It appears one of Spotify's initial attempts to boost its podcast audience is to literally insert random episodes from shows into listeners' song recommendations.
Spotify has been spending millions in hopes of becoming a podcasting leader, having bought Parcast, Anchor, and Gimlet Media as a way to widen its share of the overall podcast market.
Spotify Inserting Podcasts Into Playlists
According to The Verge, Spotify is placing suggested episodes into algorithmically generated playlists. In a test, the streaming service inserted short podcast episodes into a playlist meant for the drive to work. Spotify currently doesn't offer a podcast recommendation tool or curated podcast playlists, so this might be an early glimpse at what's to come.
As previously mentioned, Spotify has invested a lot on acquiring podcast networks, and it plans to spend $500 million this year to acquire more. Not much has changed yet since it acquired Gimlet Media, Parcast, and Anchor, but the company has hinted at what it plans to do with these acquisitions. Spotify wants to build out ad products, develop a better podcast discovery tool, and cobble together a library of Spotify-exclusive series. This recent test seems to be one of the service's initial steps to bettering its podcast component.
Oddly, the algorithm doesn't seem to be finding appropriate shows, though. In the test The Verge discovered, Spotify inserted short news podcasts that were in all Portuguese, which isn't spoken by the user.
Reached for comment, Spotify provided a boilerplate response:
"We're always testing new products and experiences, but have no further news to share at this time."
Just A Test For Now
The best guess for now is that Spotify could have been running this test in a Portuguese-speaking country and accidentally pushed it out to the user in question, who's based in the United States. In any case, inserting podcasts into automatically generated playlists makes plenty of sense. After all, one of Spotify's biggest strengths is letting users discover new music to listen to using its own discovery algorithm, which is so good it's now an ad product other brands can buy. Spotify could be attempting to extend that to podcasts, too.
It's not certain whether users will warm up to this setup, though, especially those who'd much rather have their podcasts displayed separately from music. Perhaps the company can develop a Discover Weekly playlist, but for podcasts, which would make sense and potentially coax its 100 million paying subscribers to the world of podcasts.
Do you listen to podcasts using Spotify? As always, if you have anything to share, feel free to sound them off in the comments section below!