How does Digital Audio Advertising Work?

Audio Advertising is here to stay.

Whether it’s attaching your messaging to a podcast or bumpering to traditional radio delivered through digital, digital audio advertising is here to stay.

As of 2022, there were over 400 million podcast listeners around the planet. And there are over 2 million podcasts and growing. But will an advertiser suffer having their messaging associated with an undesirable podcast? Absolutely not. There are means by which the targeting goals are attached to the end audience to allow for powerful skewing that traditional radio only dreamed about.

What is Audio Advertising?

Media on the go is generally audio. YouTube is growing their audience, but it doesn’t have the portability or practicality to be reaching an active listener who is out for a morning jog, or driving in their car. They are reached through a variety of audio channels. Included in this growing list are:

  • Amazon Music
  • Apple Music
  • Deezer
  • iHeartRadio
  • Pandora
  • Podcast Ad Networks (eg. Midroll)
  • Podcast Publishers (eg. NPR, Vox, ESPN)
  • SiriusXM
  • Sonos Advertising
  • Sound Cloud
  • Spotify
  • Stitcher (Podcasts)
  • TuneIn
  • YouTube Music

More statistical data is available at Statista.

In the last few years we’ve watched various audio platforms and podcasts merging as companies strategize towards the future. Spotify has become a world leader for music and podcast consumption. It’s worth noting, 1/4 of their total revenue is generated by audio ads. Either in car, through gaming, mobile, desktop or tablet and (over-the-top) SmartTV.

The Pandemic’s Influence on Audio Advertising

With so many people isolated from their regular human interactions, 18 percent of adults starting listening to more podcasts over the span of the pandemic. The pandemic impact on working from home continues as the trend to spend less time at the office has held true. The financial impact is said to be gearing up to surpass $2 billion in total ad spend on podcasts in this 2023.

What are the Types of Audio Ads?

One of the common choices most media buyers are familiar with is programmatic. This has become common place in video ad placement and it has become the norm for audio as well. It enables an advertiser to submit their target and impression objectives to a computerized DSP (Demand Side Platform) and it finds your best and highly skewed audience .

Audio Ads

Audio ad placements can be: mid-roll, pre-roll, and post-roll. It means your ad can appear in a variety of places: played before, during, and after a streaming session. The lengths are typically 15, 30 or 60 seconds long. And what many consider an advantage for highly mobile audiences; no visuals to distract or slow down the consumption of the content and the associated ads.

Skippable and Non-Skippable Ads

Use the first few seconds of your ad wisely. The listener won’t be able to avoid those crucial first words. It’s become common practise to allow the listener to skip after a few seconds. Non-skippable ads also exist but the strategy needs to be carefully thought out to ensure a positive brand association and experience are the take-aways from making this choice. There are certain products/services where the engagement is high and this makes sense. But otherwise, the ability to skip out is appreciated by the listener.

Ad Sequencing

Your story may be more involved than what is capable over one brief audio ad. Give yourself the latitude to tell a story through several ads over time. This allows you to build brand awareness with a possible call-to-action. By spreading the message out, you allow your listener to digest what you’re all about in smaller doses to avoid brand or message fatigue.

Audio Ads vs. Traditional Radio

The simplest way of comparing the two would be a pebble in a small pond verses a rock in a lake. You can target a younger traditional radio audience engaging with a pop station or you can choose to reach a more academic audience by securing ads on a news and current affairs station. However today’s digital audio extensions allow you to micro-target your spend as minutely as targeting a postal code or listeners with specific income categories.

The other consideration is the delivery mechanism. The traditional radio station requires a radio, either portable or in-car to listen. Unless that station is associated with a listening extension like Tune-in. This allows you to listen to that radio station through your audio device such as Google Home or an Amazon Alexa device. The landscape gets a bit more complicated when you take into account the ads you hear on the radio station are often completely different than the ones playing on the home audio device.

Why Audio Advertising?

Let’s say you are convinced that Audio Advertising, as opposed to traditional radio advertising is the way to go. Consider partnering with an agency such as Ontrack Communications. There is a long history of traditional radio with creative, but because most audio ad inventory is sold through online auction, it takes an agency with unique experience to maximize the considerable targeting benefits in a very large menu of choices. According to E-Marketer, one in five audio ads were estimated to have been sold via programmatic in 2022.

But What About the Creative?

Audio for digital audio platforms such as Spotify, Tune-in and dozens of others is easier to produce than you think. You can take a DIY approach and hire your own voices through inexpensive professional voices you may find in typical google searches. Companies like VoxTalent in Toronto offer very professional solutions and clear rates are posted right on their website. There are companies that offer royalty-free music as well but you want to read the fine print to ensure your usage meets their terms and conditions so there are no legal surprises down the road. Spotify also has an in-house audio ad production service. You’ll need to have a good idea of who your audience is that you’re targeting. If you provide your consumer persona they can often do the heavy lifting on putting an ad or ads together.

30 Years and Counting

Ontrack Communications Inc.’s 30 plus years of creating impactful radio and audio material can go a long way in helping you enter the audio ads arena. You’ll appreciate the experience and the safety of knowing the material produced will be carefully executed and played on the most coveted audio spaces with maximum return on investment.

Want to Take the Audio Plunge?

Reach out and find out your options in this exciting and highly targeted audio advertising space. Get in Touch!

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Tim McLarty - Ontrack Communications Inc.

About the author

Tim McLarty is creative director at Ontrack Communications in Toronto. He’s a podcaster, and his background includes 9 years as professor of media creation at Humber College and 17 years as a broadcaster across Canada.  Ontrack is a media studio creating video, motion graphics, audio and podcast content.  In his spare time he makes short films and travels to any country that will have him.