As vital as video is to a successful digital strategy, audio advertising is sometimes overlooked and represents an outstanding opportunity to engage with your audience.

The impact of COVID-19

Lockdown and working from home led to significant changes in our listening habits. We are all at home more and listening to audio content on platforms including Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, YouTube, smart speakers and websites.

With less commuting, the devices we use to listen with are also changing. Whereas before the pandemic we might relax with our phone and a podcast on the train, we are increasingly using smart speakers to enjoy content in our homes.

Audio advertising: image shows smart speaker usage during lockdown
Smart speaker usage during lockdown

Programmatic audio advertising opportunities

The advertising industry has been moving away from third-party cookie based targeting, with Facebook recently warning advertisers about the impacts of iOS 14 on ad tracking. Against this background, programmatic audio has emerged as an effective and frictionless tool to reach new customers.

All the major DSPs (Demand-side Platforms) offer programmatic audio ads in a range of formats including:

  1. Pre-roll (before content)
  2. Mid-roll (during content)
  3. Post-roll (after content)
  4. Companion display ads
  5. Skippable ads

In 2018 programmatic audio accounted for 25% of Spotify’s revenue with this figure continuing to rise. 

Contextual audio advertising will make messaging more personal and impactful, whilst still protecting privacy. Cookies will become less relevant as the rich data captured based on our listening habits, location and playlists will be able to build a detailed audience profile for advertisers.

One use case for advertisers is to deliver audio ads for sportswear your audience will receive when they are at the gym. Locations can be geo fenced to within 100 metres, so there are opportunities for hyperlocal ads that really deliver.

audio advertising: the benefits of podcasts
The benefits of podcasts

The rise of podcasts

Podcast listening continues to grow, with huge numbers of us enjoying audio content on a range of devices. Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Cost effective: Audio ads are typically cheaper to produce than video content, and campaigns quick to deploy. Data suggests that 60% of podcast listeners have made a purchase from an ad.
  • Motivated audience: Regular podcast listeners tend to be well educated, and fairly affluent with high disposable incomes. Acast data suggests they typically earn 28% more than the UK average.
  • Less noise: When advertising on a podcast you are not having to compete with other brands or ads running in the same space. This has positive effects on audience engagement, with Nielsen Media Labs stating audio ads have a  24% higher brand recall rate than standard display ads.
  • Innovative formats: Acast and other podcast providers now offer tailored content that fits in with brands more seamlessly, and work with musicians and audio producers to create bespoke content that blends in with the rest of the show.
  • Highly measurable: Analytics are generally comprehensive and ROI is easy to calculate.
  • Less open to manipulation: Podcasts are frequently less vulnerable to inflated stats, bots and misinformation.

Voice first

Smart speakers are massively popular in the UK, with 22% of homes owning one.  Just as mobile first became a mantra in the last decade, the most innovative companies are now expanding this to voice first or voice forward strategies.


Amazon Alexa Skills and Google Home Actions offer ways for brands to create immersive experiences that use audio to engage with audiences.

Major brands such as Coca Cola, Procter & Gamble and Starbucks are all using Alexa Skills as part of their digital strategies, although the low barriers to entry do not prevent smaller companies from joining the voice revolution.

Getting visual

As the technology has progressed rapidly, many devices now include screens so can support multi-modal experiences. In other words, audio content works on all devices, and includes enhancements for screens. APL (Amazon Presentation Language) is an exciting recent development that combines audio and visual content seamlessly. 

Voice technology use cases:

  • Branding experiences: Offer audiences a chance to explore your brand. The Talisker Tasting Experience by Diageo is a great example of this done well.
  • Product showcasing: Retail companies can feature new product ranges.
  • Subscription based services and charitable donations: Customers can subscribe to premium audio content or donate to their favourite charities by talking to smart speakers.
  • Vcommerce and tracking: Buying products directly using smart speakers has been fairly slow to gain traction but is technically possible. Being able to track the status of Amazon deliveries is helpful though.
  • Lead generation: Acquiring contact details via conversation is simple and intuitive. It also minimises the risk of losing customers when asking them to complete an online form.

Programmatic audio, podcast ads and voice technology are highly effective tools for digital advertising and audience engagement.

Why not consider them for your next campaign?

Rich Ashby, founder of Dotkumo Ltd

Rich’s company Dotkumo offers clear, honest and focused digital advice. We create bespoke solutions based on your needs, with no commitments, long contracts or sales teams. We have more than 20 years digital experience and provide a range of video, audio, digital advertising and training services.