Why Do Spotify Podcasts Have Ads? (Explained)

When you become a Spotify Premium subscriber, you pay for ad-free music, not ad-free podcasts. It’s a reasonable assumption for you to make, but that’s not the way it works.

Some podcasts may include advertising, host-read endorsements, or sponsorship messages, even when you are subscribed as a Premium user on Spotify.

It’s not going to stop, sadly. There’s an entire ad infrastructure based on podcast advertising on Spotify. Let’s talk about Spotify podcast ads and how to deal with them.

Do Spotify ads interrupt podcasts?

Yes, ads play on Spotify podcasts. Some podcast creators may include third-party advertising, host-read endorsements, or sponsorship messages in their episodes.

I want to clarify the difference between two different kinds of podcast ads.

Number one is host-read advertising, also known as sponsorship messages. This is where the podcast host talks about a sponsor as part of the main audio recording.

Number two is third-party advertising in the form of dynamically inserted audio files. These are provided either by the podcast’s media host or the directory (Spotify).

Do Spotify podcasts have ads even with Premium?

Even with a Premium membership, you may receive an ad or sponsorship message when listening to a podcast episode. Spotify Premium offers ad-free music, not ad-free podcasts.

If you read their pricing page carefully, Spotify promises “ad-free music”. They never said anything about an “ad-free podcast” listening experience.

Many Premium users believe Spotify used “misleading advertising” when promoting their services. People expect an ad-free listening experience but they still get ads.

Why do Spotify podcasts have ads?

When asked why paying users would experience the same service as free users, Spotify said that advertising is “an integral part of the podcast industry.”

The Independent was able to get an explanation from Spotify in January 2021.

“All Spotify users receive an on-demand podcast listening experience that may include ads or sponsorships. Spotify Premium offers users an ad-free music listening experience. However, Spotify offers all listeners the ability to pause, rewind, and fast forward through any part of a podcast episode, including advertisements.”

Spotify serves podcast ads because they generate revenue and help content creators monetize their content. After all, podcast ads are considered more effective by advertisers. 

1. Spotify podcast ads generate revenue

Spotify’s revenue is made up of two things: Premium membership and ads. While ads only account for 12% of the revenue, it is still a decent amount of money.

According to Statista, Spotify generated an estimated $1.5 billion USD in advertising revenue in 2021. This figure is estimated to reach $2.4 billion USD by 2026.

Whether you like it or not, advertisements generate revenue for Spotify. 

2. Advertisers consider podcast ads more effective

There is a high demand for podcast ads. Advertisers believe podcast ads are more targeted because they can create an ad for people who are already interested in the topic of the podcast.

According to Rak Patel (Regional Head of Sales UK at Spotify), “Podcasts are intimate, they are trusted, they reach people in a very direct and personal way.” 

For example, if you are a big fan of Joe Rogan’s podcasts, you’ll likely get a commercial for Athletic Greens, which is a health supplement company based in the United States.

The commercial made sense because if you are listening to Joe Rogan, you are likely to be interested in health, fitness, and nutrition. Advertisers love targeted ads based on interests.

3. Help podcast creators monetize their content

Spotify serves ads on podcasts to help creators monetize and live off of their content. This is a good way to support content creators who provide consistent value on the platform.

We live in the age of the creator economy, after all. Anyone who creates content on the internet is likely doing it to make ends meet. Spotify podcast ads are one way to make extra money.

According to Spotify support, they don’t plan on taking this feature away from the creator at the moment and they also don’t enforce any mandates on who wants to activate it or not.

Are Spotify podcast ads targeted?

Spotify podcast ads are highly personalized based on demographics. They are targeted based on the content you’re viewing, the app you’re using, your location, or your device type.

How to remove ads from Spotify podcasts

It’s not possible to remove ads from Spotify podcasts, even if you have Premium membership. The injection of ads is something that is left to the individual podcast hosts.

Spotify gives podcast hosts the option to choose if they would like to have a dynamic ad slot in their podcast, but that isn’t something Spotify can control.

You can, however, pause, rewind, and fast forward through any part of a podcast episode, including advertisements. Whether you like it or not, Spotify podcast ads are here to stay.

In fact, podcast ads are evolving. In January 2022, Spotify introduced a new ad format aimed at podcasters called “Call-to-Action Cards” — or CTA cards, for short.

Spotify’s new clickable cards are just another example of the company’s quest to monetize podcasts and make its podcast content more interactive.

If you don’t like Spotify podcast ads, there is nothing you can do but ignore them. If you are dealing with sponsorship messages, you can easily fast-forward the episode.

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