News & Insights

Audio advertising 101: Learn the basics of digital audio ads

Audio advertising has captivated listeners for almost a century. In August 1922, New York City's WEAF aired the first radio ad: a whopping 15-minute commercial for new apartments in Jackson Heights, Queens.1

One hundred years later, audio advertising is one of the most powerful marketing channels available. With today's abundance of streaming platforms, mobile devices, and content formats, people can listen to any type of audio they want—where and when they want it. And advertisers can reach them directly with powerful, ear-grabbing messages.

They just need the right tools and resources.

That's why we launched the Spotify Advertising Academy — to help businesses of all sizes get up to speed and become certified experts on digital audio ads. With free, interactive courses like Digital Audio Foundations and Intro to Podcast Advertising, you can learn everything you need to know about digital audio and why you should use Spotify's self-serve ad manager to create quality campaigns.

Here's a peek at what these courses have to offer.

What is digital audio?

Digital audio encompasses any kind of audio listened to through an internet connection. More specifically, the main types of digital audio include:

  • Downloaded audio, like songs, albums, and podcasts.
  • Live-streaming audio, like broadcasts from radio stations and live talk on platforms like Spotify Greenroom.
  • On-demand audio, like music, podcasts, talk shows, radio, audio clips, and voiceovers.

Digital audio also spans devices and experiences. Thanks to smartphones, smart speakers, and wireless headphones, listeners can enjoy digital audio in almost any environment.

In addition to that reach, digital audio offers a level of personalization that radio never could. Listeners can create customized playlists, share songs with friends and family, and curate their listening experiences for any moment—whether they're cooking, commuting, studying, working, or taking time to relax.

What is digital audio advertising?

Digital audio advertising is the process of inserting ads into digital audio content in order to reach listeners. This allows advertisers to connect with audiences while they're already enjoying the content they love—be it music, podcasts, or digital radio shows.

Spotify, for example, offers two main types of ads:

  • Audio ads. These ads are 30 seconds and play between songs.
  • Podcast ads. These ads are usually between 30 and 60 seconds. They typically play during podcasts and may be read by the host or a voice actor.

Why are digital audio ads effective?

Online audio advertising opens up a whole new world of audience outreach for brands, providing valuable opportunities to drive engagement and revenue. People also turn to digital audio content to avoid "screen fatigue." With podcast ads, for example, advertisers can reach listeners during the "screenless moments" they crave and cherish.

Here's a quick look at why digital audio ads and podcast advertising are so effective:

Test digital audio for small business advertising and more

You don't need a massive budget or flashy recording equipment to get into audio advertising or join Spotify's podcast advertising network. You can use a self-serve ad manager, like Spotify Ad Studio, to build your campaigns and tap into Spotify's audience of over half a billion monthly active users (MAU)—including 361 million ad-supported MAU.4 In fact, with our suite of tools and resources, you can record and mix your custom audio ad in as little as 24 hours.

A century after the first radio ad aired, advertisers ranging from big brands to small businesses have access to the tools they need to harness the full power of digital audio ads.

Ready to learn more about what digital audio has to offer advertisers? Register for the Spotify Advertising Academy to enjoy free, interactive training courses and become a certified expert in the field.

  1. "The Golden Age of American Radio." September 2011.
  2. "The Infinite Dial 2021." Edison Research. February 2021.
  3. Crowd DNA & Spotify, “We're All Ears," U.S., 2018.
  4. "Highlights for advertisers from Spotify's Q3 '23 earnings," October 2023, Spotify Advertising.

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.