Before learning “how do audio ads work in online marketing,“ let us first look at some statistics. In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in how programmatic/online ads work amongst marketers. According to a report by eMarketer, US advertisers will spend an estimated $81 billion on programmatic display in 2021.  This figure will translate to 88% of all US digital display ads.

Here is a figure covering the spending on the programmatic digital display ad in the US for over five years:

But there is another form of online advertising on the rise, the digital audio ads. These marketing channels are delivering an emotive reverberation to the listeners. Every day, people are engaging with online platforms as their primary source of entertainment. They are streaming music and listening to podcasts as they go about their business.

Audio ads work by utilizing the memorability of music. Consequently, they provide an exceptional way of forming secure emotional connections with consumers.

Some of the other most common programmatic ads include:

  • Video ads
  • Online display ads
  • Advanced TV ads
  • Social media ads
  • Outdoor TV ads
  • Search ads

In marketing, programmatic ads tend to provide in-depth targeting to relevant audiences. Therefore, programmatic ads are increasing the efficiency of online advertising. Marketers are finding such advertisements to be a worthwhile investment due to the extensive coverage they receive online.

Before we embark on learning how audio ads work, we need first to understand, “what are audio ads?”

Let’s dive right in.


What are audio ads?

Also known as programmatic audio ads, audio ads are an automated process of buying and selling ad space. The process works via computerized systems that connect advertisers to publishers in audio content. Examples include digital radio, podcasts, and music-streaming services. Traditionally, the process involved using human negotiations, also known as Request for Proposal (RFP).

Automating the process of buying, selling and, placement is usually beneficial to both advertisers and marketers.  Automation achieves this by providing its audiences with personalized and customized messages based on real-time data.

Thus, with audio ads, you’ll get targeted data on:

  • consumer trends
  • weather and traffic patterns
  • music-based psychographic groups
  • population purchase behaviors.

How do Audio Ads Work?

Audio ads are using AI technologies and real-time bidding to gather data and analyze the audience’s behavior while online. The data thus provides a real-time campaign optimized towards their tastes and preferences.

Are you interested in making programmatic audio ads work for you? Here’s what you’ll need to use: SSPs, DSPs, and DMPs.

Data management platforms (DMPs) collect and analyze cookie data. The data allows marketers to make relevant, informed decisions about their targeted audience.

Meanwhile, the demand-side platforms (DSPs) facilitates the buying of ad inventory process on the open market. It also provides you with the opportunity to reach your targeted audience when integrated with DMPs.

As for publishers, they can manage their unsold ad inventory using the supply-side platforms (SSPs). Such platforms provide attention data by indicating both the duration spent by a visitor on a specific site and the number of pages viewed by the visitor per page.

Ultimately, the SSPs will be responsible for picking the winning bid. It will also serve the winning banner ad on the chosen publisher’s site.

Here is a summary of the above process illustrated in the figure below:

Source: Obtained from Seer Interactive


The Change of Programmatic Ads from Display Ads to Audio Ads

Despite the success of display ads in videos over the years, programmatic audio was missing delivery standards. It needed some solid specs to attract more marketers to pump advertisersˊ dollars into the audio ads system. Hence in 2014, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) promoted the Digital Audio Ad Serving Template (DAAST) as a template for delivering audio ads.

Then in November 2018, IAB merged their DAAST template with its VAST (Video Ad Serving Template), a standard for video ad buys,  to form VAST 4.1. The most notable changes in VAST 4.1 include the addition of “ad Type” attribute to the “Ad “element. It allowed a chosen ad to be an audio-only type. Moreover, the template is using a media player instead of a video player in the document.

The quick adoption of the VAST 4.1 framework in the future will be beneficial from a business perspective. Not only will VAST 4.1 increases the popularity of audio ads in the market, but it will also help publishers to communicate with ad servers in a common language for ad delivery.

Consequently, VAST is envisioning a framework for linear ad placement either before, after, or during a main audio content break in audio players.

Ad formats complementing VAST include Ad pods, skippable ads, and companion ads.

What are the Various Media Formats that can Serve your Brand?

  1. Internet radio
  2. Audio blog posts
  3. In-stream music
  4. Google home action / Alexa skills
  5. Podcasts
  6. Flash briefings for Amazon Alexa

Podcasts, in-stream music and internet radio are the most popular forms of media formats in the US market. These formats cut across all the population demographics: from young to old.

The success of podcasts led to the creation of audio blog posts. Such innovations have been fundamental in enhancing the reader’s experience especially for the blind demographic.

Why has Audio Ads Take-Up Been Slow Compared to Display Ads?

The uptake of audio ads has been slow in all the years programmatic advertising has been in effect. The lack of proper technology, coupled with limited interest from marketers and publishers, has continually impeded the use of programmatic audios in online media.

Moreover, research intelligence firms and advertising trade bodies are finding it challenging to publish estimates of programmatic audio. Marketers are attributing this problem to the small share programmatic audio ads receive to the overall online advertising.

According to a 2017 report by the Association of National Advertisers, a mere 13% of the 102 US client-side marketers respondents showed their interest in buying audio ads.

In the figure below, you can see the preference of respondents to different online ads calculated in percentage of the whole group:


Why is the use of Programmatic Audio Ads Increasing in 2021?

The continuous astronomical growth in the volume of online streaming audio content is picking up eyebrows. The increase is already piquing the interest of major industry players across the spoken word and music content markets.

Nowadays, people can listen in whenever they want and wherever they are, throughout their lifetime. In addition to streaming audio on mobile phones, people are adopting smart speakers in their homes. Vehicle owners are also joining the craze. They are making new integrations in their cars to enhance their streaming experience.

In response to the growing audio streaming markets, some of the industry’s biggest names are incorporating audio ads into their marketing. They propped up audio ads as a prime platform for scaling their reach to targeted audiences in 2018. For example:

  • Google introduced a Demand-Side Platform (DSP) whereby marketers could buy programmatic audio ads through accessing the inventory of some audio streaming services.
  • In July, Spotify reported that 20% of its total ad revenues came from its self-service programmatic platform.
  • Pandora also made its programmatic inventory available to all buyers in July 2018.
  • Other audio streaming services like Panoply, TuneIn, and iHeartRadio have joined in selling their inventory programmatically.

Final Thoughts

Programmatic audio ads are expected to grow in numbers over the next coming decade. This growth will be due to more listeners are ditching the rigid traditional forms of media for the more appealing streaming platforms online.

These new digital media tend to provide the listener with an immersive experience. Furthermore, online media offers listeners with the flexibility to choose the right kind of content on the go. The audience also finds new-age streaming quite convenient because of the vast options provided online. They can alternate between podcasts and music whenever they want unlike in the case of traditional radio having a set program line up.

All in all, marketers, publishers, and advertisers have a chance to utilize these digital trends in their marketing strategies. Users will reap the full benefits of connecting with their target audience on a personalized level.

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