How Advertisers Can Reach Growing Audiences in Digital Audio

phone showing a podcast playing

By Will Offeman, Chief Product Officer, WideOrbit

The significant growth in streaming audio is showing no signs of slowing down, even as the world emerges from the pandemic-influenced trends of the past year and a half.

In its 2021 report on online listeners in America, Pew Research Center estimates that 68 percent of Americans age 12 and older have streamed podcasts in the past month. That number is reinforced by Nielsen figures that show young adults, aged 18 to 34, are enjoying nearly three hours of digital audio content weekly and that older adults listen to 90 minutes or more, with smartphones the preferred listening method among all users.

The significant amount of content acquired by subscription services over the past year is a clear indication of industry confidence in continued audience growth through 2022. That confidence is buoyed by the fact that audiences span all demographics.

The Bigger the Audience, the Bigger the Opportunity

Digital outlets and listening methods continue to expand. The 2021 Infinite Dial Report estimates 280 million Americans now own a smartphone — the highest number ever — and 94 million own a smart speaker.

Both growth trends contribute to the estimated 176 million Americans who listen to online audio weekly and 193 million who listen monthly, listening that includes podcasts, news, music, and other content at an average rate of more than 16 hours per week, per listener.

As digital audiences continue to grow, so does the opportunity for advertisers to leverage that growth to their advantage. With the right buying tools, advertisers have access to available impressions, reaching their target demographics across multiple platforms, stations, formats, genres, device types, and more.

On the other side of the coin are the sellers, digital audio producers using those same tools to make their inventory easily available, while reducing costs and increasing efficiency to improve overall yield.

Digital Audio Buying Made Easy

To access growing digital audio audiences, advertisers need reliable and convenient tools to bid on and buy available inventory. Automated, programmatic marketplaces make buying digital audio easier than ever.

With automated buying, advertisers can:

  • Access, compare and bid on available impressions from broadcast radio, pure-play stations, and podcast producers
  • Build campaigns to extend reach across a broad audience or target by station, format, genre, geography, demographic, and/or device
  • Take advantage of packaged inventory from multiple sources, bundling ads based on geography, device type, or audience segment
  • Leverage dynamic ad insertion to access real-time impression data and optimize campaigns in-flight

Automated buying allows advertisers precise control over the distribution of their ads, allowing for targeted campaigns. It also allows for flexible, real-time adjustments to optimize messaging and improve return on ad spend while the campaign is in flight. And automated buying is available at scale, serving both national accounts seeking extensive demographic reach and boutique advertisers seeking to target specific markets or niche customers only.

Programmatic tools benefit sellers as well, giving content providers an efficient and effective method of making their inventory available to advertisers while maintaining control over which advertisers they choose to sell to and at which rates.

Automated selling offers sellers:

  • The ability to easily monetize live-streamed and on-demand inventory across platforms and devices
  • Access to new demand for inventory, including exposure to volume buyers that often include premium brands
  • Full control over which offers to accept or reject, allowing for rate optimization to maximize revenue

Automated tools connect buyers and sellers directly, allowing brands, agencies, and demand-side platforms easy access to available digital audio inventory without the time-consuming manual effort associated with traditional media buys.

Automation also makes cross-channel campaign management more straightforward. Aggregate supply is much easier to work with when building campaigns across multiple formats, outlets, platforms and devices, making those campaigns more effective and cost-efficient, which in turn improves return on ad spend.

Connecting Advertisers and Audiences

The continued growth of smartphone and smart speaker ownership solidifies digital audio as a growth opportunity advertisers would do well to take seriously. With working from home the new normal, telling the speaker to play a podcast or the news or some music is becoming second nature. Listeners also rarely leave home without both their phones and their earbuds. And they continue listening through their car’s sound system, either directly or by linking it to their phones.

According to Nielsen, more than 80 percent of Americans listen to as much or more radio as before the pandemic. Digital audio — streaming and on-demand — will grow by about 20 million new listeners this year over last, and listener demographics span all ages, geographies, socio-economic, and other categories.

Buyers and sellers who take advantage of programmatic marketplaces can leverage digital audio to easily and efficiently reach growing audiences, maximizing the revenue potential the medium represents for both content producers and their advertisers.

About the Author

Will Offeman is chief product officer with WideOrbit, where he leads strategy, design, and development of all its software solutions. With decades of professional experience in broadcasting, cable networks, and digital publishers, Offeman focuses on advancing the unification of digital and linear advertising. On LinkedIn.