The space industry is gravitating toward podcast advertising

Companies that are providing products and services in outer space see the medium as prime brand real estate.
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Xuanyu Han/Getty Images

· 4 min read

Brands in the outer-space industry still have to advertise down on earth. For now.

That advertising traditionally appeared at industry events, but as the business of space continues to grow—to an estimated $1 trillion in annual revenue by 2040—some companies are investing marketing dollars in space-focused podcasts and newsletters.

“We were able to sign our first advertiser before we even launched our daily [newsletter],” said Ari Lewis, co-founder of Payload, a digital media company covering the the business and policy of space, which counts brands like Lockheed Martin, Airbus, Deloitte, Bank of America, and AWS as advertisers. Payload’s podcast also had an advertiser on board before it aired its first episode, Lewis said.

Houston, we have a podcast

Podcasts and newsletters covering the industry can offer brands an opportunity to tell their stories to people who are genuinely interested in learning about what they do.

SpiderOak, a space cybersecurity company, is focused on brand-building in the federal space by trying to reach people like elected officials “everywhere thought leaders go,” explained Andrew Friedrich, SpiderOak’s VP of marketing. These days, that includes Payload’s podcast and newsletter, which Lewis said targets “decision-makers in the space industry.”

SpiderOak had already been a sponsor of Payload’s newsletter when Lewis said he pitched Friedrich on Pathfinder, Payload’s podcast. The show hadn’t debuted yet, but Lewis promised Friedrich that SpiderOak would have 100% share of voice on the podcast as its first sponsor.

The investment marked SpiderOak’s first foray into podcast advertising outside of the company’s owned-and-operated podcasts.

“This is a way to get in early, and to get in at the base of this so that if this turns out to be super, super successful, we’ll be probably the first sponsor anybody associated with doing this,” Friedrich said.

After Pathfinder’s first month, it had just about a few hundred listeners, according to Friedrich. After about three months, each episode is seeing an average of about 1,000 unique podcast listens and YouTube video views combined, Lewis said. Once SpiderOak’s sponsorship ends, Pathfinder has  Spaced Ventures, a space investment portal,  lined up as its next sponsor.

First contact

Traditional advertising isn’t the only way to reach space-curious readers and listeners.

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The space communications company CesiumAstro has promoted its brand on LinkedIn and in Payload’s newsletter, and its founder and CEO, Shey Sabripour, has appeared as a guest on shows like the Space Business Podcast. The company is also considering testing out traditional ads in Payload’s Pathfinder podcast early next year, Corporate Communications Lead Alexandra Johnson said.

Aravind Ravichandran, founder of TerraWatch Space, an industry consultancy that publishes a biweekly newsletter with 3,000+ subscribers and a weekly podcast that attracts an average of 1,200 listeners per episode, said he started getting submissions for guests on the podcast before he even started working on TerraWatch Space full time in August, when it averaged about 800 listeners per episode.

That got him thinking about the possibility of monetizing the podcast and newsletter with sponsored content, he explained. More in-depth content like full podcast episodes or articles associated with a brand are, for the time being, a better bet for the space industry than traditional ads, Ravichandran said, since there’s still “a lot of education needed” around what space companies do.

“It’s better if [listeners] are prepared with podcast episodes where they understand how the technology works, and that then indirectly leads to purposeful brand awareness,” Ravichandran said.

Sometimes guest appearances lead to broader business relationships. Raphael Roettgen, host of Space Business Podcast and managing partner of space-focused VC firm E2MC Ventures, said he landed satellite tech company NanoAvionics as a sponsor after its CEO was a guest on an episode.

NanoAvionics is the only paid sponsor of the pod so far, though Roettgen has received interest from other brands, he told us. The podcast averages about 3,000 listens monthly, a number growing about 10% month over month, he said.

“Brands, including prominent brands, have been willing to allocate advertising dollars,” Roettgen told Marketing Brew. “And I suspect that reflects that those advertisers are very excited that our sector is experiencing and will continue to experience very significant growth, and that it’s good to be in there early.”

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