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Digital Audio Ads Are Finally Becoming Addressable

Addressable Digital Audio Ads for Small Businesses

Even Podcasts can be targeted on a more granular level - a far step from where we were not too long ago.

With 394 million streaming music subscribers active across the globe (up 35% year-over-year in Q1 of 2020 due to the effects of COVID-19) - digital audio can no-longer be considered the ad format for reaching only affluent users, but wide swaths of diverse listeners across the entire spectrum. More addressable audio ads result in more memorable connections between small businesses and the listeners that matter most to them.

Spotify this week announced the launch of their new Spotify Audience Network - an audio advertising marketplace where advertisers can reach listeners across ad-supported music, Spotify’s own original and exclusive licensed podcasts and podcasts hosted on Spotify-owned Megaphone and Anchor. This move will open vast amounts of ad inventory on Spotify's exclusive podcasts, as well podcasts found on Megaphone and Anchor. Consider this compared to 2019, when the Spotify Ad Studio was still in beta, only serving to streaming music, and targeting was still limited to demographic & geographic. (And no, genre targeting wasn't even available.) Also making waves recently in digital audio news was YouTube with the announcement of the addition of YouTube audio ads (available in Google Ads and DV360). The new format is available to all advertisers, and is meant to take advantage of those moments when users are listening to music on YouTube, but not necessarily looking at the screen. The ads are :15 long, and all of the same targeting options available in Google Ads are available for digital audio. Even Pandora, who has notoriously been guarded about their inventory in the marketplace has created 'AudioGo', their own self-service platform tailored to small advertisers with budgets under $15,000. The platform grants access to inventory across Pandora, iHeart Radio, TuneIn, and podcast platform Stitcher. But digital audio campaigns, by themselves, are typically a "pump-and-dump" experience for advertisers due to the lack of measurement capabilities across the audio landscape. "It's important to think of addressable audio in the context of the full digital media picture." says Bryan Thurston, Chief Strategist at Fresh Squeeze Digital, who has vast experience running digital performance and audio campaigns for clients such as O'Reilly Auto Parts and Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). "Digital marketers are accustomed to seeing real metrics pertaining to the performance of their campaign. With digital audio, those metrics become very limited to the quartile (percentage of the ad delivered), or the performance is entirely tied to whether or not there's companion banner for the listener to click on." added Thurston. "Frankly, I consider digital audio to be more of a top-funnel tactic to help push a brand's audience further down the path-to-purchase."

He went on to add "That doesn't mean there isn't a place for it on the media plan. In fact, digital audio in tandem with audience-targeted banner, video or native ads can really lift the overall performance of the campaign, especially among ages 13-40. The addition of highly-targeted digital audio ads can increase other key campaign metrics, such as clickthrough rate and conversion rate for other high-performance tactics."

As audio advertising becomes more accessible to small advertisers across the board and not only key players, the demands of the space are certain to continue to shift in favor of the advertisers' needs. With growing listenership and a rapidly changing subscription-base, the space is quickly catching up to the digital marketing landscape that we were already accustomed to.

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