Man listening to headphones on the subway

How CTV Paves the Way for Audience Activation in Audio

Grant Sterling, VP, Global Business Development

November 30, 2023 | 5 min read

Listeners are turning up the volume on audio, and advertisers are taking note. Digital audio had the highest growth rate of any media last year. This presents a boon for advertisers looking to reach listeners in a highly immersive, non-skippable environment at scale.

Interestingly, audience activation in CTV can serve as a strong blueprint for making audio advertising more resonant. Here’s a deep dive into how audio publishers can borrow from CTV to amplify their messaging with listeners. 

How Are Audiences Currently Targeted on Audio?

Audio is traditionally contextually-driven media– which has its benefits and drawbacks. The upshot is that audio is transacted largely via the private marketplace with vetted creative, offering a premium, brand-safe environment. The rub is that contextual advertising has its limits. Ideally, audio advertisers would be able to target audiences as they do in CTV, so that buying is impression-based, with 1:1 household-level targeting.

Excitingly, more granular targeting is coming to the audio medium, with first-party data leading the way. User logins, in-app profiles, and personalized playlists can all give content owners a window into audience preferences. To take full advantage of this rich data, however, audio publishers must play a more active role in audience activation – akin to how the sell-side is leaning into audience attribution in CTV.

CTV Paves the Way for Audience Activation in Audio

As media owners and publishers look to activate audiences in audio, here are some learnings from CTV to keep top of mind. 

Unlock first-party data. Similar to CTV, audio platforms leverage user logins and viewer profiles to understand consumption behavior. Consequently, there is no need for device IDs or IP addresses to achieve household-level targeting. By matching encrypted first-party registration data with contextual and behavioral data gathered from user interaction activities, publishers can get a clear picture of audience behavior without cookies or universal IDs to drive campaign results.

Stay deal-focused. Audio and CTV primarily operate through private marketplace (PMP) and programmatic guaranteed (PG) transactions. These exclusive marketplaces are typically “invite-only” platforms, offering buyers privileged access to inventory at fixed prices. This setup allows buyers to access high-quality, brand-safe inventory and target specific audience segments at scale. In turn, sellers win the ability to improve their fill rates and maximize their inventory’s value. By using Deal IDs or deal bundles on audio, buyers can also ensure greater control over where listeners tune into their ads. 

Build to safeguard privacy. Akin to CTV, audio publishers are rightfully cautious about their data and seek targeting solutions that avoid leakages of personal data and undue exposure. As addressability has evolved in CTV, tools and workflows have been established to enable publishers to use their first-party user data and match audiences while maintaining full control. Here, audio can use the same systems to activate data at scale. 

How Magnite Fills in the Gaps

Magnite’s audio offering was built with interoperability in mind and empowers media owners to unlock their own data on their terms while winning access to the world’s leading publishers. Meanwhile, Magnite’s Demand Facilitation team helps buyers identify inventory opportunities in the audio space, offering white-glove service to expand their audio footprint with PMP and PG deals.

As James R. Cowan, head of automation, Americas, at Spotify, shared, “Streaming audio is in a unique position to bring effective data to programmatic buyers at scale. Magnite is a great partner for this because they are able to work with audio and video-based publishers across emerging formats to drive the right message to the right audience via listener-based insights. Supply-side data activation gives us the functionality to provide that value for our buyers.”

Audacy echoed this sentiment. As Ken Lagana, EVP of digital sales and strategy, said,  “Audacy is uniquely positioned to provide engaged audiences across news, sports, music, and more. We’ve worked with Magnite to enable buyers to take advantage of the deep relationships that Audacy forms with our loyal listeners. Our goal is to empower buyers to utilize our data in a manner consistent with how they are buying other important media channels and optimize for results.”

iHeartMedia, which reaches 276 million listeners, uses its audience data-powered Smart Audio solution to deliver 1:1 audiences with high engagement in different environments through streaming audio and podcasts. The data is also used to identify audio influencers, radio hosts, and podcast creators, selected based on the propensities of their audiences. 

Magnite client IHeartRadio further expanded, “We give brands the ability to leverage data-informed Broadcast and Digital audio at every stage of the consumer’s journey through the marketing funnel,” said Brian Kaminsky, chief data officer and president of revenue strategies, at IHeartRadio. “Because data is at the heart of what we do, we are agnostic as to how we work with our customers and make every effort to meet them on the platforms they are choosing, which is one of the reasons we decided to work with Magnite.”

Bottom line, audience addressability is still a moving target in audio, but CTV can help publishers improve their aim. By mirroring CTV’s model and unlocking the full power of their data, media owners can maximize the value of their rich data assets while helping advertisers reach their desired audiences with greater impact.

Tags: Audio, Publisher

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