The days of putting ad money into radio with little insight into return on investment may soon be gone.

In the new era of digital audio, advertisers are able to buy only those ads they know generate some kind of measured performance uplift.

In this video interview with Beet.TV, Lauren Russo, EVP, Managing Partner Audio Investment at the media agency Horizon Media, describes the trend.

Dial up results

“We have enhanced our performance audio capability,” Russo says. “We launched that last January. We’re going to clients with cost-per-acquisition deals, trying to frame deals around that.

“We’re building tools to measure that success and ultimately prove attribution related to that specific investment.”

Horizon Media is buying performance-based audio ads through Horizon Next, its division that is specific to performance buying across media types, and Big, its other agency devoted to buying outcome-based ads.

It is also using its Blue, an identity platform, to create audience identity segments.

“We only get paid based on performance – so we really see that as a big opportunity for the future,” Russo adds. “We think everything is moving in that direction and it’s all about attribution and results.”

Listen to this

Audio advertising is no longer just about radio. In-ear gadgets like AirPods, in-home smart speakers, in-car systems and a burgeoning podcasting ecosystem are driving up digital audio consumption.

According to latest The Infinite Dial report from Edison Research and Triton Digital in March:

  • 37% of Americans age 12+ (104 million) listen monthly to podcasts, up from 32% in 2019.
  • 62% of Americans use voice-operated assistants.
  • 45% of Americans have listened to audio in a car through a cell phone.

According to The Smart Audio Report from Edison and NPR in April:

  • 24% of American adults now have a smart speaker.
  • 34% of non-owners said they were likely to buy a smart speaker within the next six months.
  • 36% of smart speaker owners said they are using the device more for music and entertainment amid COVID-19, with 35% reporting the same for news and information.

The Infinite Dial 2020

Casting wide

Alongside the growth in listenership, audio publishers have been plugging in or building technology allowing them to recognize individual listener profiles and sell ads targeted to them – now even on a programmatic, automated basis.

Russo likes recent Apple Podcasts data quantifying global available podcast shows at around 900,000 – which, in theory, means a wider canvas against which to advertise – and she estimates that now having risen to 1.5 million.

But she says measuring podcast consumption remains challenging.

“The biggest challenge that I see exist in the podcasting space, there’s not a third party company that’s measuring audiences,” she says. “We’re using publishers first party data right now to get download information.

“We came up with an automated tool where we poll our publishers on a regular basis and we’re able to determine by vertical or genre what the best places to be are for our clients.”

Audio is hot

“We really view that as a complimentary experience, because the landscape is fragmented so much, it’s evolved so much,” Horizon’s Russo adds.

“And there’s just an opportunity for great reach and targetability when you blend those three platforms together.”

“Within broadcast, we do a lot of our transactions on iHeart Smart Audio platform for better targetability across various audience segments. And we also have that opportunity across all of our streaming partners as well.”

You are watching “Advertisers: Turn Up the Volume on Streaming Audio,” a Beet.TV leadership series presented by TruOptik, a TransUnion company. For more videos, please visit this page.