Programmatic radio: Are you ready for it?

Last year, we debuted programmatic radio buying in India – an industry first. It reflected a client’s demand for newer avenues of media buying and the rising consumption of online music in India.

We know the connected customers of today expect consistent, intelligent and personalised online experiences – be it when shopping, consuming content or when being served advertising. We understood that digital radio advertising needed to deliver just that, and across multiple channels. It was increasingly important to create a platform that could reach out to individual consumers at various touchpoints.

Today there is an opportunity to tap into advertising alongside online music providers. This collaboration enables advertisers to decode demographic and geographic audience targeting by incorporating online and mobile radio buys within their digital ecosystem.

But just how does it all work?

Programmatic radio buy automates the digital radio ad buying process. It allows the advertiser to identify and buy the audience profiles rather than doing a flat audio spot, which reaches the masses with no clear definition of audience segment clusters. This nullifies media spend wastage and adds efficiency to the buys.

Understanding the audience is what data is all about and the tool uses information to determine the interests of the brand’s customers to target new potential customers who share the same interests. By combining data from  digital audio partners, agencies and clients can programmatically buy targeted digital radio units based on a consumer’s music listening behaviour. Simply put, you are able to target different profiles of consumers, with different ads at different points, by running multiple versions of a radio spot simultaneously on an online music platform.

It is a prerogative for brands to touch their target audience at all stages of the purchase consideration phase. The jigsaw puzzle would be incomplete if brands failed to capitalise and tap their audiences at any one such stage. Digital radio is an important piece and effective digital radio buy completes the storytelling for the brand across various mediums and channels.

The ads are usually non-skippable and mostly played as pre-roll. This explains the high listen-through rates which hover in upwards of 90% . But as the medium evolves, we do believe that the ads can change. For example, if you are casting your audio onto a TV environment, we could have visual ads accompanying the audio.

Cutting through the noise

Brands that are already buying digital radio ads can add efficiency to their buys by taking the programmatic route as it allows for more effective leveraging of data for precise targeting. Brands can use first party data from their regular display campaigns and layer the same on to their programmatic radio buys – like retargeting, but much more powerful. Should a brand not have first party data, they could enhance their buys through the usage of third party data.

With online brand safety being an increasing concern among digital advertisers, programmatic radio buys are one way to ensure that your brands only appear alongside appropriate content.

Not just brands that benefit

On the flip side, consumers also benefit from programmatic radio buys. Multiple studies and research have proven that consumers are keen to have a personalised advertising experience that are tailored to their interests and are even willing to provide more data to allow for that. So, the better targeted an ad is, the less a consumer would mind it.

In fact, a study done at the University of Cologne revealed that personalised ads on the Internet not only attract more attention, but also remain in our memory longer than impersonal ads. While the study focused on online advertising, the same hypothesis could hold true for online and mobile digital radio ads.

More importantly for any marketer, with the precise targeting that programmatic enables, consumers are more likely to engage with the ad. Today’s consumers are more than happy to listen to ads and get free music, especially in a market like India.

But then the question is would this be scalable to other markets? Most certainly yes.

If we can do this in India, which is not the most mature market but surely one of the fastest growing for programmatic, it can be done in many other markets. Consumers are spending a lot more time with online radio. What programmatic radio needs is a global player like Spotify to really make it big, and we can see that Spotify is already investing heavily in this area.

With more data and partners available globally, scale does not seem like a problem in most countries. I do believe each country has enormous potential in this area which no one is fully tapping into at the moment. As innovation creates a paradigm shift in digital, we want to take a leadership position for the revolutionary technology.

And this is just the beginning – I believe that the advances we are seeing now will trigger the next big evolution in advertising which is voice-based applications. With Amazon Echo and Google Home, among others, leading the current voice revolution, the possibilities for programmatic audio are tremendous.

The writer is Shamsuddin Jasani, programmatic lead for Isobar Asia Pacific and managing director of Isobar India.

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