 

For the consumer, Berner notes a few exciting updates. As they expand their podcast reach, Spotify continues to acquire notable platforms like Ringer and Gimlet. Consumers can also expect to see more personalization in their playlists, podcasts, and advertisements, like what they’ve been doing with Discover Weekly. 

As Spotify looks to the future, listeners, creators, and marketers all stand to benefit from their offerings.