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The business of podcasting

Audio is the Fastest Growing Digital Ad Sector + 6 Other Stories

This Week On The Download:  the IAB cites digital audio as the fastest-growing digital ad sector, Anchor language update embraces global podcasting, and Adweek launched their own podcast network. Let’s get started.

Good news for those in the world of digital advertising: your efforts are working extremely well, according to the International Advertising Board. On Tuesday the IAB published an article titled “Digital Advertising Soared 35% to 189 Billion in 2021, according to the IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report. 


Not the catchiest of headlines, but the article is full of good news. 


“The growth is consistent with a recent study from Harvard Business School, commissioned by IAB, which showed the internet economy has grown seven times faster than the U.S. economy over the past four years and now accounts for 12% of the U.S. GDP.”

Digital advertising in general might be up, but there’s a tiny bit of news for the world of podcasting. Digital video, social media, and search revenue are all trending upward but digital audio has outpaced them all. According to one of the IAB’s highlights, digital audio took home the highest year over year growth at 57.9%, totaling $4.9 billion. 

There’s a lot changing in the world of advertising. Both this and previous episodes cover the small evolutions required to adapt to new tech, legislation, and industry standards. Despite it all, podcasts are still bringing in the money. 


One of the big-picture stories we’ve been following on The Download for months is that of podcasting as a global medium, not just something for English-speaking markets. The biggest news on that front was posted last Thursday on the official blog of Spotify’s podcast hosting platform Anchor. As of Thursday, Anchor web supports thirty five languages.

“One of our biggest goals is to ensure that creators everywhere have access to all the robust tools and features Anchor has to offer. And while creators around the world have been able to record, host, and grow their podcast on our platform, Anchor on web hasn’t always been available to everyone in their native language.”

As podcasting grows its infrastructure needs to grow with it. Localizing websites built for a different language is difficult under the best conditions. A major player in the podcasting industry allowing sites built on their service to be built in the native language of thirty five languages is a big step forward in supporting a world where the idea of a podcast does not automatically default to something produced in English.  

On Tuesday Al Mannarino, writing for the Adweek blog, announced Adweek has leveled up their podcasting capabilities with the help of Acast


“We are excited to announce the launch of the Adweek Podcast Network, the first-ever podcast network for advertising and marketing professionals, brand enthusiasts and anyone curious about what the heck that ad they saw was about.” 


The new network is planned to feature twelve podcasts, featuring five new creations, four existing Adweek shows, and three pre-existing podcasts from Adweek partners. 


“Through our partnership with Acast, the world’s leading independent podcast hosting platform, we’ll make sense of trends, tackle pressing challenges, and share top-tier insight to help you level up your career, creativity and strategy.” 


Adweek joins an ever-growing group of media outlets, organizations, and others who’re capitalizing on the inherent cross-promotional capabilities of a network. More content, more inventory, and a shiny new delivery vehicle for their existing ad sales team. What’s not to love? 

 A changing of the guard is happening at Ad Results Media. On Tuesday Business Wire reported ARM CEO Marshall Williams is stepping down from his position. Chief revenue officer Steven Shanks and chief operations officer Michael Kropko are slated to replace Williams as co-CEOs. 


Williams’ replacements aren’t newcomers to the industry, either. New co-CEO Steven Shanks laid out his bone fides:


““I’m honored to have had the opportunity to learn from Marshall for the last decade. I’ve enjoyed purchasing some of the first podcast ads, negotiating some of the largest buys in the history of podcasting, developing 360-degree integrated ad concepts, building sponsorships from the ground up, and ultimately fueling the industry up to $2 billion in ad revenue. I’m thrilled to work with our team to further innovate and deliver performance for our clients.” 


While ARM looks to the future with two new CEOs and a former as chairman, it’s worth acknowledging William’s contribution over two and a half decades. ARM has played a big part in the growth of podcast advertising and Williams’ involvement was easily a large influence in how Podsights became the success they are.


The Download has covered multiple articles about upcoming privacy changes on larger platforms and how they’ll affect advertising. On Monday Lara O’Reilly, writing for Insider, published an article showing projections on just how much some of the biggest ad buyers stand to lose from Apple’s App Tracking Transparency update

“The fallout from Apple's major privacy update is expected to continue well past the first year of its rollout, with a new analysis estimating the change could dent Meta, YouTube, Snap, and Twitter's revenues by almost $16 billion in total this year.” 


Facebook parent company Meta is projected to take the biggest hit with a revenue impact of 9.7 %, just edging out Snapchat owner Snap’s 9.6% loss. Though, where Snap is losing just under $550 million, Meta stands to lose $12.8 billion.

“The change forced many advertisers to reassess their marketing and shift spend into channels that are less reliant on Apple's tracking identifier, such as offline advertising or Apple's own search ad products.”

This humble podcast news aggregation podcast wishes to point out podcast ads are a pre-existing channel that are in no way reliant on Apple’s tracking identifier. 


On the February 10th episode of The Download we covered an Ashley Carman op-ed in Hot Pod that highlighted Facebook’s apparent lack of interest in a push into podcasting, a move the company had seemed to be quite vocal about. 

Carman is back, and the news isn’t looking good for podcasters who favor their grandparent’s favorite social media platform. In an article for Bloomberg, Carman’s new headline reads “Facebook is Pulling Back from Its Foray Into Podcasting.” 


“A spokesperson for Facebook said the company is still working on podcasts even as it’s accelerating work on priority features like Reels and Feed. The company is seeing good engagement for its audio products, according to the spokesperson, who declined to provide specifics.”

Meta’s focus appears to be firmly directed towards plans to build a shortform video platform to compete with TikTok and building out their virtual reality hangout space Metaverse, where users can have meetings and buy NFTs. Meanwhile, the proposed projects to get Facebook-exclusive podcasting have been left to die on the vine. 

Carman’s reporting reveals multiple contractors who’d been brought on to create content for both Facebook’s podcasting arm and their social audio platform have not had their contracts renewed. Facebook sponsored Podcast Movement last August, yet was absent from Podcast Movement Evolutions last month.

Still, not all hope is lost. Carman’s report ends with anecdotal evidence that might suggest there’s still a use-case for podcasting on Facebook. 


“But even Facebook’s limited podcasting efforts have been a source of growth for some content providers. TYT Network, which produces political programming, said Facebook is its second-most-popular listening platform after Apple Podcasts.”

 Finally, it’s time for our semi-regular roundup of articles that didn’t make it into today’s episode, but are still worth working into your weekend reading. 


The first title: Ariel Shapiro Joins The Verge as Lead Reporter for Hot Pod by Aude White


And finally: What I Learned Teaching a NYU Course About Podcasting by Steven Goldstein.

As always, the links to every article mentioned on an episode of The Download can be found in the episode details. 

The Download is a production of Sounds Profitable. Today's episode was hosted by Shreya Sharma and Manuela Bedoya, and the script was written by Gavin Gaddis.

Bryan Barletta and Evo Terra are the executive producers of The Download from Sounds Profitable.

Special thanks to Ian Powell for his audio prowess, and to our media host, Omny Studio.

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