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For Programmatic Buyers, Digital Audio Augments Audience Reach

Terrestrial radio is an upper-funnel standby. But with consumers spending less time with it than ever—and more time instead with streaming audio options—radio advertisers are turning to digital to extend audience reach and increase message frequency.

Digital audio can more definitively target specific locations and tailor messaging and ad creative to meet markets’ needs. In many cases, this still involves AM/FM radio stations, which are providing local, regional and national clients a full digital menu. Many media-buying and planning tools (and now programmatic platforms) present buyers with ways to select inventory across national and local broadcasters, as well as traditional and pure-play offerings.

“Traditional broadcast buying teams at agencies are starting to wrap their heads around programmatic, and they’re leaning in to buy more audio,” said Zuzanna Gierlinska, head of automation for EMEA at Spotify.

These pairings and packages more often resemble a direct-sold than a programmatic buy. Thanks to advancements in programmatic guaranteed capabilities, advertisers are able to secure guarantees for audience reach and other key buying parameters—a must for brand advertisers.

“That’s helped buyers who aren’t super programmatic-savvy to not have to deal with the complexities of real-time bidding [RTB] and bidding strategies” Gierlinska said. “They can buy programmatically at scale through a guaranteed solution that’s very akin to a direct IO [insertion order] purchase.”

Programmatic enablement isn’t just making it easier to access and buy inventory across AM/FM and music streaming services, it also makes it easier for advertisers to leverage these ads in combination with other programmatically purchased formats. Here again, the goal for many is to use streaming radio ads as added reinforcement for upper-funnel objectives.

Many interviewed for our report emphasized the effectiveness of pairing digital audio ads with video ads to boost reach and frequency and also go after unique reach—that is, the portion of their target audience that may not be reachable via digital video but is reachable in digital audio. Extending connected TV reach via digital audio is one approach advertisers take (and it’s a sound one, considering US digital audio listeners will outnumber US connected TV users by 9.7 million this year).

"You’re seeing a rise in popularity of connected and data-driven TV advertising, but the scale isn’t quite there," said Scott Walker, senior vice president of ad strategy at music streaming service Pandora. "When you add the scale of digital audio to those buys, it becomes a really compelling opportunity from a reach and frequency standpoint. We’re seeing a lot of the top Fortune 1000 advertisers thinking about audio from a media planning and reach and frequency perspective in that regard."

To learn more about where advertisers are putting their digital audio ad dollars today, read our report.