Podcast listening is becoming mainstream. Over 67 million Americans listen to a podcast on a monthly basis — 80 percent of whom listen all to most or all of the episode. Europe is seeing similar growth: in the UK, 61 percent of adults listen to podcasts regularly. 

 

What’s behind this growth? Is it really a thing?  The way we consume information is changing. Connected in-car entertainment systems and the growth of voice assistants are driving audio to be more central to our daily experience. Now more than ever, audio is everywhere. Companies like Pandora and iHeart are finding that podcasts are a great addition to reach users on their audio journey and are investing in podcasts as a complement to music listening.  And Google has said the company wants to help double the global podcast audience by reimagining how people find and listen to shows. It seems we are at the beginning of a paradigm shift in listening behavior. 

 

This growth in podcast listening is driving an incredible opportunity in advertising. Edison Research reports that podcast listeners are young, educated and fairly well off, making them a very attractive audience for advertisers. Listeners pay more attention to podcast ads than to regular audio advertising — and don’t skip the ads — because they’re fully immersed and don’t want to miss part of the show.

 

Advertisers have begun to take notice. Podcast advertising jumped 85 percent between 2016 and 2017, and is projected to reach $500 million by 2020. Advertiser interest in the podcast industry is strong for good reason: NPR reports that 75 percent of listeners take action when hearing a sponsored message in a podcast, and Midroll reportsthat 63 percent of podcast listeners purchased a product they heard advertised within an episode. So I think we can call Podcast listening, “a thing” poised to offer great scale and revenue opportunities in near future.

 

If it’s such a big opportunity, then what’s holding it back?  While figures are showing impressive growth, Podcast is still a small percentage of the overall digital audio ad-spend.  The industry can only really take off if ad buying is easy and accessible. In order to fully scale, podcast advertising needs to grow into the way programmatic buyers are looking at digital audio as a whole.   Scale will come via dynamic ad-insertion and programmatic buying— even for native ads — which can be intelligently served without compromising the listener’s experience or content quality, creating a more relevant, targeted advertising experience for the podcast listener.  The Podcast ecosystem also needs to elevate from the traditional “baked in” ad model. Advertisers are seeking to invest in a medium which is accountable, easy to track, and offers the same level of measurement as any other established medium.  Simply counting downloads and assuming impressions of a generic message will not fuel the needed growth.

 

What’s in it for Advertisers? Simply put, advertisers will get more reach & engagement.With the right digital audio strategy, buyers can reach a highly engaged audience with customized, relevant messages which are 1-to-1 targeted.  Similar to musical content delivered via Simulcast or On-Demand, podcasts offer a unique way to leverage the listener’s attention. A buyer can combine any ad-units, audience targeting across any digital audio source using, for example, an audio-centric DSP like our AudioMatic.  Advertisers can now combine any digital audio source into a single campaign, and tailor the message and delivery conditions based on how, what and where the listener is consuming audio. Podcasts suddenly become part of the overall buying ecosystem.

 

But it’s also important to recognize that podcasts come with a challenge.  Podcasts are mainly User Generated Content, making it hard for a brand to ensure it runs in a safe environment. If not solved, brand safety could force buyers to focus ad dollars on renowned publishers or shows, leaving aside a huge advertising opportunity. This is where we believe that solutions like PodWave – the first programmatic Podcast marketplace – and PodScribe, our patent-pending new podcast transcribing solution which transcribes the content to identify keywords, topics, messaging and more — will both ensure that Audio — in all its forms — remains a brand safe medium, by design. It will allow inappropriate content to be labeled and blacklisted and will provide more granular and advanced targeting information.  Deeper information, more refined targeting options, and the opportunity to deliver more relevant ads will be more readily available to the entire industry.

 

Our continued investment demonstrates this tremendous opportunity that lies ahead for the podcast industry.  For the past year, we at AdsWizz focused on not only providing a great listening experience, but also delivering a best-in-class rich media experience. We offer better synchronization with audio and companion banners, and we have made available advanced targeting around Weather, Point of Interest, or Listening Context.  In addition, we have refined our data solutions to provide 100 percent addressability on age and gender. Finally, we also want to ensure Advertisers have visibility on ad exposure, even if the listener is off-line when listening to their podcast — helping them segment ‘plays’ vs ‘downloads,’ and further tailoring their ad experience. The advertising toolbox for the podcast industry is already well equipped.

 

What’s in it for podcasters?   We like to think that we can help make podcast a viable business for many publishers.  Today, only major shows have the scale to attract advertisers or networks in order to monetize each episode.  There is a unique opportunity today for any podcaster to get their piece of the pie. As brands want to reach audiences — and are moving away from reaching content — a tailored podcast ad-tech solution suddenly enables Publishers to be part of the game — at a fraction of the cost.  We’ve seen it with our CMS and CDN partners – Acast, PodcastOne, TuneIn, Edgecast, Akamai, Cloudfront, or Highwinds – where offering a turn key solution allows Podcasters to focus on producing great content while letting the technology take care of monetization.

 

Looking ahead

We’ve always said that Audio is different — that it can be consumed while doing something else, and is available virtually everywhere, and at any time.  Now we’re excited to see Podcast taking its rightful place in the media mix. As the technology matures, more and more advertisers are turning to Digital Audio. Being the only full stack audio ad-tech solution, we at AdsWizz witness how fast Audio is catching up to Video or Display while offering true differentiation in the way to address an audience. We want to continue to innovate around formats, user experience and effectiveness making it the only medium with a true win-win offering both for consumers and for brands. Stay tuned — there is much more to hear.