It’s Time to Make Noise About Audio-Based Targeting

November 15, 2018 — by Karen Chan

How do you reach consumers who are chilling with Netflix and blocking ads on mobile and desktop?

One attractive option is programmatic audio. Even consumers who are expert at tuning out ads elsewhere find that audio advertising is not only unavoidable, but welcome. A 2017 Nielsen survey found that 57 percent of podcast ads outperformed pre-roll video ads.

Overall, marketers spent $1.6 billion on audio ads in 2017, a 39 percent increase from 2016, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. There are many reasons for audio’s growth. In addition to being an effective way to reach otherwise unreachable consumers, many consumers consider audio ads to be less interruptive than other types of advertising. Some even make a point of supporting advertisers who support their favorite podcasts. Audio’s unique ability to reach consumers in a brand-safe and amenable way makes it a solid addition to an omnichannel campaign.

A different type of advertising

While commercial radio advertising revenues fell 2 percent last year, audio-based media is experiencing the same splinterization that has occurred in TV. There are two primary ways of enjoying audio in the digital age—streaming or downloaded audio.

In the case of streaming music on Spotify or Pandora, consumers who hear ads are doing so because they opted not to pay for a premium version of the service. This means that such ads are analogous to opt-in ads, which reward consumers for watching an ad (usually by unlocking a level in a game or receiving tokens). For podcasts, ads are received in a similar fashion; most podcasts are free, and listeners realize that ads support the shows to which they listen.

That may explain why audio ads do so well. An analysis of 36 Spotify campaigns found audio drove a 60 percent lift in ad recall, on average. A recent NPR survey also found that 88 percent of podcast listeners have taken action because of a sponsor announcement.

The big change: programmatic advertising

In the past, programmatic audio has been slow to take off because there wasn’t enough inventory, but that’s changing as platforms like MediaMath aggregate opportunities for digital audio placement. An industry shift from cookies to mobile IDs is also advantageous to digital audio, which is more of a mobile phenomenon than a desktop one.

For advertisers, it’s imperative today to execute omnichannel campaigns. While digital and TV are prime elements, audio is a great platform for reinforcing messages elsewhere. Since the average consumer uses four devices, advertisers need to consider all touchpoints. Now that it is easy to integrate such buys, it’s time to make some noise about digital audio.

Karen Chan

Karen Chan is the Director of Emerging Channels at MediaMath. Focusing on digital out of home, audio, and augmented and virtual reality, she is building up the capabilities for marketers and agencies to diversify, expand, and try out different programmatic channels to reach their audience. Since graduating the University of California, Berkeley, Karen has touched many facets of advertising at the beginning of their explosion in the industry. Starting her career as a media planner of display ad networks and virtual worlds at Alloy Digital (now Defy Media), she moved to develop high impact roadblocks, sponsored editorial content, native placements, social and influencer programs, and conference and event brandings at SheKnows Media. She has worked with a variety of agencies and brands including Henkel, Universal Pictures, NBC, P&G, Best Buy, and Toyota.