Programmatic audio and contextual targeting both evangelized at RAIN Summit, along with research

In a very interesting Zoom event produced by RAIN today, digital audio advertising was discussed from perspectives of survey research, a comeback of contextual targeting, and the growth of programmatic advertising.

Edison Research Director of Research Laura Ivey presented a roundup of significant survey results from the company’s Infinite Dial, Share of Ear, Smart Audio Report, and Latino Podcast Listener Report.

In one interesting slide, comparing podcast category preferences among people who listened within the previous week, both News and True Crime — perennial popular leaders — both increased during the heart of the Covid pandemic.

One big change in Covid listening: The time of day when people start listening. As illustrated below, Covid pushed back the start of Americans’ average listening day by 75 minutes, which is huge when it comes to daypart metrics:

In the current (admittedly shaky) post-Covid time, have listeners reverted to  an earlier start time? Not entirely, or perhaps not yet:

Thoughtfully and amusingly, whenever Laura Ivey referenced Alexa, she spelled it out (“A-L-E-X-A”) to avoid activating the devices belonging to attendees in the Zoom gathering.

Contextual Targeting: Making a Comeback?

Molly Fuard

Molly Fuard, Director of Ad Innovation Strategy at SXM Media, served as presenter and moderator. Her topic was audio ad effectiveness generally. Her opening thesis: “The advertiser challenge: How do I find my audience in podcasts?”

Fuard’s presentation focused on the changing landscape of data targeting, which she said can match a listener’s IP address with audience graphs. The IP can be passed to a data vendor which matches to email address and credit card info. “It’s a technology which allows brands to  deliver a message to a specific consumer base,” such mothers buying diapers, in Fuard’s example.

Problem is, such data resources are slowly dwindling, according to Fuard, because of changing company policies (she cited Apple) and other regulations. “Identifiers are slowly being removed … a clear signal to the industry that data will continue to decline,” she warned.

“It’s great for consumers,” she noted, “and challenging to marketers.”

With all this, Fuard’s presentation put a focus on contextual placement of podcast ads. Contextual advertising lives alongside granular targeting of listeners whose main delivery type is programmatic. “Contextual targeting is making a comeback,” Fuard claimed, and SXM Media has tools to sharpen the precision and brand safety of contextual advertising. For example, new types of targeting can put a brand campaign into a specific show, but skip over certain episodes.

Joining Molly Fuard for a conversation about all this from the brand and agency viewpoints were Terri Rose, Director of Marketing at Virginia Lottery (an SXM Media client), and Taylor Miles, Associate Media Director at NPD Agency.

Taylor Miles spoke about SXM’s new transcription technology which contributes to its contextual targeting push: “We want the media to work in the best way possible. [SXM is] a partner who can make sure from A to Z is going to work, from podcasts to streaming audio.”

Terri Rose detailed some of the institutional restrictions which regulate her organization, and which require innovative marketing solutions: “We struggled with reach and frequency, as we can only spend money within Virginia. [Also] we’re in the business of supporting K-12 education. Everything has to support the K-12 environment. We are also in the gaming industry, with a lot of do’s and don’ts. We have to be very careful.”

Programmatic on the Rise

By contrast with the previous session, Stephanie Donovan (SVP Publisher Development North America, Triton Digital) came to evangelize for programmatic audio advertising. she brought slides, one of which illustrated a growth story:

Programmatic audio is experiencing “triple-digit increases year-over-year,” Donovan said, both in increased inventory and an expansion of buyer access.

To inform her presentation, Donovan consulted with three individuals in Triton’s global client list: — Luis Felipe of CRP Radios in Peru, Rocio Echevarria from Prisa in Spain, and Tim Armstrong of Nova in Australia — and presented growth stories from all three.

Prisa has experienced doubld-digit growth of programmatic audio sales year-over-year:

Donovan finished with a list of talking points when discussing programmastic with brands and marketers:


Brad Hill