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Discussing Digital Audio With Leigh Newsome, co-CEO and CTO of TargetSpot

Digital audio is having a cultural moment. There’s the Serial phenomena, and Slate has published a whole series to mark the tenth anniversary of the podcast, butperhaps the most compelling proof is that there are now 159.8MM people listening to digital audio every month, according to eMarketer. To learn more about digital audio, we spoke with Leigh Newsome, co-CEO and CTO of TargetSpot, a Quantcast Measure and Advertise user.

QC: Can you tell us about TargetSpot?

LN: TargetSpot provides a technology platform to manage digital audio ad campaigns with highly advanced targeting. We started as self-service bidding platform for audio campaigns. While we still retain that core technology, we have developed it into a fully managed service platform for agencies and publishers. We work with just about about every major agency and over 85 publishers, such as CBS Radio, Entercom, Univision, SBS, Grooveshark, and our owned and operated service Radionomy.

QC: Is digital audio advertising today more like terrestrial radio or digital display? Where is it headed?

LN: It is a little of both. Currently, we are moving towards more of the digital display end of the spectrum. Digital audio advertising is a very interesting place to be right now. It maintains many of the benefits of advertising on terrestrial radio. You are able to cut through the clutter and noise more effectively since listening to an audio ad is a one-to-one experience between the listener and the advertiser, you don’t have multiple ads competing for a listener’s attention like you do in display advertising. You can only hear one thing at a time!

Brands are able to to connect with people on a passion point; people are very invested in and seek out what they listen to — a Country music fan self-identifies as a Country fan, just like a Classical music fan thinks of herself in a way that aligns with Classical music. What you listen to is a very personal choice and is not an arbitrary decision.

However, digital audio also brings many of the efficiencies and benefits inherent to any digital medium. Firstly, digital audio overcomes the hurdles of proximity and scale as it’s not restricted to the strength of a broadcast signal. New Yorkers can just as easily listen to KROQ, an L.A. based station, as they can listen to WPLJ, a popular NY based station. While that may not seem significant in itself, add that to the efficiencies of digital: highly targeted ads, 3rd party data, buying and executing campaigns digitally, analytics and optimization, etc. and you suddenly end up with a very powerful platform for reaching consumers.

QC: How does digital audio listenership compare to the broadcast audience?

LN: We ran a study on attitudes towards advertising in digital audio and interestingly enough there are big differences between digital audio and radio broadcast listeners. We found that, when asked for reasons people stop listening to a broadcast, radio broadcast listeners were 23% more likely than digital audio to stop listening because an ad was disturbing/offensive or because it was not personally relevant. Also we found that 70% of digital audio listeners are comfortable receiving ads based on their Internet radio usage and/or content preferences. I think this speaks to the level of sophistication and acceptance of Internet users towards “relevant” online advertising. I believe more people are okay with being advertised to if they are receiving value for their attention. People, for the most part, know that the “free” Gmail address they use or their Facebook account are paid with the currency of their attention to ads. And digital audio listeners are even more receptive to this idea of a value exchange when we give the right message to the right listener.

QC: What are advertisers looking for in digital audio spots?

LN: Typically we see marketing goals split along two buying groups, broadcast radio buyers and digital teams but increasing the dividing line is starting to blur between the two. Digital teams are looking for more granular audience segmentation across various psychographic categories, campaign optimization, analytics and many parameters they use to measure their digital display and video campaigns. While broadcast buyers tend to focus on demographic targeting, frequency and reach, pricing efficiencies, share of voice and other variables in broadcast radio buys. However, we’re seeing these two group coming together and informing each other further up the media planning stream. Agencies and brands are starting to incorporate digital audio more holistically into their media campaigns. It’s been interesting to watch some of the broadcast people become way more digitally savvy and probably even more interesting to watch some of the digital teams think a little more analog.

QC: How are you working with Quantcast?

LN: We’ve been working with Quantcast as well as with DMPs for a while now to add additional layers of audience verification and psychographic targeting to our ad serving capabilities. In our industry, we are known as the technological leader in advanced audio ad targeting. With that in mind, we’ve really doubled down on getting deep insights on our network and audience. We’ve integrated Quantcast Measure to learn more about our audience from gender, age, ethnicity, education, household income, and more. We’re also using Quantcast Advertise to deliver targeted advertising, including based on our audience’s purchasing behaviors which are outside our scope of visibility. It’s important to us to know not only what people are listening to but also what are some brand messages that they’ll find valuable. For our brand partners there is an obvious value in that information but for our publishing partners it helps them offer users a better listening experience.

QC: Are there any recent successes you’d like to share?

LN: 2014 was a huge year for TargetSpot. We completed our merger with Internet radio platform Radionomy to form the Radionomy Group. We’ve had an eye on expanding internationally and Radionomy, as one of the leading global Internet radio platforms was a great fit for us. We also purchased streaming platform SHOUTcast and media player WINAMP from AOL, which means we now power roughly half of all Internet radio globally. That’s huge!

The market has reacted very positively. We were awarded the 2014 RAIN Award for Best Overall Digital Strategy, edging out some excellent semi-finalist like iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel), NPR, TuneIn, etc. And in 2015 we’re laser focused on driving the digital audio industry further towards more data driven marketing and more granular audience segmentation.

Posted by Art Prateepvanich, Head of Product Marketing, Publisher Solutions