The World of Programmatic Ads

“... And I understand that the entire industry doesn’t have to be monetized… But if we’re looking at it from an advertising perspective, being able to monetize every impression is what is gonna really allow us to grow our revenue.”

Audio is a perishable medium. Once that opportunity to monetize a moment is gone, it’s gone for good. So, monetizing every single impression sounds like a good deal, right? If only it was that easy. 


Or is it?


Welcome to the world of programmatic advertising. We might not be able to monetize every single impression, but we can get pretty close.


On the newest episode of The Podcast Advertising Playbook, Rockie Thomas joins Heather Osgood. Rockie is the CRO at SoundStack and peels back the curtain of programmatic advertising.


Check out The World of Programmatic Advertising to learn more.

What are programmatic ads?

The term “programmatic” refers to the transaction of campaigns electronically between platforms. Programmatic ads allow for an automatic transaction that leaves the buyer with more control than embedded ads. They have more control because if something were to happen and the ad needed to be removed or changed, they don’t need the creator. They can make these changes themselves.


There are a few different ways to work in programmatic ads, including the programmatic guarantee, private marketplaces, and ad networks.

Programmatic Guarantee

The programmatic guarantee is the closest you’ll get to a direct transaction. The only reason it’s not a direct buy is that the trafficking falls onto the advertiser’s side instead of the creator’s side – giving the buyer more control.


In this case, the deal is mostly done. The campaign is there, and the money has been discussed.

Private Marketplace

The second way you can work with programmatic ads is by putting your inventory on a private marketplace. In this case, demand partners are vetted since they have to be invited into the marketplace.

“Think of it kind of like an exclusive club of sorts. It’s not an open marketplace. You have to be, you know, the publishers have to either be invited or be added to that marketplace.”

This is especially helpful if you’re a network with a large variety of shows because you can create a deal and sell your inventory as a pack to advertisers.

Ad Networks

Ad Networks, sometimes referred to as marketplaces or audience networks, are the last way we can work in programmatic ads.

“What our role in that is really to work with all the demand partners, all the connectors, and all the really heavy technical side of the business and bring them into a marketplace.”

In this case, an ad network would work as a broker to make sure everything is being optimized and filled at the highest possible rate.

What’s the value of a personal endorsement?

During her episode with Heather, Rockie shared her love of personal endorsements in ads. Personal endorsements provide a great return on investment because of the audience’s relationship with the host.

“I would go and interview all of my on-air guys and be like, ‘where do you eat? Where do you sleep? Where do you take your family?’ And then I would go to these stores with his headshot and be like, ‘have you seen this guy?’ He’s like, ‘yeah, he comes in here a lot.’ And I’m like, ‘he would love to endorse your product. He already loves this store.”

Authentic endorsements are great, but Rockie wishes they were dynamically inserted instead of embedded.

What’s the difference between dynamically inserted ads vs. embedded ads?

Dynamically Inserted Ads (DIA) are audio segments that are recorded and produced separately from the podcast episode. It’s then inserted into the podcast episode file when the ad targeting conditions are met.


Embedded Ads, sometimes referred to as baked-in ads, are a permanent part of a podcast episode’s audio file.


The main difference between the two is that dynamically inserted ads are able to be tracked by the advertiser and the publisher. If you can’t measure something, you can’t manage it. On a similar note, dynamically inserted ads tend to be more concise and to the point than embedded ads.

But why do programmatic ads matter?

Programmatic ads allow us to fill in all the cracks and really optimize your ads. We can’t do that without the programmatic aspect. And since audio is a perishable media, we need to be optimizing our ads as much as we can.

“It’s not like I can take [this ad] and be like, ‘oh, it’s not selling very well. I’m gonna go ahead and put it on the clearance rack to go ahead and sell it.’ Once that opportunity is gone, it’s gone. And that’s where programmatic capitalized on that optimization in near real-time.”

In other words, programmatic ads increase supply constriction. Supply constriction is a term for making direct sales while also minimizing the amount of available inventory for buyers.


When you have supply constriction, advertisers have to bid on the inventory, which ends up in elevated CPMs.

Won’t programmatic ads cause an oversaturation of ads?

It’s a common misconception that programmatic ads will lead to an abundance of ads, but research shows this doesn’t just happen with programmatic ads. But when it does happen, it’s usually for one of two reasons.


First, it’s because that advertiser isn’t working with a partner who has enough demand diversity. When it comes to running ads, diversity is your friend. If this isn’t the case, it’s because the advertiser isn’t setting a frequency cap at the show level. There’s technology out there to make your life easier – make sure you take advantage of it!

“Hey, I love advertising, and I love helping publishers and creators make money, but I’m also the first person who’s like, ‘yeah, be careful how many ad units you put in there.’ Be aware because, at the end of the day, you’re creating a brand, and you’re creating a story. Make sure it’s the story you wanna tell when it comes to advertising and content.”

If you are interested in buying podcast ads but have no idea where to start, check out Podcast Advertising Best Practices Every Marketer Should Know, and contact us at


Ready to learn more? Subscribe to the Podcast Advertising Playbook so you never miss a new episode.


Connect with us on social media for more podcast advertising tips.


Twitter – @truenativemedia

Instagram – @truenativemedia

YouTube – True Native Media

LinkedIn – Heather Osgood | True Native Media | Podcast Advertising Playbook

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *