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Audio ad glossary: 7 terms to get you started

Audio advertising has come a long way from the clunky radio spots of the 20th century. With digital audio channels now spanning across multiple devices, brands can reach listeners where they are and when they're already engaged with their favorite content — be it music, podcasts, or audiobooks.

In fact, 62% of Americans listen to digital audio and digital radio on a weekly basis,1 and 61% of Spotify listeners say that digital audio ads help them discover new brands.2

To reach these audiences, marketers need to understand how audio advertising works. Step one is to learn the industry lingo.

If you're just getting started with digital audio advertising, we made a cheat sheet for you. This glossary of seven terms can help kickstart your digital audio education.

1. Streaming Ad Insertion

In traditional podcast ads, delivery is usually measured by the number of episodes downloaded. But once those downloads occur, the advertiser loses insight into listeners' engagement. People may not even listen to the whole episode, for example, missing key ad spots.

That's why Spotify created Streaming Ad Insertion (SAI) — a proprietary technology that inserts podcast ads into episodes as they're streamed. This ensures that advertisers only pay to reach people who actually hear their ads in real-time.

Learn how SAI powers Spotify's podcast advertising network.

2. Contextual targeting

Contextual audience targeting, a targeting technique unique to Spotify, is the process of delivering hyper-relevant ads that match each listener's audio content experience. An ad for a new kitchen appliance might run while someone is listening to a playlist they use while cooking, for instance. Or, a sneaker ad might play in the middle of a listener's "gym beats" playlist.

By matching each moment with the right ad, advertisers can reach engaged audiences and help listeners build positive connections with their brands.

3. Brand voice

Brand voice is the unique and consistent personality used throughout your marketing messaging. When building digital audio advertising into your brand marketing strategy, be sure to develop a clear voice — be it playful, assertive, rough around the edges, or a combo of several different tones. This way, listeners recognize and associate a brand with a specific persona each time they hear an ad.

4. Call to action

A call to action (CTA) is the copy at the end of your ad that encourages listeners to take a specific step along the customer journey. You might want your audience to visit your website, tune into a branded podcast, redeem an offer code, or head to a store near them.

Whatever your end goal, it's important to include a clear CTA in your digital audio ads to help communicate your value and drive conversions.

5. Ad rotation

Ad rotation is the process by which multiple ads are served to an audience. Three main types of ad rotation include:

1. Even rotation. Ads are delivered randomly, ensuring equal distribution.
2. Sequential rotation. Ads are delivered in a specific order.
3. Weighted rotation. Certain ads are delivered more often than others.

Advertisers might use the above options to improve visibility and nurture customer relationships throughout their campaigns.

For more tips, check out our guide to ad rotation.

6. Frequency cap

A digital audio ad's frequency cap is the maximum number of times it's delivered to a particular audience or listener. Advertisers might set daily, weekly, or monthly frequency caps—so people receive an ad enough times to take action, but not so many times that they tune it out.

According to recent studies, top-performing campaigns have an average frequency of at least once per week.3

7. Self-serve advertising

When brands purchase, create and publish ads without the help of a sales rep, it's called self-serve advertising.

Businesses of all sizes — including small business advertisers, big brands, and everything in between — can harness the power of digital audio using Spotify Ad Studio.

With this self-serve ad manager, you can create campaigns in minutes, choosing the budget, targeting, and delivery preferences that work best for your brand. Advertisers have control over their ads every step of the way—from creative direction to campaign management. Ad Studio even offers voiceover and production services to help you create bespoke digital audio ads quickly and seamlessly.

Ready to learn more about the ins and outs of audio advertising? Sign up for the Spotify Advertising Academy to enjoy free, interactive training courses and become a certified expert in the field.

  1. "The Infinite Dial 2021," Edison Research. March 2021.
  2. Spotify/Qualtrics Entertainment Study, survey among 6,500 respondents, users 13+, Aug 2020.
  3. "NC Solutions & Oracle CPG Offline Sales Lift," 1/1/2018-6/30/2020 - 2020 Edition, U.S. Version

Become a digital audio expert

The Spotify Advertising Academy will help you master the art and science of digital audio ads.

Looking for something a little more custom? Let's talk.