How programmatic audio advertising is enhancing the radio experience

New technology is enhancing the radio experience and transforming the way brands reach their target audience through audio channels.

Justine Benjamin,  Head of Global Marketing at AdsWizz delves into the benefits of programmatic audio advertising, its current state, and its potential to shape the future of radio advertising.

On May 13th 1897, Guglielmo Marconi changed the world forever. 

Marconi arrived in Somerset looking to experiment with what he called “telegraphy without wires”.  After a few days of failed communication - suddenly Marconi’s instruments sparked into life. 

His voice boomed from the primitive speaker.  “CAN YOU HEAR ME?”. 

And so, radio was born. 

Radio shrank the world overnight. Suddenly it was possible to communicate across vast distances immediately. It became a powerful tool for leaders in fostering a sense of national togetherness through periods of crisis - such as with King George VI’s national addresses or Franklin Roosevelt’s famous Fireside Chats.  

Over 125 years later, we can see how radio has transformed society - and we celebrate its impact this month following World Radio Day on the 13th of February.

So what does the world of radio look like in 2023? 

Loud and clear

Radio is still a powerful cultural medium. 

Recent data shows that 40 million adults in the UK, or 72% of the population aged 15+, tune into digital radio weekly. Around 89% of the population – or 49.5 million adults – listened to live radio on average for 20.3 hours per week.

But it has changed a great deal since Marconi’s first broadcast. Radio has become a natural home for advertisers and the birthplace of many classic brands - from AT&T in the US to Birdseye in the UK.

Like every other facet of society, this medium has transformed with technology. The digital age has changed what is possible in communications - raising the expectations of advertisers and audiences alike. 


Unlike in bygone eras of advertising, reaching audiences en masse remains challenging.  Advertisers must navigate a more fragmented landscape and engage audiences in more meaningful ways - with the right message in the right place at the right time. 

Adobe reports that 50% of consumers enjoy listening to digital radio while completing household chores. With this in mind, delivering personalised, relevant content should be brand marketers’ priority, with 80% of consumers saying they’re more likely to buy from brands that offer tailored experiences.

A jingle alone is no longer enough for audiences. If advertisers want to get the most out of modern radio, they have to meet today’s  consumer expectations. 

It goes both ways

Let's go back to the first broadcast message with that simple question:  “CAN YOU HEAR ME?”. 

The most critical question now is: “WILL YOU LISTEN?”. 

With programmatic technology, advertisers can clearly know exactly who can hear. 

Advertisers need to deliver contextually relevant, personalised messages to fully engage audiences. Just as in other digital channels, automation is a powerful way to achieve this. Fundamentally it saves advertisers time and money - while increasing the effectiveness of the messages delivered. 

Simply broadcasting messages to a broad audience is not enough. Brands need to be confident that advertising dollars are being spent on the right people i.e., those who are most likely to make a positive impact on the business, whether it’s  homeowners, event-goers, or car buyers, a targeted approach is essential.

To achieve this level of precision, digital audio ad platforms offer a wide range of interests and personas to help brands tailor their message to a specific group.

Programmatic audio, combined with automated targeting, is likely to result in a significant improvement in results. The average click-through rate (CTR) on display networks, as reported by Smart Insights, is 0.35%. But brands utilising interactive audio formats have achieved higher numbers. Some brands have seen click-to-install rates (CVR) as high as 0.97% with motion-activated formats in digital audio.

Through programmatic technology, marketers can meet modern consumer expectations and curate hyper-relevant ad experiences through audio channels. Unlike when Marconi first broadcast, we now clearly know when we can be heard through radio. Now we must listen to the people on the other side of the transmitter. 

Radio is still a loved and trusted medium, but it has changed significantly over the last century - and “one-size-fits-all” advertising strategies are no longer fit for purpose.

By Justine Benjamin

Head of Global Marketing