Complete Guide to Programmatic Audio Ads

graphic showing audio playing on a desktop, mobile phone, and from a smart speaker, to depict audio advertising

Programmatic audio enables you to run audio ads through your programmatic platform. It uses a similar process to display advertising, which automates the selling and insertion of ads into audio content. 

With programmatic audio, you can buy targeted ads from all the major audio publishers using one system. Ads reach your audience through various devices, including desktop, mobile, and tablet. 

What Are Programmatic Audio Ads 

Programmatic audio ads are ads that appear in audio content like podcasts, digital radio, and music-streaming services. 

There are different types of audio ads, but they share one thing in common: They are characterized by a voiceover and sound design delivering a message to your target audience. 

Typically, audio ads are between 15 seconds and 1 minute long. They’ll be played before, at the midroll, or at the end of a streaming playlist or podcast. Or, they’ll run at designated times throughout digital radio programs. 

With audio gaining an increasing prominence in our daily lives, trends around this digital advertising channel are emerging. Hear are 5 audio advertising trends you should keep a pulse on. 

1. Digital Audio Listenership is Growing

In 2020, more than 70% of US adults were listening to digital audio content at least once a month. And in 2022, about 66% of the US population ages 12 and older listens to digital audio at least once per week. This is up 5 percentage points from 2021, which indicates the increasing adoption of this channel. Time spent with audio is growing as well. Individuals in the US spend on average 16 hours and 14 minutes per week listening to digital audio. 

2. Smart Speakers are Becoming a Household Norm 

Adoption of smart speakers and voice assistants is on the rise. Today, one-third of US households are equipped with smart speakers and 44% of US adults use voice assistants. This signals that these devices are becoming common home appliances.

Juniper Research predicts that in 2022 over 870 billion voice assistant-enabled devices will be used by US consumers and 31% of digital audio listeners will be accessing their audio content via smart speakers. 

3. Mobile is the Preferred Device for Digital Audio Listening

With audio, there’s no need to look at a screen. Because there’s no visual element, most digital audio streaming is done over a mobile device. One study found that  65% of US podcast listeners use mobile to listen to podcasts, versus 14% on laptop or desktop.

Although mobile is the preferred choice of device for audio listening, you shouldn’t discount desktop or laptop listening entirely. Edison Research finds that 25% of podcast listeners do use a desktop or laptop to listen to podcasts.

4. Digital Audio Ads Can Now Be Visual, Too 

Audio ads perform well on their own, but it’s possible to boost their effectiveness even further by adding a display companion ad. Audio companion ads, also known as audio companion banners, are clickable, visual ads that run at the same time as an audio ad. 

They are displayed for the duration of the ad, while listeners hear your audio ad through a mobile device or desktop. Including companion banners alongside your audio can help reinforce the impact of your message and drive more engagement.

5. B2B Marketers are Leveraging Programmatic Audio Ads

For B2B marketers, the format of audio ads combined with user listening habits make programmatic audio campaigns a great fit for targeting the needs, interests, and challenges of a business or organization. 

B2B marketers are leveraging programmatic audio because with this channel it’s possible to target niche audiences, convey brand personality, educate the target audience, and retarget qualified B2B users.

The Benefits of Programmatic Audio Advertising

Programmatic audio ads have many benefits, from impressive engagement rates to driving brand awareness. Let’s tune into 3 of the main benefits of digital audio advertising.  

1. Highly Targeted Ads

As with all digital advertising, programmatic audio enables marketers to fine-tune their targeting. Leverage data from audio partners to target specific genres, playlists, moods, moments, and so much more. Use that information to target your audience based on household income, online behaviour, location, and other demographics.  

2. Reach Younger Audiences

Audio is popular among digitally savvy millennials and Gen Z, so you can reach a younger audience that is entering, or already in, their prime spending years. And, you can form long-lasting relationships with your audience, that with nurturing, will result in a higher customer lifetime value (CLV) over time.

3. Brand Awareness

Audio is an immersive and intimate medium that leverages storytelling to create a connection between the content and listeners. Data shows that compared to other media, digital audio is more likely to engage long-term memory for both details and memories, as well as increase emotional intensity. This results in a better receptiveness between the audience and a brand, which drives strong brand awareness.

Best Practices for Programmatic Audio 

The most important aspect of your programmatic audio ads is the message they share. From the script for your audio ad to the voice actor used for the voiceover and background sound, every detail of an audio ad contributes to how your message is communicated to a listener. 

If you’re thinking about running your first programmatic audio campaign, here are some best practices to keep in mind, which will help you strike the right chord with your listeners.

  1. Develop a message for your ad that is clear and to the point.
  2. Incentivize your listeners to take action with a call to action (CTA).
  3. Tap into your listener’s imagination using music and sounds.
  4. Stick to a conversational and friendly tone.
  5. Keep it brief so that your audience remembers your message.
  6. Test creatives for creative insights and to minimize ad fatigue.

Get Started With Programmatic Audio Ads

Programmatic audio ads work well as a standalone campaign, but digital audio is also a powerful complement to your other programmatic channels. 

Audio is emotionally engaging and screen-free, so you can reach listeners at home or while they’re on the go. This makes it the perfect channel to add to your multi-channel strategy. Leverage audio in your strategy to convey brand personality and build brand awareness.

Want to run exceptional programmatic audio campaigns? Request a demo to learn more about StackAdapt.

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Erin Hynes
Erin Hynes

Content Marketing Manager


Erin is a content marketer with experience crafting thought-provoking content that drives awareness and supports customer acquisition. She is also a travel writer and podcaster in the tourism space.