Even as many podcasters create their episodes with a mid-roll break built in, not all do. Sounder believes it is costing some shows as much as 30% of their potential ad revenue. So it has beta-launched new technology that will identify natural moments in episodes that make sense for a mid-roll ad to appear, and automatically insert the ad.
Sounder is relying on artificial intelligence to figure out where to place the mid-roll, saying its technology has been trained on millions of podcast episodes and can now interpret where to place the break.
“A good mid-roll placement should exist at a point of rest of topic transition. That said, if your episode is shorter than 20 minutes, no mid-roll ad breaks will be identified,” the company says in a blog post announcing the new feature.
Podcasters will have the option of retaining control over the ad placement. Sounder says it will give the timestamps to creators to manually insert the mid-roll break themselves before an episode is published. But for producers that are too busy, Sounder’s system can automatically insert the mid-roll into an episode for them.
The new feature will be available for any newly-published episode, but Sounder says its team is working on extending the mid-roll ad break identification technology for use in episodes in a show’s back catalog.
“Mid-roll ads are a key revenue generator for podcasters,” Sounder says. “Many advertisers believe that when an ad is placed in the middle of an episode that it reaches more listeners as few choose to skip. In turn, the CPM of mid-roll ads are usually double or triple that of pre-roll or post-roll.”
The IAB says mid-roll advertising continues to be the top source of industry revenue. In 2021, nearly two-thirds of the ad dollars were funneled into mid-roll ads compared to about a third that went to pre-roll ads.
Sounder is also launching a second new feature that it says has been sought after by podcasters for some time. It is now giving producers the option to save their work at any stage of the episode creation process.
“Draft episodes are also a useful way for creators to take an episode offline but not delete it. Now, you can simply revert a published episode back to draft and keep it archived,” the company says.