Spotify Unveils Video Takeover Ads for Free Users

If you're one of the tens of millions who use Spotify's free service, prepare to be taken over. The streaming music giant has announced a pair of new video ad products that will give brands a super-sized presence while you listen.

For the desktop there's Video Takeover, in which brands can "own the ad break" with sponsored videos that will air during normal ad breaks, as opposed to audio spots. Obviously, the videos will only be seen if the desktop client is in view, otherwise it will just sound like a regular ad. The mobile-based Sponsored Sessions gives brands a chance to own 30 minutes of uninterrupted music on your device. The catch? To get that 30-minute rock/rap/country/whatever block, users must first watch a :15 or :30 video.

A Spotify spokesperson said the company will start testing the video ads in the fourth quarter with a limited number of brands. The plan is to extend the service to all other advertisers in early 2015. Sponsored Sessions will initially be for mobile platform only, and Video Takeover for desktop. For both, only completed views will be billed to the brands, and each will feature an additional visual ad unit (branded end card on mobile, companion ad on desktop).

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Spotify, which pegs its free service user base at over 30 million, is launching the new marketing experience with Coca-Cola, Ford, McDonalds and NBC Universal Pictures as global partners, along with Target and Wells Fargo in the United States.

"These new video ad units give us the opportunity to be a small part of people's everyday passion for music and create better experiences across Spotify," said Ivan Pollard, Coke's svp of connections, in a statement. "Spotify are great partners in helping us execute new ways of connecting with people on their platform leveraging data, intelligence and creativity to bring a little refreshment to an already uplifting experience with music."

Jeff Levick, Spotify's chief business officer, said the new ad products will enhance user experience and are "perfect examples of the kind of high quality, high value experiences we want to offer our brand partners and our audience."

According to Spotify's internal data, users of multiple devices spend an average 146 minutes a day streaming music. The company believes this engaged group is 94% more likely to have an emotional connection to brands and 86% more likely to recommend brands to friends.