How one podcast marketplace is connecting women and non-binary hosts with sponsors

Ossa Collective has raised more than $70k from its community to fund an app that will include ad-buying tools and features.
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Ossa Collective

· 4 min read

Brands looking to break into podcast advertising don’t necessarily have to shell out $1 million for an ad read from Joe Rogan.

Ossa Collective, a podcast marketplace that connects brands with women and non-binary podcasters, is crowdfunding money to continue building tools that help hosts monetize their shows.

Ossa co-founder and CEO Marla Isackson told Marketing Brew that one of these tools will help automate ad buying, as podcast companies big and small increasingly look to incorporate tech into an industry that’s historically relied on direct sales of host-read ads.

Podcasters in the Ossa community are mostly nano- and micro-influencers, Isackson said, like Emily Coffman, athlete and host of the podcast Live Your Personal Best. But between 1,400 of them, they reach 12.7 million monthly listeners, Ossa said in a statement.

Brands using Ossa have included haircare brand Cantu, clothing brand Faherty, and skincare brand Foreo.

VC you later

Instead of turning to investors to fund its efforts, Ossa started a crowdfunding campaign last month, aiming to raise $1 million from any interested contributors, with a minimum investment of $200. Within three weeks of its rollout, Ossa had racked up more than $70,000.

“We really felt if we could have our stakeholders and shareholders and entities feel this strong connection to Ossa, then we’d be able to achieve our goals,” Isackson said. “It’s all about just collectively having everyone feel like they’re owning a piece of the pie.”

The money will be used in part to power the development of an app, with a variety of features rolling out between now and the end of the year, according to Isackson.

Ossa debuted the first version of its app in March on an invite-only basis, letting podcasters connect their podcasts to profiles and set up payout accounts for ad campaigns, the company said.

Podcasters on the app can also access information about their download numbers and listenership through Ossa’s partnerships with Chartable and podcast database Podchaser, Isackson told us.

Ossa expects to connect the app to Google Analytics by the end of the year so podcasters can better understand “the correlation between their show downloads, engagement and marketing activities,” the company said, as well as offer an AI tool that will provide them with insights about how to better market their shows.

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Hosts will also eventually be able to connect their social media profiles to their Ossa accounts, an especially valuable feature for those who might not have a massive audience for their podcast, but can compensate with social followings.

“A podcaster may just be starting, but she has a huge Instagram following,” Isackson explained. “We don’t want her to get dinged because her downloads are low, so we’ll be able to present 360 campaigns to advertisers”—a strategy that some networks employ when working with influencer-led podcasts.

Lisa Tahir, host of All Things Therapy, and Tiffany Yu, host of Tiffany & Yu, for instance, are both part of the Ossa community and each have about 25,000 followers on Instagram.

Calling all brands

By mid-May, Isackson expects to roll out a feature on the app that essentially serves as a “faux programmatic” platform, she said, which will also be accessible as a website.

The programmatic ecosystem for podcasting is still nascent, but major audio companies and independent networks like Ossa are increasingly investing in automated tools for ad buying.

Although it won’t automate the actual ad-buying process, the upcoming Ossa feature will allow advertisers to input information such as their budgets and key demographics, Isackson explained. They’ll then be presented with a list of podcasters—including their download numbers—who might be good fits for their campaigns, which brands can book through the app or site. Advertisers will also be able to filter shows by genre, Isackson told us.

“We want to make this as painless as possible, especially for those advertisers that are just tiptoeing into podcast advertising,” Isackson said, adding that Ossa will still maintain its sales team for advertisers who prefer to buy via a direct relationship.

While smaller, independent podcast companies like Ossa don’t offer the scale that some audio companies selling podcast ads do, Isackson said more advertisers are looking to work with hosts that have small but engaged followings.

“As we talk to our advertisers, they’re beginning to realize something important, which is that our podcasters are nano- and micro-influencers,” she told us. “Their followers are very, very loyal.”

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