Economic uncertainty could have more publishers and marketers trying programmatic ads for podcasts

AdsWizz, an ad-tech platform for digital audio, saw revenue from programmatic fees grows 20% year over year in Q1, according to its SVP of global business development.

Like your Facebook relationship status circa 2008, the podcast industry’s relationship with programmatic advertising could be best described as “it’s complicated.”

Programmatic advertising represents a small portion of podcast ad spend. It accounted for 2% of spending in 2021, per the IAB. By 2024, that share is expected to grow to just under 10%, Insider Intelligence predicted.

One of the companies trying to drive that growth is AdsWizz, a tech platform for digital audio owned by SiriusXM that includes an audio-centric supply-side platform called AudioMax and its demand-side counterpart, AudioMatic. AdsWizz is one of the predominant forces in audio ad tech, claiming to operate the first marketplace of podcast-only inventory.

“The usage is really taking off more in the last year,” Anne Frisbie, SVP of global business development at AdsWizz, told Marketing Brew.

Even as podcasts have become more popular over the years, some audio buyers and sellers still aren’t totally sold on programmatic advertising, since the industry has historically found success with host-read ads. There have also been instances of programmatic tech leading to ads appearing in episodes they weren’t supposed to, like BP and ExxonMobil spots showing up in science pods that block ads from oil and gas companies.

Still, thousands of publishers and dozens of agencies transact programmatically to some extent through AudioMax and AudioMatic these days, according to Frisbie, who worked at Yahoo in the early 2000s before spending more than a decade at mobile ad-tech company InMobi. Spotify and iHeart also offer programmatic marketplaces for audio.

Frisbie said current economic conditions give her reason to believe even more will buy into programmatic this year. Several podcast networks have recently started selling their inventory programmatically, suggesting that the industry may be increasingly interested in a method that has long represented only a small slice of its ad revenue.

“Things have changed quite rapidly over the last two or three years,” Frisbie said. “Now, most of your top podcasts and top podcast networks do make their inventory available to programmatic buyers.”


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