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What Podcast Ad Buyers Want (What We Really Really Want)


April 20, 2022


January 13, 2023

This is an excerpt from an article written by RSU's Head of Offline Marketing, Krystina Rubino originally published by Sounds Profitable. Read the full content here to learn how the podcast ad world can (and should) move toward a more transparent pricing and buying structure.

There’s a huge shift happening within the podcast media buying landscape. Historically, our medium has transacted on a fixed cost, based on estimated downloads. But now, more and more publishers are shifting to impression-based ad sales, with shows and cross-network inventory being sold on a CPM basis, based on actual delivery.

As our industry adopts a media transaction method more akin to digital display than the legacies of spot-based radio, it’s becoming clear that we lack the sophisticated ad tech and infrastructure utilized to efficiently transact at scale in digital media. Buyers and advertisers are currently stuck trying to get a handle on our media partners’ capabilities, whether targeting, trafficking, reporting, etc., and the differences in terminology alone, from network to network, are staggering. Networks and publishers are working across multiple platforms and inventory sources and trying to project delivery for an entirely new way to serve podcast ads. When I navigate similar challenges today that we faced in digital media 10 years ago, I feel like I’m Keanu Reeves suffering from deja vu in the Matrix, only I don’t get the cool coat or know kung fu.

Because, this is not the first time a medium has started out with manual buying and, over time, technologically evolved to enable more sophisticated buying formats. In digital, this meant the eventual reality of cross-network and programmatic buying. Not only are we not there, but we’re in the very early stages of this gradual transition.

Right now, there’s really no way to easily validate impression-based buys and make sure advertisers are receiving exactly the inventory contracted. It’s a piecemeal process, done manually by publishers and buyers alike, that combines third-party airchecking, server-side reporting, and a lot of discussion in real-time as we figure out the limits of the current technology stack.

Knowing we are in the middle of this evolution, there are important lessons to be learned, but first, there are a few immediate items that need to be addressed for us to start on the journey towards transacting confidently on an impression basis.

Hop on over to Sounds Profitable to keep reading this article.

Krystina Rubino joined Right Side Up to start its offline marketing practice when she realized too many brands leave offline channels on the table, favoring digital channels past diminishing returns. She has been obsessed with all forms of media for as long as she can remember; she’s an agency and marketing leader with deep experience in building brands and meeting growth goals, for companies of all stages and sizes. She’s spent her career helping companies and brands like Advil, DoorDash, P&G, Lyft, and StitchFix, develop profitable digital and offline media campaigns, often as vanguards in their category and the medium. Her favorite question to ask is “What’s next?” when helping grow a business or scale a customer acquisition campaign.

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