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Case Study: With Spotify Playlist, Carnival Engages a Millennial Audience

Music and social forge connection with millennials

With more than 2 million fans on Facebook, Carnival Cruise Lines has a vibrant social media presence. While Facebook has been a worthwhile and efficient engagement portal for the cruiser, Carnival is constantly looking for new ways to engage its current fans and to reach fresh audiences.

The goal of delivering valuable content in a fun and unique way led Carnival to explore advertising opportunities with music streaming company Spotify. As one of the top 10 most integrated social apps on Facebook, according to April 2013 research from AppData, and with 20 million active users, Spotify seemed an ideal destination for Carnival to provide a music-focused, social experience that would resonate with a younger, millennial user base.

From mid-October 2012 through the end of November, Carnival launched a custom music playlist called Carnival Cruise Tunes. With four hours of music content, the playlist kept to a Caribbean vacation theme. In addition to creating a Carnival-branded destination on Spotify, the cruise line also integrated the playlist on the Carnival Facebook page—both encouraged listeners to share the content with their friends.

Carnival used paid display media on Spotify to give the campaign more reach. Some paid ads linked to Carnival’s Facebook page and other ads drove users to the Carnival website. “The goal of the paid ads was to bring in a new audience that wasn’t necessarily coming from a travel site to a fun music environment and then bring them to the Carnival site to hopefully research or convert,” explained Chad Grospe, senior account director of cruise accounts at Razorfish, Carnival’s digital media agency.

According to Razorfish, the campaign drove nearly 450 Spotify users to the branded playlist, which far exceeded average performance typically seen in the travel category on Spotify during the campaign timeframe.

“We were definitely happy with the volume of time that users spent with the content,” Grospe said. “Spotify is a relatively new platform, so we were using this more as a way to test the waters and get people to engage.”

Perhaps Carnival’s most crowning achievement was its earned media impressions. Not only were consumers engaging with the content on the Carnival Facebook page, but they were talking about it on outside platforms like Twitter. This social content, in turn, helped Carnival identify hand raisers and generate some potential leads.

Although the Carnival team plans to align with Spotify again in the future, they expressed one precaution for Spotify advertisers: Although users may be listening to a branded playlist on the Spotify platform, they still will be subject to audio and banner ads by other brand advertisers while listening. “They would be on our branded channel listening to music but they could possibly could see an ad for another advertiser,” Grospe explained.

Digital music listening, as a whole, is growing. eMarketer estimates that the number of US monthly internet radio listeners will increase by 11% this year. Marketers like Carnival will undoubtedly follow this audience, whether they are looking to align with a certain demographic or music genre, or to just simply tap into music’s cool factor.


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