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Spotify opens a second personalized playlist to sponsors, after ‘Discover Weekly’ in 2019

Spotify is opening up its personalized playlist, “On Repeat,” to advertising sponsorship. This playlist, launched in 2019 and featuring users’ favorite songs, is only the second personalized playlist on the music streaming service that’s being made available for sponsorship. Spotify’s flagship playlist, “Discover Weekly,” became the first in 2019.

The sponsorship is made possible through the company’s Sponsored Playlist ad product, which gives brands the ability to market to Spotify’s free users with audio, video and display ad messages across breaks, allowing the advertiser to own the experience “end-to-end,” the company says.

It also gives brands an opportunity to reach Spotify’s most engaged users.

When Spotify opened up “Discover Weekly” to sponsorship, for example, it noted that users who listened to this playlist streamed more than double those who didn’t. Similarly, “On Repeat” caters to Spotify’s more frequent users because of its focus on tracks users have played most often.

Since the launch of “On Repeat” in September 2019, Spotify says the playlist has reached 12 billion streams globally. Fans have also spent over 750 million hours listening to the playlist, where artists like Bad Bunny, The Weeknd, and Ariana Grande have topped the list for “most repeated” listens.

Though Spotify today offers its numerous owned and operated playlists for sponsorship, its personalized playlists have largely been off-limits — except for “Discover Weekly.” These are highly-valued properties, as Spotify directs users to stream collections powered by its algorithms, which Spotify organizes in its ever-expanding “Made for You” hub in its app. Here, users can jump in between “Discover Weekly,” and other collections organized by genre, artist, decade, and more — like new releases, favorites, suggestions, and more.

With the launch of sponsorship for “On Repeat,” brands across 30 global markets, including North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia-Pacific will be able to own another of Spotify’s largest personalized properties for a time.

The first U.S. advertiser to take advantage of the sponsorship is TurboTax, which cited the personalization elements and user engagement with the playlist among the reasons why the ad product made sense for them.

“Like music, taxes are not one size fits all. Every tax situation is unique and every individual’s needs are different,” said Cathleen Ryan, VP of Marketing for TurboTax, in a statement about the launch. “We’re using Spotify’s deep connection to its engaged listeners to get in front of consumers and show them that with TurboTax you can get the expertise you need on your terms. With Spotify, we’re able to get both reach and unique targeting that ensures the right audiences know about the tools, guidance and expertise that TurboTax offers,” she added.

Amid pandemic, Middle East adtech startups play essential role in business growth

The pandemic’s impact on the business world encouraged adtech startups and digital marketing agencies to collaborate more, helping brands survive the pandemic by bringing businesses closer to consumers.

Although overall spending on advertising slowed in 2020, it is expected to recover in 2021 and reach $630 billion in 2024. According to Statista, North America spends the most on advertising, with second place going to Asia and Western Europe. The rest of Europe, Africa and the Middle East lag behind.

Although overall spending on advertising slowed in 2020, it is expected to recover in 2021 and reach $630 billion in 2024.

However, the Middle East embodies great potential. According to Statista, it boasts the highest growth, with a 600% increase in digital advertising in the MENA region between 2010 and 2015. Although consumers in the region used to prefer traditional advertising channels, the internet took over in 2020, with 44.2% of the total ad expenditures, while TV dropped to 30%.

Here are several essential characteristics of digital advertising in the Middle East region:

  1. According to a PwC report, 39% of shoppers in the Middle East use social media to find inspiration for purchases, compared to the global average of 29%.
  2. Due to the existence of a shadow economy, political regulations and unofficial business, the amount of digital ad spending in the MENA region ranged from $1 billion to $1.2 billion in 2020.
  3. Paid social is the leading category in digital advertising expenditures in the MENA region. Saudi Arabia and Egypt are the largest in terms of active YouTube users.
  4. There are more than 500 digital agencies listed in the region. UAE is leading in terms of big advertising agencies, while Egypt and Saudi Arabia are famous for small- and medium-size agencies. Most digital marketing talent and creative resources reside in Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan, while most adtech startups are born in Israel, UAE and Qatar, according to digital marketing consultant Yasser Ahmad.
  5. E-commerce is driving growth, hitting $17 billion in the Middle East in 2020, according to Statista, with many online shoppers increasing the frequency of purchases during the pandemic.

Rokk3r acquires AdMobilize and Matrix Labs for $19.5M

Miami-based AdMobilize and its spin-off, Matrix Labs, announced this morning that they are being acquired for $19.5 million. The buyer is Rokk3r, a Miami-based holding company that invests in creating, acquiring and integrating companies.

AdMobilize quantifies digital advertising in the physical world, so marketers can better reach their target audiences.

“If you’re walking on 5th Avenue and you pass by a bus shelter that has a digital screen, AdMobilize analyzes [peoples’] age, gender, emotion and even how long the person was looking at the ad. We created a platform that mimics the click-through rate. So we kind of created Google Analytics for the outside world,” said Rodolfo Saccoman, CEO and founder of AdMobilize.

The company, which has raised $13 million since its launch in 2012, also has offices in Saccoman’s native Brazil, as well as Colombia and London. 

AdMobilize operates as a SaaS with an average monthly subscription fee of $50 per screen or billboard. 

“Our tech is 95% accurate, and it’s based on undeniable computer vision data,” Saccoman said. If a digital ad screen doesn’t have a camera built-in, AdMobilize can provide one. But Saccoman made it very clear that the company doesn’t do any facial recognition and really is only interested in the data in a broader sense.

Matrix Labs, on the other hand, is a hardware company with products that look similar to Raspberry Pi, but with a lot more oomph.

“Our Matrix Labs development boards give the Raspberry Pi superpowers. It transforms the Pi to be AI-ready for computer vision, sensor fusion, voice recognition and more. It democratizes AI at the edge by removing barriers to entry, shortening the learning curve, and increases adaptability,” Saccoman said.

Rodolfo Saccoman Image Credits: Saccoman

The company offers two boards. One is called the Matrix Creator and sells for $99, while the other is the Matrix Voice which goes for $75.

“It [Matrix boards] enables people to not spend millions of dollars making a piece of hardware,” Saccoman said. In fact, it levels the playing field for developers, he added. “It allows them to create solutions in the physical world with inexpensive edge AI hardware.”

Rokk3r was an early investor in AdMobilize, along with Azoic Ventures, Fuel Venture Capital, VAS Ventures and Axel Springer.

“Rokk3r has always believed in the potential of artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, and computer vision, hence it seeded and helped build AdMobilize. Where we stand today with what AdMobilize/Matrix Labs has achieved, it is clear that the technology created is critical to the future of AI/IOT/CV, and with Rokk3r’s focus on AI/IOT and IP creation, the fit was clear,” said Nabyl Charania, chairman and CEO of Rokk3r.

Saccoman is a Brazilian-born serial entrepreneur who moved to the U.S. to attend college at Cornell in 1995 and never left. He made his way down to South Florida with his first job out of college, where he was head of Digital Innovation at the ultra-lux Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach. While the AdMobilize/Matrix Labs deal is his first exit, his first “venture” was when he was just 13 years old. It was called the PiPi bag. São Paulo, the financial capital of Brazil, is notorious for awful traffic. It can often take people three hours to get to the airport, and when you’re trying to catch a flight, stopping to use the restroom isn’t usually an option. As the name suggests, the Pipi bag was a handheld portable toilet of sorts for those moments when nature calls.

Years later, in 2007, Saccoman also founded a company with his brother who has a PhD in psychology. It was called MyTherapyJournal.com and was the first online journaling platform with cognitive behavior therapy. 

“It would measure your varying emotions when you answered key questions. For example, people could start to understand what would trigger their anxiety. It had early traces of AI,” Saccoman said. MyTherapyJournal closed in 2012.

Of his various ventures, he said, “My mind was always running to find problems.”

Saccoman will stay on board and lead Rokk3r’s AI and IoT division.