In an update email sent out to all its subscribers last week, Spotify amended its terms and service to reserve the right to ban anyone using adblock with its service.
Spotify has been combating modified versions of its app that let free users skip the mandatory ads between tracks. These apps are not available from the Google Play Store and are downloaded from external sources. While they account for only two per cent of the total user base, the numbers are still significant considering Spotify reached 191 million total users in Q3 2018 – 109 million of which are using the ad-supported version.
Before the new change, Spotify would send out a warning to the users, notifying them that the associate account would be terminated. With the new change, however, Spotify can now ban or suspend the account immediately without notice. Accounts can be restored by removing the modified app or the adblocker.
The strong action towards curbing anti-ad programs is a reflection on the company’s initiative to better capitalize on its free user base. In 2018, Spotify rolled out a new user interface for its ad-supported service tier, the first major revision since 2014. In its press release, Spotify said that the new UI can “drive improvements in engagement and retention.”
Although Spotify’s 96 million paid subscribers account for a vast majority of its revenue, ads are still a considerable revenue stream. In 2017, Spotify raked in $341 million from ads alone.
The question now is how the new policy will affect the Spotify web player. Since most browser ad blockers don’t block Spotify’s stream-embedded ads, it’s uncertain whether or not the policy would apply to them.
The new policy will come into effect on March 1.