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Brands in Audio – A New Platform for Branded Podcasts

Brands in Audio – A New Platform for Branded Podcasts

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Written By

Bryan Barletta

Know the Author

October 31, 2023

This week on the Product Deepdive, Podscribe Head of Growth Amelia Coomber is back with another Quick Hit. In this seven-minute demo she shows off the new Ad Placement tab and how it empowers agencies, advertisers, and publishers with visualizations of how, when, and where ads are placed in a given podcast. Available now!

At the IAB Podcast Upfronts earlier this year, when the podcast advertising industry estimates for 2022 fell $120 million short of the coveted $2 billion predicted, I had one big question: why aren’t we counting branded podcasts?

While the advertising side of the industry had a rough Q1, the branded podcast production companies I spoke with were faring much better, renewing additional seasons and working with even more brands. And it wasn’t just branded podcast companies finding success, many production companies known for their own podcasts started expanding into the space or were simply getting more vocal about those opportunities. A fantastic example is the official announcement of Ruby, a branded podcast studio from iHeartMedia, at the very same event.

The open nature of podcasting can make it difficult to distinguish content by categories, and especially difficult to identify a show as a branded podcast. There’s a substantial number of truly fantastic, award-winning podcasts out there that prefer a more subtle connection to their show over overtly branding it. As a result, identifying branded podcasts, the companies who make them, and their contribution to overall revenue has been a massive blind spot.

Which is why today, in partnership with Lower Street, we’re incredibly excited to announce the official public launch of Brands In Audio, a collaborative solution built to tackle identification, promotion, and research of a category of podcasting that could have tipped the scales towards matching the 2022 IAB projections.

What is Brands In Audio

Harry Morton, founder of branded podcast company Lower Street, reached out to Tom and I earlier this year about solving a key problem he felt his side of the industry lacked: benchmarks. Benchmarks on defining success, costs of production and marketing, the most competitive categories to be associated with, and a handful of other key metrics to empower the whole branded podcast space while creating an even more compelling argument on why brands should be getting more invested in podcasting.

To accomplish this, we built something that provides a home for branded podcasts, where production companies and brands find value in submitting their shows for visibility, and where conversations about the branded podcast space by experts in their field could be held and promoted. That home is Brands In Audio, built to showcase the podcasts, brands, and production companies and give them a platform to collectively speak on branded podcasts.

Over the summer, Harry and I had the opportunity to connect with Brian Keller, who previously led Patreon’s Creator Success team working directly with podcast creators, and may truly be the number one fan of branded podcasts. Over the past few months, Brian has reviewed nearly 100 branded podcasts, so bringing Brian onboard as the primary content producer for Brands In Audio, and to be an example of thought leadership for other companies to emulate, was a no brainer.

We’re excited to launch with over 500 podcasts listed in Brands In Audio, from a combination of self submitted entries and Brian’s personal database, along with all the reviews Brian has written to date, as the first step in what we believe will give the branded podcast space its own voice and platform.

How To Participate

You can submit your podcast directly to us through this multi-step form. We’ve built out the tools to allow either party to set their association as public or private (as not all podcasts want those connections defined) but allow us to maintain a record of those relationships for when we move into research applications for the platform.

We also want to encourage all those who submit their podcast to take things one step further and collaborate with us to build and share true thought leadership content from Brands In Audio, further amplifying the opportunity for a branded podcast community.

In a few months, after reviewing all the submissions and reaching out to additional production companies and brands for their direct participation, we’ll move into the research phase of Brands In Audio, first collaborating with the large collection of participants to make sure we understand all the questions they want answered, then fielding a questionnaire to the entire database, with the goal of generating more insights and data to propel branded podcasts even further into the spotlight.

Most importantly, there’s no cost associated with any of this nor do we intend to explore placing ads on the site. Sounds Profitable will be handling the research side, with Lower Street overseeing the website build and management along with establishing the original idea, and Brian Keller reviewing submissions and creating captivating content.

Wrapping It Up

We’ve been talking an awful lot about branded podcasts lately, and for good reason. To quote Tom Webster:

“So, how big is the opportunity here? What is the available audience for podcasts about brands? According to The Power of Brands in Podcasts, it’s pretty sizable: a potential reach of 106 million Americans 18+ – the populations of Canada and the UK combined!”

And it’s not just the listener aspect that motivates this view. Agencies and brands invested in audio are continuing to ask “what’s next”. We’ve explored quite a bit within existing podcasts from the length of an ad, to who is reading it, and how it’s being delivered and measured. Now we’re exploring mini segments, limited run series, and full-blown podcast production for many of those same brands. And from another angle, there are many brands with branded podcasts who could be advertising that content in other channels to fully realize their potential.

Brands In Audio provides an opportunity to define what a branded podcast is and can be. It creates a central location for a subset of the industry to rally around. Heck, it could even be the starting point for a trade association more befitting of that fine line between production and advertising that other organizations fall short on.

Harry, Brian, Tom, and I all truly hope you find value in this project and choose to participate. We’re excited to make 2024 an even stronger year for branded podcasts.

New Partners

Sounds Profitable exists thanks to the continued support of our amazing partners. Monthly consulting, free tickets to our quarterly events, partner-only webinars, and access to our 1,800+ person Slack channel are all benefits of partnering Sounds Profitable.

  • Right Side Up is a proven powerhouse in offline marketing—working in-house with brands to scale targeted podcast and audio campaigns as well as OTT and linear TV programs that rival the ROI of digital channels.
  • Creator Square features YouTube creators that cover sports, music, entertainment, auto, hip-hop and pop culture -- offering "live reads" exclusively, for that personal connection.

Want to learn more about partnership? Hit reply or send us an email!

About the author

Bryan Barletta (He/Him) is the founder of Sounds Profitable, and a widely-cited expert in adtech, sales, and monetization of podcasting. He founded Sounds Profitable in 2020 after a successful career working with some of the leading companies in advertising technology, including AdTheorent, Claritas, and Megaphone. Barletta helped to design some of the tools in use by podcast platforms today for attribution, measurement, and serving audio ads, and uses that expertise to help clients and sponsors get the most from their sales and advertising efforts. He founded Sounds Profitable initially as a platform to help educate persons working in the podcast industry about advertising and sales technology, but has since expanded the brand to become the industry’s premiere source for education, advocacy, and insights designed to grow the entire space. He is an avid gamer and father of two boys, neither of whom have their own podcast, yet.

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