Your guide to programmatic audio advertising

September 13, 2021

Audio entertainment is nothing new. Americans have been listening to the radio to entertain and inform themselves for nearly a century. Over the last decade or so, however, the way that people consume audio entertainment has dramatically transformed. So much of the audio we consume, from news to podcasts to music, is now streamed digitally. In fact, according to research by eMarketer, 2020 marked the first year in which US adults spent more time listening to digital audio than radio. This has in turn brought all the benefits of targeted digital advertising to the audio domain, in the form of programmatic audio advertising.

Let's take a look at how programmatic audio advertising works, and why you should make audio marketing a part of your advertising strategy.

Programmatic audio is a technology that inserts advertisements into audio content using a computer program. Just like with programmatic advertising technology for video and display content, this is done without brand marketing departments and audio publishers even having to interact with each other. Your pre-recorded message can be inserted at several points in the programming, including pre-roll (before the audio presentation begins), mid-roll (during commercial breaks in the middle of the presentation), and post-roll (as the presentation is finishing). Of these three, pre-roll ads tend to be the most effective for programmatic audio advertising. The type of advertisements that work best will vary based on the program being played and the type of listener tuning in. However, with convenient programmatic audio, algorithms will make all of these judgement calls for you.

What is programmatic audio?

Digital audio has several key advantages as a domain over other media formats. For starters, most audio ads cannot be blocked or easily skipped, which means that you can be confident that the ads you pay for will garner impressions. Audio also tends to be a more immersive experience because people often consume audio entertainment using headphones, which means they aren't as distracted by the world around them.

Why is it worth advertising in audio?

When it comes to music streaming, we all know that music evokes particularly strong emotional reactions. This means that listeners can be in an especially receptive state of mind during advertising breaks. Music also often gets played in the background during everyday activities, giving advertisers the opportunity to prompt listeners to make the purchases they need to as they go about their normal routines. What better time to reach customers with messages about routine purchases than when they are going about those very routines?

Podcasts offer even more benefits for advertisers. The popularity of this highly attractive medium has been soaring in recent years: a Pew Research study found that the number of Americans aged 12 or older who had listened to a podcast in the last month reached 41% in 2021, up from 12% ten years earlier. Moreover, there is a huge variety of content for both listeners and advertisers to choose from. According to Podcast Insights, there are over 2 million podcasts available to listen to on Apple Podcasts alone. Beyond its surging appeal, podcasting offers particular advantages to advertisers.

  • Edison Research found that 70% of monthly podcast listeners don't do anything else while listening to a podcast, meaning that the audio being played usually has the listeners' undivided attention.

  • Listening to podcast conversations is usually an immersive experience, which gives brands the chance to connect to their listener customers more intimately and gain better engagement.

  • Podcasts offer a great opportunity for native audio advertisements (in addition to programmatic audio), delivered in the voice of the presenters that listeners have just been listening to.

  • The Edison Research study also found that podcast listeners tend to be more educated, affluent, and steadily employed, making them a highly appealing target demographic.

Why programmatic audio advertising?

Unlike ads on traditional radio, in which brands buy ad spots hoping that the right people will be listening when the spots air, programmatic audio advertisements can be targeted at specific listeners while they're listening based on a wide variety of data points, including:
  • Demographic information
  • Geolocation
  • Likes on social media
  • Other data tied to listeners' online profiles
  • Time of day
  • The mood of the content being played

This means that each listener's audio experience is automatically customized with ads that are relevant to them at a time when they're most primed to hear the specific audio message being delivered. All of this targeting on programmatic audio is accomplished automatically with artificial intelligence algorithms. When incorporated into a larger advertising campaign, this personalized audio advertising experience is more likely to lead to conversions. This makes programmatic audio the best tool in your advertising arsenal for the audio domain.

Just like how programmatic advertising technology has revolutionized how brands spread their messages in video and display ads, programmatic audio is reshaping advertising in its domain just as audio content is exploding again in popularity as an entertainment medium. If you want to make people aware of your brand, entice them with special offers, or otherwise boost your business, programmatic audio will get your message into listeners' ears while they are engaged, emotionally receptive, and ready to hear what you have to say.