man holding headphones inside subway

How Audio Advertising Is Being Reborn in the Digital Era

2019 marks the 100th anniversary of audio advertising. 

Businesses have been using radio to advertise for over a century, but the rise of digital media is bringing a whole new meaning to the term ‘audio advertising’. 

Introducing: Digital audio advertising.

So, what is digital audio advertising?

More than just ‘radio advertising but online’.

Although 88% of UK adults still listen to traditional FM radio, younger audiences do not. 

In fact, listenership among 15-24 year olds has dropped by over 30% since 2010.

Younger audiences are increasingly abandoning radio for digital audio content – PCs and laptops are being abandoned in favour of more convenient, mobile-led ways to  consume content. 

Streaming music and listening to podcasts are now the norm.

This applies to all ages – according to eMarketer, the average adult spends over an hour a day listening to digital audio content.

Most of this audio consumption happens on-the-go, simply walk into any train station, gym or library and you’ll notice the sheer number of people with headphones on.

79% of all audio media usage takes place in situations like these, where visual content is inconvenient.

Let’s look at these explore the two key varieties of digital audio content – and how advertisers can use these emerging formats to their advantage.

Music Streaming

Physical ownership of music is on the decline, and aside from the small rebirth of vinyl, music streaming has become the mainstream way of listening to music.

Source: BBC

Consumers are simply not interested in ‘owning’ their music anymore.

Music streaming service Spotify has over 300 million users – and 60% of those use their ad-supported free version. The average Spotify user spends 25 hours a month listening on the app.

To say that this is a lucrative opportunity for marketers is an understatement. 

As only one in-stream ad can play at a time, you are much more likely to have your audience’s full attention.

Advertisers can target based on age, gender, location, activity and music taste. This is the ideal platform for those involved in the music industry – DJ’s, festivals, club owners.

Or, you could get really creative – why not target salsa lessons at latin-american music fans?

The possibilities are endless.


Podcasts are similar to traditional radio shows except that they’re usually episode-based and focus on specific subjects.

(Fun fact: Podcast is a combination of the words ‘iPod’ and ‘broadcast’)

Almost anyone can make a podcast – all you need an internet connection and something to talk about. This makes it much more accessible than radio.

What kind of podcasts do people in the UK listen to? Take a look for yourself:

Source: Ofcom

What’s even more exciting is the levels of engagement ads on podcasts receive: 

According to The Drum, an incredible 76% of surveyed consumers have acted on a podcast advert or sponsorship message.


This format is all about storytelling, and stories are powerful – they have been proven to be more effective at keeping people’s attention.

If you trust a podcast host to keep you entertained for 30 minutes a day, you’ll likely trust in their product recommendations or sponsorship messages.

The issue with advertising on podcasts is that it’s difficult to measure.

The only metric you have to go off are impressions (i.e. how many people have listened to the podcast) and even then you can’t ‘prove’ that they all listened to the ad.

Concluding words

Both these formats clearly have potential. 

As digital audio technology advances, so will our ability to target more specific audience with ads and measure its effectiveness.

Digital audio advertising is definitely a marketing trend to keep an eye (or ear) on – with so many visual ads vying for consumers’ attention, why not get them to listen instead?

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