Wendy’s Taps Spotify Branded Moments To Catch You When You’re Hungry

wendysQuick-serve restaurants don’t involve much purchase consideration. You’re either hungry for a burger, or you’re not.

“For us, it’s about reaching the right person at the time they’re thinking about making a decision,” said Brandon Rhoten, VP, head of advertising, media and digital marketing at Wendy’s.

That’s why, to draw attention to its Double Stack Sandwich promotion on its 4 for $4 menu, Wendy’s teamed up with Spotify as a launch partner for its Branded Moments product.

Branded Moments allow brands to sponsor playlists on Spotify’s mobile app that correlate with specific activities and times of day that consumers listen to music, said Danielle Lee, global head of partner solutions at Spotify. It’s also Spotify’s first foray into vertical video.

“Essentially, it’s a [7-to-15-second] vertical video ad that talks to the user in a key moment,” she said. “It allows the brands to give the user 30 minutes of uninterrupted music [and to] reach that listener multiple times throughout that session with [display] overlays.”

Spotify is launching with six branded moments: dinner, party, chill, workout, sleep and focus. Brands can sponsor both the Spotify owned and operated playlists for these moments as well as user-generated playlists that are segmented into these categories, based on their names and the music they contain.

“Playlists give us so much information about the listener,” Lee said. “Users create really specific playlists for different moments in their life, whether it be planning for a dinner party or a birthday party, or different types of workouts, [like] yoga or running.”

Wendy’s will sponsor the “dinner” moment. Through the open-ended campaign, which launches on January 2, Wendy’s will target listeners in a lean-back environment when they’re hungry and likely already on the go.

“When you’re driving to lunch and you’re not sure if you’re going to go right into McDonald’s or left into Wendy’s or around the block to Chipotle, we need to make sure we’re in the back of your head through our broader brand advertising and in front of you right as you’re starting to turn that wheel,” Rhoten said. “Streaming audio is one of those checkout line target moments where we can hopefully persuade you before you make the decision.”

Wendy’s will overlay its customer data, like credit card information, with Spotify’s playlist data to find the right audiences and hit them with the right message. But the fast food joint isn’t targeting a specific demo. It’s more interested in targeting the moment.

“A full-time working mom is demographically the same all day long, but on the way to work, she has different needs because she’s in a rush or she just got kids out the door,” Rhoten said. “Her needs are different at lunch, when she’s trying to take a break, [and] when she’s on the way home and needs to pick up her kids and get food on the way. We care a lot less about her age and income level and a lot more about what does she want from us?”

Branded Moments isn’t Wendy’s first experiment with digital audio – nor with Spotify.

“We’ve had dozens of executions with Spotify over the last couple of years, and it’s been pretty clear that [digital audio] is a critical part of the puzzle,” Rhoten said. “It’s definitely the one that people tend to have accessible when they’re making that final moment decision.”

Wendy’s will measure campaign success by looking at the lift in foot traffic to its restaurants, which is a strong proxy for sales, Rhoten said. The quick-serve restaurant gets real-time traffic data from its franchise locations, which it will tie back to media spend. It will also look at sales lift on the Double Stack sandwich.

If the results are strong, Wendy’s will continue to advertise on Spotify.

“The question now becomes scale,” Rhoten said. “Every channel has an ideal return on investment, and that’s what we’re trying to figure out.”

The campaign is part of a digital transformation that Wendy’s has undergone over the past five years. As the quick-serve restaurant builds out a data management platform, a more robust CRM infrastructure and a multitouch attribution system in-house, it relies on data from partners like Spotify to help it target more granularly.

“As far as using our first-party data, we are baby-stepping our way right now,” Rhoten said. “We are relying on partners more than anything.”

For Spotify, Branded Moments is part of a push into native advertising for 2017. It builds on the success of Sponsored Playlists, launched in 2016, which allows brands to sponsor one of Spotify’s owned and operated playlists for a week. “Today’s Top Hits,” has 12 million followers; “Rap Caviar” has 5 million. Brands including Kia, Starbucks, Netflix and General Mills have run sponsored playlists campaigns.

Kia in particular saw a 30% increase in brand awareness, 100% increase in brand perception and 700% increase in purchase consideration from its sponsored playlist campaigns. On average, Spotify sees a 34% spike in engagement on sponsored playlists. Spotify will launch the product in 10 new markets this year.

“You have loyalists that listen to those playlists time and time again,” Lee said. “Brands really want to tap into that existing listenership.”

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