Feb 15 2024
Megan Reschke

Digital Audio Advertising in 2024


Audio is everywhere. And digital audio? Some might say it’s having a magic moment. More people than ever are tuning in—74% of US internet users last year, to be precise—and seasoned listeners are upping their time with the channel.   

Whether through the true crime podcast they binge on their morning commute, the songs they blast on their smart speakers while cooking dinner, the live sports broadcast they stream on their laptop while knocking out a last-minute work project, or the tunes they jam to during their evening workout, digital audio is pervasive in people’s lives. It’s a channel that both complements traditional radio and extends beyond it, allowing listeners to tune in from virtually anywhere and enabling advertisers to use proven adtech tools to connect with audiences in the moments they’re listening.   

Why is digital audio such a powerful medium, and how can advertisers harness that power in their campaigns this year? Today, we’re digging into all this and more as we explore the state of digital audio in 2024. Ready to talk about it, talk about it, talk about it? Let’s dive in.

How Do People Today Tune into Digital Audio?

In an increasingly fragmented (and, thus, complicated) digital media ecosystem, digital audio offers advertisers a unique opportunity to reach audiences in an intimate and targeted manner. By leveraging the power of sound to engage with listeners, advertisers can connect with audiences during the one-fifth of their daily digital media time spent listening to digital audio. Beyond commanding a substantial share of listeners’ time, digital audio’s popularity also spans age, identity, and background. In other words: It’s a great way to connect with a variety of audiences where they’re spending a good amount of time—and often highly-engaged time.

Digital audio’s popularity with listeners makes sense, since it allows them to listen to the content they want, when they want, and where they want. With this wealth of benefits and increased convenience, it’s no shock that listeners are increasingly tuning into digital audio over traditional AM/FM radio. Though, notably, broadcast radio still has a strong foothold with listeners, and can be effective when used alongside digital audio (more on this shortly!).   

And just where are people tuning in to digital audio? Though listening can happen on a wide variety of devices—desktops, laptops, mobile phones, smart speakers, tablets, connected cars—74% of US listeners reported that smartphones were their top choice of device when listening to music and/or podcasts. Talk about tak[in’] it on the run!  

What’s The State of Digital Audio Advertising In 2024?

If digital ad spend had a personal anthem, it would be “Where You Lead”—and it would be sung directly to consumers. Predictably, with people increasingly tapping into digital audio, ad spend has followed in kind. Don’t believe us? Check it out:

Plus, audio listeners are highly engaged with the content they consume and tend to respond well to audio advertisements as a result. Case in point:

All in all? For advertisers who still haven’t found what [they’re] looking for when it comes to their media mix, this might be the year to give digital audio a try.

Where Does Broadcast Radio Fit In?

Amidst the digital audio boom, broadcast radio remains a resilient and effective advertising channel, serving as a trusted companion for a diverse audience. Though it is less portable and offers less listener choice than digital audio, AM/FM radio still commands a sizeable amount of audiences’ time—an hour and twenty minutes per day for US listeners in 2024, to be precise. Its enduring presence, rooted in accessibility and widespread availability, provides advertisers a unique opportunity to connect with a broad demographic.

The great news? It doesn’t need to be an “either/or” situation when it comes to digital audio and broadcast radio: In many cases, they work better together. On the one hand, digital audio allows advertisers to reach specific audiences through targeting capabilities and personalized content delivery. This versatile channel can be effectively used at various touchpoints along the customer journey. In contrast, broadcast radio, with its widespread reach and established listener base, excels in building broad awareness and driving consideration. By strategically combining these channels, advertisers can establish a unified brand presence and engage with audiences at pivotal moments throughout their customer journey. And by leveraging an omnichannel platform that allows advertisers to tap into both digital audio and broadcast inventory through the same interface (alongside other digital channels), advertisers can gain a holistic understanding of their campaign performance, enabling them to optimize their ad spending and maximize impact in the competitive landscape.     

Cookieless Digital Audio Advertising

In 2024, cookieless advertising is top-of-mind across the industry: Google’s third-party deprecation in their Chrome browser is officially underway and set to be completed by the end of the year, a seemingly-final blow to the identifier that was once ubiquitous in digital advertising. As advertisers grapple with how best to connect with audiences amidst cookie deprecation and widespread signal loss, channels that offer inherent privacy-friendly advertising features come with significant benefits.

Digital audio is one of these channels, as it allows advertisers to target specific audiences with contextual and walled garden opportunities. For example, teams can use contextual targeting in podcast ads to connect with listeners when they’re tuning into relevant content, or leverage dynamic ad insertion (DAI) technology alongside platforms’ second-party data to serve personalized ads to targeted audiences.

In the past, one of digital audio’s downsides for advertisers was that it lacked a clickable element—unless, of course, banner ads were used alongside the audio content in question. In a last-click attribution world (aka a world driven by third-party cookies), audio couldn’t deliver as effectively as other digital channels. However, the impending loss of third-party cookies is poised to redefine the rules of engagement, potentially leveling the playing field for audio advertising by removing that barrier to adoption.

Overall, as signal loss continues to pose challenges to advertising teams, digital audio stands out as a valuable channel, offering advertisers the ability to build genuine connections and capture audience attention effectively.

Wrapping Up: Why Embrace Digital Audio In 2024?

In many ways, digital audio advertising is what dreams are made of: Time spent with the channel is increasing, more and more people are listening each year, it provides a personal avenue to engage with consumers, and it allows for privacy-friendly and personalized advertisements.

Digital audio is everywhere, and the opportunities to reach consumers in meaningful, personalized ways that drive action are significant. For advertisers looking to connect with consumers when and where they’re spending time with media, including digital audio in your 2024 marketing mix just makes sense.

Want even more audio insights? In our guide to audio advertising, we dig deeper into this channel’s potential, and provide strategies digital advertisers can use to make the most of the audio opportunity. It’ll have you belting “I’ve got the power” at the top of your lungs.

Get the Guide