Thought Leadership

Why 2019 Will Be the Year of Programmatic Audio

January 17, 2019
By Nina Harvey, Head of Audio, Rubicon Project

In 2018, we saw consumer behavior and technology trends align with marketplace forces in a way that suggests 2019 is going to be a banner year for programmatic audio. Let’s take a look at the confluence of forces and the recent industry advances that suggest that 2019 will be the year of programmatic audio.

The Stars Align

The volume of available streaming audio content, across music and spoken word, has seen astronomical growth in recent years. Most people continue to stream audio on their mobile devices, but the rise in smart speaker adoption and new in-car integrations has made streaming audio even more ubiquitous. People can and do listen wherever they are, whenever they want, throughout the their entire days.

This shift has certainly piqued the interest of major industry players. In 2018, moves by the industry’s biggest names added validity to programmatic audio as a prime platform for reaching target audiences at scale. Pandora entered the programmatic audio space on the sell side, adding its impressive inventory to the already-impressive mix from providers like Spotify, TuneIn, as well as the many radio stations working with aggregators like TargetSpot.

Meanwhile, on the buy side, Google introduced the ability to buy programmatic audio ads through its DSP. With the strength of Google combined with others in the space—including The Trade Desk, Adobe and MediaMath—there’s now a high likelihood that advertisers who want to reach their audiences via audio can do so using the same platform that they use to purchase all of their other programmatic inventory.

The Audio Appeal

With proper supply and demand rapidly falling into place, the benefits of programmatic audio are too strong to ignore. Key attractions for buyers include:

  • Quality and Trust: Today’s programmatic audio inventory represents a premium environment with a very low risk of fraud and a high degree of transparency.
  • Control: Many premium sellers, like Spotify and Pandora, operate only via private marketplaces, enabling a high degree of control and ensuring a good user experience.
  • Share of Voice: Unlike display environments, most audio environments—particularly on mobile devices—offer brands 100 percent share of voice in a one-to-one setting.
  • Data-Driven Creative: The rich data assets streaming audio providers have on their subscribers, coupled with emerging dynamic creative solutions, provide advertisers with the opportunity to craft compelling, targeted narratives that follow users throughout their days.

Perhaps most importantly, the power of audio ads within a cross-platform buy are becoming evident. In a recent case study from The Trade Desk and Spotify, audio ads were found to boost ad recall by more than 150 percent—and by more than 200 percent when combined with video and display elements.

Challenges Overcome

In addition to accelerating marketplace forces and growing awareness of the value of audio ads, two major challenges within the programmatic audio space greatly diminished in 2018.

For one, there was a notable shift in the responsibility for buying programmatic audio, from broadcast and analog radio teams to programmatic and digital media teams. This trend will only continue into 2019.

In conjunction with this shift, much-needed progress was made around the standardization of audio creative. Previously, there were two primary methods for delivering programmatic audio creative: DAAST and VAST. If an audio campaign’s assets were built in DAAST, the campaign would be limited to DAAST inventory—the same being true with VAST. Fortunately, the IAB sunset support for DAAST with its ratification of the new VAST 4.1 protocol,enabling audio to be transacted across a single standard template so that more audio inventory can move into the open marketplace.

2019: The Market is Tuned Into Audio

2018 has set the stage for what will be a big year on the horizon for programmatic audio, and Rubicon Project is well-positioned to facilitate this marketplace boom for buyers and sellers alike. Our omnichannel solution ensures that buyers can include audio as part of their wider campaign mix and that sellers are able to offer a comprehensive premium programmatic strategy across all of their media.

Rubicon Project’s established marketplace of audio sellers provides brands with the opportunity to buy targeted, quality audiences at scale. We provide private marketplace options, robust first-party data for targeting, and full transparency over inventory and pricing.

So after a brilliant year of activity in 2018, we’re standing on the rooftops shouting out ‘programmatic audio is ready to go.’ Bring on 2019