The Fundamentals of Programmatic Audio Advertising

#AudioInsights       #Audio ads       #Marketing Strategy

Suzi Kuban

Suzi Kuban

What is programmatic audio advertising? How do you buy it? And why should you buy it?


Read this post to get fully equipped with the knowledge needed to start programmatic audio advertising today!



The public’s love for digital audio has never been so high. Podcasts are downloaded in their millions. Alexa, Siri, and Google have made their way into our homes. And when I’m on the train I swear 90% of people are plugged in with headphones.

As a result of becoming such a mainstream media, programmatic advertising for audio was always inevitable.

It is also partly due to the advances in programmatic, that podcast advertising was able to surpass $1 billion in 2021, a growth of 74% revenue YOY!

Programmatic has made audio ads flexible, price-efficient, and accessible. Many brands are using this approach for audio buying – and here’s what you need to know, so you can too.


If you’re used to the online ecosystem then the concept of ‘programmatic’ will all be quite familiar. The core proposition remains the same – connecting a supply-side platform (SSP) with a demand-side platform (DSP) to purchase ad inventory in an automated manner.

All the efficiencies remain too – such as targeting, measurement, retargeting, and of course, speed! Campaigns can go live within minutes.

Your audio ad is played at markers laid within the audio content; typically inserted before the content (pre-rolls), in the middle of the content (mid-rolls), or at the end of content (post-rolls).




Knowing if your campaign performed well is essential, so you’ll be pleased to read audio ads that don’t differ from videos regarding tracking. You can measure impressions, listen-through rate, and ad completion numbers. Read popular articles on these audio metrics and benchmarks.

In a nutshell, the key metrics are:

  • Audio Reach: the number of unique listeners who heard your ad.
  • Audio Impressions: the number of times your ad is played in total.
  • Listen Through Rate: calculated by dividing impressions by the number of completions.
  • Completion Rate: the number of times your ad was heard in its entirety.

Much like digital, programmatic allows real-time optimisation towards the best performing audiences, also providing you key insight into your customer’s references.



Programmatic advertising has helped streamline the fragmented audio landscape. You can tap into the huge pool of listeners across the diverse range of listening platforms and content types through a single point of contact. This single point of contact is your DSP.

We’re an example of an audio-only agnostic network, which means we consolidate:

  • inventory across numerous audio mediums – podcast, music-on-demand, web radio, and mobile gaming
  • listening platforms
  • content publishers

With this approach, you’re reaching the largest pool of listeners within your targeting parameters, from one point of contact.

Self-serve ad managers are starting to emerge, giving businesses with smaller budgets access to audio inventory. Delivered via a tool similar to a social media ad manager, you can plan, schedule, optimize and analyze your audio campaign from a dashboard. This has huge benefits, particularly for SMEs and growing brands, as it’s low on time and cost, but high on precision and return. Check out our audio ad manager.


Features like contextual genre targeting, frequency capping, dynamic targeting, and real-time optimization make audio just as agile as your other channels, and a great addition to all marketing strategies.

It can amplify marketing campaigns down the entire marketing funnel. At the top, awareness and consideration, audio ads average a listen-through rate of 94%. It can spread awareness rapidly and effectively because ads are heard in their entirety and are in line with the mood and interest of listeners. A Nielsen ad effectiveness study states podcast ads generate 4.4 times higher brand recall than other forms of digital advertising.

Lower in the funnel, listener behaviour studies indicate consumers are likely to research a brand after hearing an ad, driving up search traffic and conversions. Nielsen reports an average 10% lift in purchase intent among those exposed to a podcast ad, and a higher likelihood of buying a product by 61% (compared to 56% of those who did not hear an audio ad).

Audio’s impeccable awareness capabilities also make it a great addition to social media. Read our article on building a social and audio strategy for more info on this.




There’s a perception that sponsorship and host reads are the only effective method when it comes to audio ads. And that’s just not true! Don’t mistake me, if a host reads your ad it is incredibly powerful. But it is expensive and puts all your eggs in one basket.

Buying your audio programmatically has a myriad of advantages chief among them is cost. Self-serve programmatic audio ad managers start as little as $250! Programmatic allows small, local and regional businesses to target audiences listening to some big national podcasts, creating a buzz and grander brand image.

Programmatic buying also means you can tap into inventory from multiple publishers, increasing your pool of potential customers. Buying directly with one publisher will limit you to only their inventory. For example, you will use one music streaming app where you can only reach the listener with the free account.

Access to real-time optimisation, campaign data, and reach efficiency is another huge benefit. You’ll get clear ROAS insight and see the audio’s effect alongside your other channels.

Let us not forget the overall benefits of digital audio advertising as a media format too! These include:

  • Ad blocking: The global average number of internet users using an ad blocker is 42.7%, and popularity is rising! However, the dominant way people listen is through a mobile device, which can’t simply block ads via ad-blocking tools. Unlike web browsers, users cannot jump to another tab or install an ad blocker to eliminate ads altogether.
  • Awareness: Typically there will be only 1-2 ad spots per download/stream. This is why there is marginal ad-skipping, great recall, and an average listen through-rate of 94%. Your ad stands alone, delivering a complete message in 15-30 seconds.
  • Recall: Audio ad recall is the highest of any channel. Edison’s Super Listeners 2021 study found that 86% of those surveyed recalled ads they heard on a podcast.



Programmatic audio advertising is a massive gain for businesses because it opens up access to a very powerful medium. It’s a targeted, cost-effective, efficient portal to engaged listeners that all businesses need to be taking advantage of.

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