How Podcasts Help Brands Meet DEI Commitments

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Podcast advertising continues to be a growth area for the advertising industry. The Top 500 Podcasts saw ad revenue increase 20% year-over-year in 2021, with an increase in both the number of businesses buying podcast ads (14%) and the retention rate companies that do (42%), according to MediaRadar. data shared with Marketing Dive.

In some cases, this trend intersects with another rapid development in marketing: the desire to invest in media with diverse ownership.

“As podcast consumption grows exponentially, brands are leveraging this medium to reach their listeners,” Todd Krizelman, CEO and co-founder of MediaRadar, said in a statement. “With so many different types of podcasts available to suit your interests, there seems to be a podcast genre for everyone. As such, advertisers are thinking strategically about how best to spend their advertising dollars, which is translates into a higher engagement rate and a loyal audience base.”

While MediaRadar analyzed podcasts by content, finding growth in the genres of true crime, short stories, and comedy, other research found podcasts to be a particularly effective way to reach diverse audiences. Black listeners stream more audio and average 73% brand recall for podcast ads, while podcast listening has doubled in the past three years among age-range Hispanic listeners 25-39, according to Nielsen.

This growth has led to increased attention and investment in podcast networks that can better connect advertisers to diverse creators to reach these audiences. SiriusXM this month signed an exclusive deal with reVolver Podcasts, a network specializing in Spanish-language podcasts. Earlier this year, Pod Digital Media, a full-service agency for multicultural podcasters, signed a three-year, eight-figure advertising deal with McDonald’s as giant QSR seeks to invest in various media partners.

“McDonald’s came to us and said, ‘Look, we’re not right, we’re not perfect, but this is what we’re looking to do, help us get it right.’ That idea alone is valuable to us, because you’re actually asking for help from experts who actually know the space, have the audience you’re looking to reach, and have access to the direct community in which your restaurants do part of,” said Gary Coichy, founder and CEO of Pod Digital Media.

Serving authenticity in podcasts

For McDonald’s, Pod Digital Media creates custom content, including some for faith-based, Gen Z, esports and Latinx audiences, as well as opportunities to feature brand ambassadors and franchise operators on its more than 400 podcasts. The deal took around 10 months to finalize and demonstrates the value proposition Coichy was looking to deliver when he left the big agency world to found Pod Digital Media in 2018.

At agencies such as WPP’s MediaCom and Omnicom’s Resolution Media, Coichy has focused on understanding the media landscape, ensuring that big brands like Volkswagen and Dell are not only present on reputable channels, but testing and are also spending on new channels and platforms. While working in the laundry department of Wasserman Media Group, he saw podcast commercials as an opportunity for L’Oréal’s multicultural beauty brand, Carol’s Daughter. However, he found offers from podcast networks to reach black women were lacking.

“It makes no sense,” Coichy recalled. “No black or Afro-Latina woman will actually listen to a white man tell her what to do with her hair. That’s just not how it works from an authenticity perspective.”

With that in mind — and with contacts in the agency, brand, and content creator spaces — Coichy launched Pod Digital Media to broker deals between creators and advertisers looking to authentically reach diverse audiences. Currently, the network’s stock mix is ​​roughly 70% African American and 30% Hispanic, but he said they’re working to move to a 50-50 mix. To that end, the company recently acquired the Latina Podcasters and Latino Pods networks, adding a total of 50 Latinx shows to its roster.

This authentic approach stems from the way Pod Digital Media delivers ads, preferring embedded, host-read ads over dynamically inserted ads. As dynamically inserted ads continue to grow — increasing their share of podcast revenue from 48% in 2019 to 67% in 2020, according to IAB research — adoption of the format is raising concerns about content and advertising experience.

“If you want to reach that audience authentically, you need ads read by the host. These are the most successful ads because they come straight from the horse’s mouth, a trusted source for audiences,” said Coichy.

Due to brand demand, Pod Digital Media has limited programmatic inventory in partnership with AdsWizz. But Coichy points out that the move towards dynamically inserted ads and the rush to fill impressions leads to ads being next to content that is not contextually relevant, leading to brand safety issues. While podcast ads were once dominated by direct-to-consumer brands that were more concerned with driving sales than brand safety, this is no longer the case as marketers like P&G, Unilever, Home Depot, Pepsi and Coca-Cola are more aware. of brand safety and compliance have entered the space.

Podcasts as a DEI investment

Advertisers have taken a variety of steps to increase diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the wake of the renewed movement for racial justice that began in the summer of 2020, from early equity-focused fronts to pledges agencies and brands to increase spending. with various media companies. Pod Digital Media has been involved in some of those pitches, but sees the McDonald’s deal – which comes as the chain plans to double its investments with various media partners – as a difference maker, as it lasts for three years.

“Now we can really prioritize your brand because now we know what we’re doing. For the next few years, we know the type of audience we’re looking to get,” he said. “We can fight on your behalf for content and provide you with first-to-market opportunities against that content so you can promote your brand.”

Coichy hopes other brands invest in long-term partnerships, not just for the financial rewards, but because it allows them to have real relationships with content creators, rather than “spots and dots.” podcast ads that target various audiences at specific times. times of the year. Instead, brands looking to be part of the culture need an ongoing, year-round strategy.

“Let’s find ways to partner with these podcasts throughout the year, so when Pride Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, or Black History Month approaches, your message really resonates because you’ve been part of the content for the past few months,” he said. “Now you come across as very genuine. »

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