originally published April 4, 2012 by eMarketer staff
When Spotify launched in the US, after gaining much popularity in Europe, it went viral almost immediately by relying on automatic integration with Facebook to get people sharing what they were listening to.
But research from eye-tracking study firm EyeTrackShop suggests Spotify may not feel so reliant on Facebook integration anymore, now that it’s achieved mass status. The site has shunted Facebook controls to a little-trafficked corner of the screen and the friends’ listening feed to a sidebar, while maintaining prime real estate for ads.
The Spotify starting page features a large ad in its center-top position, something seen by 100% of participants in EyeTrackShop’s February 2012 study. This ad was the first thing viewers glanced at, with only 0.4 seconds elapsing before they noticed it, and it grabbed their attention for a full 4 seconds—longer than any other element on the page, including music controls. On the flip side, it took study participants over 5 seconds to notice the Facebook-integrated portion of the page.
The ad-optimized design does not seem to have put a dent in consumer enjoyment of the service, with 76% of respondents saying that Spotify had “good” or “excellent” design, 81% reporting an overall favorable impression of the site, and three-quarters agreeing that navigation was good.
“It can be a fine line to have good content and not upset users with ads,” Jeff Bander, CEO of EyeTrackShop, told eMarketer.
While users think Spotify and competitor Rdio have good features and design, they are less sure of whether such sites have all the music they want to listen to. Just over half (55%) of those surveyed at least somewhat agreed that Spotify had the music they wanted to hear, while somewhat fewer (49%) said the same of Rdio. More than a third were undecided on whether each of the two services had all the music they wanted to hear.
While the ownership-based model for music is shifting to an access-based one in many ways, research suggests consumers still want to own at least some music. For these consumers, streaming services like Spotify are a popular way to take a first listen.