Programmatic ad selling is growing quickly. But as advertisers look to algorithms for how their spots are placed, there is also the realization that it could be working against efforts to help make podcasting more diverse.
Take for instance a podcast targeting Black listeners that talks about a bomb twist-out hairstyle, but the show lost out on ad buys because the word “bomb” was part of no-buy parameters.
Sherine Patrick, Digital Investment Manager at Mindshare told the Programmatic Virtual Forum on Thursday that some content producers are being marginalized by key word blocking tools that use transcripts to steer buys away from some shows. “Client safety is always top of mind. We don’t want to put our clients in any spaces we feel like will cause harm to the brand or the public,” she said. “But the computer doesn’t understand that there’s context around it is being used –and the technology hasn’t met up with everyone.”
Programmatic systems steering ads away from certain shows are often something media buyers are not even aware of. Instead, Patrick said they are more focused on making sure they are applying the right key word parameters. “It’s not how it really plays out,” she said. Patrick said that as awareness of the problem has become more known, she said ad agencies are “super eager” to fix it or circumvent it. “Everyone seems to be very dedicated,” she said.
Elli Dimitroulakos, who has just taken the role as Acast’s Head of Automation for the North American market, agreed advertisers need to be more mindful of how they are using technology to direct where programmatic ad buys end up. She thinks media buyers should also look more closely at personality traits rather than simply using demographic parameters like Black, Asian, or gay.
Patrick sees content as part of the solution. “Because podcasts have the uncanny ability to target the right user at the right time, we need to make sure we have content from a broadest spectrum of people available,” she said. Patrick also thinks marketers cannot be overly aggressive in their “bucketing” of people. “People aren’t a monolith – you can be Black, gay, a woman, and disabled.” She thinks publishers should get behind shows and hosts with a clearly defined message, and then take those podcasts to buyers and explain all the ways they represent themselves and how they match up with a brand.
Acast, which represents podcasts from indie creators and publisher partners like PBS NewsHour, CBC, A+E Networks, Vice, Dixo, and the BBC, saw its programmatic business grow 215% last year. Dimitroulakos told the Programmatic Virtual Forum that they expect 2021 to bring more rapid growth.
“We have seen growth that has been passing all previous years and there’s no stopping in sight,” said Dimitroulakos. “We look at it like a rocket. It has really taken off.”