It happens every year. Along with the traditional festivities that come rolling in around this time, the music streaming service Spotify has developed a new tradition in the form of a cleverly designed advertising campaign. For a few days, social media becomes flooded with graphics displaying an individual’s yearly wrap up of their use of the streaming service.  Appropriately named “Spotify Wrapped,” the campaign harnesses both the appeal of sharing something that defines us as individuals and the universal love of music to create one of the most effective marketing campaigns to target younger demographics and social media users.

For those who don’t utilize the platform, the gist is as follows. Over the course of the year, Spotify compiles data on each of its users’ listening habits, and during the first week of December releases a look back on their year in music in the form of Spotify “Wrapped.” Included in this annual reflection is a “Top 100 Songs” playlist that features a user’s most played tracks, top genres and artists, as well as the total listening time that the user put in that year. The wrap-up also displays data regarding the new artists and songs discovered over the course of the year and geographic distribution of where their music originated from. The data is displayed on a personal “microsite” for each user to explore upon the release of the campaign each year. The site is colorful, attractively designed and well suited for sharing on social media.

This last factor, the appeal it has for Spotify users to take their listening data and share it on social media, is exactly the thing Spotify depends on for the success of the campaign. Since its implementation into the corporation’s marketing plan starting in 2017, it has garnished significant attention to the platform, not only increasing levels of brand recognition but attracting multitudes of new subscribers to the service and its various offerings. The universality of music also adds an element to the campaign, through sharing their own personal music listening history with others, people are able to connect with others over similarities and discover new sounds through those whose year in review yielded different artists or songs.

Spotify has been so successful with this campaign that since the introduction of Spotify “Wrapped, ” its release has become an event looked forward to with excitement by users of the platform.

This only speaks to the success of the campaign. The ability of Spotify to turn a marketing ploy into a beloved and anticipated event is not only impressive but holds implications for the future of advertising, especially with the increase of consumer data available to companies. The key lies in the massive amount of free advertising that Spotify reaps from this specific endeavor.

With every share of a person’s Spotify “Wrapped,” Spotify is exposed to a pool of potential consumers, creating new impressions and very possibly attracting patrons to their service. It brings into question of how other brands will react to seeing the success of such a highly individualized and targeted campaign. Will other streaming services, Netflix for example, follow suit and adopt a similar strategy?

A factor that must be considered in this, and one that Spotify seems to have avoided through their campaign, is the concern for user privacy. It is no question that the “Wrapped” campaign is highly personal, as it is a literal summary of a user’s activities over the course of the previous year. With concerns recently being raised over the brands’ access to consumer data as well as a rising aversion to the personalized ad approaches by these companies, it will be interesting to see how the campaign ages and if the idea branches out to find success on different platforms.