TuneIn propels monetization with a programmatic strategy for audio ads
Case Study

TuneIn propels monetization with a programmatic strategy for audio ads

TuneIn brings live news, radio, sports, music and podcasts to more than 75 million monthly active listeners. The global live audio streaming service recently switched to  Google Ad Manager and became an early adopter of Ad Manager’s audio programmatic ads. TuneIn used Google’s Programmatic Guaranteed and Open Auction demand to monetize inventory with audio ads and went all-in on a programmatic sales strategy, which quickly became a major revenue driver for the company.

Searching for a solution with integrated Audio

TuneIn was on the lookout for an advertising solution that would work seamlessly across their display, video and audio inventory. The company had a lot of ad serving activities, and it wanted a holistic solution with robust reporting and a streamlined sales portal. Simplification was key, and its current advertising solution wasn’t compatible with the company’s needs.

At the time, the company had a limited definition of programmatic. “Historically, ‘programmatic’ at TuneIn meant only yield optimization of various ad exchanges and networks,” says Director of Monetization, Kellan Barker. Sensing a change in the industry toward programmatic sales, the team realized that a shift in strategy would come with a whole host of benefits. TuneIn was ready for the investment — it was just a matter of finding the right one.

Investing fully in programmatic

In early 2020, TuneIn switched to Google and adopted Ad Manager Audio, programmatically monetizing its audio inventory with audio ads. With the switch, TuneIn began using Ad Manager to manage all their inventory programmatically, which also included video and display ads. Barker noticed that the new cross-format support provided significantly more value, which was especially apparent when building out media plans, maximizing deal size, and analyzing the health of their sales team.

TuneIn understood the power of programmatic sales, and they quickly committed to a long-term plan. They restructured the sales team, invested in programmatic training for the entire organization, hired more candidates with programmatic experience, and created an account manager role requiring programmatic proficiency. To allow for a sharper focus on programmatic sales, any managed service business was also outsourced. In short, TuneIn reimagined its entire strategy to support programmatic sales. “Since adopting this strategy, we’ve seen steady growth as we continue to optimize and to determine what organizational structure best fits the programmatic landscape,” says Barker.

“Not only do Programmatic Guaranteed and Preferred Deals have a lasting role, they will soon be our most preferred ways to sell ads.”

Kellan Barker, Director of Monetization, TuneIn

The recent integration of Programmatic Audio is an important component of TuneIn’s overall strategy to drive revenue with Programmatic Guaranteed and Preferred Deals across multiple demand-side platforms. Additionally, TuneIn has tapped into Google's Open Auction demand with audio, giving them flexibility in how they monetize their inventory. “Our sales team is hyperfocused on selling audio programmatically,” says Barker. “Eventually, we’d like to also see audio included as a format across exchanges so that we can further monetize our unsold inventory.”

Programmatic mindset drives revenue, builds client trust

10% of TuneIn’s advertising revenue now comes directly from Programmatic Guaranteed, while Preferred Deals drive another 25%, providing a safe testing ground for clients new to this space.

“Clients are much more likely to test the waters in non-guaranteed programmatic deals than IO-based campaigns,” says Barker. “From there, we can prove the value of our inventory and our audience and encourage additional and guaranteed spend.” An additional benefit of programmatic sales, he adds, is that most of TuneIn’s operational overhead, like billing and reporting, is now automated.

TuneIn’s investments in programmatic sales have set the stage for a long-term strategy. “Not only do Programmatic Guaranteed and Preferred Deals have a lasting role,” says Barker, “they will soon be our most preferred ways to sell ads.”

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