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Audio’s 2024 Momentum, Challenging TV Upfronts, Networks Test AI, & More.

Audio’s 2024 Momentum, Challenging TV Upfronts, Networks Test AI, & More.

January 23, 2024

How podcast networks are testing AI tools for faster translation, ad sales by Sara Guaglione

Representatives from networks like Acast, iHeartMedia, and Spotify shared what they’re currently testing in the world of AI, ranging from client outreach to language translation. iHeart plans to use generative AI in translating podcasts for international markets and further globalize the medium, similar to Spotify’s public demo last year with translations of Armchair Expert episodes. Acast is using Collections+ to pull podcast and listener data from different sources to group podcasts in contextual categories, allowing smaller shows to be packaged together to meet advertisers’ briefs. iHeart is also testing tools like Jasper and Microsoft Copilot as aids for research and writing assistants. The common denominator is behind-the-scenes, with none of the executives interviewed expressing interest in generative AI tools to replace human hosts. [Source]

 I analyzed 28.5 million Apple Podcasts star ratings by Dan Misener

After three years, Dan Misener has produced a sequel to his 2020 writeup that analyzed 20 million Apple Podcast star ratings. This refresh covers 1.7 million shows on Apple Podcasts. Findings include the fact that the top five shows with Apple star ratings have a lot of ratings. Dr. Death lands fifth place with around 87,000, all the way up to Crime Junkie with 344k. The exponential number difference continues in the other direction, too. Of the 1.7 million shows analyzed, only 492k had one or more star ratings applied. When averaged for star ratings per show, the top five categories are News Commentary, Golf, After Shows, Wilderness, and then True Crime firmly at the top (though the exponential difference to second place is likely influenced by Crime Junkie and My Favorite Murder being the two most-rated podcasts). [Source]

Paramount Won’t Return to TV’s Upfront Week in New York by Brian Steinberg

Back in the heyday of Upfront Week, the period when TV networks wine and dine the advertising industry to sell the majority of the year’s commercial inventory, Paramount Global’s CBS was a centerpiece of the event. Events at Carnegie Hall grew to feature everything from live music by The Who to a farewell appearance from David Letterman. This year, however, Paramount is electing to keep their upfront activities confined to private meetings in New York, Chicago, and L.A., arguing the personal touch leads to better response from clients. A targeted approach instead of a shotgun blast (sorry for that, GARM safety rating folks). With an old guard presence like Paramount not taking part of the usual Upfront pageantry, the old-school Upfront might not be long for our increasingly connected and personalized advertising ecosystem. [Source]

Are awards worth it for Canadian podcasts? By Kattie Laur

Kattie Laur looks to answer the question in the headline by taking a close look at reports of issues with the 2023 Signal Awards. Last year’s round had almost 2,000 entries across 107 categories, and 600 total winners, averaging 5.6 per category. Applying for Signal consideration costs $225 USD with early bird pricing, reaching $795 per category near the end of submissions. A lack of communication followed Laur through her reporting, with nominees and judges alike expressing confusion as to how the awards work. Some categories had multiple gold winners, some had none. One podcast that was in a category by itself somehow still only went home a bronze. While the article focuses specifically on Signal, there are similarities to previous issues cited with larger awards ceremonies. Clear communication and a public rubric for how nominees are awarded various levels of recognition are valuable tools in maintaining an award’s prestige. [Source]

LUMA: 2024 Will Be Better For M&A (No, Seriously This Time) by Allison Schiff

2023 was not a hot year for mergers and acquisitions in the world of ad tech. Save for a few big headlines like the Omnicom acquisition of Flywheel, overall deal activity in the market was down 10% year-over-year. According to LUMA’s full-year market report, 2023 was the worst in over a decade for deal volume. That said, LUMA has cautious optimism for this year’s performance, with hope that the US economy will gently turn around and Google starting the process of phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome. Podcasting didn’t have a perfect 2023, but as Bryan Barletta’s industry recap of the year shows, the industry still made its fair share of deals. [Source]

Sound will no longer be an afterthought

And finally: As part of WPP’s end-of-year project collecting predictions from industry experts, amp’s Michele Arnese gave a two-minute breakdown of why audio is primed for growth this year. According to Spotify’s Culture Next Report 2023 , Gen Z listened to 500 billion songs in the first half of the year, along with 3 billion podcast episodes, a 76% year-over-year increase. Arnese predicts the next step forward is merging human craft with automation tools to better enable brands to create at scale, fulfilling the increasing demand for audio content.  [Source]