Programmatic was once a dirty work among content providers, uttered in the same breath as words like remnant. But powered by a combination of new ad tech and marketers’ desire to get their best return, results of a new survey of buyers by Acast points to a “rebirth” of programmatic without much of the negatives.
“Programmatic is really having a moment of rebirth and it's now being defined as what programmatic was meant to be -- and maybe shedding some of the bad rap that it got because the way programmatic was launched 15 years ago,” said Elli Dimitroulakos, Global Head of Ad Innovation at Acast. “Programmatic is vastly different today, and we're much more smart with it.”
The changes are reflected in an Acast survey that continued to gauge the knowledge and feelings of U.S. marketers about programmatic advertising in podcasting. It found they expect the share of podcast advertising bought programmatically to nearly triple by 2027. That is despite that only four in ten (39%) could correctly define programmatic ad buying, even though nearly six in ten have bought ads programmatically before. They may not be sure about what it is, but Acast’s survey suggests marketers like where things are heading.
“We're currently experiencing macroeconomic conditions that are far from uplifting, so there's far greater scrutiny on where advertising dollars are being spent and what the return on those dollars are,” said Dimitroulakos. But she thinks that the focus on privacy and the death of the ad cookie is returning buyers to placing their ads based on content rather than just audience engagement levels and that works in programmatic’s favor.
For many early podcast marketers, podcasting was a way to raise brand awareness. But as buyers no longer have the ability to rely on the cookie to buy other digital channels, Dimitroulakos thinks that programmatic podcast ads may have a new appeal when there’s no measurement and attribution data on every dollar spent.
“There's potential to use programmatic to have a data-driven narrative on where you're spending your dollars,” she explained in an interview. “So when you have the ability to buy a scale, and then measure and attribute every dollar spent, it really removes a lot of the barriers to entry that advertisers or brands might have during this economic downturn.”
Data from eMarketer shows that while programmatic makes up about 4% to 6% of podcast ad sales today, it projects that number to triple to 11% to 15% in the next five years. And the IAB says programmatic ad sales are growing faster for podcasting than connected TV.
Ad tech advances translate into improved reporting, transparency, and measurement attribution for programmatic platforms, Dimitroulakos thinks it will help ad buyers go deeper and reach more shows and audiences.
“Back in the day, programmatic was network buying, it was remnant inventory, and publishers adding a lot of ad slots on their websites – it was very much the Wild West,” Dimitroulakos said. “Today, when we talk about programmatic, it's clean and the inventory is premium. It's really just a way to transact.”
Buyers Expect To Spend More On Podcasts
Acast’s survey finds marketers remain confident in the continued growth of podcasting. According to the study, podcasts rank highest with marketers for accurate targeting, reaching mentally engaged consumers, sustainability, and unduplicated reach. Marketers also see room for growth, with 84% of respondents saying that podcasts currently have low ad loads.
Those attributes should prove critical if a recession leads to ad spending declines. In its survey of 500 U.S. marketers and advertisers conducted Dec. 5-21, Acast found two-thirds (65%) expect to increase their spending on podcasts. And among those who have previously purchased podcast ads, 83% expect to spend more in the medium.
Dimitroulakos says those responses aren’t aspirational, but rather reflect the growth that Acast has seem through the end of last year.
Time will tell how many of those dollars will be spent through programmatic platforms, but Dimitroulakos thinks the investments that companies are making in ad tech are signs of what is likely to play out in the coming months and years.
“The tech is catching up and they know that their listeners are leaving social media and they're spending a lot of time in podcasts. And advertisers know that engagement translates to return on ad spend,” said Dimitroulakos. “So they can't help but realize their audience is listening to podcasts, and they have to be there.”