Tech companies trying to “reach into people’s souls” to better understand them – or to better understand how to market and monetize them – is not unheard of.
Some years back – before all hell broke loose against the company for different reasons – Facebook subjected its users to an “experiment” deliberately manipulating their news feeds to see how they would react.
The Baffler writes about Spotify, a service working to maintain its leading place in the music streaming industry, and its relentless efforts to exploit user data for ad dollars.
And given the nature of the service – it’s much easier for Spotify to find out about the mood or even the state of mind of its users. These are deeply personal things. Which is where, as ever, the thing becomes problematic with tech companies driven by advertising.
Spotify’s business model is to provide free streaming with ads on top, and a paid subscriber option. Of the 209 million users cited by the company, 111 million are targeted by ads.
And according to the article, in order to target them well, the Swedish company is selling access to its users’ mood-revealing listening data “to multinational corporations.”
Users do a lot of the work themselves, by choosing their music offered under such labels as “Happy Hits, Mood Booster, Rage Beats, Life Sucks.”
The data-gathering intent is not exactly, as listeners are steered towards thinking that kind of navigation is helping them find what they like – and nothing more.
But, there’s a whole lot more going on behind the scenes: “the mood currency” is what Spotify exchanges with advertisers for real money. It’s a strategic choice, dating back to 2015, now in effect for three years, the article states.
It adds that Spotify has gone all.in on collecting and selling this kind of data, investing in studies, research and marketing, and providing advertisers with “an interactive hub” on the Spotify for Brands website.
The goal is to help them better exploit “mood data.” The website also lists some of those who have already had success selling their products on Spotify in this way: Dunkin’ Donuts, Snickers, Gatorade, Wild Turkey, and BMW.