Listen up: Why you should incorporate programmatic audio into your display strategy

Matthew Mather

Junior Biddable Analyst

For many years, programmatic audio has quietly lingered in the background while video and banner ads take the lion’s share of digital advertising space. But that’s all set to change, following the recent announcement that Google will begin programmatically plugging into streaming services like Spotify, Pandora and Soundcloud through its demand-side platform (DSP) DV30 – previously called Double Click Bid Manager.   

Here’s how incorporating programmatic audio into your display strategy can help you meet your business objectives.

Plugging audience gaps

Audio can tap into markets where banner and video ads may struggle to make as big an impact. Last year, Ofcom research indicated 24% of 15 to 24-year olds had listened to a podcast at least once in the previous year. Similarly, according to data from Statista, most of Spotify’s basic users last year (33%) were in the 18-24 age range

This demographic has often proved difficult for advertisers to target, especially from a brand awareness perspective. It’s an audience who are not only media-savvy, but who have clear ideas about which brands they like to engage with.

Audio advertising, through Spotify and other streaming services, can potentially help break down the ad-blindness which often defines this market. By serving ads through relevant inventory and with appropriate dynamic messaging, audio could soon become a vital weapon in any advertiser’s arsenal.

Targeting niche markets

The lure of podcasts from both an advertiser and listener’s perspective is that you can find one on anything and everything; from true crime and gardening to fashion and science. Brands should be excited at the prospect of reaching these limited, but very specific, audiences.  

At a time when it can feel increasingly difficult to be contextually relevant – as advertisers battle it out to gain consumers’ attention and make their brand resonate in an ever-expanding swamp of internet ads – podcasts could be the answer; particularly when it comes to creating brand loyalty.

In fact, research from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Edison Research in 2017 found podcast listeners are more likely to visit a website (45% of all listeners), consider a new product or service (42%) or gather more information about the product (37%) after hearing an ad. This suggests that podcasts are not only an accessible advertising format from a usability perspective, they’re also a great way for brands to capture the imagination of the listener and be recalled by them later on.

Tapping into key moments

Audio ads can be tailored to the mood or context of different types of music. For example, a chillout playlist could be the perfect place to serve a relaxing holiday in the Maldives ad, while an up-tempo workout playlist might be ideal for a sports clothing brand.

As well as types of playlists and music, you’ll also be able to target specific times of day. This means you can serve your ads to commuters on their way to and from work, or to your target audience when they’re relaxing at home.

 This is where data becomes important. While programmatic audio has been around for some time, it's still early days in terms of our understanding of its potential. It’s our job as advertisers to interpret audiences’ constantly shifting listening and engagement habits, and adapt campaigns accordingly. We can do this by analysing the rich data provided by DSPs like DBM.

Introducing new creative ad formats

The key ingredient of any display campaign is of course the asset itself. And when it comes to programmatic audio, we have the ability to produce something engaging, creative and unique.

While you’ll need to implement testing to understand what works for your brand in terms of messaging, duration and call to actions, here are some broad best-practices for audio campaigns…

  1. Grab the listener’s attention immediately to see high listen-through rates

  2. Keep content concise, but natural-sounding

  3. Use rhythm and pauses to give the listener time to absorb all the information

When it comes to the potential of audio, we’re only just scratching the surface. Now that Google is sitting up and taking notice, there’s real scope for the format to expand and utilise data from elsewhere in the display ecosystem, to help improve its offering. 

It’s early days, but with the right messaging and targeting, it won’t be long before programmatic audio is making itself heard on a much larger scale.

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