Technology and new data sources are playing a larger role in the placement of podcast advertising, ad pros said Wednesday during the RAIN Podcast Business Summit. “As bigger players move into the space and invest more, we need even more tools to prove out the space,” said Megaphone cofounder Matt Turck.
The good news for the advertisers, and the podcast industry after their investment, is that toolbox is quickly filling up.
“In the last six months, the amount of data that we are able to get is amazing, and lift studies are getting better, and we’re able to quickly pivot and tell clients how things are doing, and they can evaluate their performance much quicker than they used to with just a promo code,” said AdLarge Media VP Ilwira Marciszek.
Paula Mangin, owner of the ad consultancy Boyce::Mangin, has been an early podcast advocate for her clients. But she said the early days of operating on “good faith” are fading. “Clients want to know what they’re doing is working,” she said. “People want to see the numbers.”
The business was built on direct-to-consumer advertising to drive people to a URL using a promo code. And downloads, reach and frequency are still common sales points. But a growing number of marketers are also turning to third-party attribution providers. “Different categories are coming to the table and wanting to play in the sandbox,” said Brigid Judge, Director of Partnerships at the attribution company Podsights. She thinks podcasting is likely to always remain viewed through a direct-to-consumer lens with promo codes pulling a lot of the weight, but there is a shift in the mindset among some key categories. “We see a lot of big financial clients, telecom, home security, where they are looking to rebrand themselves in a different audio environment and that comes with needing to understand the people who are exposed to our ad are going to the website and making an action. In a lot of cases, that’s a return on investment,” she said.
Judge said the new attribution tools have also led some longtime podcast advertisers to re-strategize how they are using the medium to reach audiences in a different way. In some cases that means using geotargeting, while in other cases they are targeting different content verticals. “Podcasting is not a one-size fits all,” said Judge. “There are plenty of different ways to buy, to plan, and every client is going to need something different.”
Marciszek said she has seen more clients tagging and tracking their ads with a variety of third-party providers. “People are using the technology available more and more in the last six months” she said.
Judge also believes more marketers are becoming comfortable with dynamic ad insertion, as technology and production have significantly improved. “It has opened a lot of doors to them in terms of being flexible with creative,” she said.
Why Advertisers Like Podcasts
It is still early in the advertising year and, as America emerges from the pandemic, business could accelerate. For now, Marciszek said AdLarge is seeing a “tremendous amount of spending” from the streaming television services. “That is a huge space where we have seen growth and I think we have a lot more coming that way,” she said.
Horizon Media Director of Audio Maria Micchelli Turin said ever since last spring and summer brands have rediscovered audio advertising as they saw it to be “pandemic proof” in both content creation and audience delivery. “We had brands who were considering dipping their toe in pre-pandemic, who had the confidence to jump in,” she said.
The vast array of podcasts may be challenge, but it is also one of the reasons the tech company Wise has made its first stop in audio. “So much appeals to me,” said Wise’s Cassandra LaPrairie. “The vast universe of diverse quality podcast content, the dialed-in invaluable audience, a listening experience that for the most part has not become saturated with advertisements.” She also sighted the “colossal size of the untapped opportunity” that still exists to reach and engage new audiences. “Just last month we saw a 40% month-over-month growth in new customers attributed to our podcast advertising,” said LaPrairie.
Turin credited the attribution tools for validating audio ads. “We have brands who have prioritized terrestrial [radio] who have started to include podcasting,” she said. Turin said news content has been “popping” in the past six months among her clients.
Mangin said an explosion of celebrities that have gotten involved in podcasting because of COVID has also helped pique interest among some clients.