Digital Audio Advertising: Everything You Need to Know

Back to Blog - by Kyle Malone

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.


  • 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.


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.


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.

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