Insights Tuning in to programmatic audio advertising


Programmatic audio advertising is where advertisements are sold and inserted into audio content including podcasts, digital radio and audio streaming services.

Programmatic audio advertising allows advertisers to improve targeting, which ultimately leads to greater campaign success. It works in the same way as display programmatic advertising, which uses AI algorithms to strategically distribute ads based on user behaviour and interests.

Why might a brand consider an audio advertising campaign?

The audio space saw massive growth during the pandemic, with many of us increasing our engagement with audio entertainment. This is set to rise as we continue with our always-connected and always-consuming ways.

As the audio space grows, so too does the ability to broadcast audio advertising, which is attracting the attention of brands due to the potential for distraction-free engagement with audio consumers.

What are the issues from a data protection perspective?

The broad range of devices and players that audio ads can be served on means that there is a varying scale of ‘addressability’ (or the ability to obtain consent from the listener).

This ranges from players controlled by the media owner (e.g. Spotify), that can implement consent mechanisms, to screenless devices such as smart speakers (e.g. Alexa) where there is no way of implementing consent mechanisms.

Aside from the players controller by the media owners, there isn’t a huge amount of first party data available.

The audio players have considered how they can create contextual categories (e.g. podcast subject, music genre, radio channel) which, without requiring personal data of the listener, can infer certain behaviours or interests that can then be used to make assumptions about the listener’s interests and inform advertiser’s targeting strategies.

Is audio advertising as effective as display advertising?

This is hard to say as measurement is a key challenge for the audio advertising industry.

Due to the nature of audio consumption, it’s difficult to measure the levels of engagement (traditionally captured through ‘clicks’ in display advertising) and the success of campaigns. Although, arguably, audio ads could be considered more premium by advertisers given they don’t compete with the listener’s attention in comparison to display adverts, which undoubtedly increases engagement.

In light of the demise of third-party cookies, brands are having to rethink their strategies for collecting and sorting consumer data and so, if brands can accept a less meaningful means of demonstrating impressions, audio advertising is likely to be of increasing interest.

This article was first published as part of our “Expert insight on advertising, marketing & sponsorship” publication. Read insights on similar topics in the full publication here