Everything You Need to Know About Programmatic Audio

By Garrison Dua

Digital audio consumption has steadily risen over the last 10 years. There were 7.9 million music subscribers in 2014; this figure eclipsed 82 million in 2021, according to Statista. Weekly digital audio listenership has increased by over 38 percent in the past decade, with an audience of 192 million, reported by Insider Intelligence. Advertisers have been quick to take note of this shift. Global digital audio ad spend is forecast to hit $6.78 billion in 2022 and rise to more than $10 billion by 2027, via Statista

Listeners demand relevant experiences, so to avoid alienating audiences, brands must ensure their ads seamlessly integrate alongside published content; this is where programmatic audio advertising shines.

What does programmatic audio advertising look like in practice, and how can marketers successfully leverage it?

Programmatic Audio 101

Audiences are accustomed to being hit by wave after wave of ads across various channels to establish a dialogue with them. Still, this high saturation level makes it difficult for brands to cut through the noise.

Audio's power of retention is well-documented. Research shows that when placed in personalized playlists, audio ads' long-term recall is 49 percent better than radio and 29 percent better than mobile, as reported in Ad Age.

But recall alone doesn't make audio an effective marketing channel by default. Consumers often listen to audio in the background; it may be that they're commuting to work or exercising in the gym. And while their engagement isn't an issue, these audiences struggle to complete a call to action.

Precision targeting is the key to overcoming this challenge, and programmatic audio advertising can deliver this. This automated approach utilizes multiple parameters to enhance ad delivery and increase conversion opportunities.

These include:

  • Geolocation
  • Contextual
  • Technological (such as the type of listening device used)
  • Dynamic (including current weather conditions and listener demographic)

Hitting All the Right Notes

Brand marketers already have a vast audience to reach out to, but choosing the correct strategy is essential, and investing in programmatic audio can open doors to several benefits which will elevate your advertising to the next level.

Improved Conversion Rates

Programmatic advertising can help unlock digital audio advertising's conversion problems. Motion-activated ad technology, for example, prompts listeners to shake their phones to complete a specific action. such as downloading a mobile application or registering for a discount. Marketers using this alongside automated targeting will see a marked increase in results.

While the average CTR on a display network is 0.35 percent, as reported in Smart Insights, interactive audio formats have facilitated some brands to achieve greater heights. We've even seen CVR (clicked and installed) rate as high as 0.97 percent with motion-activated formats.

Collaborative Opportunities

Programmatic advertising doesn't need to be a siloed activity, used in tandem with other channels, such as OOH and CTV, to significant effect. Research shows that deploying an "audio first, display second" strategy can increase conversion rates by four times, via Exchange Wire. Additionally, while social media is excellent for short-term gains and activation, audio gives 30-seconds of uninterrupted attention and deep recall from the listener. Digital audio fills the gaps in social media ads — but combining these platforms can significantly impact advertising.

Real-Time Insights

Advertising campaigns run across traditional broadcasting channels such as television and print media must conclude before results can be analyzed and actioned. Programmatic audio advertising does not suffer from the same problem. Brand marketers can leverage real-time insights, including the total number of impressions, listens, and conversions, to gain a complete overview of a campaign's performance. This data is vital for optimizing campaigns mid-run.

Reduced Ad-Blocking Risk

eMarketer reports that 40 percent of U.S. internet users currently use ad blockers, with 81 percent of this group citing interruptive and annoying ads as the primary reason. Ad blockers, however, are only designed to target visual display ads, leaning further into the fact that audio-based campaigns can quickly resolve this growing problem. Additionally, podcast ads are much less intrusive and can complement the listening experience, so listen-through rates are close to 98 percent, as reported by Target Spot.

Controlled Delivery

Delivering the same ad time after time is an easy way to turn consumers away from your brand. Programmatic advertising's frequency control ensures that you limit wasted impressions, and maintain audience engagement.

Brands can exclude themselves from an ad break with a competitor or other types of ads that are not brand suitable. Today's tech can facilitate through a complex forecasting algorithm that takes into consideration audio-specific metrics such as ad break duration, potential ad clashing, and whether there is a companion banner that complements the audio.

In Closing

Forecasts predict that digital audio will account for over 12 percent of U.S. adults' total media consumption by the end of the year, according to Insider Intelligence. Now is the perfect moment to optimize your audio advertising strategy with programmatic by partnering with a digital audio expert with a full-stack end-to-end solution.

Digital audio's ascension is unmistakable, and its unique recall capabilities make it an exceptional vehicle for brand engagement; and programmatic audio advertising is the catalyst for unlocking even greater efficiency. Ads are delivered to the most relevant audiences thanks to enhanced targeting, and the ability to run a multi-channel strategy will boost results.


The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.


Garrison Dua is the VP of demand at Adswizz.

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