According to MiQ, the interest for audio-based campaigns is significantly higher in Asia Pacific compared to North America. Weekly podcast listenership has increased 17% since 2021 because of the pandemic. For example, Spotify experienced a 30% increase in ad-supported monthly active users in 2021 versus 2020.
Swedish podcast platform Acast has brought on Jamie Squires to help address the demand for programmatic audio in emerging markets. As Acast’s automation manager for international, Squires will represent the company in Spain, Italy, The Netherlands, Singapore, Hong Kong and, more broadly, the Middle East and Africa. His previous roles include working for publishers Haymarket and AutoTrader, vendors such as Nectar 360, and agencies including OMD EMEA.
In an exclusive interview with Campaign Asia-Pacific, Squires says programmatic is Acast’s fastest-growing sales channel, so the platform must educate media buyers and creators on how this technology can benefit them.
He explains that Acast invests a lot of its time in sharing its knowledge and experience and building relationships with advertisers that are more open to giving automated execution of podcast supply a go.
Acast is also keen to work with advertisers who will help the platform make programmatic technology work better with the podcast channel.
For example, Acast first started testing programmatic in the Australian market, a highly developed region with broad adoption of programmatic but not so large as to be unwieldy or difficult to manage. Through its learnings and successes there, the platform has been able to transfer its learnings across multiple markets in Europe, North and South America, and now in Asia.
“We find that by building on these relationships, advertisers come back to us more consistently and with more ambitious briefs, highlighting to us that they see the value automated solutions can bring,” says Squires.
“Arguably, our toughest challenge is always to convince podcasters that programmatic can be a lucrative tool to incorporate into their shows, But, most importantly, we do that by delivering results.”
Audio ads at Acast do not have clickable companion banners as the platform believes in offering a pure audio experience. Instead, the audio ad creative both captures attention and gives instructions for interaction.
For example, it uses a unique code or encourages the listener to visit a website.
Instead of clicks, Squires says Acast measures the impact of ads using multiple metrics, including listen-through rate, code take-up, brand lift, and attribution by working with third-party vendors.
He adds transparency is also very important to Acast. Squires claims the platform provides a transparent, safe list of all its podcasts, split by targeting segments. Upon request, Acast also supplies daily reports detailing ad impressions by the show, which is crucial for its advertiser and agency clients in establishing trust.
However, he notes the general approach to targeting is for buyers to choose from a contextual collection of podcast shows such as lifestyle and sport, or podcast shows grouped by demographics.
“We can offer more custom show lists taken from these collections for specific briefs and, in certain markets such as the US, Canada and Australia, we can offer a selection of third-party trusted audience segments. This custom show list is what we are working on expanding to all other markets,” Squire explains.
“Our conversational targeting allows for a more precise solution while retaining high scale levels. Conversational targeting is an AI-driven, contextual solution, using transcription of podcast shows and natural language processing to offer ad opportunities at an episodic level.”
He adds: “We align this with IAB categories (tiers one, two or even as granular as three), or specific keywords. This enhanced solution is ideal for podcasting as it offers the opportunity to reach listeners with an ad creative at a highly relevant moment in the conversation they’re avidly listening to.”
Having launched in Singapore and Spain, Acast has acquired Podchaser and signed podcasts, including WTF with Marc Maron.