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HomeTechnologyWhy Wonder Media Network Won't Programmatically Sell Its Podcast Ad Inventory

Why Wonder Media Network Won't Programmatically Sell Its Podcast Ad Inventory

Advertising hit by economic slowdown. For some advertisers with podcasting and audio budgets, they want to effectively reach more listeners rather than invest in expensive custom branded content. However, for Wonder Media Network, programmatic advertising is not part of its inventory.

According to Shira Atkins, CRO and co-founder of podcasting company Wonder Media Network, programmatic advertising in audio makes sense in some cases, such as targeting people in specific regions. Not running a national ad. But on the latest episode of the Digiday podcast, Atkins said she still thinks programmatic is “a tragedy for the entire podcasting ecosystem.” Her team doesn’t programmatically sell any of its ad space.

Instead, the podcast network uses its branded content studio to create custom audio ads, which Atkins says produce memorable commercials that listeners are less likely to skip over.

The following are highlights of the conversation, lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Not the slowdown, but the entire industry

I feel like we’re in many ways dealing with the same issues we dealt with when we started the company in 2018. I wish I could point out and say that there is only one issue that affects us.

2020 saw some initial conglomerations in the podcasting ecosystem, but 2021 did see a lot of major sweeping changes. Now, by the end of 2022, all the major distributors are in play and they are waiting to see these bets play out. I’m talking about Amazon Music, Spotify, iHeart, and Apple — each of them got what they wanted from an ad tech and content perspective, and now they’re trying to use​​​to have a separate network from us. In many respects, the playing field is level, but obviously very unequal because iHeart has a huge influence.

Yes, the ad business is in a volatile moment, similar to what it was at the beginning of the pandemic [but] during the pandemic, both in terms of revenue and company size, our Business has doubled. So I feel like if you can find your niche, you can always find dollars.

Now everyone is crazy about podcast ads, which didn’t exist a few years ago, so we can’t educate people the way we used to because that used to be our strength. It also means that people have specific budgets allotted for audio, and the easiest, easiest to quote, no-quote, efficient way to spend, often programmatically.

Programmatic is not the best solution

Media planners This concept of efficiency adopted is required to look for, I think, laziness for their brand. And I don’t think just scaling bad ads is effective.

We don’t [do programmatically sell ads] because we’re able to demand such high CPMs [or sales flat rate deads] that we sell embedded ads in perpetuity. I feel like an old lady every time someone asks me this because they say, “I can’t believe you don’t do dynamic ad insertion.” But it worked for us.

Recruiting is challenging

We are competing when it comes to recruiting sellers. Just as programmatic is killing us, in advertising, in some ways, it’s killing us when it comes to recruiting sellers.

If I’m 5-8+ years out of college and get a job at Spotify, give me a $200,000 base salary and unlimited upside, you just tick the boxes and you can easily send Coca-Cola, Papua New Guinea and any other company for sale deals, why would I want to work in a startup? Even though it’s mission driven and they’re awesome and all women – why would I go there for a $100,000 base and more potential upside, it’s all an uphill battle. Need a unique type, I just can’t compete with the paycheck, I can’t compete with the six months of paternity leave [leave].



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