Spotify to ‘pause’ running political ads, citing lack of proper review

Brian Heater
London, UK - July 31, 2018: The buttons of the music streaming app Spotify, surrounded by Podcasts, Apple Music, Facebook and other apps on the screen of an iPhone.

Ever since the run up to the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election (and, arguably, well before that), political ads have become a major sticking point on social media sites looking to crack down on misinformation. Facebook has grappled with the issue to the satisfaction of virtually no one, while Twitter has shut them down altogether.

Ad Age noted this week that Spotify is going to follow in the footsteps of the latter — for the time being. The world’s premier music streaming service is pumping the breaks on political ads amid the 2020 presidential race.

The company confirmed the (in)decision in a statement provided to TechCrunch:

Beginning in early 2020, Spotify will pause the selling of political advertising. This will include political advertising content in our ad-supported tier and in Spotify original and exclusive podcasts. 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. We will reassess this decision as we continue to evolve our capabilities.

There’s certainly something to be said for knowing one’s limitations. And because so much of the company’s revenue derives from ads run on its free offering, Spotify should be commended for opting to pull the plug on a solid revenue stream as the campaign is entering the primary season. Spotify wouldn’t comment on how much money is being left on the table, but as Ad Age notes, political organizations ranging from the Bernie Sanders campaign to the RNC use the platform to get the word out.