The oldest media formats for broadcasting are gaining new relevance in the digital age, and advertisers are paying attention. Over 100 years since the radio personalities’ voices, such as Orson Welles, made them household names, and a few decades since transistor radios helped make audio information accessible and portable in the very first instance, audio news is experiencing a revival.
Digital and terrestrial formats that include online audio and podcasting have a considerable segment of the U.S. population, even when traditional news readers’ reading habits decline. By 2023, 40% of Americans who are 12 years old or older have listened to podcasts in the last month, while 31% have been listening in the previous week.
While video formats garner most of the spotlight and attention, audio and podcasting beat other channels, like connected TV, based on specific indicators. A recent study of audio ads across three different formats showed that audio advertisements performed better than video when attracting attention and creating brand recognition.
These figures are not unexpected for Andy Houstoun, chief commercial officer of the world-renowned digital marketing company Crimtan and twenty years old in the programming industry. Houston states that the massive rise in the usage of music streaming services and podcasting platforms caused the return of the audio industry.
“Spotify ads introduced its ability to offer audio advertising in the year 2016 in close real-time. Other streaming services for music like Pandora have also jumped on the opportunity to buy live slots,” Houstoun says. “This shift towards opening up slots that bid in real-time using programmatic exchanges has meant numerous advertisers have been able to use the audio assets used in video inventory and utilize these elements to create highly targeted audio slots since programmatic audio utilizes the same format of asset like video.”
While the amount of advertising on connected TV has been declining, according to some estimates, audio and podcasting continue to grow. According to a survey conducted in 2023 by Comscore’s programmatic division, Proximic Audio, and Podcast advertising, we have witnessed an unprecedented growth rate in 2022 and the highest increase in year-over-year growth compared with other channels from the previous year. According to IAB, the podcast’s ad revenue increased by 26% over the last year 2022.
“Programmatic advertising buying is all about efficiency. In giving advertisers the option to target particular customer segments according to their music audio, podcast, or digital radio preferences in conjunction with temporal elements such as time geo, date, and even weather, they can ensure that the same advertising or marketing expenditure is twice as effective in achieving an individualized customer segment, which ultimately leads to higher engagement and better results,” Houstoun says. “This is quite a distance from traditional radio that was always more of a spray and prayed strategy.”
Houstoun claims that the capacity to target this way will allow advertisers to focus their messages on specific segments and people instead of individuals.
“This ability implies that, in addition to the efficiency of buying, it also brings performance benefits through delivering more relevant messages when speaking to potential customers in words pertinent to their needs,” he says. “In audio, you’re aiming at the context, not an individual. You put advertisements in front of people listening to certain music genres, not customers themselves.”
The distinction between targeting people or groups instead of individuals is crucial from a privacy standpoint.
Regarding privacy, Houstoun says there’s zero need to utilize personal information in programmatic audio because advertisers focus on context rather than individuals. This means that advertisers are not subject to the privacy rules for data subjects in certain situations.
“If advertisers haven’t yet considered the possibility of programmatic advertising as an efficient method of delivering relevant content to specific target segments and audiences, they should,” he says. “This is by far the most effective way to take advantage of the growing audio formats available.”