woman listening to headphones

A Primer on Programmatic Audio

Magnite Team

February 28, 2023 | 5 min read

Audiences are turning up the volume on digital audio in a big way. Last year, 67% of Americans listened to digital audio content, representing 223 million internet users. Advertisers are taking the cue. Audio spend is forecasted to hit 6.8 billion this year, a 9% increase from last year, despite tightening marketing budgets due to recession fears. 

Yet, while audio ad investment is increasing, there’s still a clear disconnect between brand spend and the channel’s high impact on users. According to research by WARC, audio accounts for 31% of total media consumption yet receives less than 10% of overall advertising dollars – an indication that audio is digital media’s sleeping giant. 

Here’s a quick take on the state of current audio and where the channel is headed in 2023.

What type of audio inventory can you buy programmatically?

Programmatic audio inventory includes streaming music and podcasts, progressive downloads, and fully downloaded audio content. Audio ads can reach any device, including desktop apps, mobile apps, smart speakers, web and CTV/OLV. 

Gaming is a bright spot for audio, which provides new opportunities for brands to engage with consumers in non-intrusive ways that are seamlessly integrated. In casual gaming –  which makes up a large majority of the gaming audio experiences – the advertising audio takes over the audio of the game while the user continues game play. Another method is through in-game, where a user takes an action to play an audio file within the game. 

Streaming music channels and podcasts offer pre-, mid-, and post-roll spot insertion into audio content. As the ads are stitched into the content, they bypass ad blockers. Unlike radio, advertisers can buy addressable inventory against specific audience verticals, i.e., by geographic location or listening genre.

What kind of content is available? 

Brands can reach a wide array of listeners with diverse tastes and interests via programmatic audio. Formats gaining traction include gaming, text to speech and CTV/OLV. Programmatic ads can play alongside any genre of streaming music, be it country, dance/electronic, indie/alternative, pop, hip hop, classical and beyond. Podcast genres include arts, TV & film, business, comedy, news, sports, and true crime. 

What are the benefits of programmatic audio? 

Audio is a highly immersive channel that offers focused listeners an engaging, lean-back experience. During peak listening hours, users are rarely using another device, meaning ads are getting users’ full attention. This is reflected in audio’s strong brand recall. When placed in personalized playlists, audio ads’ long-term recall is 49% better than radio and 29% better than mobile. The portability of audio devices allows marketers to reach their ideal audience in environments where others can’t – via watches, cars, Smart TVs, game consoles, home speakers and more.

Buying audio programmatically provides greater flexibility, control and insights to marketers. Using programmatic pipes, marketers can get time-sensitive ads up and running quickly, turn campaigns on or off, and optimize campaigns in flight without needing to call dozens of publishers. Programmatic audio also offers brands a low barrier of entry as compared to other digital channels because of the low cost to produce an audio ad and available options to activate.

Notably, programmatic allows brands to easily add audio into any omnichannel buy, increasing brand visibility and reach.

How is programmatic audio transacted?

Programmatic is largely transacted via the private marketplace (PMP) or Programmatic Guaranteed (PG) deals. This gives brands the control to curate deals to meet specific campaign parameters and KPIs while achieving reach with maximum efficiency. Compared to IO buying, programmatic provides insights that can be benchmarked and tracked across campaigns uniformly. Like CTV activation, audio offers buyers immediate access to addressable audiences in categories like genre, age, geography and more.

What challenges still exist for programmatic audio? How can they be remedied?

Similar to CTV, the audio industry is still somewhat fragmented. Convergence around technical standards, planning and execution would help streamline ad delivery. Technological advancements, such as competitive separation, creative review and deduplication, are currently underway to improve the audience’s listening experience and give more control to brands. 

What differentiates Magnite from other SSPs in the audio space?

As the world’s largest independent sell-side platform for every channel and format, Magnite offers brands unparalleled access to premium publishers through one point of entry. Magnite’s audio offering enables marketers to reach listeners in today’s highly mobile and connected consumer environment, spanning streaming music services, live talk, radio, sports and podcasts. 

Meanwhile, Magnite’s Demand Facilitation team supports buyers by helping to identify inventory opportunities for buyers’ campaigns across inventory types, offering white-glove service to clients looking to expand their audio footprint with access to private marketplaces and deals. Magnite’s global scale curated supply from the world’s top publishers and continued innovation help brands launch digital audio as part of a 360 omnichannel strategy for maximum impact.

Tags: Audio, Buyers

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