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Podcasting’s March Madness Potential, New Host-Read Programmatic Tool, & More

Podcasting’s March Madness Potential, New Host-Read Programmatic Tool, & More

March 22, 2024

This Week in the Business of Podcasting

It feels like we just unpacked our bags and now it’s time to jet off once more. Here’s hoping to see you all in sunny Los Angeles for Podcast Movement: Evolutions! You’ll find me at the door to the Sounds Profitable partner lounge, possibly writing next week’s edition of this very newsletter. For now, let’s get into this week’s news.

Transparency. Performance. Automation.

Men’s March Madness Sold Out (On TV)

Last Thursday from Marketing Brew’s Alyssa Meyers: The Super Bowl is behind us, which means it’s time for the next huge sporting event of the year: the NCAA’s March Madness tournament. Warner Bros. Discovery EVP of ad sales Jon Diament says both CBS Sports and TNT sports are “basically sold out” of ad inventory for the men’s side of March Madness. A quote from Diament at a virtual press conference last week:

“This will be the best revenue tournament we’ve ever had. We’re setting revenue records here.”

WBD will be covering all 67 games of March Madness across the networks under the dual umbrellas of CBS Sports and TNT, including TBS, CBS, TNT, and TruTV. Every game covered on CBS will also stream live on Paramount+, while the rest will go to streaming on Max.

There is an advertising opportunity for brands still looking to get in on the March Madness action and communicate directly with engaged, dedicated sports fans: podcasting. Sports podcasts continue to grow in popularity and engagement while podcasting overall has proven to be a valuable part of any media marketing mix. There’s plenty of sports podcasts covering March Madness this very moment that have open inventory, it’s time to take advantage of that.

RedCircle Announces OpenRAP

This Wednesday RedCircle announced the launch of their new tool OpenRAP. The tool, built on top of the RedCircle Ad Platform (hence the RAP) is streamline to take the time-consuming part of securing podcast advertising deals and automates host-read programmatic distribution.

OpenRAP is platform-agnostic, meaning any podcaster on any host with VAST (video ad serving template) capabilities can access it. As of this week, podcasters will be able to use VAST tags to automate the ad-serving process. If all features are enabled, OpenRAP will handle every aspect of booking an ad so all the podcaster has to do is record and upload the host’s read of the ad copy and tell OpenRAP where and when to run the campaign.

In addition to being a cool tool, OpenRAP makes programmatic advertising all the more accessible to podcasters who would be running host-read programmatic campaigns if given the ability.

RadioDays Europe on Podcasting, Why People Listen

This Sunday RadioInfo published a recap of talks discussing podcasts at last week’s RadioDays Europe conference. One session addressed the elephant in the room: the end of 2023 and beginning of this year featured several doom and gloom headlines about the health of podcasting. While 2023 wasn’t a banner year, it is worth noting it was a bumpy one for advertising in general. And podcasting weathered that storm.

EBU senior analyst Matthieu Rawolle shared data on the top three reasons surveyed Europeans listen to podcasts. The urge to learn something new connected with 50% of respondents, entertainment also received 50%, and the third most popular reason is to relax. The reasons why respondents don’t listen to podcasts are dominated by people not knowing what podcasts are or how to listen (34%), low interest in topics covered (29%) and prefer listening via radio (31%). On a similar note, last year’s U.S. study The Podcast Landscape found the largest cause of podcast churn was losing interest in the podcasts the listener was subscribed to. While podcasting has made progress in self-promotion, studies like the EBU’s and The Podcast Landscape data shows discoverability and ease of use is still a speedbump to industry growth.

Advertisers Skittish on TikTok Spending After Sell-or-Ban Bill Passes Congress

This Monday from Krystal Scanlon and Seb Joseph at Digiday: With the impending potential government ban of TikTok, advertisers are finding themselves gunshy about continuing ad buys on the app.

The Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, which was recently fast-tracked through Congress and verbally endorsed by the President, is currently sitting in a queue waiting to be discussed by the Senate. The bill, if passed unaltered, would force parent company ByteDance to divest ownership of TikTok to a U.S-owned company. If not, TikTok will be banned from all app stores and web-hosting services in the U.S. While the bill could spend months waiting for a Senate vote, its existence and sudden expedited pass through the House of Representatives has put the social media platform in the hot seat.

One agency exec told Digiday that advertisers are giving mandates to pull all investment in TikTok campaigns within 90 days. Others are taking a slower, more cautious approach by winding down spending on the app. Regardless of which method is used, the end result is the same: marketers now have a significant chunk of their ad spend budget that is no longer committed to TikTok. For those considering where to put that money, we humbly present the wide world of podcast advertising.

Quick Hits

While they may not be top story material, the articles below from this week are definitely worth your time:

  • Owning Podcasting’s Responsibility by Bryan Barletta.
    Podcasting has long dealt with double standards when it comes to ad tech issues that, in actuality, are systemic problems across multiple advertising industries. Yet they’re still discussed as if they’re problems unique to podcasting.

  • Amazon sees opportunity amid the demise of third-party cookies by Seb Joseph
    Once third-party cookies are retired, Amazon will be in a small group of companies that have the ability to target and measure advertising while also producing content farm-to-table (including podcasts with Wondery, Art19, and Amazon Music).

  • Spotify Is Launching New Ad Studio Product

    The new feature, called Podcast Streams, targets podcast promos to appropriate audiences using both standard contextual targeting and behavioral signals.

  • BBC radio to feature adverts in UK for the first time

    If a proposal from the BBC is approved, the company could begin running ads on podcasts and on-demand radio accessed through third-party services like Apple Podcasts or Spotify in the UK. UK residents would still be able to access the BBC audio content ad-free through the BBC Sounds app.

  • Teens use YouTube on a daily basis more than TikTok by Sara Lebow

    YouTube beats out TikTok with teenaged respondents who access the app several times a day, showing YouTube’s momentum with younger users and its power as a way for podcasts to get in touch with younger Gen Z audiences.

  • The Ringer union wins key AI protections in new contract — with one big catch by Ariel Shapiro

    The union’s new contract includes the stipulation that if Spotify wants to use generative AI to simulate a host’s voice, they have to get explicit permission from the host to do so. The one stipulation is Spotify does not need their permission to simulate their voice in another language when translating a podcast into another language (though, if the employee says to, Spotify will add a disclaimer noting the translated audio is AI-generated).