The 2023 podcast advertising landscape, as predicted by several industry execs

Many anticipate programmatic advertising, measurement transparency, and YouTube crossovers will take center stage next year.
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· 5 min read

“With great power there must also come great responsibility.”

Uncle Ben was probably not thinking about podcast advertising when he passed this advice along to Peter Parker, but it kind of applies anyway.

Last year, IAB research showed that podcast ad revenue in the US surpassed the $1 billion milestone in 2021.

As the sector continues growing, podcast ad pros predict there will be increasing demand for programmatic inventory, measurement solutions that can verify campaigns are reaching promised audiences, and more crossover with video content in 2023.

Year of programmatic?

Programmatic marketplaces exist for podcasts, but they’re not incredibly popular. Only 1.7% of podcast ads were sold programmatically in 2021, per the IAB. They might gain some more traction in 2023, several execs predicted.

Lisa Jacobs, VP of media operations and analytics at radio and podcast agency Ad Results Media, said programmatic inventory will increase as podcasters “continue to come around to the idea of an additional revenue source,” but perhaps less quickly than it did in its early days for other channels.

As that inventory becomes more available, programmatic revenue could grow at a “much faster rate than other podcast ad revenue sources,” Matt Turck, head of podcast growth and strategy at audio ad sales company AdLarge Media and co-founder of Megaphone, predicted.

“We’ve learned from digital and can be smarter about how we work in the space, keeping CPMs fair for creators and advertisers,” he wrote in an email.

For advertisers, programmatic podcast buys are more scalable, added Seraj Bharwani, chief strategy officer at ad-tech company AcuityAds. Since it’s generally been harder to reach mass audiences via direct buys with individual networks or shows, that spend could become “concentrated toward the top 2%–5% of the podcast publishers,” he wrote in an email.

Prove it

Next year might also bring about the “age of verification” in podcasting, Dan Granger, founder and CEO of audio agency Oxford Road, predicted.

If programmatic buying does grow in 2023, as Jacob Schwartz, associate media director for national audio investments at Mediahub, thinks it will, “the need for transparency into delivery is going to come to a forefront,” he wrote in an email.

Third-party impression verification, for instance, will be in high demand among advertisers, Glenn Rubenstein, founder of podcast ad agency Adopter Media, wrote. Some of that demand might be a result of the macroeconomic climate, which has led to budget cuts, Christiana Brenton, US director of sales and brand partnerships at Acast, wrote.

“For advertisers, this means there are going to be increased pressures to prove out ROI on every dollar spent,” she wrote. “Looking specifically at podcast advertising, as an emerging medium, this means there will be even more demand to quantify and measure ad performance.”

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The industry might also grapple with attribution issues, and “the best companies [won’t rely] on any one attribution service,” and will test multiple tools in order “to see what works and what doesn’t,” Giancarlo Bizzarro, VP of sales at Crooked Media said.

Spotify made moves on the attribution front with its 2022 acquisition of Podsights and plans to “continue to triple down” on that part of the business in 2023, “working with marketers on showing ROI and effectiveness within podcasts,” Brian Berner, Spotify’s head of enterprise sales, the Americas, told Marketing Brew.

When Spotify acquired Podsights earlier this year, some in the industry expressed concern over what losing what was previously a third-party solution would mean.

YouTube has entered the chat

Podcasters have been distributing their content on YouTube over the past five years or so, according to Grant Durando, director at Right Side Up, but the number of them doing so will “reach critical disruptive mass” in 2023, he wrote in an email.

If that happens, it could spark a need for new attribution solutions, Durando wrote. The industry has largely addressed tracking campaigns in RSS feeds “via pixel and prefix-based attribution,” he explained, but as more podcast engagement comes from YouTube, “we will need a new technological solution to deliver conclusive performance marketing attribution.”

Factors like social shares and listener retention are becoming almost as important as podcast downloads, as "podcasters and marketers are getting more savvy about what will move the needle for their clients and their goals," according to Jeff Umbro, founder and CEO of podcast distribution and monetization company The Podglomerate. "The advertising market will be thinking about how they should consider these same metrics soon."

“The competition for maintaining and growing audience is fierce,” wrote Lizzie Widhelm, SVP of B2B marketing and ad innovation at SXM Media, which could encourage podcast creators to get creative about new ways to grow their audiences. Crooked Media is “really focused on” simulcasting content in an effort to engage younger audiences in particular, Bizzarro said.

“As the lines between podcast, video and social get blurrier and blurrier, brands will need to get super smart about how to produce high-quality content that can be used across multiple platforms, but is clearly edited & differentiated for each one,” wrote Rachael King, CEO and founder of podcast production company Pod People.

1/4/23 Update: Comments from Jeff Umbro in this story have been updated.

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