Tapping Into the Podcast Opportunity with Scalable, Brand Safe Solutions

Q&A with Comscore and AdsWizz Co-Founder & CTO, Bruno Nieuwenhuys

With more than 67 million Americans listening to podcasts on a weekly basis*, podcasts represent one of the fastest growing channels within advertising, and rightly so. Podcasts listeners are educated, wealthy and engaged with timely, world events and topics.


As brand advertisers turn to this rapidly expanding media channel, they seek accessible and scalable solutions, and more importantly, they seek solutions that allow them to uphold their standards for brand safety and alignment.


Historically, within podcast environments, brand safety solutions have been semantic based. Now advertisers can assess brand safety at a granular content-level. Content-level analysis utilizes intelligent categorization technology that identifies unique patterns within content, rather than relying only on keywords from the text, to understand concepts.


The Comscore and AdsWizz partnership makes this possible within PodScribe – the AdsWizz solution that provides brand safety targeting features for advertisers and enhanced monetization capabilities for podcast publishers. PodScribe is a scalable solution using advanced speech-to-text transcription technology to gain insight into podcast content. It gives advertisers the ability to efficiently target by keywords, concepts, topics, and interests within the podcast. To ensure brand safety, Comscore’s sophisticated page-level analysis, combined with PodScribe’s transcription capabilities, enables custom keyword targeting and avoidance and provides granular understanding of podcast content. PodScribe leverages Comscore’s Activation solution suite, which includes a robust set of audience and contextual segments that help advertisers reach specific audiences in brand-safe, relevant content across desktop and mobile platforms.


Bruno Nieuwenhuys, Co-founder and CTO, AdsWizz and Rachel Gantz, General Manager, Activation Solutions, Comscore, recently discussed the PodScribe solution partnership and the benefits of enhanced targeting and brand safety for advertisers, while scaling monetization for publishers in the podcasting landscape.


Rachel Gantz, COMSCORE:

Podcasts represent one of the fastest growing channels within advertising, tell us about how AdsWizz is making podcast ad buying more accessible to advertisers and how contextual targeting solutions are playing a role with that?


Bruno Nieuwenhuys, ADSWIZZ:

Historically, it’s been challenging for advertisers to do intelligent, contextual targeting and buy podcasts in a scalable way to go beyond simple show-by-show sponsorship. It’s a rapidly expanding and highly fragmented market, and the content within podcasts is often relatively unknown, which can make brand safety and alignment an uncertainty.

We launched new features within our audio-centric supply and demand platforms, that – when combined with PodScribe – make podcast planning and transactions easier and more accessible for both sides. These new capabilities include automating host-read campaigns and offering brand safe audience buying, along with contextual and behavioral targeting and enhanced media planning and measurement. Additionally, inventory discovery to more quickly identify which podcasts to buy based on objectives, category, show level, audiences, and streaming vs. download is also available.


Rachel Gantz, COMSCORE:
With the launch of the PodScribe Solution as a scalable way for advertisers to reach sought-after podcast listeners, tell us about the traction you have seen with clients and what plans you have to expand this solution based on market demand?


Bruno Nieuwenhuys, ADSWIZZ:

So, we have two types of customers, on the sell side, we work with some of the largest podcast publishers, including NPR, PodcastOne, and audioboom, to provide the technology solution for them to efficiently deliver solutions for advertisers and sponsors of their podcasts.  We have had tremendous response from our publisher partners, with most of them already leveraging the PodScribe solution on all of their inventory, so that it can be made available for contextual targeting.

On the buy side, we work with large agencies and trading desks, and are currently seeing very strong interest, as this addresses a real issue in the market today.  The current way they buy — on a show-by-show basis — is inefficient and does not scale.  Bringing brand safe and intelligent contextual targeting to podcast buying, truly enables the advertisers to target their content more efficiently. It also, moves them from buying a single show at a time, to enabling advertisers to buy programmatically and contextually based on the actual content within a podcast. This has been a win-win and since we’re working on both sides of the equation, we’re in a unique position to drive the adoption of the PodScribe solution in the market, and expand its capabilities based on what we hear directly from our partners.


Rachel Gantz, COMSCORE:
PodScribe leverages Comscore’s Contextual Activation solution, taking our intelligent contextualization technology and bringing it to podcasts. Can you talk to us a little about why having scaled contextualization that goes beyond semantic solutions and allows for a granular application of brand safety and contextual categories based on the actual content in the podcast is important? In what specific ways does the partnership with Comscore solve the current market need and why did your team decide to partner with Comscore?


Bruno Nieuwenhuys, ADSWIZZ:
AdsWizz decided to partner with Comscore to bring greater brand safety capabilities to podcast advertisers, as Comscore is one of the most trusted brands in the business when it comes to brand safety and measurement.  We wanted to leverage Comscore’s intelligent categorization technology that goes beyond keywords because it identifies unique patterns within content rather than relying only on keywords from the text to understand concepts. This makes it much easier for advertisers to target at a more granular level, and be efficient when buying podcasts, which in turn enables scale.  It also makes the advertising itself more relevant and less disruptive to the listener’s experience.


Rachel Gantz, COMSCORE:
Traditionally brands have chosen which podcasts to advertise on based on the overall theme of a podcast, i.e. Sports, News, Food.  However, that hasn’t guarantee brand safety or relevance given each episode can have different topics.  It also hindered scale. How are marketers thinking about brand safety when it comes to podcasts in our current environment and how are they thinking about real-time contextual targeting to find relevant content to precisely deliver their brand message?


Bruno Nieuwenhuys, ADSWIZZ:

Marketers are clearly seeing the tremendous growth in podcasts globally, and want to scale their investments, but are increasingly concerned their messages could become associated with programs and content that is not aligned with their brands. Imprecise contextual targeting can lead to unsuitable and irrelevant context.

In fact, according to a TAG/BSI survey, up to 93 percent of consumers will actually reduce their spending on brands appearing against unsuitable content. We know suitability varies dramatically by brand, sector, language and culture and it’s why we’ve focused on working with Comscore to develop solutions that specifically help agencies and advertisers automate and scale their podcast buying, while ensuring brand safety and alignment with the podcast content that make sense for their image, customer base, markets and business objectives.


Rachel Gantz, COMSCORE:

How is podcast advertising moving into programmatic to offer buyers a better way to target their campaign to the podcast listener audience? What do you see as the future for programmatic podcast advertising?


Bruno Nieuwenhuys, ADSWIZZ:

In order to truly scale, podcast advertising is evolving the same way programmatic buyers now look at digital audio as a whole. Solutions like PodScribe and our relationships with major podcast publishers all over the world are enabling the industry to grow in a way that is also safe for advertisers. That ability to scale is coming via dynamic ad-insertion (DAI) and automated buying, even for host read ads, which will be intelligently targeted and served without compromising brand safety, the listener’s experience, and content quality.

Today, many buyers have yet to associate ‘programmatic’ or ‘automated’ with ‘podcast buying’.  However, as we automate the creation and delivery of host-read campaigns and bring automated buying to podcast, this will change.  We absolutely see automated buying on podcast growing significantly in the near future.


Comscore and AdsWizz are excited to deliver this critical market need in the podcasting space. PodScribe is available today with select publishers and advertisers around the world. Agencies and buyers can use PodScribe in tandem with the AdsWizz AudioMatic ad-targeting platform and via the AdsWizz podcast marketplace, as well as with the AdsWizz AudioServe campaign traffic management system.

*Source: The Infinite Dial 2020 Report

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