Spotify confirmed on Wednesday (May 25th) that it will allow political ads to run on podcasts again after the platform suspended them more than two years ago.
In the run-up to the November mid-term elections, candidates, political parties, PACs and elected officials in the U.S. will be able to start running ads during podcasts on Spotify. “Following our pause of political ads in early 2020, we have spent the past two years strengthening and enhancing our processes, systems and tools to responsibly validate and review this content,” a spokesperson for the company said in a statement. “We are now beginning to sell select political advertisements in opted-in third-party podcasts via the Spotify Audience Network in the U.S.”
The streaming platform first announced its decision to remove political ads in 2019. At the time, major tech companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Google were all attempting to grapple with their role in spreading misinformation and influencing key election outcomes in the U.S. Twitter announced it would ban all political ads in October 2019, noting that “political message reach should be earned, not bought.”
Two months later, Spotify followed suit. “At this point in time, we do not yet have the necessary level of robustness in our processes, systems and tools to responsibly validate and review this content,” a Spotify spokesperson said at the time. “We will reassess this decision as we continue to evolve our capabilities.”
Facebook subsequently banned political ads temporarily “to avoid confusion or abuse following Election Day,” according to a company blog post. Google took a similar approach, banning political ads on its platforms following the 2020 election. Both companies announced that they would lift those bans in the first few months of 2021.
While Spotify is now bringing back political ads, emphasizing the new rigor of its review process — a significantly larger political sales team and an improved ability to make sure ads are being bought by American organizations with American money — it is doing so in a limited way.
Ads will not appear on the platform’s ad-supported music tier, at least for now. Only known political groups can run ads. And finally, podcasts have the choice to turn off political ads.