Saturday, January 8, 2022

Programmatic Podcast Ads

Ashley Carman:

All the industry’s major players have, over the past two years, acquired companies focused on one feature: inserting ads into podcasts.


The industry is sprinting toward this programmatic advertising future. However, there are some obstacles along the way, and podcasters are already running into them. The Verge has identified multiple examples of programmatic advertising going wrong, according to sources who asked to remain anonymous over concerns of fraying industry relationships. Ads are showing up in places they shouldn’t, signaling not so much a death knell for the effort, but more of a warning that if the trend continues, early trust between podcast networks and tech companies could fall apart.


Prior to this programmatic movement, most podcasters and their sales teams peddled host-read ads baked into a show, meaning they were read, included, and never taken out of an episode. That changed with dynamic ad insertion, which still could work as a host-read ad, but instead of living in a show forever, the ads switched out, hence the “dynamic” wording. Then came programmatic, which relies on dynamic ad insertion with an automated twist. The big idea is advertisers can buy a number of impressions targeting a certain audience, and the ad serving technology will automatically carry out the order across shows and networks, finding the best audience for that marketing at the best price.

Via Marco Arment:

Old-fashioned podcast ads (baked-in host reads) have had better CPMs, stronger response rates, and higher audience trust than almost any other form of advertising for over a decade.

And large podcast companies threw that world away for… a worse outcome.

John Gruber (tweet):

Even when the “right” ads are dynamically inserted, the ads are inevitably going to be bad. We know how this story ends because we all use the web and can see with our own eyes the quality (and oppressive quantity) of “ad tech” advertising.


“The ads are part of the product” succinctly sums up my thinking, and saves me from writing an extended rant.


But without a model for advertising in RSS, most websites — particularly big websites from established media companies — stopped publishing RSS feeds. Podcasts avoided that fate because the sponsorship model, typically with hosts reading the ads, took root across the entire field.


3 Comments RSS · Twitter

If you make money with ads, your true audience is the advertisers, not your listeners. Nobody serious about podcasting should be using ads anyway. Value-for-value, where your true audience is your listeners, is the future.


After over a decade of listening to fantastic ad-supported podcast I have to disagree.

Why, exactly, should podcasters not use advertising?

Podcasts were the last part of the Internet where advertising still worked. I guess nobody learned anything from the devastating effects targeted advertising had on the rest of the Internet.

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