Audio Advertising: A Highly Effective New Marketing Channel

Topics: Marketing Toolkit, Digital Media

Posted by: Barbara Gretsch, CEO

In today’s digital world, traditional advertising methods are no longer enough to maintain competitiveness in the media and marketing space. Every day, people consume advertisements through a variety of content and streaming platforms. They quickly absorb streamed ad information, whether watching shows and movies on Hulu or listening to music or podcasts on Pandora and Spotify. 

mobile phone with audio stats

Audio advertising is an excellent tool for businesses to add to their digital marketing toolbox. Before we dive into what makes audio advertising successful and provide some tips on how to manage a successful audio advertising campaign, let’s start with the basics. 


What is audio advertising?

The definition of “audio advertising” is simple – it’s the ads you hear while listening to an audio streaming platform. Whether you’re streaming your favorite radio station or  tuning in to content on Pandora, Spotify, Stitcher or a similar platform, you’re likely to be targeted with audio advertisements. 

Advertisers can buy space on streaming platforms, and strategically target users who fit their desired audience profile. Each individual who uses an audio streaming service must create an account. These profiles require information such as the user’s gender, age, address, and music preferences. This critical demographic data serves as a way for advertisers to target potential niche audiences. 

With the growing popularity of audio streaming, the advertising space these platforms offer has grown too. The proliferation of advertising on streaming music platforms and other digital audio platforms should come as no surprise. 

The vast majority of Americans own smartphones and many of us have our phones with us at all times. While we’re commuting to work or running weekend errands, digital and hyper-targeted audio advertising has become an almost constant part of the soundtrack of our everyday lives.


Why is audio advertising important?

It’s no secret that the world of advertising is changing drastically. Consumers are no longer just engaging with traditional media, and the audio advertising space is one of the new channels that can capture your target demographic. Let’s look at some of the unique traits that make audio advertising so worthwhile.

Digital audio streaming is a large and ever-growing territory.

While the audio streaming space is relatively new and continues to emerge, it’s increasing in popularity each year and shows no signs of slowing down. More and more users are shifting to multimedia and audio streaming platforms every day. 

In fact, Forbes has gone so far as to state that streaming is officially the lifeblood of the U.S. music industry. This makes sense, when you consider that Spotify alone has almost 300 million users

In addition, the number of Americans listening to podcasts has almost doubled over the past ten years. At last count 144 million Americans listen to podcasts generally, and 90 million Americans listen to podcasts monthly - which is approximately the same as the number of Americans who regularly go to church. While this platform has been selling advertising spots since 2011, podcast advertising has really taken off in recent years. 

With hundreds of millions of users available to be targeted, advertisers must adapt to digital platforms to remain relevant. 

Unlike traditional advertising, audio advertising can reach a more targeted and specific demographic based on the content the user is consuming.

As discussed above, platforms like Spotify provide log-in data that allows advertisers to hone in on specific groups of users based on their age, gender, listening habits etc.. Advertisers can target their specified audience while also being able to measure post-advertising data that is integral in evaluating the campaign. On Spotify, for instance, advertisers can measure user interaction and see if an individual listened until the very end of an ad. 

While it’s essential to be able to track how many people your advertisement has reached, it’s becoming increasingly important to follow the user journey. For example, did the user visit the advertiser’s website? Did the user make a purchase? This information allows advertisers to track performance in real-time and close the proverbial advertising loop. This information provides a more accurate calculation of their Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS) from music to podcast streaming platforms.

Even audio ad skips can work in an advertiser’s favor.

It’s true that many audio streaming platforms provide users the option of ad-free listening or the choice to skip commercial breaks. However, this feature comes at a premium, and studies have shown that only a small percentage of users choose this option.

Amazingly, even having users skip an advertisement can work in the advertiser’s favor. In an interview with Ad Age, Danielle Lee, Global Vice President of Partner Solutions at Spotify, said she believes that users will only skip audio ads that are not of interest to them. Therefore, the advertiser can ultimately better target their demographic. 

Not only will this allow advertisers to narrow down their target audience, it will also enable them to be more successful in their efforts to increase conversions. As individuals listen and engage only with ads that interest them, advertisers can capture important information about how to target better and adapt their marketing efforts in response. 

Podcast listeners are particularly receptive to audio advertisements.

Podcast listeners differ from other audio consumers in a few key ways. As a starting point, podcast listeners choose the specific podcasts they hear based on very distinct personal preferences. Podcasts are tailored explicitly to niche audiences with a shared respect for the topic, podcast host, or both.


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Podcasts have high engagement and retention rates with low advertising skipping rates (due to the organic way hosts incorporate advertisements into their programming). There is also a level of user dedication to podcasts—the feelings of closeness between the user and the host. 

While radio listeners tend to change the channel when advertisements come on, Adweek finds that podcast listeners tend to hang on every word of the show, ads and all. And listeners are more receptive to the brands the host endorses. IAB Edison Research found that 45% of podcast listeners visit a sponsor’s web page, 42% consider a new product or service, and 37%  gather more information on the product or service after hearing its advertisement via a podcast.


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Audio campaigns have found success since the beginning.

One of the first and most significant successful audio campaigns was the partnership between Kia and Spotify. In 2016, the South Korean car manufacturer sponsored the viral, curated Spotify playlist “New Music Friday” to introduce the new Kia Sportage. Kia offered listeners a “takeover” of the playlist and, in doing so, displayed its logo in association with the playlist, displayed advertisements relevant to the new launch, and gave control of the first commercial break for free listeners. 

The idea behind this strategy was to inform content plus context, or the right message at the right moment. For example, it makes sense for athletic brands to advertise on or sponsor stations and playlists that relate to being active or working out. It would make less sense for an athletic brand to advertise its newest running shoe on the “Just Chill” station. The choice to sponsor “New Music Friday” (a playlist with eight million followers) is one that paid off in a big way for Kia. According to the IAB Digital Buyer’s Guide, the campaign generated 10.5 million impressions, resulting in a 30% lift in brand awareness, a 100% lift in brand perception, and a 700% increase in brand consideration.


How do I take advantage of the audio advertising market?

While the shift toward audio advertising on platforms such as Pandora, Spotify, and other audio-streaming platforms can be daunting, it’s where more and more listeners are going. Advertising in these spaces allows for targeted and efficient marketing practices, along with real-time data on the advertisement itself, how many people heard it, and, ultimately, how many people are engaged. Advertisers can use specific data, from age and location to taste in music, to maximize their campaign’s effectiveness. 

Creating an audio ad campaign can seem daunting. From choosing distribution channels and writing a script, to adding background sounds and doing the voiceover, to recording and distributing your advertisement, there’s a lot to learn. Don’t let the novelty of audio-advertising intimidate you or keep you from entering this lucrative market!

We give the same advice to those looking to reap the benefits of audio advertising as we give to anyone looking for marketing success - always begin by establishing your goals.  Well-defined marketing goals are essential for any effective advertising campaigns.


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Pandora also offers some advice for those interested in more than the technical details of audio advertising. To make an real impact, they recommend considering your target consumer’s listening experience, using a tone that veers towards conversational, making your message clear and to the point, include a Call To Action, and using music or other sounds to leave a lasting impression.

If all the work involved in setting up your first audio advertisement seems like too much to take on yourself, we highly recommend choosing a media partner who knows what they’re doing. As experts in media and advertising services, digital media, and communications for almost two decades, we would be happy to execute your audio campaign. We deliver media strategies that win and comprehensive solutions that drive results!




Here at MSSmedia, we’ve been providing Education, Government, Real Estate & Lifestyle clients with succinct, optimized, and successful marketing solutions for more than 15 years. Consider MSSmedia a full-service, one-stop shop for all your Media and Public Relations needs. Your goals are our motivation. And our mission is to propel your message, further and faster, to achieve the outcomes you’re looking for. If you found this blog post helpful, please share!

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