Ad technology has never been more critical to podcasters as buyers look to use data and advanced capabilities when placing their buys in the medium. Programmatic sales may be the future, but speaking at the Fall IAB Podcast Upfront on Friday, industry executives said it is dynamic ad insertion that is today having the biggest impact.
“We’re seeing a move from baked-in to dynamic ad insertion in terms of the volume of ads that are running and our publishers are selling,” said Anne Frisbie, Senior VP/Global Supply & Partnerships at AdsWizz. “The benefits for the advertisers and ultimately the publishers are pretty enormous – advanced targeting, third-party tracking capabilities, ability to refresh creative, ability for publishers to monetize their back catalog after a sponsorship has run.”
Cox Communications is one advertiser that has been able to come into podcasting due to dynamic ad insertion. “It means that we can finally play in the space,” said Cox’s Audio Planning & Strategy Lead Chris Snyder. Unlike national brands, he said Cox is only targeting 27 markets so they rely on geotargeting for their digital media. “For most channels that was pretty achievable with scale, and has been for years, but we’ve had a slow ramp with podcasts because dynamic ad insertion technology wasn’t really available in most popular podcasts in our footprint – but thankfully that’s changing.”
The Interactive Advertising Bureau says two-thirds of podcast ad revenue in 2020 came from dynamically inserted ads, with the remaining third from baked-in ads. That was a shift from a year earlier when the two formats were evenly split.
“Those increases are greater than what we are seeing at Veritone One, but a lot of that is new agencies and groups coming into podcasting,” said Sean King, Executive VP and Head of Monetization at Veritone. “Dynamic ad insertion is much more digitally-focused and it’s a lot easier for them as it creates a lower barrier of entry into the podcast community.” Yet while it may be an opening, he said they continue to see greater response rates and engagement from embedded host-read ads which still play a part in nearly all of Veritone client’s media plans. “But dynamic ad insertion has enabled us to lean in for targeting a genre, a geolocation, a psychographic – it’s adding a new layer of targeting and strategy in our day-to-day podcast executions,” King said.
Frisbie said AdsWizz is working on bringing more automation to host-read ads in order not to give up the power of that format. But she said dynamic ad insertion allows them to offer advertisers to have more control and transparency in their campaigns.
Synder said for Cox it has also meant “messaging agility” that allows the company to bring to podcasting its seasonal ad campaigns that vary by demographic target, region of the country, and other competitive factors. “We want the right message in front of the right person at the right time,” he said. “If there are messages out there that are different, it can create a little dissidence and make it seem like we’re trying to talk about too much.”
Regardless of how the ad gets placed, attribution remains part of the conversation according to executives. King said how advertisers are measuring whether the ads work can vary widely depending on their expectations, the goal of the campaign, and what they choose to measure. Veritone is recommending some level of customization in the approach for each client, which he said is based on the media mix.
“It’s important that we know all these things because audio is typically part of their overall strategy, and it’s not always the largest part, so we have to triangulate the different signals to make sure we’re giving it the appropriate measurement,” said King. He also expects some clients are going to start developing their own solutions, based on their own first-party data.
As podcasting closes in on $1 billion in ad revenue, Frisbie credits the success with how well it works for advertisers for driving the push to ad tech development. “Whenever you have advertising that works well, it’s in the interest of the advertisers and the publishers to track that effectively and easily so they can spend against it,” she said. Frisbie said “a ton” of campaigns now rely on third-party attribution tracking. “There’s more and more reliance on transparency and trackability to show the value to the advertiser,” she said.