Spotify hits pause on US political ads for next year

That means nonpaying listeners in the US won't hear or see political ads, nor will Spotify's original podcasts run them.

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
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Joan E. Solsman
2 min read

Political ads were unique to the US on Spotify. 

Taylor Martin/CNET

Spotify will suspend political advertising early next year in the US. Spotify is the world's leading streaming music service by subscribers, but its biggest audience is people who listen to ads so they can hear music free -- 141 million of them worldwide each month

Ad Age first reported the news Friday 

Political advertising has been a flashpoint for technology companies like Facebook and Google, especially in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election in the US. Facebook has been criticized for continue to run political ads, even those with false statements. Twitter made headlines earlier this month for taking the opposite stance and banning political advertising

Like many of these media companies, Spotify targets ads. But unlike companies such as Facebook, which can leverage a trove of intimate data about you to hyper-target some advertising, Spotify doesn't appear to target its ads to the same degree. Spotify relies on "user demographic pools" to target ads, according to filings; it can base them on attributes like age, gender, playlist selection and other signals.

Spotify confirmed the suspension, saying the company doesn't yet have "the necessary level of robustness in our processes, systems and tools to responsibly validate and review" political advertising. "We will reassess this decision as we continue to evolve our capabilities," the company said in a statement. 

The suspension of political advertising in early 2020 will happen in the US, the only country where Spotify runs political ads. It applies not only to audio, video and display ads, but also to original and exclusive Spotify podcasts like The Joe Budden Podcast and Amy Schumer Presents.

Originally published at 9:17 a.m. PT. 
Update at 10:08 a.m.: Adds Spotify statement and context. 

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