Lack of tracking is a traditional problem in the audio environment. “There’s a lot of listening done through dumb players, like iTunes, where it’s through software and not a browser,” Masse said. The problem is that software players don't support pixels like browsers-based players do.
Triton gets around this by doing server-side tracking, essentially getting a feed from the audio publisher’s FM signal. Tap processes that information as well as any other insights that might be available, such as device IDs, GPS information or demographic information gleaned from listener registration.
“Tap determines which ad campaigns are appropriate based on how a publisher wants to prioritize across a campaign, agency agreements or CPMs,” Masse said. “We pick and choose the right creative to send to the player in the feed.”
Triton is also introducing better integration through APIs so clients can connect Tap with other ad systems – before, integration jobs were mostly custom.
Tap is built to connect with Triton’s audio ad exchange (a2x – AppNexus powers the auction component of that exchange). Masse conceded, without giving a figure, that the amount of spend running through the exchange is small, though a slide deck posted in 2013 claimed a2x had “10 million monthly unique listeners generating over 10 million daily bid requests.”
While Masse said this size is due to programmatic audio's nascency, he added that around 50 agencies and trading desks, including Xaxis, GroupM and Digitas, use the platform on an on-and-off basis.
“There’s a lot of traction and movement in the exchange,” Masse said. Concerns around viewability (or audibility, as the case may be) and fraud will help spur growth, he added, since those types of schemes aren’t as rampant among audio advertising.
Two key partners that would help the exchange’s growth: Spotify and Pandora. Pandora uses Triton’s measurement tools, though isn’t yet on the exchange. Spotify, Masse acknowledges, might be a little longer in coming.
“[Spotify] is changing ad servers on their side,” Masse said. “They need to do a technology revamp before we can revisit some business agreements, but there’s certainly interest in joining different types of sources. For them, it’s a question of yield optimizing their revenues, and having access to different demand sources is always welcome.”
Going forward, Triton plans to roll out an audio demand-side platform (DSP) as well, currently in beta with a handful of agencies, with no planned release date. Masse said there’s a need for a dedicated audio DSP, despite the possible objections of all-in-one DSPs like Turn or MediaMath, which support video and, by extension, audio.
“Agencies may stick to a single DSP for convenience,” Masse said, “But some agencies, like [WPP trading desk] Xaxis, would be willing to have a DSP focused on audio, which is why we’re doing some tests with them.”
Triton is also working with Havas’ trading desk, Affiperf, as well as Varick Media and Accordant Media to “identify exactly their needs and make their lives easier to traffic audio ads.” This could include adding audio-specific widgets to their current DSPs or designing a new user interface.