Panoply Courts Big Brands With Audience-Based Podcast Buys

Panoply, a podcast network owned by the Slate Group, hopes to attract big brands with the promise of audience-based buying.

The podcast network teamed up with Nielsen in July to launch Megaphone Targeted Marketplace (MTM), an exchange that allows marketers to buy podcast inventory across audiences rather than individual episodes.

Audience-based buying is nascent in podcast advertising because there’s no tracking mechanism to target users across shows. Podcasts are delivered to players via RSS feeds and downloaded onto a user’s phone for offline listening.

MTM’s integration with Nielsen’s data management platform, however, lets Panoply match the limited data it receives through its Megaphone dynamic ad server against Nielsen data so buyers can buy against Nielsen’s roughly 60,000 audience segments.

“We’re piping [Nielsen’s data] firehose into the Megaphone platform to unlock all the data available on podcast listeners,” said Jason Cox, chief technology officer at Panoply.

Podcast advertising has largely been funded by direct-response advertisers, but Cox hopes audience-based buying will move brand dollars into the space in a big way.

“One of the things that has stopped brands from moving into the [podcast] space is the ability to target like they can in other digital mediums and scale,” he said. “We can now aggregate impressions and go to brands with impression counts they’re expecting.”

So far, inventory from across Panoply’s 170 shows are accessible through MTM, which will eventually include inventory from other publishers using its ad server. Since launching the solution less than a month ago, Panoply already has received “several million” dollars in RFPs from brands, said Panoply Chief Revenue Officer Matt Turck. Panoply declined to reveal how many advertisers are buying through MTM.

Brand advertising could bring big money to the podcast space, which is set to reach $220 million this year, according to the IAB. Panoply sees tens of millions of downloads per month and expects ad revenue to double this year.

“The combination of the data we can provide with Nielsen and our listener data is what brands have been asking for,” Turck said. “We only need a fraction of the mobile, digital and radio budget to completely change the game.”

As podcast advertising develops its targeting capabilities, it’s also coming up on a major measurement boon. Apple announced in June it will share listener data from its podcast player, which makes up around 60% of all podcast listening, with publishers.

“The majority of downloads happen through Apple podcasts,” Cox said. “They are closest to the listener and best able to measure.”

Given the developments in podcast advertising, Panoply isn’t the only network gunning for big brand dollars. In July 2016, programmatic audio platform AdsWizz teamed up with NPM to launch PodWave, a programmatic podcast exchange that lets buyers purchase inventory against first- and third-party data.

Unlike PodWave, all inventory in MTM’s marketplace is direct-sold, for now. Since podcast advertising is still nascent, it will be a while longer before most inventory is sold programmatically, Cox said.

“There’s not a direct technical hurdle for MTM to do programmatic, but it makes sense for now to work closely with advertisers and content providers in the network,” he said. “If you fast forward, there is a possibility we can automate buying.”

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