Use of brand safety tools for podcasts doubled this year, according to IAB study

Buyers continue to expand their range of measurement solutions

Usage of brand safety and suitability solutions amongst podcast publishers has nearly doubled year on year as it becomes an increasingly important consideration for buyers who want to advertise in the medium, according to a new IAB study. 

The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) this week released its US Podcast Advertising Revenue Study 2023 on the rising trends and strategies within the podcast advertising market. The annual report uses data derived from surveys, podcast advertising databases and more to identify the key takeaways. 

According to the report, brand safety and suitability solutions such as contextual transcript analysis have become more popular in usage, going up by over 36% year on year. A number of podcast platforms have partnered with brand safety and suitability solution providers to make their content more brand-safe, including most recently Gen Z podcast network Wizard, which partnered with brand-safety intelligence platform Sounder this week. 

Brand safety and suitability solutions providers such as Sounder and Barometer use artificial intelligence to analyse podcast episode transcripts and consider the context, tone, and other factors to more accurately rate the content, rather than relying solely on keywords. Over 80% of publishers, according to the report, also rely on established guidelines from the IAB Content Taxonomy and the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) Brand Safety & Suitability Framework.

Artificial intelligence can also be used to contextually target podcast audiences to ensure that advertisers are running an efficient campaign. This is important for building brand awareness, and according to the IAB study, brand awareness podcast advertising campaigns now make up 61% of total ad revenues for the medium, up by 13% year on year. 

“The growing interest we’re seeing in podcasting among larger, brand awareness advertisers demonstrates the medium’s evolution to deliver on a range of buyer’s KPIs,” said IAB Media Center digital audio and video director Matt Shapo. 

“Podcasting continues to be a remarkably agile channel that enables advertisers to reach an expanding user base, adopt new functionalities and solutions, and develop new content with creators.”

As brand awareness becomes increasingly important for advertisers, especially ones that are looking at targeting a highly engaged audience, 78% are now also using measurement solutions within their campaigns to study their audience. Commonly used measurement solutions amongst advertisers include ad delivery impression counting (100%), pixel-based attribution (92%), purchase lift (85%), and more. 

A number of platforms have also started to introduce measurement solutions that allow advertisers to track their campaigns while they're in-flight so they have time to plan more efficiently or even change their strategy. This includes podcast database Podchaser, which recently launched Airchecks, a new measurement tool for advertisers which identifies keywords and patterns within campaigns that are in-flight.

Other highlights from the report show that dynamic ad insertion now accounts for 90% of ad revenues, and has nearly doubled in the last three years compared to baked-in ads. Programmatic advertising has also shown significant growth, going up by five times between 2021 and 2023, but its share of revenue only accounts for 11%, which is behind other digital media channels. 

To address this issue, the IAB recommends that the podcast market works on building more awareness and educating buyers about programmatic opportunities, increasing the volume of publisher inventory which is available for purchase, improving tech enablement for programmatic between publishers, ad tech, and buyers, improving supply chain transparency and standardising content. 

The IAB also highlights that video can be an opportunity for podcast advertisers moving forward, as video podcasts represent just 5% of podcast ad revenue - falling from 9% in 2020 - while more podcast listeners are consuming podcasts in both audio and video formats. This will likely also increase in the future as YouTube continues to create opportunities for podcasters to put their content on the platform with the integration of podcasts on YouTube music and the ability to upload using RSS feeds, which will finish rolling out by the end of 2023. 

“While there’s significant work ahead for podcasters, there’s more than enough investment from brand marketers to make it worth the efforts,” said Shapo. “Buyers believe in podcasting, and they’re ready to invest more.”

The US Podcast Advertising Revenue Study 2023 is sponsored by a number of podcast platforms and networks including Adswizz, Cumulus Podcast Network, Soundrise, iHeartPodcasts, NPR, Wondery, and Spotify Advertising.