IHeartMedia Buys Programmatic Podcast Platform; GroupM Hooks Up With SpotX For SPO

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IHeartMedia will acquire Voxnest, an audio tech company that provides podcast analytics and programmatic advertising tools for publishers. The deal, Business Insider writes, is in service of iHeartMedia’s ongoing push into podcasting and will help the audio giant fill ad inventory that isn’t being sold through direct deals. Podcast ad buying remains a fragmented experience for advertisers that need to reach large audiences, says Brian Kaminsky, iHeart’s president of revenue and data operations. “With the combination of our inventory, Voxnest’s inventory and this new programmatic approach, we will be able to service the ad-buying marketplace at scale with data and technology, which is a lot like the way they buy other digital media,” he said. “It’s been a little bit of a missing link in the way we monetize podcasts.” Although there’s a lot of competition for audio ad dollars (see: Spotify and Pandora), the Voxnest acquisition should make it easier for buyers to transact with iHeart. Technology was the missing piece in iHeart’s podcast strategy, said Conal Byrne, president of the iHeartMedia Podcast Network.

Money Where Your Mouth Is

It’s one thing for marketers to act woke, and another to take action. In a world where even washing detergent and toilet paper brands are holding themselves up as champions of social justice, Digiday notes that for years marketers have played on prejudices for profit or chosen not to consider whether their media dollars help fuel racial bias. Enter: inclusive media buying. Although some brands are reluctant to boot certain publishers – even those widely recognized as fertile homes to misinformation and hate speech – for fear of losing reach and efficiency or being exposed to higher prices, that nervousness is misplaced, said P&G’s chief brand officer, Marc Pritchard, speaking at the ANA’s Masters of Marketing conference last week. “There’s a scale myth that inaccurately states that you can’t get big enough by investing in minority-owned businesses,” Pritchard said. Going forward, P&G plans to spend more of its money with minority-owned media owners, ensuring that its marketers and agencies broker more deals with those businesses and that they get a larger share of the CPG giant’s programmatic dollars.

Holdco SPO

Agencies are looking for more control over the supply chain. And that’s why GroupM is bringing its SPO efforts to OTT with its selection of SpotX as its preferred SSP for video supply, reports Alison Weissbrot of Campaign US. If this sounds a little familiar, it’s because GroupM struck a very similar deal earlier this year to route the majority of its demand through Index Exchange. [Related in AdExchanger: “GroupM Partners With Index Exchange As Hold Cos Lean Into SSPs.”] The SpotX partnership is a “carbon copy” of the Index deal, says Esra Bacher, managing partner and programmatic investment lead at GroupM. Although Bacher declined to share any specific numbers, she noted that the Index partnership has proven valuable to clients both in terms of product development and dollars saved. As Campaign US notes, by partnering with select programmatic supply partners, holdcos can regain the leverage they lost to automation by negotiating fees and ensuring transparency for clients. In addition to discounted rates, SpotX and GroupM will co-develop products that allow its agencies to get better access to inventory, and GroupM clients will be able to request an audit on any bid that goes through the SpotX platform.

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