Digital Audio Advertising: Everything You Need to Know

In today’s screen-obsessed world, digital audio isn’t always at the forefront of marketing conversations—but it should be. The amount of time that U.S. adults are spending with digital audio has been growing for years. In fact, in 2024, the average daily time spent with digital audio in the U.S. will be 1 hour and 45 minutes—a full 15 minutes more than in 2020. 

People spend more time listening to digital audio than they spend on other popular digital channels, including viewing subscription OTT content, watching videos on their phones, or scrolling social networks. For that reason, digital audio advertising represents an important component of any well-rounded media and advertising strategy. With digital audio ads, you can integrate your brand into the everyday routines of your audience in a way that is uniquely personalized to their interests. 

Let’s dig deeper into the power of digital audio and how brands can make the most of this opportunity. 

Understanding Digital Audio Advertising

Digital audio advertising describes promotions that are embedded within digital audio media such as podcasts, digital radio, and music streaming services. In contrast to traditional radio—which is regionally limited and features fixed programming and minimal listener control—digital audio offers a globally accessible, customizable, and interactive listening experience via the internet.

Digital audio advertising allows for highly targeted and personalized marketing campaigns, reaching specific audiences based on their listening preferences and behaviors. Additionally, digital audio’s rising popularity, especially through podcasts and music streaming services, provides brands with a growing, engaged audience and innovative ways to integrate their messaging organically into listeners’ daily activities.

Top Digital Audio Advertising Platforms

Some of the most prominent providers in the digital audio marketplace today include:

Streaming Radio

  • iHeartMedia: With over 860 live broadcast stations in 160 markets across America, iHeartMedia stations reach more than 110 million listeners every week, and 276 million every month.
  • SiriusXM: SiriusXM’s platforms collectively reach more than 150 million listeners monthly across all categories of digital audio—music, sports, talk, and podcasts.

Streaming Music

  • Amazon Music: Amazon Music is a music streaming platform and digital music store, operated by Amazon, that has more than 55 million subscribers.
  • SoundCloud: Music streaming service SoundCloud is available in more than 190 countries and territories, attracting more than 76 million active monthly users and featuring over 200 million audio tracks.
  • Spotify: Spotify’s audio streaming service boasts more than 602 million users, including 236 million subscribers in more than 180 markets.
  • YouTube Music: In 2024, YouTube Music and Premium crossed 100 million subscribers.

Podcasts

  • Apple Podcasts: An early promoter of podcasts, Apple Podcasts had an estimated 28 million U.S. monthly listeners and 23.8 percent market share in 2022.
  • Spotify: In recent years, Spotify has overtaken Apple Podcasts in number of podcast listeners, with 32.5 million in 2022. 

Why Should Brands Use Digital Audio Advertising?

Digital audio advertising has proven to be highly effective in reaching targeted audiences in a meaningful way. For example, research has shown that audio ads are more than twice as likely to lift purchase intent and information intent than display ads. Likewise, audio ads drive 24 percent higher recall on average than display ads.

A lot of the power of digital audio advertising lies in its enhanced targeting capabilities, which enables brands to strategically target (and retarget) an audience across audio channels, formats, and programming. Digital audio targeting capabilities will vary according to a brand’s partner. 

At Digilant, for example, we work with clients to refine digital audio targeting based on the following parameters: 

  • Weather: Targeting according to conditions and temperatures.
  • Podcasts: Classifying podcasts by topic and targeting using keywords.
  • Listening Context: Targeting according to whether the person is on a headset, connected via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, etc. 
  • Smart Speakers: Targeting smart speakers like Amazon Echo, Sonos, Google Nest, and others.
  • Live Events: Using any feed.
  • Tech: Targeting by device type, IP, browser, OS, etc.
  • Behavioral and Demographic: Targeting by behavioral patterns and demographic information.
  • Geo and Point of Interest (POI): By city, country, region, postal code, etc.
  • Genre: News and talk, rock, top 40 hits, pop, jazz, etc.
  • Time of Day: Time of day/week, daily, weekly, custom.
  • POI Past Events: Up to the last 20 days.
  • Publisher Type: On-demand, podcast, etc.

How to Craft Successful Digital Audio Ad Campaigns

To create a successful digital audio ad campaign that reaches and engages its targeted audience, marketers need to ensure they’re following these key steps. 

Audience Targeting

Start by defining your target audience based on factors such as demographics, interests, listening habits, and behaviors. Use data analytics tools provided by digital audio platforms and your partners to identify the specific audience segments most likely to be interested in your product or service. This step is crucial for ensuring your ad reaches the listeners most likely to engage with your brand.

Ad Format Selection

Choose the right ad format based on your campaign goals and audience. There are a lot of options available in digital audio advertising, so be sure to understand your campaign goals and select formats that align. Beyond basic pre-, mid-, and post-roll audio ads, innovative creative format options to consider include:

  • Second screen: Retarget users exposed to the audio ad on display or social.
  • Dynamic creative: Tailor your creative based on multiple data points including location, context, time of day, etc.
  • “Shake me” ads: Certain partners enable interactive ad formats. AdsWizz, for example, enables brands to insert a call-to-action directly into an audio spot to directly interact with the listener.
  • Symphonic ads: Dynamically update the background of audio ads to match a music genre.
  • Sequential messaging: Use different ads, placed sequentially in different ad breaks, for effective storytelling.
  • Audio and display: Add a companion banner and show it while the audio ad is playing.

By taking advantage of innovative and interactive formats, advertisers can directly engage users and shift their digital audio campaigns from top-of-funnel awareness plays to lower-funnel performance initiatives. 

Creative Messaging

Develop your ad’s creative content, focusing on crafting a compelling message that resonates with your audience. Ensure the tone, style, and content align with your brand and appeal to the listeners. Audio ads should be engaging and memorable, using clear and concise language, and, if possible, incorporate elements like music or sound effects to enhance the ad’s appeal.

Budget Allocation

Set a budget for your campaign based on your marketing objectives and the scale of your target audience. Consider factors like the length of the campaign, ad frequency, and selected platforms. Many digital audio platforms offer programmatic buying options, which can help optimize your spending based on real-time performance data.

Measurement

Finally, measure the effectiveness of your campaign using metrics such as reach, impressions, engagement rates, and conversion rates. Most digital audio platforms provide analytics tools to track these metrics, allowing you to assess the ROI of your campaign. Use this data to make informed decisions about future campaigns and optimize your strategy for better results.

Overcoming Challenges in Digital Audio Advertising

Digital audio advertising can be highly effective, but it does come with its own set of challenges. Here are a few common ones, along with ways that marketers can overcome them:

Buying Digital Audio Across Fragmented Platforms

Purchasing digital audio ads can be challenging due to the wide range of platforms, each with its own formats, audiences, and pricing structures. Advertisers might want to consider programmatic audio buying platforms that allow for centralized purchasing across multiple platforms. These platforms can simplify the process, offering tools for comparing rates, formats, and audience demographics in one place. Additionally, working with a media buying agency experienced in digital audio can provide access to a broader range of platforms and insights into effective placement strategies.

Ad-Skipping

Listeners may skip ads or tune out during ad breaks, reducing the effectiveness of the campaign. To combat this challenge, brands should strive to create engaging and relevant content that resonates with the audience. You might also want to consider using shorter ad formats to maintain listener attention or interactive ads that can also encourage listener engagement.

Measuring Campaign Performance

The audio-only nature of digital audio advertising can make it challenging to track user engagement and conversions directly attributed to the ad. To combat this challenge, brands can implement tracking methods like unique promo codes, dedicated landing pages, or call-to-action URLs specific to each campaign for more accurate measurement of listener responses. They can also use integrated analytics tools provided by digital audio platforms to track metrics such as listen-through rates, engagement, and impressions. Brands might also want to conduct brand lift studies to assess the impact of the campaign on brand awareness and perception.

What Is the Future of Paid Digital Audio Advertising?

Emerging trends and advances in digital audio advertising are shaping the way that marketers approach this growing channel. Here are three notable areas to watch:

Voice Activation

With the rising popularity of smart speakers and voice-activated devices, voice activation in digital audio advertising is gaining momentum. Advertisers are now exploring ways to create interactive ads that listeners can engage with using voice commands. This trend opens up new possibilities for personalization and engagement, allowing listeners to respond to ads, ask for more information, or even make purchases through voice commands.

Programmatic Audio

Programmatic audio is transforming the way audio ads are bought and placed, offering more efficiency and precision. By leveraging data and automation, programmatic audio allows advertisers to target specific audience segments across various platforms and formats. This approach not only streamlines the ad buying process but also enhances targeting capabilities, ensuring that ads reach the most relevant listeners at the right time.

Immersive Audio Experiences

As technology advances, there’s an increasing focus on creating immersive audio experiences. Utilizing 3D audio and binaural sound, advertisers can create ads that are more engaging and memorable. This technology simulates a three-dimensional environment, making the listener feel as if they are inside the audio experience. This level of immersion can significantly increase the emotional impact of an ad, leading to higher engagement rates and brand recall.

Tools and Resources for Digital Audio Advertising

Beyond this guide, here are a few tools and resources to help with the planning, managing, and optimizing of digital audio ad campaigns:

Digilant: Your Partner for Advanced Audio Advertising

Are you ready to unlock the full power of digital audio advertising for your brand? We’re here to help. Let’s talk about what Digilant can do for you.

A Comprehensive Guide to Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) Advertising in 2024

Digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising represents a powerful way for brands to reach their audiences at the most impactful moments in their day. Last year, U.S. ad spend in this channel climbed to an impressive $2.87 billion, and eMarketer expects DOOH to see continued double-digit spend growth through at least 2027.

DOOH advertising enables brands to find on-the-go consumers across digital out-of-home media from billboards, to salons and gyms, to taxis and gas stations, and everywhere in between. It represents a viable opportunity to increase a brand’s awareness and visibility—provided you understand and can navigate the landscape. 

Let’s dig into the nuances of DOOH, including how it compares to traditional out-of-home (OOH) advertising, as well as its many manifestations, benefits, and best practices.

What Is DOOH Advertising?

DOOH advertising involves the use of digital displays to present ads in various public spaces. The channel encompasses a variety of digital formats, including digital billboards, transit displays, and screens in high-traffic areas like malls, doctor’s offices, or office buildings. 

The transition from traditional Out-of-Home to DOOH represents a significant shift in the advertising world. While traditional OOH has been predominantly static, offering a one-size-fits-all approach, DOOH introduces a dynamic element to outdoor advertising. This evolution signifies not just a change in the medium but also a transformation in approach, enabling brands to engage more interactively and effectively with their target audiences.

The rise of DOOH—and its continued rapid growth—is closely tied to advances in digital technology and data analytics. With recent technological strides, DOOH has become an increasingly popular choice for advertisers seeking to make a more significant impact in the public sphere. The flexibility and dynamic nature of DOOH allow for real-time content updates, audience targeting, and engagement tracking—aspects that have historically been nearly impossible with traditional static billboards.

What are the Differences Between OOH vs. DOOH Advertising

Let’s dive deeper into the differences between traditional OOH advertising and DOOH advertising.

Static vs. Dynamic Content

OOH advertising has typically been characterized by its static nature, through which billboards, posters, and other non-digital formats present the same message to all audiences. In contrast, DOOH advertising offers dynamic content that can change based on various triggers, such as time of day, weather conditions, and audience demographics. This dynamic content is not only more engaging but also allows for greater flexibility and targeting in advertising campaigns.

Imagine a billboard in a busy city center: A traditional OOH billboard might display a fixed advertisement for a new smartphone, visible to all passersby but not necessarily relevant to each individual. In contrast, a DOOH billboard in the same location could rotate through different ads throughout the day, perhaps showing a coffee advertisement in the morning rush hour, a lunch deal around noon, and a movie trailer in the evening. This flexibility allows the DOOH billboard to stay relevant and engaging for diverse sets audiences throughout the day.

Targeting Capabilities

Another key distinction between traditional OOH and DOOH advertising lies in their targeting capabilities. Traditional OOH advertising offers limited targeting options, with ads being placed in locations where they’re likely to be seen by a large number of people. In other words, it’s a mass-market play, casting a wide net with the hope of reaching a relevant subset of the audience.

In contrast, DOOH advertising leverages digital technology and data analytics to offer targeted and personalized advertising experiences. DOOH platforms can use real-time data, audience demographics, and even individual viewer behaviors to display ads that are specifically tailored to the audience present at any given moment. This level of targeting means that DOOH ads can be much more relevant, engaging, and effective in reaching the intended consumer group.

Measurement and Analytics

Another critical aspect that distinguishes OOH and DOOH advertising is the capability for measurement and analytics. Traditional OOH advertising, such as billboards, bus stop posters, and other static formats, primarily relies on estimated metrics for measurement. The typical approach includes calculating potential impressions based on the location’s traffic or footfall. However, these estimates do not offer deep insights into audience engagement or interaction with the ad. 

In contrast, DOOH advertising can offer more advanced measurement and analytics capabilities. Using its digital backbone technology, DOOH platforms can track actual engagement metrics, such as the number of viewers, dwell time, and even audience demographics, all in a privacy-safe way. This data-driven approach allows advertisers to understand not only how many people might have seen the ad but also how they interacted with it. 

Types of DOOH Advertising

One of the most exciting—albeit, complex—parts of DOOH advertising is the vast array of formats and placements that are available to support a campaign. Here’s a snapshot of some of the most popular: 

Digital Billboards

Digital billboards are perhaps the most recognizable form of DOOH advertising. Positioned in high-traffic areas such as highways, city centers, and busy streets, these billboards offer high visibility and the flexibility to rotate through multiple advertisements. 

For example, on a busy city street, a digital billboard would be capable of displaying a rotating series of ads from an advertiser. In the morning, a nearby restaurant could show a breakfast special at a nearby café. By midday, it could switch to advertising a lunch offer. In the evening, it might switch to promote that evening’s dinner special and cocktail pairing. This ability to change content ensures that the advertiser’s use of the billboard remains relevant and engaging throughout the day.

Transit Advertising

Transit digital screens are in the heart of high-traffic metropolitan areas where other forms of out-of-home coverage might be limited or unavailable, such as bus shelters, train stations, and at street level. These displays provide an excellent opportunity to reach commuters and travelers with time-sensitive and location-specific information.

For example, inside a subway car, digital screens can display a mix of news updates, weather forecasts, and ads. An advertiser—such as a food or grocery delivery app—could choose to rotate its ads to reflect the destinations at a given stop. As the train approaches different stations, the ads can change to highlight local businesses near each stop that are available within the app. This targeted approach ensures that the content is relevant to the passengers’ current location and potential destination, while reminding passengers riding past multiple stops just how varied the app’s roster of participating businesses is.

Street Furniture

Street furniture in DOOH includes digital displays integrated into electric car charging networks, bus shelters, benches, kiosks, and other street-level structures. These displays often provide a dual function of offering useful information, such as maps and weather updates, alongside ads.

For example, a digital screen on a bus shelter might rotate through ads while also displaying real-time bus arrival information. The ads can be contextually relevant, featuring local restaurants, upcoming events, and special offers from nearby stores. 

For example, a fashion brand might leverage the location awareness of the display by highlighting its nearby store and providing directions (“just two blocks west on Broadway!”). Alternatively, they could implement a QR code within the ad creative that drives users to an exclusive discount code. This unique creative allows the fashion brand to see how effectively their ad drives users to the store. By providing both valuable information and targeted advertisements, the display becomes a useful and engaging fixture for advertisers and bus riders alike.

Digital Screens in High-Traffic Destinations

Indoor spaces like malls, airports, and office buildings offer unique opportunities for DOOH advertising through digital screens and interactive kiosks. These displays can engage viewers with immersive and interactive content, often tailored to their immediate surroundings and needs.

For example, in a shopping mall, interactive digital kiosks might serve as way-finders, helping shoppers navigate the mall. These kiosks can also display ads for in-mall promotions, store deals, and upcoming mall events. As shoppers interact with the kiosk, the displayed ads can adjust to match their expressed interests, providing a more personalized advertising experience.

Other high-traffic destinations that lend themselves to DOOH advertising include: 

  • Convenience stores
  • Wellness kiosks in retail locations
  • Taxis and rideshares
  • Doctors’ offices
  • Hotels
  • Gas stations
  • Liquor stores
  • Office buildings
  • Airports

4 Benefits of DOOH Advertising

One of the reasons that DOOH is on the upswing in advertising circles right now is because the benefits of DOOH advertising for brands have been well-demonstrated. Consider the following: 

Here are four of the key advantages of incorporating DOOH advertising into a brand’s broader media mix: 

1. Dynamic and Interactive Content

One of the most significant advantages of DOOH advertising is its ability to deliver dynamic and interactive content. This feature not only captures the attention of audiences more effectively but also allows for creative and engaging advertisements that can interact with viewers in real-time. The capabilities of these ads will only grow over time. 

For example, consider a digital billboard equipped with a camera and facial recognition technology. While staying within the bounds of privacy-first practices, this billboard could analyze the demographics of the crowd and display ads tailored to the age, gender, or mood of the audience. For instance, if the billboard detects a group of young adults nearby, it might display an ad for a new video game or a local concert happening that weekend.

2. Targeted and Contextually Relevant Messaging

DOOH advertising excels in delivering targeted and contextually relevant messaging. By tapping into data analytics and audience insights, DOOH campaigns can tailor their content to the specific audience present at a given time and location, ensuring that the ads are relevant and resonant.

For example, a digital screen in a fitness center might display ads for health and wellness products during peak gym hours, targeting fitness enthusiasts. During off-peak hours, the screen could switch to displaying ads for relaxation and recovery products, catering to a different segment of gym-goers who prefer quieter hours for their workouts.

3. Real-Time Updates and Flexibility

The ability to update content in real-time is another key advantage of DOOH advertising. This flexibility allows advertisers to respond swiftly to changes in the environment or consumer behavior, making their campaigns more timely and relevant.

For example, digital billboards can react to current weather conditions. On a hot, sunny day, a local pharmacy chain might display ads for sunblock, sunglasses, or local beach events. If it starts to rain, the store could quickly switch to promoting umbrellas, indoor activities, or rain gear. This real-time adaptability ensures that the brand’s content stays relevant and responsive to the immediate needs and interests of the audience.

4. Improved Measurement and Analytics

DOOH also offers advanced capabilities in measurement and analytics. Unlike traditional OOH advertising, which often relies on estimated impressions, DOOH can provide more accurate and detailed data on audience engagement and ad performance.

For example, a digital transit ad equipped with sensors can track the number of people passing by and the amount of time they spend looking at the ad. This data allows advertisers to gauge the ad’s visibility and audience engagement levels, offering valuable insights for future campaign optimizations.

How to Craft Successful DOOH Advertising Campaigns

Creating effective DOOH campaigns requires a strategic blend of creativity, data insights, and an understanding of the medium’s capabilities. Here are the key steps to include in your process:

Define Your Objectives

Begin by clearly defining what you want to achieve with your DOOH campaign’s objective. Whether it’s increasing brand awareness, promoting a new product, driving foot traffic, or boosting online engagement, having a clear objective will guide your strategy and execution.

Understand Your Audience

Identify and understand your target audience. This includes their demographics, behaviors, interests, and the best times and places to reach them. 

Choose the Right Locations

Select the most appropriate locations for your DOOH displays based on where your target audience is most likely to see them. Consider high-traffic areas, transit hubs, shopping malls, and other locations where your audience is frequently found.

Develop Creative Content

Design engaging and eye-catching content tailored to DOOH presentations. This could include dynamic visuals, interactive elements, or personalized messages based on the time of day or location. 

Leverage Technology for Targeting

Use the advanced targeting capabilities of DOOH. This may involve displaying different content at different times of the day or using real-time data triggers (like weather conditions or social media trends).

Incorporate a Call to Action

Include a clear call to action (CTA) in your ads. This could be a prompt to visit a website, scan a QR code, visit a store, or participate in a social media campaign.

Measure and Analyze Performance

Use the measurement and analytics tools available with DOOH to track the performance of your campaign. This could include metrics such as viewer engagement, foot traffic, conversion rates, and overall reach.

Refine and Adjust

Based on the performance data, refine and adjust your campaign as needed. This could involve changing the content, adjusting the display times, or targeting different locations to improve the effectiveness of the campaign.

Integrate with Other Channels

For maximum impact, integrate your DOOH campaign with other marketing channels. This could include display campaigns, social media, or television commercials to create a cohesive and multi-dimensional marketing approach.

In following the above process, be sure to keep these best practices for DOOH in mind: 

  • Use Dynamic Content: Keeping your DOOH content fresh and dynamic to maintain audience interest. Regularly updating the ad content to reflect current events, promotions, or time-sensitive information can keep the ad relevant and engaging.
  • Employ Targeted Advertising: Leverage data to target specific audience segments to ensure that the ads are seen by the most relevant viewers. Tailor the content based on demographics, location, and consumer behavior.
  • Leverage Analytics for Optimization: Continuously analyze the performance of DOOH ads and use the insights gained to optimize future campaigns.

DOOH advertising represents a versatile and powerful way for brands to engage with audiences in the physical world. Its dynamic, targeted, and measurable nature makes it an essential component of a modern marketer’s toolkit. With its ability to deliver impactful and interactive content, DOOH offers a unique opportunity to capture audience attention and create memorable brand experiences.

For brands and agencies looking to navigate the complexities and opportunities of DOOH advertising, partnering with experts in the field is key. At Digilant, we provide advertisers with the insights and support needed to leverage the full potential of DOOH advertising. Let’s talk about what Digilant can do for you.

What Is First-Party Data Onboarding—and How Does It Work?

No matter how many times Google delays the deprecation of third-party cookies on Chrome, today’s marketers cannot ignore the urgent need to get their data strategies in order for a privacy-first digital landscape. Going forward, brands and agencies are going to be held to a higher standard in terms of how they collect, manage, and leverage data for the purposes of personalizing marketing and finding new customers. 

In a cookieless world, the process of first-party data onboarding will take on greater importance than ever. In this guide, you’ll get a complete overview of first-party data onboarding: what it is, why it’s important, its benefits, and how you can incorporate it into your larger marketing strategy.

Table of Contents

What Is First-Party Data?

First-party data (often abbreviated as 1PD) refers to the information that a company collects directly from its customers, website visitors, or users. This data is gathered through interactions such as purchases, subscriptions, website visits, and social media engagement that occur directly between the company and the consumer. Unlike second-party or third-party data, first-party data is owned and controlled by the organization that collected it, making it a valuable asset for businesses. It includes details like customer behavior, preferences, purchase history, and demographic information.

Examples of First-Party Data

First-party data is defined by the way it is gathered rather than the information itself, meaning it can take a variety of forms. Some of the most common examples of first-party data include: 

  • Demographic Information: Age, gender, income level, education, and occupation.
  • Geographic Information: Location data such as city, state, country, or even more precise GPS data.
  • Behavioral Data: User interactions on websites or apps, including pages visited, time spent on pages, and actions taken (like clicks and conversions).
  • Transaction Data: Purchase history, amounts spent, frequency of purchases, and product preferences.
  • Device Data: Information about the devices used to access services, such as mobile phones, tablets, or desktop computers, including device type, operating system, and browser type.
  • Social Media Engagement: Likes, shares, comments, and direct interactions with brand posts.
  • Customer Feedback: Data collected through surveys, feedback forms, and customer service interactions.
  • Email Engagement: Open rates, click-through rates, and interaction times from emails sent to customers.
  • Loyalty Program Data: Participation details, points earned, and redemption behavior.
  • Subscription Data: Information from newsletter sign-ups or other subscription services, including start dates, preferences, and opt-in details.

What Is First-Party Data Onboarding?

Data onboarding is the process of transferring offline data to an online environment for marketing purposes and further analysis. This has historically involved matching offline customer records, like those collected in-store or via phone, with online identifiers such as cookies or mobile IDs. The goal is to create a comprehensive digital profile that can be used for more targeted and effective digital advertising and customer relationship management.

When speaking specifically to first-party data onboarding, this refers to the process where a company takes its own collected offline data—such as customer names, email addresses, and transaction histories—and integrates it into digital marketing platforms. This allows the business to leverage its first-party data in online environments, enabling personalized marketing campaigns across the web and enhancing customer experiences.

How Does First-Party Data Onboarding Work?

First-party data onboarding typically involves several key steps. While the precise process might vary by onboarding platform, here’s an overview of the process: 

  1. Data Collection: Businesses collect first-party data directly from their customers through various channels, such as physical stores, call centers, websites, apps, and customer surveys. This data may include personal information, transaction details, and behavioral insights.
  2. Data Preparation: Before uploading the data to an onboarding platform, it needs to be cleaned and formatted correctly. This involves removing any inaccuracies, duplications, and incomplete records to ensure the data quality is high.
  3. Uploading to the Onboarding Platform: The cleaned data is uploaded to the data onboarding platform. Platforms that prioritize privacy will ensure that this data is encrypted and securely transferred. To protect customer privacy, personally identifiable information (PII) such as names and email addresses are converted into hashed IDs, transforming the original data into a unique string of characters that cannot be reversed to reveal the original information. This step is crucial for maintaining privacy.
  4. Matching: The onboarding platform uses algorithms to match the hashed offline data with online identifiers (like cookies, mobile device IDs, alternative identifiers, etc.). This matching is typically done using privacy-safe methods to ensure that no personally identifiable information is exposed.
  1. Activation: Once matched, the now-online data can be used across digital marketing platforms to create targeted advertising campaigns, personalized customer experiences, and more efficient customer relationship management strategies.

Choosing a secure and privacy-compliant onboarding platform is essential to ensuring that the data transformation process adheres to legal standards and ethical practices, safeguarding customer information from misuse and breaches. 
<h2id=”what-is-id-resolution”>What Is Identity Resolution?

Identity resolution, a topic that often comes up in the context of first-party data onboarding, refers to the process used in marketing and data management to consolidate multiple identifiers across devices and platforms into a single, cohesive profile of an individual customer. This is done by collecting various data points from different sources and devices—like email addresses, device IDs, social media profiles, and online behavior—and linking them together using various algorithms and data science techniques. The outcome is a unified view of a customer that reflects all their interactions with a brand, providing a comprehensive understanding of their behavior and preferences.

Identity resolution is an important part of first-party data onboarding, which aims to integrate all offline and online data to create a full picture of customer identity. The core of identity resolution lies in the data matching process. 

During onboarding, the platform uses the prepared offline data to match it against online identifiers (like cookies, mobile ad IDs, and a growing array of alternative identifiers). This matching process is where identity resolution technologies come into play, as they must accurately connect multiple identifiers to a single user profile, regardless of the source or device. Once matching is complete, the unified data creates comprehensive profiles that represent each customer’s interactions across all touchpoints. 

Why Does Identity Resolution Matter?

Identity resolution plays a crucial role in multiple aspects of business, marketing, and data security, including the following. 

  • It helps personalize messages across channels: By accurately identifying users across multiple platforms, companies can deliver consistent and personalized messaging to improve customer relationships and more effectively woo prospects. 
  • It creates better data for decision-making: Reliable identity resolution consolidates user activities and behaviors into a single profile, providing high-quality data that supports more informed and effective business decisions.
  • It improves security by making it easier to identify fraudulent users: By verifying and tracking identities across systems, identity resolution helps in detecting anomalies and preventing unauthorized access, thereby reducing the risk of fraud.
  • It enhances customer experience: Identity resolution ensures that users receive a seamless and continuous experience across different services and touchpoints, which can lead to higher customer loyalty and retention.
  • It facilitates better analytics and insights: Integrating identities across various platforms and devices leads to richer datasets, enabling deeper analysis and more precise insights into user behavior and preferences.

Protecting Your First-Party Data Through Encryption and Authentication

The value of data—particularly first-party data—cannot be overstated. Some have even likened it to the “new oil of the digital economy.” For that reason, brands must ensure they’re not taking this asset for granted and are doing everything possible to protect it. That means employing strong processes and tools for encryption and authentication. 

What Is Encryption?

Encryption refers to the process of converting sensitive information collected directly from customers into a secure format that only authorized parties can access. This ensures that even if the data is intercepted or accessed without permission, it remains unreadable and protected. By using encryption, businesses safeguard their customers’ privacy, comply with data protection regulations, and maintain trust by preventing unauthorized data breaches.

What Is Authentication?

Along the same lines, authentication is the process of verifying the identity of a user before granting access to sensitive information. This ensures that the person attempting to access the data is who they claim to be, protecting against unauthorized access and potential data breaches. 

How Do You Use Encryption and Authentication for First-Party Data?

Together, encryption and authentication form a robust security framework that preserves the integrity and confidentiality of first-party data, ensuring compliance with data protection regulations and maintaining customer trust.

Encryption involves encoding the data so that it can only be accessed or deciphered by someone with the proper decryption key, typically only those within the organization who need it to perform their job duties. For instance, a business might encrypt customer data such as personal details, transaction histories, and browsing behaviors before storing it in their databases. This not only secures the data at rest but also when it’s transmitted over networks, preventing unauthorized access during data breaches or intercepts.

On the other hand, authentication is used to ensure that only authorized users can access this encrypted data. When a user or an employee attempts to access the system, they must prove their identity through various methods like passwords, biometrics (e.g., fingerprint or facial recognition), or multi-factor authentication, which might include a combination of something they know (a password), something they have (a smartphone or security token), and something they are (a biometric feature). This layer of security verifies the identity of users before they can interact with sensitive first-party data, effectively minimizing the risk of unauthorized data exploitation. 

How Do You Create a First-Party Data Strategy?

A strong first-party data strategy will look a lot different than a strategy built on third-party data. As organizations look to improve their approaches to first-party data, here are some key steps and tips to keep in mind. 

How to Build and Improve First-Party Data

If you’re looking to build or improve your organization’s first-party data, you’ll want to focus on the following key steps. 

  • Implement user-friendly data collection methods: Optimize your website and apps to make data submission as intuitive and seamless as possible for users.
  • Enhance data quality with validation tools: Use automatic validation to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the data collected from users.
  • Offer value and incentives for data sharing: Encourage customers to share their information by providing value in return, such as exclusive content, discounts, or membership perks.
  • Look for new opportunities: Above all, advertisers must prioritize the collection of first-party data when planning. Whether through gated content, lead-gen forms, newsletter subscriptions, incentives, surveys, or engagement-based creative, always be looking for new ways in which your brand can acquire deeper customer data and insights. 

Activating First-Party Data

Activating first-party data across marketing channels such as display advertising, connected TV (CTV), social media, and others requires a strategic approach to ensure that the data is used effectively to enhance engagement and optimize campaign performance. The first step is to integrate this data into a centralized marketing platform or a customer data platform (CDP). This allows for the aggregation of diverse data sources, providing a unified customer view that can inform targeted marketing strategies. 

Once the data is centralized, the next step is to leverage automation and machine learning tools to segment this data effectively and craft tailored messages for each segment. For instance, in social media marketing, first-party data can be used to customize content, offers, and messages that resonate with individual user preferences and behaviors. Furthermore, lookalike modeling can be applied to expand reach on platforms like Facebook and Instagram by targeting new users who share characteristics with existing customers. 

Best Practices for First-Party Data

Finally, here are some best practices for maintaining first-party data effectively:

  • Regularly refresh the data: Ensure that your first-party data is current by routinely revisiting and refreshing the information to keep it relevant.
  • Segment the data effectively: Analyze and divide your data into meaningful segments—such as new customers, loyal customers, and lapsed customers—to tailor marketing efforts and increase engagement specific to each group.
  • Enforce strict data quality controls: Implement processes to clean and validate data regularly to avoid errors and ensure accuracy.
  • Ensure data privacy compliance: Stay compliant with data protection regulations (like GDPR or CCPA) by continuously monitoring and updating your data handling practices.
  • Leverage technology for better data management: Use advanced data management tools and platforms to automate data collection, integration, and analysis, enhancing efficiency and reducing the likelihood of human error.

Do you have questions about the importance of first-party data onboarding for your brand? We’re here to help. Let’s talk about what Digilant can do for you.

Exploring Campaign Planning & Execution in a Cookieless World

Following an insightful exploration of alternative identity solutions in episode three, we continue our “Countdown to the Cookieless Future” series with episode four. This installment dives into the pressing concerns advertisers face regarding campaign planning and execution in a world without Google’s third-party cookies. Joining Victoria de Leon, Director of Marketing, is Ariel Howard, VP of Campaign Solutions, and Addy Osborne, Planning & Insights Manager. These seasoned digital marketing experts are at the forefront of navigating the evolving landscape shaped by privacy regulations and technological advancements.

Ready to get the inside scoop? Hit play on the video to dive deeper or check out our summary of the content below.

 

Addressing Advertiser Concerns and Strategies in a Cookieless World

To kickstart the conversation, de Leon asks the panelists to address their in-market experience and what they’re hearing from clients with the question:

What are some of the top concerns you hear from advertisers about the removal of third-party cookies?

Osborne opens the conversation by stating the primary concerns among advertisers revolve around the loss of precise targeting and retargeting capabilities that third-party cookies provide. She highlights that advertisers are worried about decreases in campaign effectiveness and increases in customer acquisition costs. The uncertainty about new tools and standards that will replace cookies also adds to the anxiety within the industry.


So as not to leave advertisers questioning how they’ll solve for some of these concerns, de Leon moves the conversation toward tangible steps advertisers can take with the question:

What advice do you have for advertisers actively transitioning toward cookie-free tactics?

Howard recommends that advertisers start experimenting with alternative solutions as soon as possible. She emphasizes the importance of diversifying data collection strategies by enhancing direct interactions with customers through owned channels. Additionally, she suggests investing in technology that supports advanced data analytics and AI-driven insights to compensate for the gaps left by the disappearance of cookies.


Short on time? Listen to or download the content of this episode on Spotify.

de Leon prompts the panelists to dive further into the topic of diversifying data, specifically with the use of first-party data and CRM-based campaigns, with a two-part question:

Can you explain more about CRM-based campaigns leveraging first-party data and how performance typically looks? Are there any best practices advertisers should keep in mind?

Howard doubles down on the notion that CRM-based campaigns that leverage first-party data are becoming increasingly crucial. These campaigns often see robust engagement rates as they are based on higher-quality, consent-based data. She provides best practices when using first-party data which include maintaining transparent data collection methods, regularly updating data to ensure accuracy, and creating personalized content that resonates with the audience’s current needs and interests.

Interested in learning more about the power of first-party data in a cookieless world? Episode two of our series covers everything advertisers need to know about building, growing, and implementing first-party data for targeted campaigns.


Moving the conversation toward additional future-proof strategies advertisers can use, de Leon asks:

What other data types, channels, and tactics would you recommend to reach audiences post-cookie depreciation?

Osborne offers a wide variety of tactics and solutions for advertisers to consider. She encourages advertisers to look beyond traditional online channels and offers tangible solutions across data, tactics, and channels. She recommends combining offline, purchase & transactional, and owned media (such as retail media networks and walled gardens) data to ensure robust options for reaching consumers.  She highlights the potential of contextual advertising, search retargeting, keyword targeting, custom site lists & Private marketplaces, and location targeting as viable targeting tactics not reliant on third-party cookies. Finally, she encourages using inherently cookieless channels such as advanced TV, advanced audio, retail media, and walled gardens.


To close the conversation, de Leon asks the panelist to address another concern that was mentioned at the top of the conversation with the question:

How will these changes impact measurement and performance metrics across different channels?

Howard states that the transition away from third-party cookies necessitates the development of new metrics and KPIs focused on privacy-first strategies. She discusses the need for more aggregated data reporting and probabilistic models to understand campaign performance. Finally, she notes that she also foresees a greater reliance on brand lift studies and customer satisfaction surveys to gauge the effectiveness of advertising efforts.

Planning for the Future: Prioritize Cookieless Solutions Today

As the countdown to a cookieless future continues, it’s clear from today’s discussions that the landscape of digital marketing is evolving. Advertisers must remain agile, embrace new technologies, and build closer relationships with their audiences. By doing so, they can navigate this transition smoothly and continue to drive successful outcomes in a changing world.

Everything You Need to Know About Paid Social Advertising

At the beginning of 2024, eMarketer raised its forecast for U.S. social network ad spending by an impressive 10 percent. This year, eMarketer now expects social network ad spending to hit $82.9 billion, climbing to $102.9 billion by 2026. 

The upswing in social ad spending reflects just how important social media advertising is for brands and agencies within the current digital reality. These days, more than 4.95 billion people worldwide are using social media—more than 60 percent of the global population. 

Social advertising offers unparalleled reach and targeting capabilities in an increasingly fragmented and privacy-focused digital landscape. Moreover, with the rise of e-commerce integrations on social platforms, social advertising provides a direct pathway for conversion by enabling consumers to make purchases within the platforms themselves. 

With this explainer, you’ll get a complete overview of the current state of paid social advertising: what it is, its benefits, how it’s evolved, and how brands and agencies can make the most of this important tool within their larger marketing strategies.

Table of Contents?

What Is Paid Social Advertising?

Paid social advertising refers to the practice of paying to display ads or sponsored messages on social media platforms to target specific audience segments. These ads can appear in various formats, including banners, videos, or interactive content, and are tailored based on users’ behaviors, preferences, and demographics to drive engagement, increase brand awareness, or promote specific products or services.

Top Social Media Platforms for Advertising

The number of platforms on which brands can purchase paid social advertising has proliferated over the past two decades, and each one boasts unique strengths, audiences, and ad opportunities. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the biggest names in the game

  • Facebook: Owned by Meta, Facebook boasts billions of users worldwide, with an estimated 108 million in the U.S. in 2024. The platform offers a variety of ad formats and is an especially powerful option for reaching Gen X and millennials, who represent the platform’s largest audiences.
  • Instagram: Also owned by Meta, Instagram is a photo- and video-sharing platform known for its visual content. The platform has more than 140 million users in the U.S. as of 2024. While Instagram initially launched as solely a picture-sharing service, the platform later expanded into video and has continuously released new features, including Stories, IGTV, Reels, and Threads. Its popular Stories and IGTV features each present unique highly visual ad opportunities for reaching Gen Z and millennials.  
  • X (formerly Twitter): Twitter, now known as X, is best known for its short text-based updates, which are typically focused on driving timely conversations. While the platform has an estimated 51.6 million U.S. users in 2024 (primarily Gen Z and millennials), usage of the platform has fallen off over the past year in the wake of Elon Musk’s takeover and rebranding of the platform. 
  • TikTok: TikTok is a short-form video platform that has gained popularity through its viral challenges and trends. Particularly popular among Gen Z, TikTok has an estimated 108 million users in the U.S. and offers an array of ad opportunities, including shoppable formats. TikTok is particularly notable because of the strength and speed with which it has acquired users; it holds the current record as the fastest growing social platform in history
  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn stands apart as a business networking platform for professionals, companies, and recruiters. The platform has 79 million users, including a strong blend of millennials, Gen Xers and Gen Z. Its variety of ad formats are particularly popular among B2B marketers. 
  • YouTube: Owned by Google, YouTube is a video-sharing platform used by more than 241.8 million U.S. viewers. It’s a particularly popular destination for millennial and Gen Z creators, who monetize their work by allowing a variety of ad formats to run alongside, on top of, and within their videos. 
  • Pinterest: Unique from other social platforms, Pinterest is a “visual discovery engine for finding ideas like recipes, home and style inspiration, and more.” As of 2024, Pinterest has 87.4 million users, with its top users represented by Millennials and Gen Z.

Why Paid Social Advertising Matters

Paid social advertising has become a staple of the modern marketing playbook for a good reason: It works. Due to the logged-in nature of social media platform users, and the level of information they share while on these platforms, social networks know a tremendous amount about their users, and that information can be used when it comes to delivering relevant and highly targeted ad experiences. This is particularly important in light of the forthcoming deprecation of third-party cookies on Chrome, now expected to be complete in 2025. 

Furthermore, given the active and engaged state that people are in when spending time in social networks, brands have discovered that social media represents a direct-response marketing environment unlike any other. Social media users aren’t just passively observing ads; they’re acting on them—clicking, commenting, sharing, and (perhaps most importantly) buying. That’s why shoppable ads on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are so compelling. Brands have no trouble seeing the real impact of their social advertising ad spends on their bottom lines. 

As with any advertising effort, ROI can vary widely across social media ad campaigns, with returns depending heavily on the tactics, formats, creative, targeting, and platforms being employed. However, when thinking about social media advertising impact at a high level, marketers should keep the following in mind: 

While social platforms share a lot of characteristics when it comes to their logged-in and engaged user bases, there are a lot of distinctions among the ad opportunities on each. Let’s look at some examples of ad formats and executions on the most popular social advertising platforms. 

Facebook

Video

Selecting the Facebook Video Feed placement will allow your target audience to see your video ad within their Facebook app feed.

Example of a Facebook Video Feed placement.

Image

The Facebook Image Feed placement will allow your target audience to see your image-based ad within their feed.Example of a Facebook Image Feed ad placement.

Carousel

The Carousel placement allows you to showcase up to 10 images or videos within a single ad, each with its own link.

Example of a Facebook Carousel ad placement.

Collection

Collection is an ad format that makes it easier for people to discover, browse and purchase products and services from their mobile device in a visual and immersive way.

Example of a Facebook Collection ad.

Instagram

Video

Similar to Facebook, this placement will allow your target audience to see your video ad within their Instagram app feed.Example of an Instagram video ad.

Image

This placement will allow your target audience to see your image-based ad within their Instagram app feed.

Example of an Instagram image ad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carousel

As on Facebook, this format allows you to showcase up to 10 images or videos within a single ad, each with its own link.Example of an Instagram carousel ad.

Collection

As on Facebook, Collection is an ad format that makes it easier for people to discover, browse and purchase products and services from their mobile device in a visual and immersive way.

  Example of an Instagram Collection ad.

X (formerly Twitter)

Image Ads 

These placements allow you to showcase your product or service with a single photo.

Video Ads 

These ad units help bring products to life and drive people to a website, app, or simply to engage with your brand’s message.

Carousel Ads 

These ad units give advertisers up to six horizontally swipeable images or videos to showcase multiple products or promotions. 

Text Ads

With all the elements of a standard post, these simple and native text ads feel like the rest of X content and allow you to expand the reach of your posts beyond your followers to your desired target audience.

TikTok

Brand Takeover

These full-screen, interstitial ad units appear immediately when users open the app.

In-Feed Video

These immersive, vertical video ads appear in a curated, brand-safe feed for users.

Hashtag Challenge

Brands can create sponsored hashtags to encourage user-generated content, engage users and attract influencers.

Branded Lens

Brands can create 2D, 3D, and AR lenses that allow users to interact more deeply with content.

Custom Influencers

Influencers can be leveraged in highly customized media executions. 

LinkedIn

Sponsored Content

Brands can run native ads in the LinkedIn feed across desktop and mobile.

Example of a LinkedIn Sponsored Ad.

Sponsored InMail

You can send personalized messages, via LinkedIn Messenger, to the people who matter most to your business.

Example of a LinkedIn Sponsored InMail.

Video Ads

You can engage business decision-makers with video ads in the LinkedIn feed on desktop and mobile.

Example of a LinkedIn video ad.

Dynamic Ads

You can capture attention with personalized ads featuring each professional’s own LinkedIn profile data, like photo, company name, job title, and more.

Example of Dynamic Ads on LinkedIn.

Carousel Ads

This unit features a swipeable series of cards in a single ad to tell a deeper story, showcase multiple offerings, or provide insights for your audience.

Example of Carousel Ads on LinkedIn.

Text Ads

You can drive new customers to your business with LinkedIn’s self-service pay-per-click (PPC) advertising platform.Examples of LinkedIn Text Ads.

YouTube

TrueView In-Stream Ads

This format is best when you have video content you’d like to promote before YouTube and partner videos.

Example of YouTube TrueView In-Stream Ads.

Discovery Ads

This format will play before, during, or after another video and is best when you want to reach viewers broadly with a short, memorable message.

Example of YouTube Discovery Ads.

Non-Skippable Bumper Ads (6 Seconds)

This format plays in YouTube search results, related video suggestions, and video plays on YouTube watch or channel pages. This format is best when you want to promote a video next to YouTube videos, as part of search results or within other website context from video partners.

Example of Non-Skippable Bumper Ads (6 Seconds).

What Makes a Successful Paid Social Advertising Campaign?

Successful paid social advertising campaigns will look different depending on the brand, the social platforms leveraged, and the overall strategy employed to reach a brand’s goals. However, there are several essential elements that every campaign needs to include. 

Audience Targeting and Segmentation

Audience targeting and segmentation enable marketers to deliver highly tailored messages to specific groups of consumers based on their demographics, interests, behaviors, and more. Effective segmentation helps brands achieve higher conversion rates, improved ROI, and stronger customer loyalty.

Ad Creative and Copywriting

Creative visuals and impactful copywriting work together to differentiate the brand in a crowded social media landscape and evoke emotional responses that drive engagement and action. Well-crafted ads tailor the tone, style, and content to resonate with the targeted audience segment, enhancing relevance and appeal. A strong combination of engaging visuals and persuasive text is crucial for optimizing click-through rates, maximizing conversions, and ultimately ensuring the success of the campaign. 

Budget Allocation and Bidding Strategies

In the context of paid social advertising campaigns, strategic budget allocation ensures that funds are distributed across different platforms, ad formats, and targeting criteria to maximize exposure and impact. Effective bidding strategies, whether manual or automated, are crucial for competing in ad auctions, where ad visibility is won based on bid amount and ad quality. These strategies cannot be approached in a haphazard way, and this is an area where partners that specialize in paid social campaign execution can be particularly valuable. 

Performance Tracking and Optimization Techniques

Proper paid social campaign tracking involves the use of analytics tools to monitor key performance indicators, such as click-through rates, conversion rates, and ROI. By analyzing this data, marketers can identify which aspects of their campaign are performing well and which need adjustment—be it the ad creative, the targeted demographics, the chosen platforms, or the allocated budget. Regular optimization, based on real-time data, allows for the fine-tuning of campaigns to enhance ad performance continuously. This iterative process ensures the efficient use of the advertising budget and drives better alignment with campaign objectives.

In addition to ensuring the above considerations are fully covered within your paid social campaign planning, there are a few common pitfalls within the social advertising space that marketers need to understand if they want to avoid them. They include:

Inadequate Targeting

A common pitfall in paid social campaigns is either too broad or too narrow targeting, leading to wasted spend or missed opportunities. To avoid this, use platform-specific tools to analyze audience demographics and interests comprehensively. Experiment with A/B testing to refine your targeting criteria based on actual campaign data and feedback.

Ignoring Ad Creative Relevance

Many campaigns stumble because they use generic or unengaging ad creatives. To combat this, tailor your ad design and copy to reflect the unique preferences and needs of your audience. Regularly update creatives to maintain freshness and use engaging, high-quality visuals alongside compelling copy that directly addresses user interests and pain points. It’s also important to employ A/B testing to gauge the effectiveness of different messaging and images in resonating with your target audience. 

Neglecting Performance Metrics

Failing to track key performance indicators can lead to missed opportunities and inefficiencies. Be sure to establish clear campaign goals and corresponding metrics from the start. Implement robust analytics to track these metrics in real time, and use the insights gained to make informed adjustments. 

Social media and its platforms represent a rapidly evolving space—one that can quickly get away from marketers if they’re not paying attention. When it comes to the minutiae of day-to-day changes with each given platform, it helps to work with experts who track these changes as a part of their core jobs. However, at a high level, brands and agencies should be aware of a few ongoing trends that will continue to influence the paid social advertising space in the coming years. 

1. Social as a Search Engine

These days, about 40 percent of Gen Z is using TikTok and Instagram for search instead of traditional search engines like Google. That means it’s absolutely vital for digital marketers to be thinking about social platforms a little differently as they move forward—more like search engines, that is. That means considering nuances such as keywords and metadata on social media posts. 

2. Politics and Social

In 2024, politics will influence nearly every aspect of life in the U.S. (and around the world) considering the highly charged election season. In past election cycles, social media has played a prevalent role in political advertising—in some cases, in a highly nefarious way. These days, many of the most popular social media platforms have placed restrictions on what kind of messaging can appear within ads, but there will still be a flurry of advertising activity looking to circumvent restrictions and influence voters within social spheres. This will affect not only ad pricing within social networks, but also social media user attitudes toward the messaging they see in their feeds. 

3. The AI Effect

Of course, if you’re going to talk trends in the marketing space, you can’t neglect to mention artificial intelligence. Without a doubt, new AI tools and enhanced capabilities will continue to leave their mark on the paid social advertising space. Emerging tools will aid in not only advanced audience targeting and automated optimization functionality, but also in the streamlined development of creative. Brands should stay abreast of these fast-evolving opportunities to enhance efficiency while also improving and facilitating content development.

Beyond this guide, here are a few tools and resources to help with the planning, managing, and optimizing of paid social advertising campaigns:

By working with Digilant, you are getting an expert team who knows the ins and outs of each social platform. Our team will provide strategy based on your campaign goals and objectives to make sure you are on the right platforms to reach your goals. Our team has weekly calls with each platform to talk about latest updates, campaigns, and any troubleshooting. We can also act as an extension of your team to reach your social goals.

Are you ready to unlock the full power of social media advertising for your brand? We’re here to help. Let’s talk about what Digilant can do for you. 

Sign up for our newsletter to learn more about Digilant.