According to a recent report on podcast use in the UK, 24 percent of adults over age 15 have listened to a podcast at least once, and 42 percent of listeners said they had increased their consumption over the previous year. This represents a significant change in the audio landscape. While radio and music streaming services such as Spotify and Deezer still have the biggest impact for scale and performance, podcasts are gaining ground, and will be an area to focus on through 2018 and beyond.
In addition to online streaming, popular podcasts also have phenomenal reach. S‑Town, from the makers of Serial (perhaps the first podcast to make us sit up and take notice), was downloaded 16 million times in its first week of release. But familiar favourites also do well. Desert Island Discs, which first aired on BBC Radio in 1942, was one of 2017’s most downloaded podcasts in the UK. People unable to listen when it airs on Sunday mornings (or when it’s repeated on Fridays) still make time for this perennial favourite, catching up when it suits them best.
These changes affect how we communicate, how we consume media, and how we create and define communities. With global audiences for these new outlets increasing year after year, it’s clear that programmatic audio advertising (PAA) must move front and centre in the minds of forward-thinking advertisers.
Why programmatic audio advertising?
Standard methods of audio advertising can be ineffective, inadvertently leading brands to send the same message to untargeted, less relevant audiences. PAA helps brands overcome these challenges in five major ways:
- Target by ultra-specific demographics
PAA allows you to target and segment your audience to deliver your message more effectively. We already know about targeting by age, demographic, location, and first‑, second‑, and third-party data. For example, Spotify targets its audio ads by using its 100 million monthly mobile listeners’ login data to match listeners to products. PAA enables Spotify to refine its advertising further, allowing the service to target listeners according to their current location, genre preferences, and activity. Around 90% of audio listeners on connected devices are doing something else at the time that they tune in—such as working out or cooking. In the future, targeting may allow advertisers to determine what the listener is doing, in order to capture attention. For example, supermarkets could target chefs while fitness clothing retailers speak to the exercise-minded.
Ultra-specific targeting is applicable to podcasts, too. Communities of like-minded individuals spring up around popular podcasts, creating opportunities for advertisers. According to Matt Hill, co-founder of the British Podcast Awards, “Even though the audiences are quite small, those shows do very well with advertisers because those listeners are interested in one specific area—it’s exactly who they want to market to.”
- Drive user experience
The immersive format of digital audio ensures that the consumer is already engaged and listening. Click-through rates no longer apply; rather, we’ve moved on improving “listen-through rates.” PAA captures tricky audiences, who may not be as easily accessible through other digital advertising approaches. PAA enables sequential storytelling, via interesting, engaging ads specifically created for audio use. This highly personal solution is another effective way to drive brand awareness. Moreover, engaged audio media consumers are less likely to skip ahead past advertisements.
- Ensure brand safety
Brand safety is a hot topic and a top priority. It’s vital to ensure that products and brands are represented appropriately and relevantly. The specificity available with PAA ensures that the right content is presented to the right user at the right time. Employing logged-in user bases to gather data, in conjunction with recent improvements in analytical capabilities, enables advertisers to ensure that ads don’t appear anywhere that might prove damaging.
- Support considerable scale
PAA is in its infancy, and its possibilities for growth are endless. At present, 38 percent of the EU population average at least 11 listening hours per week, with a 95 percent listen-through rate. Given digital audio’s strong millennial audience, many of whom stay connected throughout the day, this number is likely to rise. By communicating with them when they are highly engaged, through highly targeted channels, brands have a better chance of getting their message out to the intended audience. Marketers are poised to exploit this growth, planning to allocate an average of 11.6 percent of their budgets to audio by mid-2017—more than double what they spent 18 months earlier. Much of this spend was targeted toward PAA in streaming music services and podcasts.
- Integrate across channels
Until recently, companies planned and measured their ad spend department by department. Using PAA, an entire ad buy can be centralised, measured, and unified across all channels—audio no longer has to sit in a silo. By drawing on data, we can reach our customers where they are, and when they want to be targeted, taking full advantage of omnichannel marketing.
Where do we go from here?
Social networking, text messaging, mobile apps, online forums, and countless other digital platforms are evolving to meet customer demands. To stay relevant, digital advertising must also adjust. PAA is the foundation upon which we must build our advertising structure. Through its digital marketing and data analytics tools, Adobe is committed to driving PAA’s evolution, and using it to push marketing to new heights.