As more consumers stream digital music, marketers are looking to reach them by adding digital audio to their campaign’s media mix. Recently, several streaming services have started to offer their inventory programmatically, allowing brands to target users based on age, listening habits, location, genre and gender. Jean-Claude Homawoo, project manager at DoubleClick, stated in a blog post that, “audio advertising will continue to grow as music streaming services attract more users, and more consumers turn to audio for entertainment across devices. Given these trends, it’s clear that brands should invest in reaching consumers with the right messages in audio just like they do in every other medium.” Streaming audio allows people to take on-demand music and podcasts with them wherever they go, which gives marketers a unique opportunity to target consumers without interrupting their daily routines. According to Tim Sims, SVP of Inventory Partnerships at The Trade Desk, this provides advertisers with a data set of insights that ensures ads are relevant to the user when heard.

Though programmatic audio is still fairly new, it’s growing rapidly. Here are a few key players to watch as programmatic audio continues to evolve:


Spotify made its audio ad inventory available to programmatic buyers in an effort to capture new ad revenue and make it easier for advertisers to target users listening to music on the go. They collaborated with Rubicon Project, The Trade Desk and AppNexus to make their mobile audio inventory available for purchase in near-real time, so buyers are able to modify and serve audio creative to a user based on what they know about them.


In February 2018, Pandora began to offer audio ads programmatically, after competitor digital audio streaming services Spotify and iHeartRadio implemented their programmatic offerings. However, Pandora is trying to differentiate itself via scale. Additionally, although Pandora had previously offered its audio inventory programmatically through broadcast planning and buying platforms MediaOcean and Strata, they were mainly only used by broadcast buyers. Through this new integration with platforms such as The Trade Desk, Pandora will now be able to sell its audio ads similarly to how they already sell video/display with agencies.


Google decided it wanted in on the fun too, and recently launched the ability to buy programmatic audio ads through its demand-side platform DoubleClick Bid Manager (DBM). This means brands that use DBM for their ad buying can now buy audio ad inventory available with Google Play Music, Spotify, SoundCloud and TuneIn. Additionally, Google is currently integrating Pandora’s inventory as well. By purchasing these ads through DBM, advertisers are able to target audiences by demo, context, language or geography, however, advertisers won’t be able to overlay any proprietary data from within Google’s ecosystem (for now).

Incorporating streaming audio into the media mix is certainly not new and has been a big piece of the audio landscape for several years. However, advertisers are looking to create a seamless process when purchasing audio, and are seeking to make their current audio buying more insightful by utilizing advanced data and targeting. Programmatic audio offers the opportunity to do that, and as it continues to develop will deliver an advertiser’s message to a more targeted and relevant audience.