The growing popularity of digital audio streaming and podcasts, along with the engaged audiences they attract, is putting programmatic audio front of mind for both media buyers and sellers.

During a recent Programmatic Panel session hosted by Amnet, I sat down with Dan Robins, head of programmatic and data, ANZ at Spotify; Mitch Waters, general manager AU/NZ at The Trade Desk; and Andrew Brain, digital commercial director at ARN to dig into the programmatic audio space, concluding the future looks bright for the relatively new format.

Digital disruption has scattered audiences across traditional media channels and digital environments as consumption behaviours change. Brands looking to reach these fragmented audiences need to take a holistic approach to planning their media. Advertisers will always follow the eyeballs and for audio, streaming music or digital radio is where audiences are moving. This presents a significant opportunity in Audio – the intersection between radio and digital.

According to Spotify, nearly 80% of music listeners used an online streaming service in the last 12 months, up 75% from last year. However, looking at the growth in revenue it would seem planning and buying has not kept pace with the changing audio landscape, with revenue growth in the music streaming segment forecasted at 18% for 2017.

Dan Robins, Heath Irving and Andrew Brain

Dan Robins, Heath Irving and Mitch Waters (not pictured Andrew Brain)

I feel the main difference between buying traditional radio to programmatically buying digital audio is moving away from buying spots around talent and location to focusing on audiences, using data and technology to drive centralised reach efficiencies and data strategies. Streaming audio is global, but it can approach the local relevance of regional radio with targeting. Thanks to loads of data on streaming listeners, advertisers can combine intimacy with personalization.

Digital audio plays a key role in extending the reach of radio campaigns much like online video does for TV. What Amnet has observed is the marketers and media buyers ahead of the curve are planning radio and audio holistically, looking at the reach efficiencies digital audio adds to your strategy.

While it seems investment into digital audio is coming from traditional channels, we are also seeing increasingly more budgets coming from digital video and display as brand safety becomes more of a concern.

“With social increasingly under pressure from ad misplacement, poor viewability and ad blocking, digital audio stacks up particularly well for brand safety in comparison,” said Brain. “There is also nowhere near the level of unpredictability of user-generated content we see in social environments like Facebook or YouTube.”

Digital audio ads are largely unskippable and, unlike video ads, consumers don’t have the option to click away to another channel or screen. While not technically “viewable”, audio ads have nearly 100% consumer attention.

Seemingly the last frontier where consumers don’t have an easy option for tuning out targeted ads, digital audio is an attractive option for advertisers. Given the intimacy of the format, streaming opens the door to advanced targeting capabilities, especially around mood and moments.

As Robins explained:  “Streaming enables every emotion, moment and activity to be enhanced by music. This is a huge opportunity for brands to reach their audiences in unique moments throughout their day. Whether it be in the gym in the morning or relaxing at home at the end of the day, mood and moment targeting add an exciting element to the mix.”

Yet the walled gardens are getting higher and present a challenge when it comes to data in the digital audio space as access is still very much siloed around the key players. Outside of centralised frequency capping, having a holistic targeting strategy across multiple suppliers has been limiting.

As technology advances, cross-device solutions could be the answer to the fragmentation as Waters explained: “Using our device graph we can combine multiple data points (device ID and email for example) to find audiences across multiple screens and formats. This opens up huge possibilities for brands to understand which formats are driving the most value in their media mix.

Audio can play an important part of any branding strategy. As technology and data evolve we have the ability to not only determine which format is driving the most value for an audience segment online but also to understand which format is driving the most offline conversions. Closing the loop to understand the true impact of your advertising.”

So in my view, brands looking to reach consumers shifting away from traditional radio and garner more attention in the moments that matter, taking advantage of brand safe environments, reach efficiencies and audience-based buying – programmatic audio is looking like a shining star.

By Amnet ANZ screens strategist, Heath Irving

Article originally published on AdNews.