First-party data is an increasingly important part of the marketer’s toolkit; LiveRamp’s Tim Geenen explores how to mix rich targeting data with one of the widest reaching channels: audio.

Radio has been experiencing something of a renaissance over the past couple of years. Throughout the various lockdowns, the medium became a beacon for both national information and reassurance as familiar presenters and schedules continued despite the ongoing health crises. 

This has been bolstered by the most recent Rajar stats, which show that 89% of the population tuned in to a radio station every week in Q3 2021. On top of this, many of the traditional radio media owners are also investing heavily in podcasting, which is seeing massive growth – listener figures for 2020 were over 15 million and this number is expected to grow to around 20 million by 2024. 

However, what is really changing the face of audio publishing is the growth in connected audio devices, such as smart speakers, TVs, and mobile phones. Up till now, radio has always been a broadcast medium that allows advertisers to connect with a broad spectrum of consumers based on local area or region. But with the rising numbers of people now listening to radio and other audio media on digitally connected devices, media owners can now provide advertisers with greater access to first-party data. This in turn is helping advertisers be much more selective on who hears their ad, giving them a new precision in their targeting.

Opening up new opportunities

This new audio media market is starting to attract a different type of marketer, from those who want to be able to target accurately but who found broad audience targeting generated too much wastage, to those marketers who have their own data, and know exactly who they want to reach. This market is even attracting performance marketers who have traditionally not strayed into this space as it has never offered the results and targeting they need.

Global, which achieves an audience of around 25.7 million across its radio properties, is a great example of how things are changing in this space as publishers begin to look for first-party connectivity in advance of the transition away from third-party cookies. Listeners can download the Global Player app onto their device and then stream all of Global’s audio assets across all of its channels, from live shows to podcasts. 

Recently, Global began requiring authentications (e.g. a log-in) in order for listeners to access its services. Listeners, interested in an enhanced experience, recognise the value of logging in in order to access more of the content that they love and gain an improved personalised experience. For Global’s advertisers, these authentication events gave them the ability to be more targeted based on that data. Advertisers can also measure the success of their campaigns through Global’s DAX (digital audio exchange) platform, which also enables them to link across the company’s outdoor assets.

Rise in new media inventory

Of course, this shift isn’t just limited to traditional radio, the industry is also seeing a growth in different audio media, with podcasting being one of the biggest trends right now. For advertisers, this opens up a whole new area of media inventory. Spotify is one of the biggest players in podcasting right now, in addition to being one of the biggest players in the broader audio industry, due to its sheer numbers of logged-in users.

Although, it’s worth noting there are still challenges here, as people can download podcasts on one device and then listen to them on another – for example they might download it to a desktop and then transfer it to a mobile device for listening on the go. However, one of the things Spotify is focused on is ensuring that everyone who listens to a Spotify podcast or a Spotify streaming service can all be addressed in the same way, regardless of what device they’re using. 

Improving metrics

To support the growth in targeting we’re also seeing the supporting metrics develop. Global, for example, has its own proprietary system for attribution, while Spotify can link its exposure data directly through to datasets for measurement. 

Brands can then use their first-party data to advertise with both platforms and can also use it to measure. The industry also provides opportunities to bridge the gap to other key data sets that advertisers might want to report against. For example, by working with the Dunnhumby dataset, marketers can cross-reference Tesco Clubcard users to see if people are listening to the ads and then going on to buy in-store.

This access to new data represents a dramatic shift for the audio publishing industry and makes it a much more attractive proposition for marketers. This is due to the need for targeted advertising options in a post-cookie world, outside the restricted walled gardens of Facebook, Google, and Apple. Importantly, for the publishers it allows them to push their inventory upstream and even to increase revenue from their inventory, because as we know from our own research, advertisers will pay more if they know publishers are hitting their target audiences.