Guidance: Buying digital audio inventory when working with IAB Europe's TCF


We look at how to make your digital audio campaign effective when using IAB Europe's Transparency and Consent Framework

When working with IAB Europe’s Transparency & Consent Framework, to be able to effectively buy audio inventory, it may be necessary for you to set up your audio campaign with different settings and selections made within your chosen DSP - in comparison to other media types.

Why is this?
Given the range of devices and players that audio ads can be served on, there is varying scale of addressability across them all. Addressability in this context refers to the ability to capture consent from the user, and in context of the TCF, refers to the ability to generate a consent string.

There are three levels of addressability within the audio industry:

  • Addressable: An audio player controlled by a media owner / publisher / podcast platform that can implement consent mechanisms (e.g. a user listens to content through a publisher’s app or webplayer - such as the Acast App - or listens to a radio station through the radio station’s own owned website)

  • Limited addressability: A player controlled by a third-party that is unable to implement consent mechanisms but which provides personal information (e.g. a user listens to a radio station through a standalone player - e.g. TuneIn - that is not operated by the publisher but may provide personal data such as the IP address)

  • Non-addressable: A screenless device with no opportunity to surface a consent mechanism, but which represent a growing audience and inventory opportunity (e.g. a user listens to a radio through a smart speaker such as Amazon Alexa)

Non-addressable inventory is valuable because it uniquely reaches a large share of audio audiences in contextually relevant moments due to its screen free nature. However, such inventory could easily be missed because buyers are typically charged to deliver, and select settings in their DSP based on “addressable” KPIs for clients. The cost of this is that buyers are missing out on key audio audiences and publishers are losing revenue.

The reasons for such inventory being missed are that by setting “addressable” KPIs and selecting settings in the DSPs to achieve them, the buyer is instantly limited in their bidding to inventory that comes with a consent string. However, in non-addressable environments, no personal data is being collected or processed and therefore a consent string, under the requirements of GDPR and TCF 2.0, is not necessary.

To be able to effectively buy audio inventory in non-addressable environments, buyers need to ensure they are not setting KPIs or selecting settings in their DSPs that can only work in addressable environments.

Expectations and KPIs in non-addressable environments
In non-addressable environments, because there is no consent, it is not possible to collect or use user data. This means that such audio environments do not support KPIs that require personal user data such as audience targeting, frequency capping and attribution.

However, programmatic audio advertising gives brands access to some of the most loved audio content. It is a brand safe environment with a clean supply path and buyers should continue to recognise that audio inventory that is not “addressable”, is still uniquely valuable and should not be excluded from the media buy.

Buyers should be aware that some targeting features within the DSP may limit the type of inventory that they are able to bid on (examples below). However, there may be some sell-side options to achieve these objectives, therefore buyers should work together closely with their DSP and publishers to understand the correct deal set up and targeting settings for their audio buy.

Examples of targeting features in your DSP that may limit your buy:

  • Audience (demographics, first and third-party lists)

  • Technology (device, browsers, non-reportable sites)

  • Content (brand safety, keywords, viewability)

  • Frequency capping, retargeting

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