Programmatic Audio Ads

Programmatic Audio Ads

A few years back, Google introduced the programmatic ad platform, inspired by the success of Spotify’s 94% growth in income. Despite being relatively new in the market, programmatic audio ads are gaining popularity and experiencing uniform growth. The adoption of AdsWizz by Pandora, the collaboration between SoundCloud and iHeartRadio, and the partnership between Tunnel and Panoply are great examples of the rising trend of programmatic audio ads.

Wondering what programmatic audio ads are and how are they transforming the digital advertising scene? This guide will cover all the ins and outs of programmatic audio advertising for you. 


What is a Programmatic Audio Ad?

Programmatic audio ads are advertisements that you hear within audio content, such as digital radio, podcast, and music-streaming platforms. Typically, these ads are represented by a voiceover or a sound design, which delivers a message to the targeted audience. 

These ads can vary in type but generally last from 15 seconds to 1 minute. They are played before, during, or after a podcast or streaming playlist.  

These ads can be placed on mobile devices, desktop computers, or in apps with equal efficiency. 


How Does Programmatic Audio Advertising Work?

Programmatic audio advertising uses automated technology to place ads within audio content. There used to be no standard way for apps and websites to show audio ads until IAB developed the Digital Audio Ad Serving Template, which most audio partners now use. The IAB also improved how ads were displayed by updating the VAST protocol. 

Quicker adoption of frameworks like VAST is crucial from a business viewpoint since it increases the popularity of programmatic audio in the industry and allows ad servers to communicate with publishers in a language that is widely understood for ad delivery.

The VAST protocol sets the rules for placing linear audio ads, which are ads that play before, during, or after audio content. These ads can come in several formats:

Companion Ads: These are static banners that display a logo and a call to action, like visit our website or learn more, while users stream music. Users can click on these banners while the audio ad plays. 

Skippable Ads: Ads that play at the beginning (pre-roll) or in the middle (mid-roll) of an audio file featuring different benefits for each placement.

Rewarded Ads: Such ads last between 15 and 60 seconds and play within mobile games. Users receive an in-game bonus for listening to the entire ad.

Podcast Ads: Commercial digital audio ads placed within podcasts. These are similar to traditional radio ads but customised for on-demand internet radio shows.


Audio Advertising Trends

Programming audio advertising is becoming the biggest trend in the digital market today. With more people listening to digital audio, it has opened up an array of opportunities for advertisers to reach their audience, indirectly increasing the trends of this digital advertisement channel. Here are five audio advertising trends you should keep an eye on. 

1. Growing Digital Audio Listenership

Digital audio is becoming more popular than ever before. The 2020 stats reported that over 70% of adults in the US listened to digital audio at least once a month. These numbers showed a substantial increase within the span of two years, increasing usage of digital audio by 66% at least once a week. On average, people in the USA spend around 16 hours and 14 minutes listening to digital audio per week. 

2. Smart Speakers Are Getting Common

The adoption of voice assistance and smart speakers as household equipment is rising. Currently, one-third of households in the US have smart speakers, and 44% of American adults use virtual assistants. This suggests that these gadgets are becoming typical household appliances.

According to Juniper Research, by 2022, US customers will have used over 870 billion virtual assistant-enabled devices, with 31% of audio listeners accessing their digital audio content through smart speakers. 

3. Mobile Is a Preferred Device for Listening

As of today, mobile devices are the most preferred means of listening to digital audio. Their independence from constantly looking at the screen makes them more immersive. 

Studies show that 65% of users in the USA depend on mobile devices to enjoy podcasts, while only 14% rely on laptops or desktops. This makes mobiles a relatively better platform for audio programming ads.

4. B2B Marketers Using Programmatic Audio

For B2B advertisers, the design of audio advertisements, combined with the audio listening habits of users, make programmatic audio campaigns an excellent choice for addressing an organisation or business’ requirements, interests, and difficulties. 

B2B marketers utilise programmatic audio as it allows them to communicate brand personality, target niche demographics, educate the targeted audience, and retarget qualified B2B customers.

5. Visual Elements in Audio Ads

Audio ads are effective on their own, but their effectiveness can be boosted by combining them with visual elements. These are called companion ads or audio companion banners. 

It is a great way to make the audio ads more impactful. Companion banners or ads are clickable versions of ads that appear while the audio ad plays. The interactivity reinforces the message while indirectly increasing user engagement. 


Audio Advertising Benefits

When we talk about the benefits of audio advertising, it’s important to consider how it positively impacts both publishers (those who create and distribute audio content) and advertisers (those who place ads within this content). Here’s a breakdown of the benefits for each party:

Benefit  Publishers Advertisers
Monetization Earn revenue from audio content.  Cost-effective ad placements.
Improved Listener Experience Relevant ads maintain a high-quality listening experience, potentially increasing listener loyalty.  Ensure advertisement effectiveness. 
Increased Engagement Well-placed ads can enhance the listening experience without intruding, leading to higher engagement rates. Audio content tends to captivate the audience, leading to higher ad engagement and recall rates.
Targeted Advertising More valuable ad inventory. Ensure that ads are delivered to the right audience. 
Ad Blocker Resistance Audio format is not visible to ad blockers, ensuring publishers do not lose revenue from restricted impressions. Ensures ads are delivered to more users, improving ad reach and effectiveness.
Easy Integration Simple installation process for both web and mobile platforms, reducing technical barriers and costs. Quick and efficient ad setup, allowing faster campaign launches and adaptations.
Diverse Ad Formats Offer various types of ads (pre-roll, mid-roll, post-roll, companion ads) Use different ad formats (audio, visual companion banners)
GDPR Compliance Listening is less dependent on cookies, supporting compliance with GDPR and enhancing user privacy. Ensures ads are compliant with GDPR, protecting user data and maintaining trust.
High CPM Rates One of the highest levels of CPM, ranging from $2 to $30, increasing revenue potential.
Screen Independence Ads can be served even if users are not looking at the screen, maximising exposure and reach.
Enhanced Reach Reach across multiple platforms (podcasts, digital radio, music-streaming services) and devices (smart speakers, mobile, desktop)
Measurable Results Allows you to track the performance of their audio ads, gaining insights into listener behaviour and ad effectiveness



Digital advertising marketing has witnessed a prominent shift with the emergence of programmatic audio ads in digital platforms. By leveraging automation and data-driven targeting, programmatic audio ads offer a win-win scenario for both publishers and advertisers.

With more people turning towards digital audio for their means of entertainment and knowledge, it offers marketers a wider audience. As this trend continues to evolve, it will undoubtedly shape the future of digital advertising, ushering in a new era of audio-centric marketing strategies.