Spotify is pulling select advertising privileges for white noise podcasts — a type of ambient noise podcast that involves looping relaxing sounds like rain or static — in a bid to boost the audio streaming company’s annual profits. As reported by Bloomberg, Spotify outlined changes to its Ambassador Ads program (which pays creators to read ads promoting Spotify content) in an email to creators on Friday, noting that white noise podcasters will no longer be eligible to participate starting October 1st.
Spotify will no longer spend its marketing budget to support white-noise podcasters through ambassador ads, Bloomberg reports. However, such creators can still make money on the platform via paid subscribers, listener support, and automated ads, which automatically place third-party ads into shows, akin to YouTube advertising. The money “wasn’t well spent,” according to Bloomberg’s source, because ambient noise playlists often serve as background noise instead of engaging active listeners. We reached out to Spotify to confirm the changes and will update this story when we hear back.
Some white noise podcasters make up to $18,000 a month in ad revenue by playing repetitive, ambient sounds.
The Ambassador Ads program pays creators based on impressions, with a Bloomberg report last month highlighting that some podcasters can make up to $18,000 a month through the program. According to leaked documents from January referenced in the report, white noise and ambient podcasts were unintentionally boosted as part of Spotify’s attempt to promote talk-based content over music, accounting for around 3 million hours of daily listening on the platform. Spotify calculated that it could increase its annual gross profit by $38 million if it removed white noise podcasts from its talk feed and redirected listeners towards other kinds of content, though it ultimately never followed through.
As part of the Ambassador Ads program update, Spotify has increased the audience threshold required for conventional podcasters to participate in the program from 100 to 1,000 unique Spotify listeners over the past 60 days. The company also said it’s looking to invite more podcast hosts to its Automated Ads program, and that participants can expect a 50 percent split of the revenue.
It’s not surprising that Spotify is looking for ways to retain cash. The streaming giant has seen mixed success over the last few years, with its most recent earnings report revealing the service has 220 million paying subscribers — a 27 percent increase from the previous year. The company is making around 6 percent less revenue per subscriber by comparison, however, and has announced several waves of layoffs, axing 200 roles from its podcasting division back in June.