How to find—and reach—your target audience with digital audio ads

Digital audio reaches audiences from every walk of life. Today's listeners run the gamut from teens looking to master the latest dance craze to political pundits who inhale podcasts for breakfast—and everything in between.

In 2021, around 62% of Americans aged 12 and older listened to digital audio content like music, podcasts, and livestream broadcasts each week.1 As one of the world's most popular audio streaming subscription services, Spotify alone reaches 406 million people monthly, including 236 million ad-supported monthly active listeners.2

This massive audience is great news for advertisers. But there's one looming question: How do you identify your niche target audience in such a huge pool?

Sure, you could cast a wide net and hope for the best, but that means potentially wasting budget on less-than-optimal placements. If you're able to clearly identify your target market, on the other hand, you can provide personalized digital audio ads. The first step is to find the target audience for your product or service by identifying the people it will benefit the most.

In the below guide, we break down how to do this, including helpful tips and tools for both small business advertising and larger brand campaigns.

Understand the different types of target audiences

Let's start with the basics: What is a target audience, anyway—and why is it important?

A target audience is a specific group of people that advertisers hope to reach during their campaigns. While target audiences can get super specific, they usually start at a high level, with the following broad categories:

  • Demographics like age, location, and job
  • Interests like sports, politics, or fashion
  • Behaviors like online shopping habits, mobile usage trends, and podcast listening practices
  • Context like when and where they listen to content—for example, while cooking, working out, studying, or partying

Each of these attributes says a little bit about who your target audiences are. And the more you learn about them, the more you understand their listening and buying behaviors—and the types of ads they're most likely to enjoy.

Stuck on how to find this info in the first place? Read on.

Understand your audience's behavior across channels

The first step is to analyze what you know about your current customers. Check analytics from channels like your website, social platforms, and email newsletters to see which demographics your customers tend to fall under and which types of content they engage with most frequently.

You can also use this data to better understand how your customers behave online. Do they make frequent e-commerce purchases? Do they prefer audio content over text-based articles? Do they favor mobile or desktop devices? Use this information to build a comprehensive view of your target customer.

Still unsure about what your customers want? Just ask them.

Send out email surveys or gather information from sign-up forms on your website. For example, you might ask:

  • Where are you most likely to use our product or service?
  • How many hours a day do you spend on your mobile device?
  • How important is sustainability to you?
  • How do you prefer us to contact you?

It may also be worth taking a look at the kinds of people who buy from your competitors and respond to their content. Are they similar to your most loyal customers? Or are your competitors tapping into a key demographic you're still missing out on? You can conduct a competitive set analysis to find gaps in your strategies and get a clearer picture of audience behaviors across your industry.

How to find a target audience for your business on Spotify

After you identify target audiences, you need the right tools and resources to grab their attention. That's easy to do with Spotify Ad Studio, a self-serve advertising platform for companies of all sizes.

Whether you're a small business or a big brand, Ad Studio can help you get campaigns up and running in minutes. What's more, you can use simple, data-driven audience targeting tools to find your people at just the right moment.

In fact, 61% of Spotify listeners say that digital audio ads help them discover new brands.3 Not to mention that multi-device users stream Spotify for 2.5 hours per day.4

Here are three ways to use Spotify's digital audio advertising tools.

1. Use contextual targeting.

Reach listeners with real-time audio ads that match the content they're already enjoying and the moment they're already in. Spotify research suggests that 75% of Spotify listeners remember ads better when those ads recognize their specific setting.5

Thanks to Spotify's logged-in audience, we can gauge how and when people stream audio content throughout the day. For example, we understand which genres and formats they're engaging with at certain times—and which devices they're using, including smart speakers, gaming consoles, and smartphones.

Take GAIA Design, a leading home furniture design company in Mexico. At the height of the pandemic, they wanted to help people create more comfortable work-from-home spaces. So they used Spotify Ad Studio to target students and remote workers at the most relevant moment—including when they were concentrating on their work or studying at home. The result? GAIA saw a clickthrough rate (CTR) that far exceeded their expectations and benchmark goals.

2. Get in the Gen Z mindset.

If you're investing in digital audio advertising, you can't forget about two valuable audience segments: Gen Z and millennials. According to GlobalWebIndex, 90% of Gen Z and 86% of millennials listen to digital audio each month.6 Reaching these coveted listeners on Spotify is a cinch: More than half of ad-supported Spotify listeners in the U.S. are under 35 years old.7

Research suggests that Gen Z listens to music to feel happier and to escape from screen-dominated experiences. Meanwhile, millennials are turning to nostalgic playlists and using audio to connect with their favorite creators and communities.

Advertisers have a valuable opportunity to reach these hyper-engaged audiences with context-driven targeting and personalized messaging that fits right into their experiences.

Recruitment agency Randstad, for example, wanted to promote its new service to Gen Zers and young professionals. They used Ad Studio to target audiences in real-time contexts when listeners were most receptive to receiving ads—like while focusing on tasks like studying or playing games. As a result, Randstad generated 1.2 million impressions, a 93% completion rate, and 5,000 conversions to its website.

3. Continuously test and optimize.

Audience targeting isn't a one-and-done task—it's an ongoing process. As markets shift, behaviors change, and more data emerges, it's important to try new targeting tactics to find the sweet spot with your listeners.

With Ad Studio, you can track real-time reporting metrics like audio ad reach, frequency, completion rate, clicks, and conversions. This way, you can see which ads are resonating—and which targeting strategies are driving the best performance.

Just look at Washington Prime Group (WPG), a commercial real estate investment company. On Ad Studio, WPG tested three different ad sets, targeting listeners by age, interests, and preferred music genres. While the campaign drove an overall increase in foot traffic, it was clear that ads targeting people by interests and music genres drove the highest CTRs and completion rates.

As more people discover the joy of listening with digital audio, brands will have more opportunities to expand their reach and win over potential customers with engaging ads. They just need the right tools to help them get their message across—at just the right moment.

Ready to reach your own target audience with digital audio ads?

Get started with Ad Studio today.


  1. "Audio and Podcasting Fact Sheet," Pew Research. June 2021.
  2. "Highlights for advertisers from Spotify's Q4 '21 earnings," Spotify Advertising. Feb 2022.
  3. Spotify/Qualtrics Entertainment Study, survey among 6,500 respondents, users 13+. Aug 2020.
  4. Spotify First-Party Data, global, based on daily content hours/daily active users, free users multiplatform. May 2019
  5. 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
  6. GlobalWebIndex, Q1-Q2 2019 & Q1-Q2 2020, U.S. August 2020.
  7. Spotify & Kantar: TNS Research, US Age=16-64, Spotify Free weekly users. October 2020

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