How Brand Marketers Can Leverage Programmatic in Podcasting

By Garrison Dua

We all know screens dominate today's culture. You're even looking at one right now.

Watching television, scrolling through social media, and working on a laptop, are all inherent parts of everyday life. But screen time is becoming excessive. The average American spends over 7 hours per day looking at a screen.

On the other hand, audio provides a needed and welcomed escape through music, audiobooks, or podcasts. Podcasts' popularity has steadily grown over the past few years, with Statista reporting that there were 88 million monthly podcast listeners in the U.S. in 2019, and forecast to exceed 164 million by 2023.

Brand marketers, however, have been reluctant to evolve their marketing budgets to reflect the potential of audio advertising. Total podcasting ad spend is expected to hit over $2.5 billion by 2024, according to Statista. However, WARC gives a global estimate that podcast advertising is undervalued by $40 billion.

There are actionable, scalable, and accessible opportunities for marketers to utilize programmatic audio technology - from targeting parameters to how it effectively negates ad-blocker usage. But how can marketers use programmatic podcasting to maximize the channel's full potential?

Narrowing the Field

Efficiency is everything to brand marketers. Improving the ROI for advertising budgets means reducing overall spend, while simultaneously enhancing campaign performance. Podcasts can help marketers do precisely this. But first, you need to narrow the field.

The podcast space is becoming increasingly saturated; consumers have more than 66 million episodes to choose from, each with its own subject matter and unique format. Developing an in-depth understanding of consumers' listening habits is crucial to successful marketing efforts. Relevancy is everything.

Combining audio attribution and programmatic podcasting with the right technology is the most effective route to establishing this understanding. Beyond just compiling metrics (such as conversion rates), the secret sauce is tying everything together by bringing in savings, efficiency, scale, features, and formats together with immediate access to supply sources to enable better match rates and less attrition.

Identifying consumers' favorite platforms, presenters, and topics, as well as the role of demographics in ad campaigns, fuels the sustained success of podcasting. Recognizing which episodes and publishers generate the most leads and revenue also enables you to reduce wasted ad spend. Programmatic's automated purchasing ensures that the right ads connect with the most engaged consumers.

But how does all this lend itself to delivering better listening experiences?

Branded Co-Hosts Versus Faceless Sponsors

Much of podcasts' popularity stems from the intimate experiences they provide. Listeners tune in to hear their favorite hosts talk about topics that interest them. Continuity is critical, and this doesn't just relate to the content.

Listeners understand that ad revenue is vital to keeping their beloved podcasts afloat, but this doesn't mean they welcome random ads with open arms. Campaigns need to be relevant in topic and tone of voice. Brands leave the most powerful impact when they are part of the fabric of the content, not just as lifeless sponsors.

Consumers' demand for bespoke, unique experiences isn't going to fade into the background. Research indicates that two-thirds of consumers expect brands to understand their individual needs, and 52 percent consider personalized outreach essential. There is value in investing in personalized campaigns; McKinsey reports that companies that excel in personalization typically generate 40 percent more revenue from their marketing activities.

Programmatic podcasting offers brand marketers a seamless way to prioritize relevance. Brand marketers can leverage enhanced contextual targeting capabilities to select keywords and themes with which they want campaigns to be associated. This tactic also lends itself to resolving a primary concern surrounding podcasts: brand safety.

The controversy surrounding Joe Rogan's podcast earlier this year, culminating in prominent artists such as Neil Diamond and Joni Mitchell removing their music from Spotify, served as a red flag for brands. Similarly, "Reply All," an internet-centered podcast, ran into trouble following toxic workplace allegations. Programmatic's targeting removes the need to block certain publishers and presenters, thereby safeguarding the brand's reputation without missing out on valuable opportunities.

"One-size-fits-all" strategies are outdated and unfit for purpose. Understanding the need for relevant experience is the first step towards successfully catering to consumers' new expectations, and creating hyper-effective campaigns.

Taking Brands from Booth to Brain

Podcasts have become ingrained in the daily habits of modern consumers. They provide consumers with an escape from their screens, delivering convenient, relevant experiences and long-term relationships with creators and brands.

But brands can do more to unlock the true effectiveness of podcasts. Programmatic podcast advertising allows brands to connect with listeners through tailored, personalized ads. Marketers will be hard-pressed to find a more efficient way to unlock better conversion rates and campaign performance while reducing wasted ad spend.


The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.


Garrison Dua is the VP of demand at Adswizz.

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