IHeartMedia’s New PMP Is Just For Podcasts, And The Scale Is There

IHeartMedia has launched a private marketplace for podcasts to woo more advertisers to the medium with multiple targeting options and familiar buying tools.

Radio giant iHeartMedia launched a private marketplace on Wednesday specifically for podcasts. It’s a bid to woo more advertisers to the medium with multiple targeting options and familiar buying tools.

The PMP was built using technology iHeart acquired through its purchase of programmatic podcast and analytics platform Voxnest in October.

There are three primary deal types on offer: programmatic guaranteed with a fixed price and guaranteed volumes; preferred deals with a fixed price and no guaranteed volumes; and private auctions in which advertisers can bid on a specific curated list of shows but without negotiated minimum pricing or guaranteed volumes.

Host-read ads and live endorsements are still big business for podcasters, said Brian Kaminsky, chief data officer and president of revenue strategies at iHeartMedia. But buyers also need scale.

“We have a comprehensive podcast library,” Kaminsky said, “and there is a role that high-quality, more traditional advertising can play in monetizing it.”

More than 30 million people listen to an iHeartMedia podcast in the US each month. Globally, iHeart is responsible for 257 million downloads and streams on a monthly basis.

IHeart’s back catalog includes more than 100,000 podcast episodes over which it has full control and management. Several years ago, iHeart embarked on the time-consuming task of enabling dynamic ad insertion across that repository.

“We want to be able to light up our entire catalog for brands,” said Conal Byrne, president of iHeartMedia’s podcasting division.

Advertisers using the private podcast marketplace can target based on podcast category, listener location or psychographic characteristics.

A buyer, for example, could reach listeners of true crime podcasts or people who listen to history shows, science and tech, society and culture, music, sports, business and finance, comedy and numerous other genres.

On the psychographic front, advertisers will be able to buy across a set of shows based on certain behaviors, such as “deciders,” “explorers,” “advocates” or “rising stars.”

Cohort-based advertising is the future of digital marketing, so might as well embrace it.

“We’ve been planning for a world where cookies are literally relegated to the sidelines and mobile ad IDs and other identifiers are not necessarily part of the mix,” Kaminsky said.

A big part of that plan has involved investing in technology to enable podcast monetization. When IHeart acquired Voxnest last fall, it was with the intention of transforming it into an SSP for podcasts.

Kaminsky referred to Voxnest as a “meta SSP,” because it connects with other supply-side platforms and aggregate inventory across what’s become a fragmented podcast marketplace. Voxnest has connections into most buying platforms, including The Trade Desk, MediaMath, Amobee and Google’s DV360.

“We’ve now adapted that same technology to look just across iHeart’s content, including the Spreaker network, our radio stations and our first-run shows coming out of our studio,” Kaminsky said.

Spreaker is a podcast creation software provider and app that allows people to record, publish and distribute their own podcasts. IHeart partnered with Spreaker in 2014 to make the latter’s podcasts available on its network.

In terms of what’s on iHeart’s programmatic podcast road map, one of the top priorities going forward will be investments in brand safety screening. Advertisers are looking for scale, but they’re just as focused on brand safety in the podcast arena as they are in other channels.

There are a lot of podcasts that are “pretty good, they just don’t have the volumes, even though their content is high-quality enough that advertisers will want to participate if they can,” Kaminsky said.

“We’re steadfastly confident that the type of content we’re creating in the iHeart network is acceptable to brands,” he said, “but it’s tough to screen the long tail, so automated brand safety is the number one thing we’ll want to address.”

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