Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

The NDA Roundtable: Personalised audio advertising to thrive in a post-cookie world

NDA and A Million Ads recently held a roundtable to discuss personalisation within digital audio. We heard insights from Charlie Brookes, Chief Revenue Officer, Digital Audio UK at Bauer Media; Josh Woodhouse, UK Director of Sales at Acast; Maria Cadbury, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Say It Now; Shanil Chande, UK Commercial Director at Hawk, and Richard Williams, Commercial Director at A Million Ads.

Historically, the audio space has not had much involvement with third-party cookies, so it already offers up several ways to reach audiences without using any personal data, yet still in a personalised, relevant manner. 

“We don’t rely on cookies whatsoever. And so, a lot of our personalisation comes from context, time, date, location, weather, that we can get from the adserver, or the ad call, but also the data that we get from a DSP,” said A Million Ads’ Williams. “We speak to a lot of brands that are looking to get away from their cookie reliance and, actually, they should come into digital audio, because it’s somewhere that hasn’t had to rely on cookies. It’s the perfect environment to go into now, because we’re established in not using it.”

Similarly, multi-channel buying platform Hawk has never used cookies either, instead opting to use device ID data to help brands and agencies on their campaigns.

“Back in 2013, when we first started building our platform, the main currency of data that was being used was the cookie. But our founders took the brave decision of building a platform around a currency of data that was completely different to the cookie, because they saw the direction of travel, as desktop usage was decreasing and mobile usage was increasing. So, they built a platform around device ID data,” Hawk’s Chande said.

“Fast forward to now, it puts us in a fantastic position when it comes to the removal of third-party cookies, and being able to use that device ID data across these other mediums. That currency of data is the only one that transcends the digital out-of-home environment, the audio environment, the mobile environment, and the CTV environment.”

Proving your worth

It’s all well and good for ad tech firms to offer cookieless avenues to personalisation to advertisers, but they still need to be able to deliver effective ways to measure the results of campaigns, and prove how effective personalisation can be without third-party cookies. 

A platform like Say It Now has to be able to drive traffic through skills on voice-powered devices, and shows it is doing that by delivering end-to-end attribution, according to Cadbury.

“When you do a brand campaign and you build a microsite, you have to drive traffic to that microsite, and then you have to look at different traffic drivers and increase them. We have to do the same with skills,” she said.

“We’re bringing end-to-end attribution, which is the first you can do that, and clients really learn a lot from.” 

Successes for Say it Now include a Berocca campaign with “significantly higher” follow-up engagement than other channels; Diageo finding dwell time and brand experience being longer and better than other channels; and charities seeing “significantly higher” average donation rates.

On the other hand, the podcast space displays its successes a little bit differently. In Acast’s case, this means an integration with Nielsen for brand uplift studies, and a partnership with Podsights to deliver pixel-based attribution.

“In podcasting, we’ve had quite a unique nuance in the fact that cookies have never been at the table for us. But we’ve combatted that in as many ways as we possibly can with the tools available to us, and now that’s transpired into two separate opportunities,” said Acast’s Woodhouse.

But, however businesses choose to measure the success of advertising, Bauer’s Brookes believes it’s just important to not get obsessed with how quickly an ad is going to add sales and instead look at the bigger picture.

“It’s about deriving measurement, working out what position in the funnel it is, and looking at it as part of a multiplier effect, rather than just getting into whether it’s going to drive a sale in the next hour, because that’s a dangerous game,” he explained. “I think digital has suffered from making itself that, and we don’t want to become that. We are still able to drive brand awareness, and change perceptions.”

*A Million Ads is a client of Bluestripe Communications, owned by Bluestripe Group, the owner of NDA.

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