Few brands have to simultaneously navigate how to talk to users as a brand and how to talk to other brands that want access to their users. But that’s the position Spotify and Reddit find themselves in. That’s why, ahead of the Jan. 8 kickoff of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where both brands will be pitching fellow marketers, Brandweek asked Spotify’s global vp of partner solutions, Danielle Lee, and Reddit’s COO, Jen Wong, to chat about diversity and inclusion, how they work with other advertisers and more. The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity. Lee and Wong will also be together at CES on the “New Rules of Engagement in the Disrupted Age” panel, Jan. 9 at 11 a.m.
Jen Wong: How do you use data for both users and advertisers?
Danielle Lee: Our first-party data—our streaming intelligence—is our superpower. It’s what we use to enhance the customer experience for our 191 million users. We use it to help brands be super relevant. There are three things that help us do this. First is playlists and identity. All of our consumers are logged in when they’re streaming, so we understand who they are in those various moments. The second is ubiquity. We’ve integrated our app into lots of different devices [so] we’re able to better understand the context of the user and share those relevant experiences. Finally, curation. People create billions of playlists for all types of use cases, and that curation of playlists for these different moments helps us [become] smarter.
How do you think about data?
Wong: Reddit is focused on interests. What generated our 330 million monthly users is leading with interests and these sub-Reddits, where we have over 100,000 topics.
[We have] communities where people have self-selected interests. People come to Reddit with an expectation of quality and depth so that they are ready to actually imbibe detailed information and respond to rich questions with quality answers. We use data to make sure that we are surfacing everything that is happening on the site in a curated way so that folks can discover new areas.
Lee: We often talk about the fact that culture happens on Spotify. There are all these different macro-cultural moments here, everything from political moments to pop-culture moments. It helps us learn about them.
Wong: I’d love to pick up on that point around culture and community. Can you talk about how Spotify is using music and audio content to drive and reflect culture and build those communities?
Lee: In our consumer and b-to-b marketing effort, we have an annual campaign called Wrapped, where we show a year in review. We also surface some of those data stories in our marketing to show some of the quirkiness and curious behavior and nuanced behavior on the platform. That’s one of the ways that we reflect culture. The other way is in some of our live event[s]. One of our most-followed playlists is called RapCaviar. We expand[ed] that playlist to have experiences that exist in the real world.
Similarly, I’d love to hear how you think about creating a value exchange between brands and your users.
Wong: Creating mutual value is actually the foundation of Reddit. It’s not about the volume of followers. It’s about, Did you help somebody? Did you advance the conversation?
Similarly, we work with [brands] to contribute to Reddit, which adds long-term value to their brand—specifically, in communities that they care about. Each brand is also tracking their contribution, and that’s the currency on Reddit. We aren’t about volume and followership but a contribution. We have more trust between users. When you’re in an environment of trust, that’s when you see 50,000 words a minute being added to Reddit to help advance the conversation, or you see people willing to answer questions posed by brands.
How are you thinking about your business, advertising in particular, when you head into CES?
Lee: Our overall narrative is about culture, and that’s a big differentiator for us at CES, where it’s very tech- and device-focused. But going beyond devices, [we are] thinking about the people behind them and the behaviors and the motivations behind those behaviors and then how you tap into that. A lot of it will be showcasing our ad products, then leaning into our podcast strategy and what that means for creators and brands.
What are the goals for you at CES?
Wong: Reddit reset itself a couple of years ago. We are still telling that story. CES is a great place to do that. It’s a technology-driven conference, but part of Reddit’s story is about the original internet values—[that it] was built for empowerment, to enhance human interaction, not disrupt it.
The other objective at CES is similar to yours: to show how we birth culture and how it comes to life on Reddit. There’s a lot of change in the industry, a lot of anxiety. The tech industry has been faulted for disrupting or causing some concerns with misinformation. We have a different approach. We have moderators—human moderators—who make rules. There’s just no other place that has that.