The podcast ads industry is at a tipping point. The audience is there – 57% of US adult digital audio consumers listen to podcasts, spending nearly an hour a day with them – but marketers need capabilities that allow them to invest beyond the level of the show and find a scale relative to their audience in order to really take advantage of this rich medium and format.
Podcasts have unique data considerations
The digital media ecosystem, namely targeting and measurement, was built on widely available signals like cookies and mobile ad IDs. These signals have long allowed marketers to reach their audience and measure the effectiveness of their campaigns. While the availability of these signals decreases as consumers take control of their digital privacy, podcasts have been playing a whole different game from the start.
The unique way podcasts are distributed and consumed – via an RSS feed or downloaded incrementally to any number of podcast players a listener can choose – means that these common signals were never available in the first place. the coherent data signal being the IP address.
An identity graph is needed to match IP data to, for example, a mobile ad identifier (MAID), and only after that can the data be matched to a dataset audience, while needing to discard any data that might not match, minimizing the overall size of the dataset. Ultimately, this process inserts several degrees of separation between consumer and advertiser, which can be completely unnecessary with an environment as rich as podcasts.
Enter Contextual Targeting
Faced with the realities of signal loss in digital environments, marketers, publishers, and ad technologists are once again turning to contextual targeting. In fact, 42% of advertisers say they will focus more or spend more on contextual solutions given the move away from third-party cookies. Once you know where your audience is and what they’re consuming, connecting becomes easy and you don’t need a string of device IDs to reach them.
This is a welcome development for podcasts given the growth advertisers are looking to achieve and the freshly renewed relevance of contextual targeting. Given the data realities of podcasts versus the great depth of content and topics they cover, contextual targeting solutions are extremely valuable in connecting advertisers to the content and audiences they want to reach. After all, context (whether in the content or the host themselves) is the value of a show buy. Now all it takes is a path to the ladder.
New advertising technology translates content into contextual scale
New (and old) technologies (transcription services, automation, and artificial intelligence) come together to provide a framework for data-driven solutions to work effectively in podcasting. Podcast content is rich, diverse and nuanced; it’s just about putting that content on paper to make it actionable.
Translating voice to text is a first step. From there, AI can be used to extract the contextual essence of a podcast episode. Translated, this means that the difference can be made between the word “shooting” used in the context of basketball and the coverage of a crime, which is essential in advertising. For example, between a diaper brand that wants to ensure that its ads are only shown in family-friendly environments, or for a sports drink brand that seeks to reach all sports content in the market.
42% of advertisers say they will focus more or spend more on contextual solutions given the move away from third-party cookies.
While technology provides a way to understand context at scale, advertisers can’t let the machines do everything and need to come up with a strategy that’s right for the medium, especially when it comes to brand fit.
Take True Crime for example, an incredibly popular podcast with no shortage of coverage of death or acts of violence. However, if a brand has anti-targeting in place to avoid anything violent in nature, it would be missing out on this wealthy (and likely relevant) audience. Brands will need to take an individualized approach as they reflect on the different levers available to them to achieve, or avoid, certain types of content.
Contextual solutions will only mature
The ways marketers can find relevant moments and audiences in podcasts are only getting smarter and more advanced. We’re seeing increased adoption of solutions that can connect consumer behaviors and media consumption to podcast content itself, enabling marketers to reach audiences at scale through contextual solutions.
At SXM Media, we’ve always been focused on connecting marketers with their audience in a way that not only meets their needs, but also provides the most intelligent solution for the data available. In podcasts, we believe that doubling down on the rich, intimate environments they provide and investing in the ad technology that takes this from concept to activation is what will give advertisers the ability to leverage this medium in ways they don’t. have never done before.