Compared to established channels like TV and radio, podcasting is a relatively young medium, and advertisers are still figuring out how best to engage with it. Brand safety and suitability are particularly important concerns - ensuring that a company’s adverts aren’t appearing next to content that doesn’t align with their values or target audience. A number of tools have sprung up to address this challenge, many using AI analysis and contextual targeting to give brands and agencies more insight into the placement of their creative.
Barometer is one of the fastest-growing companies in this space, having signed a number of partnerships with major networks and platforms in the past year. This week, PodPod spoke to Barometer CEO Tamara Zubatiy about the company’s approach to brand safety, why metrics are more important than ever, and how brand marketing may be set to overtake performance marketing in podcasting.
Brand suitability is different for every brand
"In the brand suitability space, the space of all content is very vast, and what's appropriate for one brand isn't necessarily appropriate for another. So it really varies brand by brand, which is why it's hard to be like, this set of content is brand safe, or brand suitable, and this set of content is not. It can be as simple as, for one brand, they can't run on true crime, and another one can."
"Where we come in is, we kind of push the brands a little bit more. And we're like, well you say you can't run on true crime, but what is it really that's concerning to you? Is it the adult crimes? Is it the really, really gory descriptions? And so that's kind of where we come in with some of the nuance."
Brand advertisers are catching onto podcasting
"Historically, podcast has been made by performance marketers, and performance marketers are very savvy and shrewd marketers seeking to get the lowest cost for new acquisitions. So all of their metrics are what we call bottom-of-funnel. They're really interested in that conversion step. And podcast has been a really great medium from that perspective, because it provides that personal endorsement that can help get people over the line."
"What national brand advertisers want, conversely, is brand awareness, brand consideration, those top-of-funnel metrics, what you could think of as kind of like that subliminal messaging that gets you kind of aware that that brand exists so that when it's time to consider what you're going to do, that brand will come to mind. And I think what we've shown as an industry over the last year is that podcasts can allow you to reach new audiences with a level of authenticity that isn't available in other media types. And that's been really exciting for brand advertisers to really embrace."
Lack of self-regulation could lead to greater censorship
"I think the last thing that we want to do is flatten the medium. Censorship is the enemy that we're trying to avoid. And we think that what could happen as a consequence of a lack of self-regulation is imposed censorship. And that's what we're seeing in like Canada, where if your podcast is big enough, you now have to register it with the government and self-censor."
"We see that as a huge potential risk to our open medium, where you can say anything and not get deplatformed even at the risk of making a fool of yourself or offending others. So I think that that's really important. I think there's two ways that we actually address that lack of flattening. The first way is by making it very clear what's the difference between brand safety and brand suitability, and the second way is by showing the great variety of content that gets monetised."