Spotify this morning announced its latest move to expand its marketing and advertising horizons: it has acquired and shut down content recommendation service MightyTV, a startup that (as its name implies) focused on video recommendations, with an app that used a Tinder-style swipe interface to help guide you to TV and film choices compatible with your own tastes. As part of the deal, MightyTV’s founder and CEO Brian Adams will become Spotify’s VP of technology, focused its marketing and advertising platforms.
The company declined to disclosed the terms of the deal. The company launched less than a year ago and had raised just over $4 million, according to CrunchBase. The deal includes MightyTV’s team of eight, who will be based across Spotify’s New York City, Toronto and Stockholm offices.
Adams, notably, was the co-founder and CEO of AdMeld, an advertising optimization platform for publishers that was acquired by Google in 2011, reportedly for $400 million. He then joined Google to run the Doubleclick Publisher Platform, before leaving to start his own company again in 2015.
MightyTV’s Tinder-style mobile app for iOS and Android let you quickly indicate whether you liked or disliked a given title, which helped customize MightyTV’s suggestions to your own personal tastes. As with Tinder, the idea is that the app’s recommendations would then improve over time, the more you used the product.
From a consumer perspective, what made MightyTV interesting was not necessarily its Tinder-like interface — though that was fun — but that it combined different approaches to making its suggestions, combining both those that come from the aggregated user ratings as well as those that better understood one’s individual tastes.
Spotify earlier this month acquired another technology startup, Sonalytic, which also had an angle on improving recommendations. Like an improved Shazam, its tech could identify song snippets and even songs playing at live events. But it also had a machine-learning music recommendation technology that could help you find the music you liked for a given context, like road trips or gym workouts, for example.
Improving recommendations is an area that’s a battlefield for all of today’s streaming services as they seek to expand their user bases beyond early adopters to more casual listeners who may not always know exactly what they want to listen to.
But in addition to this, Spotify’s interest in MightyTV and its leadership is related to how the company hopes to develop its programmatic audio advertising and native brand ads, the company’s announcement indicated.
Spotify launched programmatic audio globally last summer, allowing advertisers to target audiences based on age, gender, genres, and playlists in real-time.
Spotify has not yet spelled out how it plans to use MightyTV’s tech in its programmatic play, but one option could be that Spotify could create tools for users to help them discover new music, and then use those tools both to collect more interesting data on their users, as well as to serve ads to them using those parameters.
Those can both be audio ads along the lines of the kinds of ads that Spotify already presents to users, but it could also be used to help promote music (and related products like concerts or merchandise) on behalf of labels and artists to listeners who may be most receptive.
Building out a bigger marketplace for both labels and artists to sell goods and services beyond basic music would make sense for Spotify. Margins on streaming music are thin-to-negative (something Spotify is trying to change, as we’ve reported).
But services like programmatic ads that promote other products present Spotify as an enabler and platform for a more sustainable streaming music business for everyone, Spotify itself as well as the artists and rightsholders that work with it. (Building out that wider platform and community behind it was also behind several other acquisitions that Spotify has made in the last year, including Preact, Cord Project and Soundwave, and CrowdAlbum.)
“The content recommendation system MightyTV has built is incredibly aligned with how we think about advertising technology and marketing personalization,” said Jason Richman, VP of Product at Spotify, in a statement. “Brian and his team will help us continue to innovate on free monetization and extend our leadership position in programmatic audio.”
“Spotify has built the leading marketplace for fans and creators,” said Adams. “It’s an enormous opportunity for me and the team to help create native brand experiences that stay true to a product that millions love.”