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What Simplecast’s Professional Tier Means for Podcast Professionals

Article by Simplecast Simplecast

May 21, 2024

By Bryan Barletta, Founder – Sounds Profitable

Back in the Summer of 2020, SiriusXM acquired Simplecast, committing to their focus of prioritizing podcasting by integrating their robust audio programmatic platform AdsWizz with this newly-acquired, creator-first podcast hosting platform. Integrating two (or more) unique pieces of technology is a difficult feat on its own, but when you add in a global pandemic along with a rapid expansion and resettling of the podcast industry in a two year period, priorities get shifted, occasionally, like in this example, for the better.

Today, Simplecast announced their Professional tier, a deeper integration between Simplecast and AdsWizz, placing the control of more advanced programmatic capabilities into the hands of podcasters and publishers who even two years ago would have found it difficult to directly take action on those capabilities to grow their revenue opportunities.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Anne Frisbie (SVP, Global Enterprise Business) and Grace Kane, (Director, Business Development) of AdsWizz on their new product launch and what it means for their publishers and the industry.

What is the Simplecast Professional tier and why now? 

ANNE FRISBIE, SVP, Global Enterprise Business, AdsWizz: The open podcast ecosystem has given rise to powerful, diverse and authentic voices.  With this product release, we are putting podcast creators in control of their business, within a platform that supports an open podcast ecosystem. The Simplecast Professional Tier is first and foremost a product that ensures creators of all sizes have all the tools they need to manage their podcasting business on their terms. We’ve long seen that small and medium podcast publishers want to publish, measure, and monetize in one place without moving between platforms as our enterprise clients do. And while they likely don’t have their own specialized ad ops teams, they want to monetize their shows on a marketplace and get access to premium buyers in a way that gives them control over their listening experience. So, for the first time, we’re bringing AdsWizz’s industry-leading campaign management and monetization technology to Simplecast’s streamlined publishing system to make it easier than ever for these podcasters to make money on their terms. Now, Simplecast users will have access to AdsWizz’s industry-defining monetization platform–an opportunity once relegated to big media players—and can monetize their content through direct sales campaigns or across the AdsWizz Podcast Marketplace, the world’s largest programmatic exchange for podcasts. All of this is provided to podcast creators in an IAB certified environment, so that we together continue to support an open podcast ecosystem.

GRACE KANE, Director, Business Development, AdsWizz: I’m excited about the flexibility this system provides for creators to execute their content distribution and monetization strategy as they choose.  We know that depending on a podcaster’s content, audience, stage of growth, what works for some does not work for all. This platform was built with that in mind. We have taken a powerful and advanced toolset and made it accessible and intuitive for small and midsize podcast publishers.  This segment of podcasters has long been asking for access to better revenue data and to more intuitive and powerful tools so they can more accurately forecast future inventory for their sponsors, easily monetize their back catalogs or unsold inventory, and control the types and prices of ads that run on their shows – this tier is an answer to those needs. 

What does this new launch mean for Simplecast and AdsWizz? AdsWizz has traditionally been geared for enterprise publishers, how does this change things or fit into AdsWizz’s mission? 

ANNE: The Simplecast platform is officially becoming part of AdsWizz. This means AdsWizz is truly an end-to-end platform for creators of all sizes: From creation to monetization, we offer all the tools podcasters need. All of this work goes back to what AdsWizz has been doing for enterprise publishers for years—helping them run their businesses on their own terms—and by marrying the tech behind the two brands, we can now provide podcasters and publishers of all sizes with more support. It gives us a lot more momentum with publishers across the spectrum because we’re doubling-down on what’s worked for our enterprise customers—our open ecosystem, best-in-class programmatic capabilities, transparent, real-time analytics, the monetization power of the AdsWizz Marketplace, and more—and bringing it to indie podcasters. 

What features are you expecting to make the biggest impact for podcasters?

ANNE: While some features around content and campaign management are always going to be table stakes, we’re taking it to the next level. This product delivers against our promise of putting podcast creators in control.  We believe in the power of an open podcast ecosystem and want to give content creators the tools they need to make monetization and listening experience decisions that are right for them. Our targeting parameters range from behavioral to privacy-friendly contextual to age and gender. On the programmatic side, the new product allows Simplecast podcasters to list their unsold ad inventory programmatically on the AdsWizz Podcast Marketplace, if they want. The AdsWizz Podcast Marketplace offers a 70% revenue share model for podcasters, precise control over ad placements, and brand safety at show and episode levels. We’ve seen that connecting to the AdsWizz Marketplace translates to almost instantaneous revenue boosts. In addition, creators have real-time, easy-to-use marketplace revenue reporting tools so you know each day what you are earning and the impact of any price floor or ad quality block changes that you may decide to make.

GRACE: As Anne mentioned, our revenue reporting tools provide creators with access to near real-time data on their marketplace earnings, with custom reporting tools that include metrics like fill rate, eCPM, impressions, and inventory, by show or even episode, over any time period– down to the hour! We know standardized measurement is a growing point of interest for podcasters and advertisers. It’s worth noting all our numbers are audited and approved by the IAB Tech Lab, so they’re industry-standard right out of the box. Secondly, the direct access into the AdsWizz Marketplace is a game changer for independent creators that previously would have had to join a network to monetize through this channel—that could also mean, historically, giving up a piece of your revenue.  Creators who choose to opt in to the Marketplace have highly customizable controls over the types of ads they receive and setting of floor prices.  Lastly, we work with many podcast publishers who choose to only monetize through their own direct sold ads.  The tools we have rolled out, including inventory forecast, advanced targeting and predictive pacing tools were designed specifically for podcast publishers to prevent over- or under-delivery for their advertisers.

What does this mean for advertisers working with AdsWizz? Working with the publisher directly?

ANNE: By bringing these creators into the AdsWizz Marketplace, we’re giving advertisers more reach, and accessibility to niche, engaged, and passionate audiences.  We are doing this in a way that fits how advertisers want to buy —transparently via a network or programmatic buy, with support for third-party brand safety and measurement capabilities, and in an IAB certified environment. In the Marketplace, our platform aggregates these small- and mid-sized publishers which helps us set up creators for success in a larger marketplace.

What does this mean for all podcast publishers on Simplecast, from entry level, to mid-tier, to the shows managed directly by SiriusXM?

ANNE: Creators of all sizes now have the tools they need from AdsWizz—whether they are just getting started, beginning to monetize their shows directly or via a marketplace offering, or if they choose to outsource the management of their monetization to a podcast network, or some combination.  We believe in the power of an open podcast ecosystem and have a technology platform for podcast publishers that enables them to run their businesses in the way that they want.

What has been the early feedback from podcasters?

GRACE: We’ve been working with a select group of podcasters to finetune the features rolled out on the Professional tier, and I’ve been energized by their positive feedback and referrals to others. The features that have really moved the needle for most are the transparency and customization our reporting suite provides, as well as the direct access to the AdsWizz Marketplace where the revenue they are seeing speaks for itself.  

How can podcasters find out more about the offering?

GRACE: Podcasters can check out all the details here. AdsWizz will also be at London Podcast Show this week talking all things Simplecast Professional, please stop by and say hi if you’re there! Or just reach out directly to us.

Any features on the roadmap for AdsWizz that podcasters should keep an eye out for? 

ANNE: We will continue to lean into our strengths: Programmatic & Monetization. We are releasing enhanced support for third-party podcast measurement, and are continuing to invest in providing even greater transparency for programmatic buying. We also recognize that the creator journey is much broader than this. So in the back half of the year, we also plan to focus on ease of distribution and enhanced analytics for subscriptions, and across channels beyond audio; testing transcription creation & editing services; and more. Come visit us at Podcast Movement in Washington, D.C. to learn more.