How Spotify Makes Its Data-Driven Outdoor Ads, and Why They Work So Well

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It’s usually British TV spots that are wowing people at this time of year. But for our money, the most entertaining holiday ads of 2017 so far have been Spotify’s global out-of-home ads, which crunch user data and cleverly transform it into witty headlines—riffing on the ups and downs of our suddenly unhinged world.

We posted a bunch of the ads on Wednesday. With the theme “2018 Goals,” they serve as comical New Year’s resolutions come early—using Spotify listeners’ habits from 2017 to humorously suggest strategies for dealing with life in 2018.

The campaign follows similar ads last holiday season. The ads work so well because music is such an emotional experience, and data about our listening habits, on the macro level, taps into our collective mood, said Spotify CMO Seth Farbman.

We spoke to Farbman on Thursday, who told us more about how the campaign is made, why so many of this year’s ads are politically themed, and how to keep advertising about current events lighthearted in a world gone berserk.

AdFreak: The hook this year is that you’re looking forward to next year. What was the thinking behind that? 
Last year it was so clear. It was why we used the line “It’s been weird” last year. We couldn’t figure out how else to describe it. It was such an unusual year. So much happened, and at such a rapid pace. As a culture and society, we were just taking it on. We were almost fascinated, in a sense, at everything that had been happening to us.
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