How native advertising works in digital audio

Effective advertising is all about delivery. How do you reach people where they'll see or hear your content? And where can you place ads they'll actually want to engage with?

Native advertising is one way to create an ad that doesn't feel jarring. Here's a bit more about what it looks like, why it converts, and how to bring the approach into your digital audio ad strategy.

What is native advertising?

Native advertising fits the form or function of the media format where it appears. It's really all about reaching audiences where they already are, in ways they already consume content. Podcast and radio ads are one of the original forms of this type of advertising.1 An audio ad narrated by your favorite podcast host is just one native advertising example.

Today, native ads appear in social feeds, on video platforms, in traditional and new media outlets, and in digital audio experiences. Brand interest in these ads has boomed over the past decade. And it's still on the rise: Experts predict the native advertising industry will grow to over $400 billion by 2025, a jump of 372% from 2020 spending.2

Why should brands consider native advertising?

It's a fact of business: To grow your audience, you have to market to it. And native advertising is a great way to do so. These types of ads create a more cohesive user experience—one that's more likely to result in conversions. Studies have found that native ads are 18% more likely to lead to future purchases.3 Native advertising also tends to have high levels of engagement.3

Okay, so you're sold on the value of native ads. Next, let's talk about why native advertising via digital audio is so effective.

Digital audio ads, including podcasts, are a great fit for native advertising

Native audio ads aren't new. Think back to the days when you would cruise around in your car listening to the radio. It was the norm to hear DJs and radio hosts read ads during commercial breaks.

In the age of digital audio, not much has changed—but the delivery has evolved. For one, it's gotten a lot more tailored. Themed playlists and podcasts provide a fitting backdrop for ads that are relevant to their genre or subject matter.

Spotify research finds that 75% of listeners are more likely to remember ads when they match the moment or setting.4 And with the self-serve campaign builder within Spotify Ad Studio, this isn't hard for brands or small businesses to accomplish. In fact, 59% of Spotify Free listeners say they pay more attention to ads on Spotify than they do to ads on traditional radio.5

  • 75%

    Remember ads

    Spotify research finds that 75% of listeners are more likely to remember ads when they match the moment or setting.4
  • 59%

    Pay more attention to ads

    In fact, 59% of Spotify Free listeners say they pay more attention to ads on Spotify than they do to ads on traditional radio.5

Native audio ads

Let's talk about how to create a native audio ad that fits right in with the playlist or podcast your target audience is listening to.

Listeners enjoy different music or podcasts depending on what they're doing—the moments that matter throughout their day. There's the "working out moment," when people want to get their heart pumping during a HIIT session. There's the "cooking moment" while a listener prepares their favorite comfort food at the end of a long week. And of course, there's the "partying moment," when people are looking for that perfect playlist to get their group in the groove. An effective native audio ad is all about creating something that will easily blend in with each of these scenarios.

GAIA Design is just one brand that's utilized Ad Studio to match their ads with audience moments. In a campaign in 2020, they used Ad Studio's contextual targeting to reach people working or studying from home with a timely message about improving their home space. "Our audience consumes this medium organically—music is personal and so is home design. They go hand-in-hand," a representative for the brand said in an interview with Ad Studio. "The control, speed, and flexibility of the channel made sense for us."

Native podcast ads

There are two ways to create a native podcast ad — either use the podcast host's voice or hire a voice actor.

When the podcast host voices your ad, it feels more like another segment of the show rather than an abrupt jump to an advertisement—even if there's an obvious ad break. This creates a more native experience.

Another option is to create an ad using a voice actor that has a similar vibe to the podcast. This is the route FRONTLINE chose to take, and we're here for it. This ad fits in perfectly with pet-friendly podcasts, creating a cute ad break bound to make any animal lover go, "Awwww."

Hear how FRONTLINE used a voice actor in a podcast ad.

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Next-level native advertising example

With Spotify, native audio advertising becomes an interactive experience. Take this Adidas campaign: To promote their new Nite Joggers, Spotify helped the brand build a custom digital experience that let listeners determine their “Nite Score" based on their typical nighttime listening habits. Then, listeners got access to a playlist created uniquely for them, peppered with Adidas branding and information about the shoes.

This is still an ad campaign, but it feels more like listeners are getting access to customized content catered to their specific tastes.

Get started with Spotify ads

Your goal with native audio ads is to engage your audience — not interrupt their listening experience. Spotify can help make this process easy. Learn more about the various ad formats available and how to get started with your brand's native audio ad experiences today.


  1. "Podcasting Embraces Native Advertising," Digiday. August 2015
  2. "AdYouLike," as reported by Cision's PRNewswire. March 2019
  3. "Exploring the Effectiveness of Native Ads," IPG Lab & Sharethrough. June 2013
  4. Key Moments Survey, Spotify Users A15-40, US, UK, DE, IT, SP, MX, BR, AU, October 2019 *answered top two boxes on a scale from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree
  5. TNS Research, Spotify & Kantar, poll of U.S. users ages 16-64 2020

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