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A media format on the rise

There is no doubt, that Programmatic advertising is one of the biggest trends in the market, which spans a wide range of media channels and formats. One of the latest advertising formats is programmatic audio, which places ads within audio content such as podcasts, music streaming apps, and online radio. With more than 133 million people worldwide owning smart speakers such as Amazon Echo and Google Home – not to mention the growing popularity of podcasts – audio advertising offers advertisers countless opportunities to represent their brand in the advertising marketplace.

The expansion of Digital Audio

75% of all music listeners in 2018 are accounted for Streaming services. This number continues to rise. A growing number of artists use platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music to share it with their fans. On top of that, the popularity of voice-activated devices has also increased, encouraging the growth of programmatic audio technology. Advertisers can use data points as alternatives to cookies (e.g. „location, content type, and time of day”) or device IDs, allowing a more accurate and effective targeting.

IAB Europe predicts that by 2023, audio advertising will become a billion-euro market. Why? Because media consumption shifts to screenless devices.

What is programmatic audio?

Programmatic audio advertising is the automated sale and insertion of advertising into audio content such as podcasts, audio articles, digital radio, and streaming music services. This technology helps campaigns to run with greater efficiency.

It is an umbrella term that covers everything to do with buying and selling digital advertising autonomously in the audio sector.

The effectiveness of Programmatic Audio and Podcasts

According to the Midroll Media Report, 60% of podcast listeners made a purchase after listening to a podcast audio ad. A study by Edison Research and PodcastOne called Super Listeners Study showed that 70% of podcast listeners considered buying a new product or service after hearing about it in a podcast. Also, listeners are more attentive to advertising listened to on podcasts, with 44% agreeing that they pay more attention to advertising on podcasts than other forms of media. Nielsen found that audio ads are more than twice as likely to increase purchase and information intent as display ads, which also results in a 24% higher recall rate.

Advantages of programmatic audio

The main benefit, of course, is to get real-time insight into your audience so you can better understand and segment your audience and optimize your campaigns while you run your business. In this respect, audio is not much different from video as you can track the effectiveness of campaigns in the same way.

The same applies to targeting and aligning ads only to people who are located in a certain area (geo-targeting), have a specific interest, belong to the demographic target group, and much more. There are also some audio-specific things like genre type or playlists. The ability to engage a user in the right place at the right time and in the right context is critical for a brand that wants to engage with its audience in an authentic, immersive, and contextually relevant way. It also fills a gap in the customer journey.

Formats and applicable use 

For brands that advertise directly, it is not difficult to introduce programmatic audio alongside other digital advertising methods, because audio is a largely distraction-free medium. It is just as easy for advertisers because it is largely the same programmatic principle by which video ads work. 

Different formats and their use make the difference

Recorded audio ads

Available in standard lengths such as 15, 30, and 60 seconds, come with three basic placements: pre-roll (before the audio content), mid-roll (during a section), and post-roll (after the section) and can be inserted dynamically.

Companion display ads

Static banners paired with the audio ad track, which are displayed in the audio unit while the content is playing.

Native ads

Most are associated with podcasts, as they are often read by the moderator. There is no fixed length, and these ads can be permanently integrated into the program and dynamically inserted into the above three placements.

Audio ad pods

One sentence after the other of two or more ads within the same content.

Rewarded audio

One sentence after the other of two or more ads within the same content.

Voice-activated ads

Interactive displays with a specific call to action, which elicit a reaction from the listener simply by speaking.

Fields of application of formats 

Now that you know which formats you can use and how the next step is to know where to place these ads. Here is a shortlist of where the audience might enjoy your audio ads:

  • Podcasts 
  • Audio articles  
  • Streamed music
  • Online radio
  • Voice-enabled content such as voice skills and actions, courtesy of voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant

Using Programmatic Audio

Audio displays are relatively easy to create or set up voice-over talents. You need a 30-second display in the accepted audio file formats MP3, M4A and WAV. For a 30-second display, you should aim for between 55-75 words and try to keep your pace steady. Even more important is that you give a clear call to action. According to Spotify, ads with a direct call to action have ~3x higher click rates than ads without a call. At the very least, you can ask the listener to do something, such as “Tap the page to find a location” or “Visit”.

Some publishers allow the insertion of accompanying banners during audio ads. So if you have a creative ad that fits your message, be sure to include it. The supply of accompanying banners is not guaranteed but can represent added value.

A new opportunity for e-marketers 

Apart from consumer listening habits, as many music streaming services offer a subscription service for the removal of advertising and few consumers are willing to pay for the removal of advertising, marketers have recognized this possibility:

According to a study by Forrester Research, 28% of U.S. and 17% of European adult users stream music on their desktop or mobile phone. Only six percent of users in the U. S. are willing to pay for access to streaming online radio services, and 5% are willing to pay for access to streaming-on-demand radio services. The increase in consumer listening habits and listening inventory creates a huge opportunity for marketers to reach highly targeted and unique audiences with audio advertising.

What does the future predict for Programmatic Audio?

Although the popularity of digital audio is skyrocketing, the purchase of program audio is lagging behind other formats such as display and video. Challenges such as a lack of standardized measurements, insufficient demand and incompatible technology to support audio advertising are currently slowing down rapid growth. In-app audio is also in short supply as it is usually available within the major music streaming apps such as Spotify and Pandora, but not as much is sold on the open market as many major publishers choose to offer PMP. It is developing slowly as publishers show more and more interest in programmatic audio files, but it may take some time before it is widely used by smaller publishers.

Since Programmatic Audio represents a brand-safe environment, as well as the degree of personalization this medium allows, expectations for the future of programmatic audio technology are great.


Listening has a fundamental role in our daily lives, in every moment – playlists, podcasts, stories, and sounds influence our emotions and entertain us. Targeting and retargeting are the focus of attention. And programmatic advertising, especially for audio formats, provides us with new possibilities to play native ads in an efficient and cost-effective manner.


We hereby expressly do not declare that we are the author of the post or the content it contains. It is our intention to summarize the essential information from several sources and to provide our site visitors with knowledge about our services.

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