Digtial audio is transforming at a rapid pace. Figures from Rajar suggest that in the UK radio arena, 56% of the population tune into a digital radio each week, while the share of radio listening via a digital platform is at 42%.
Digital audio advertising, meanwhile, has been on a long, and as yet, pretty quiet journey in the digital space – but it's set to be the next big growth area for programmatic buying.
It's important to make the distinction between digital radio and digital audio. Digital radio is only one of three areas that makes up the digital audio landscape, which also includes music streaming and podcast services.
The Digital Audio Exchange
Back in 2014, Global – owners of commercial radio stations such as Heart, Capital and Classic FM – launched the Digital Audio Exchange, hoping to circumnavigate the problems caused by fragmentation within the digital audio advertising space. This was a huge development for the UK audio advertising industry, allowing brands to advertise programmatically via a variety of streaming platforms.
This development proves that the trading of audio adverts is already underway – meaning that there will be an across-the-board standardisation for audio programmatic advertising, taking in radio, streaming and podcasts. This is great news for the industry as a whole because it means that they will effectively be able to adopt audio-ad formats alongside existing traditional formats.
This all sounds like the perfect solution for ad-buyers, but nothing is straightforward nor without its hitches. We know that the audio inventory is readily available to buy and while audio publishers see a value in audience-based buying and the possibilities of granular targeting that programmatic offers, they are hesitant to place their inventory into an open exchange.
On the plus side, audio advertising is immune to ad-blocking and it doesn’t have to compete for listeners' attention – but if audio programmatic is to really take hold, then digital advertisers will have to get over their perception that digital audio lacks the clout of TV advertising. And then there’s measurement – but that’s a whole other story. Until effective ways of measuring audio programmatic become available, it represents the biggest barrier to this ad medium’s future.