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Podcasts Reach The Globe, But There’s A Growing Focus On Local.

Broadcasting may have always been a natural fit for podcasting, but one topic that had plenty of attention at last week’s IAB Podcast Upfront may work even more in their favor. As the number of listeners grows, more companies see a large enough potential audience to create locally-focused podcasts. Thanks to geotargeting capabilities, the ad opportunity is one that is resonating with ad buyers.

“We see advertisers, specifically regionally and locally focused, being one of the biggest drivers of the monetization around podcasts and as an accelerator of that growth that we’re all seeing,” said Katz Digital Audio President Scott Porretti. “They want to dip their toes in it, and they feel it delivers results.”

Looking to grab a share of that market, Cumulus Media has been quietly building a portfolio of hundreds of local shows during the past year. “For listeners, there’s more to choose from, and for advertisers there’s the ability to target in on whatever they might be looking for in a bigger way,” Executive VP Suzanne Grimes said during its first Podcast Upfront.

UnivisionTelevisa’s new owners said they see audio playing a role in solidifying their national TV brands as well as radio shows like “El Bueno, La Mala Y El Feo,” which is the most listened-to podcast on the Uforia app. As it rolls out more podcasts, the Hispanic broadcaster will release shows in Spanish, English and Spanglish.

“Uforia provides Hispanic audiences with an entire ecosystem of audio content that authentically and uniquely caters to them, creating an intimate sense of community,” said Univision Radio President Jesus Lara.

It is not just radio companies that see the localized content opportunity. Tegna’s Locked On Podcast Network has long offered local and regional sport shows, and it said last week it plans to add new shows targeting the Atlanta and Minneapolis markets. Several of them will be hosted by current and former radio personalities.

But Porretti told an upfront panel there are also challenges Katz is working to overcome. “We are still butting up against advertisers that don’t know there are capabilities to geotarget audiences in podcasting,” he said. Sales reps also need to explain how to tailor ad creative to work in the medium. And it requires attribution data and case studies to show them how effective podcasting is.

“We do a lot of educating buyers on what capabilities are available to them, but once we do that they are extremely excited about the ability to reach their consumers on this hyper-engaged audio format,” Porretti continued. “Our sell is really about audiences. It’s less about individual show-based selling, and more about verticalizing the content to enable them to reach scale of audience.”

TransUnion provides household-level identity data, targeting and measurement for streaming audio across smart speakers, connected TV, gaming consoles and other connected devices. Senior VP Andre Swanston said they see a growing opportunity to leverage the data for podcasts.

“Our ability to reconcile against people, households, and devices [is] the biggest way that we're powering that across the ecosystem right now,” Swanston said during the company’s upfront presentation. “What we're seeing across podcast advertising, streaming audio and connected TV, is more brands and advertisers want to be able to use a combination of both first-party and third-party data,” he said.

Jeff Brown, Chief Operating Officer of the automotive-focused agency Force Marketing, talked about the need to build the best performing audience possible. “We start with first-party, and then we move up through proven third-party segments,” he explained. “When you can profile match, whether it’s on CTV or streaming audio, the personalized experience is so much better. And in today's world, personalization is a non-negotiable for the customer.”

The availability of content that reaches audiences at a fraction of the cost of connected TV should also continue to work in podcasting’s favor, said Matt Shapo, IAB’s Director of Digital Audio and Video. “It makes sense for advertisers to leverage more and more of their dollars into podcasting,” he said.

It also creates opportunities for podcasters too, especially to attract a more diverse spectrum of voices.

“In podcasting, something we all pride ourselves on is the depth and breath of content and the accessibility for creators to express themselves. But it’s more than that. It’s actually the relationship of the creator to the community -- and that’s what advertisers want,” said IAB Media Center VP Eric John. “They want the authentic voice of someone who lives and breathes issues in a community.”

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