Audio ads: what digital audio formats are there?

The dynamics of digital audio and the growth of audio ads are opening up new perspectives for advertising formats, for both advertisers and content publishers. What are these media and how do you deliver the optimal message?

Audio ads: the different formats

Digital audio advertising refers to all audio advertising formats that are broadcast digitally, from online radio stations and music streams to podcasts. There is a number of formats, the most important examples of which are listed below.

Dynamic creative

The aim is to personalise audio messages by harnessing the listener’s data in real time. This is achieved by creating multiple versions of the audio messages according to targeting or context elements. The technology enables various triggers such as the location, weather and time to be optimised in order to deliver the right message to the right listener at the right time.


Pre-roll is the most common format for digital audio advertising. The message is broadcast before the supporting content (whether it is a radio programme, podcast, stream or playlist).


Mid-roll refers to the integration of an advertising slot into the stream while listening (during a podcast or in a continuous audio stream).


Post-roll consists of the integration of an advertising slot at the end of a stream or digital audio playlist.

Live playback (Host read)

Inherited from FM/AM radio, having the host (or DJ) play back a digital audio advertisement is ideal for use in a native podcast. This format limits the zapping effect associated with traditional ads and increases the reach of the message, due to the emotional bond between the listener and the host.

Audio sequencing

This involves a sequence of advertisements broadcast in real time, based on audience retargeting information such as previous exposure or click behaviour.

Tailor-made creations

These can include:

  • The branded native podcast: a digital audio programme specifically created for a brand, in the context of priority digital broadcasting, but outside of the context of a linear radio programme.
  • Branded audio streaming: the creation of a sponsored web radio programme as part of an advertising campaign or on an ongoing basis.

Digital audio ads – good creative practice

Our lifestyles have massively evolved towards the digital and brands are now omnipresent: social networks, videos, newsletters and branded content, hence the importance of delivering harmonised messages. Your audio fingerprint must be consistent with all your marketing materials, but it must also harness the codes and paradigms of digital audio.  Today, programmatic audio marketing allows advertisers to speak more directly to their target audience where no other medium can reach them.

Unlike traditional audio, digital audio commercials are received by more engaged and amenable listeners (often through headphones). Hence the need to insert high quality, value-added messages that are personalised according to the context: targeting by gender, moment (at work, travelling, when exercising); or sequential retargeting, allowing a story to be told using short, successive messages.

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