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Podcasters Sell Madison Avenue On Podcast Opportunity.

Podcast consumption may be growing – 42% of Americans listen monthly–according to Edison Research – but Dave Hanley, Chief Revenue Officer at Libsyn’s AdvertiseCast thinks it is still a “pretty nascent” media in terms of advertising when the number of advertisers is compared to how big listening has become.

“It's still quite disproportionate,” Hanley said. “Advertisers are obviously starting to follow the audience. And we're seeing some great momentum in the industry – but because this is relatively new for a lot of a lot of advertisers, there is still some education to be done in terms of educating the marketplace on the capabilities and some of the benefits.”

To help bring more brands onboard, podcasters made the case for how the industry has continued to evolve during the past several years during an Advertising Week appearance in New York.

As the number of podcasts has climbed past three million, the sheer number may be keeping some marketers on the sidelines because they don’t know where jump in. But an AdvertiseCast analysis found that the pool of “monetizable podcasts” with at least 15,000 listeners per episode is much smaller.

“When you kind of pare it down, the number is actually not that overwhelming – we got to the 15,000 to 20,000 range in terms of the number of shows which actually aligns fairly closely with the number of radio stations in the U.S.,” Hanely said. “With programmatic, you can open up that mid and long tail.”

The Trade Desk Senior Director Tomas Rodriguez said that while host-reads are great for one percent of ad buyers, programmatic is helping open podcasting to more advertisers. It has also allowed more shows to be monetized, especially those that are too small to get attention directly from media buyers. Dynamic insertion has also helped, he said, since it has allowed regional brands to use geotargeting to get the same sort of host-reads that national brands previously had a lock on.

Leveraging Podcast Community Building

How well podcasting works is demonstrated by how long some brands stick with producers. Grim & Mild founder Aaron Mahnke says when he launched the Lore podcast in 2015, he cold-called brands and signed advertisers like Casper,, and Squarespace. Many are still with the show eight years later. Mahnke says advertisers fall into two groups. One that just wants to achieve ROI as quickly as possible and another that “also wants that constant name recognition. And I think that's one reason why companies like Squarespace or Stamps have stuck with me.”

Brad Mielke, host and managing editor of the ABC News morning news podcast Start Here, said one of the things that makes podcasting so special as an industry, is its ability to make listeners feel like they are part of a community. “When you're an advertiser, you need to think about where your values align with the vibe that you are entering, and then also creating content as an advertiser that speaks to that,” he told the conference.

Mahnke said that community vibe is demonstrated in the number of downloads that his back catalog receives, with his older shows averaging millions of downloads each month.

“Lore is just a part of their life. And that becomes part of that relationship with the advertiser. There's the opportunity to partner on a bigger level,” he said.

Yet Mielke acknowledges that brand safety remains a challenge, with some brands potentially shying away from news content, since it can veer towards tragedy or controversy. “Some brands are saying they are little nervous that the podcast content isn't regulated by the FCC, like radio, or they can't trust some of this stuff or because there are curse words,” he said. But Mielke argued that news listening is more of a daily habit than other podcasts, so it helps build up a trust between the show and its listeners. “That’s very valuable real estate,” he said.

As third-party vendors categorize podcasts based on brand safety scores, Mielke thinks that is beginning to have an impact. “Slowly but surely, we're building automated ways for brands to filter podcasts at scale,” he said. “I think we're winning some net new advertisers because those solutions are in market.”

Mahnke said programmatic advertising presents a hurdle for some creators, however. “You turn that on, and you don't always know what you're going to put into a show,” he said. “With an audience's trust you built over years, that's a real danger.”

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