Economic insecurity may prompt more podcast producers and advertisers to experiment with programmatic advertising.
Source:- Francis Scialabba


AdsWizz is an ad-tech service enabling digital audio-recorded revenue generated by programmatic fees to rise 20% year-over-year in the first quarter of 2018, per its VP of global business development.

Like your status on Facebook’s relationship status since 2008, the industry of podcasts’ relationship with advertising programs could be described in terms of “it’s complex.”

Programmatic advertising is a tiny amount of the podcast ad budget. According to the IAB, It was just 2% of the total in 2021. In 2024, Insider Intelligence predicted that this percentage would increase to less than 10 per cent.

A company working to spur growth is AdsWizz, a technology system for the digital world owned by SiriusXM. It has an audio-focused supply-side platform dubbed AudioMax and its Demand-side equivalent, AudioMatic. AdsWizz is among the main players in audio-based ad technology, with claims to operate the first podcast-only inventory marketplace.

“The service use has been taking off in the last year.” Anne Frisbie, SVP of business development for the global market at AdsWizz, told Marketing Brew.

Although podcasts have grown increasingly popular, a few audio sellers and buyers need more convincing about programmatic advertising, as the industry has traditionally had success with host-read ads. There are also instances where programmatic technology has led to advertisements appearing in shows they were not intended to, for example, BP and ExxonMobil ads appearing in science pods, which block ads from companies like oil and gas.

Yet, thousands of publishers and hundreds of agencies do programmatic transactions to some extent using AudioMax and AudioMatic today, According to Frisbie, who worked for Yahoo in the beginning of 2000 before spending over 10 years with mobile ad-tech company InMobi. Spotify, as well as iHeart, also have marketplaces that are programmatic for audio.

Frisbie said the current economic environment gives her reason to think that even more buyers will be drawn into programmatic advertising this year. Many podcast platforms have recently begun selling their inventory through programmatic, which suggests that the market might be more interested in the method that has been a tiny portion of the ad revenues for years.

“Things have changed quickly in the past 2 or 3 years,” Frisbie said. “Now most of the top podcasts and the top podcast networks have made their content accessible to buyers who purchase through programmatic channels.”

Is the tide turning?

AudioMax and AudioMatic were in existence from 2015 to 2016, respectively. However, Frisbie stated that it wasn’t until the last one and half years that the podcast inventory, specifically premium podcast inventory, started to gain ground in the market for programmatic.

Before the shift, “there were podcasts with premium quality that had very high fill rates for their ads based solely on marketing efforts directly, as well as at extremely high CPMs, which meant they didn’t need to spend money in the first place, to be truthful,” she said.

Today, the economy — and as well the marketing industry–look differently. Frisbie said buyers are pressured to prove that their advertising dollars are spent effectively, and inventory may need to go out more quickly.

“Even if a person is doing well with consumers in the present, which is difficult based solely on macroeconomics and economics, they may have twice as large in terms of a following,” she said. “Not only the economy but the increasing interest and time spent listening from consumers also means that we need to change.”

There’s an increasing interest in programmatic advertising is evident in the results of SiriusXM’s earnings The overall revenue of ad sales of the company’s Pandora and off-platform segment, which includes the AdsWizz fees–was slightly lower from year-to-year in Q1 However, the revenues from fees linked to AdsWizz’s programmatic platforms by themselves grew by 20% over the previous year in Q1 According to Frisbie.

“There’s more money being spent on our platforms currently in programmatic purchases of streaming inventory than in podcasts”, the spokesperson said. Still, she also said that “the increase is much faster for podcasts.”

Clients of AudioMax are major broadcasters such as New York Public Radio, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Univision, Barstool Sports, and Betches Media, Frisbie said. Barstool and Betches have confirmed they are using AudioMax, and the other companies either refused to speak with them, didn’t respond or weren’t confirmed at the time of publication. NPR and Acast have also confirmed that they are using the platform.

Customers using AudioMatic are Dentsu’s360i, IProspect, GroupM’s Xaxis Performance agency for audio Veritone One, and digital media agency Division-D, as per Frisbie. Xaxis, Veritone One, and Division-D confirmed that they use the platform. Dentsu had not confirmed at the time.

The seller’s scepticism decreases.

A few major networks have been testing sales of their podcasts through programmatic channels in the last few months of this year. Betches Media, which has over a dozen podcasts, started using AdsWizz in April to sell unsold inventory, according to Arisara Srisethnil, its VP of marketing. Crooked Media started selling some inventory in the last year through programmatic selling after a partnership with SiriusXM to sell ads, its sales VP Giancarlo Bizzarro explained.

Rogers Sports and Media, the media part within Rogers Communications, owns TV stations, channels, and podcasting businesses across Canada and sells podcast inventory for businesses like SiriusXM, NBC, and the NHL. It began selling programmatically through AudioMax approximately 12 to 18 months ago, according to Mike Viner, director of audio marketing for digital within Rogers Media.

Viner said it already has a “very solid market for programmatic” in video and displays, and the idea of programmatic audio was an obvious next step. “We would like to be neutral,” Viner said. “We are looking to be able to offer our products in the places where buyers are purchasing.”

Acast noticed a growing interest in programmatic during the latter half of the year and into this year, as per the Global Director of Ad Innovation Elli Dimitroulakos, particularly in the context of private market transactions. Programmatic sales accounted for 13 per cent of the company’s revenues at the close of 2013, up from 10% in the previous year.

Finding alternatives

Michelle Slinkard, chief business development officer at Division-D Director of Division-D, stated that AudioMatic that it’s been since 2018, was the organization’s “biggest DSP that deals with audio” However, the agency also makes use of The Trade Desk, Yahoo DSP, Amazon DSP, and Spotify Ad Studio for programmatic buying of audio.

“We started this because we have a number of regional and local clients, and having programmatic audio enables us to increase our reach more effectively in specific niches,” Slinkard said. “We are also keen pairing the programmatic audio with cross-channel remarketing…and everything is run programmatically smoother.”

AudioMatic will be the “DSP that is preferred” in the case of Veritone One, according to the company’s Managing Director, Conor Doyle. The agency has been using it since; however, programmatic is only the “small proportion” of the podcasts it purchases, Conor Doyle said.

As a performance-based agency, Many of Veritone One’s clients are more attracted by “aligning with the talent” in the ad copy that “doesn’t necessarily lend itself to a style that is programmatic,” Doyle said.

But, he also said programmatic advertising has many benefits, including targeting and the ability to grow the size of a campaign “in ways we wouldn’t be able to accomplish if we were performing show-by-show or creator-led” purchases.

The transition to programmatic isn’t without its difficulties; however, for Frisbie, for her portion, Frisbie is optimistic that interest, especially on the network front, will continue to grow this year. “When the conditions are good, and you’re able to sell all your inventory the same way you’ve done before, there’s no need to make any changes,” she explained. “But in times where things don’t seem as simple as they were…you’re typically open to more changes. The shift was likely to happen anyway, at least that’s my feeling, but I believe it’s happening quicker.”


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