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Is there a future in programmatic audio advertising? Spotify certainly thinks so

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Spotify has led the way in serving audio ads programmatically, creating a platform for clients to serve bespoke, dynamic ads to target audiences in order to efficiently increase relevancy and impactfulness of their brand.

Spotify has 70 million active free ad supported users who are exposed to 15” and 30” ads, according to the company. This means that an average free listener will be exposed to six ads within an average listening session of 180 minutes. Unlike with digital display ads, these free listeners are unable to skip or otherwise avoid the audio ads, thereby allowing optimal ad exposure and engagement. Additionally, according to Spotify there is great opportunity for advertisers to be exposed within a premium content environment.

The benefit of audio advertising is it adds another layer of advertising towards consumers across different mediums. Advertisers who desire to make a real impact on their branding campaigns will hit their target audience across different mediums such as TV, VOD (including YouTube), display, Paid Search and Paid Social. Such a layered approach will increase awareness and engagement with content by remaining ‘front of mind’ with consumers. To further a targeted approach through this multi-layered strategy, Programmatic Audio enables advertisers to now see where this particular medium fits within the overall user journey. They therefore can target consumers intelligently to reach them at the best suited moment in their conversion path.

With a leader comes followers. Spotify has been the first to market to serve audio ads programmatically. However, there is a possibility of the likes of Apple Music, Google Play Music etc. to follow suit. As these companies hold vast quantities of data about their users, it will be in their interest to leverage it for advertisers to take advantage of. If advertisers are able to utilize the 1st party data from companies such as this through audio ads, we’ll begin to see truly personalized ads according to users’ behavioral patterns. At this point, audio ads will begin to be seen as not just a helpful medium to increase an advertiser’s portfolio, but an essential one.

As with any advertising method, there can be disadvantages. Whilst audio ads will be brilliant for branding, it is currently difficult to attribute sales directly as a result of 'in app inventory', which is cookieless. It is also unlikely to greatly increase direct web traffic. As users are listening to the audio ad, it’s unlikely the user would click out to the client’s site, as it would disrupt their ongoing audio experience. However, there are companies in the market that have solutions to this and the industry is working on alternative resolutions. Another way to try and track this is to have a discount code displayed on Spotify to help attribute conversions. However, this has its limitations.

Despite these issues, the potential with audio ads remain strong. If brands want to maximize exposure across different mediums, brands at the forefront of the industry will take advantage of this burgeoning platform to reach users listening to specific music.

Nathan Taylor-Billings is a programmatic account manager at digital marketing agency NMPi