POV: Google Launches Programmatic Audio Ads


Google announced this week that they have added a full suite of audio inventory to DoubleClick Bid Manager (DBM); and advertisers can buy programmatic audio ad spots - in a variety of lengths, within Google Play Music, Spotify, Soundcloud, and TuneIn; with Pandora being added shortly.

Details and Implications:

Audio inventory within programmatic is still in its infancy, but it’s growing rapidly. Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) are adapting to consumer’s shifting behavior. Spotify was an early adopter as they launched the capability in 2016; that same year a few other DSPs like The Trade Desk and AppNexus also launched the ability to buy audio via the auction.

DBM’s launch of programmatic audio is a part of Google’s larger music focus – they recently rolled out their new YouTube Music platform earlier this month to compete in the music streaming market.

Streaming services like Spotify, Google Play and iHeartRadio are quickly gaining traction due to their portability and content packages that are now available to consumers. “About a quarter of user time spent on mobile is spent listening to music and podcasts,” said Payam Shodjai, director of product management at DoubleClick (DBM). “Marketers want to reach their audiences wherever they are. We think audio is a part of that story.”

Advertisers can target audio audiences by demographics, context, language or geography within DBM, with a variety of ad lengths. Advertisers will also be able to measure and view inventory alongside the rest of their programmatic buys within the DBM platform. Google is also leveraging IAB’s VAST 4.0 Standard for audio ad delivery, therefore advertisers can glean insights like that of video, to determine the results of the audio creative itself, such as audio completion rates, listen rates by quartile, mute and pause rates, impressions, clicks on the companion creative and more.

Historically, there has been a lack of inventory available within digital audio, and only enough to execute a national buy; marketers weren’t able to cut the data against any other targeting as the inventory would diminish. However, that situation appears to be changing. MightyHive, a programmatic Beta partner, used Google’s DBM platform to access audio ads on Google Play Music, and was able to uncover new audiences for its client achieving ad completion rates over 95%.

Initially, advertisers will only be able to execute DBM audio through direct or guaranteed deals. Google is launching inventory within the auction later this year; Shodjai mentions that they’re… “working on it. We have to make sure the right supply is available. There’s a little bit of education required on both sides, but it’s just a matter of time.”


As programmatic audio matures and new inventory sources become available, advertisers will need to adapt the way they have traditionally purchased audio; additionally, act on (in real time) insights coming from cross-channel effectiveness from display and video to audio, and vice versa. Programmatic audio also provides the perfect launch pad for dynamic audio ads. This kind of targeting increases the value of each ad for both brands and listeners.

Further Reading:

The Drum / Business Insider / AdExchanger