Absence of customer data is a big own goal for Barcelona

Cantillon: Sponsor Spotify could have paid more if Barça knew more about its fans

When FC Barcelona announced a shirt and stadium sponsorship deal with Spotify, the financial terms were not disclosed by either party, but media outlets in Spain reported that the three-year agreement was worth €280 million.

Spanish football site Sport offered another interesting line: the deal could have yielded a higher sum for the club had it possessed a bigger database of information about its supporters.

When Spotify first knocked on the door of FC Barcelona, it wanted to know how many of its 350 million followers around the world had registered as fans, giving consent to the club to use their names, emails, phone numbers and other data. To its apparent disappointment, the answer was less than 1 per cent, Sport reported, and this likely dampened the price.

It’s a safe bet now that in the Spotify Camp Nou era, the Swedish-founded audio streamer will be assisting Barcelona in its capture of personal information from supporters, perhaps deploying sweeteners such as discounted price periods or priority access to coveted gig tickets.


But Barcelona won’t be the only company to accelerate its collection of first-party data over the next year. The days of counting on third-party customer data supplied by Big Tech are fading fast.

‘Arms race’

As Dublin-based marketing company Wolfgang Digital has quantified in research with ecommerce clients and the public, advertisers are already finding it harder to target iPhone Facebook app users since Apple's iOS privacy update in April 2021.

Apple's Safari web browser also blocks all third-party cookies by default, and although its timeline for doing so has been delayed, Google plans to join it, phasing out third-party cookies on Chrome by "late 2023".

As Wolfgang Digital managing director Brendan Almack noted, these measures are likely to create "an arms race for first-party data collection between now and the end of cookies", with advertising campaigns "not necessarily" designed to persuade people to buy something, but revolving instead around data collection.

The age-old marketing principle “know your customer” has never gone away. But with everyone at it, it will become more important than ever for advertisers to make sure there’s “a value exchange”, says Almack. If customers feel they are getting nothing in return for their personal data, they will swiftly become “a little bit cynical” about such campaigns.

That’s if they aren’t already, of course.