The popularity of podcasts is soaring with more than 700 million active podcasts available in 2019 (though some would argue they’re in need of makeover). But whether you’re into true crime, comedy, or culture podcasts you probably hear the same ads over and over again. You know there’s room for improvement. We talked to Lynn Browne and Mollie Kehoe, co-founders of BrandVerge, which recently announced a new addition to its platform that they say is changing the way ad buyers and media companies engage. 


Q: Podcasts are hot, and in many ways, the content has been innovative. But the ad experience has been relatively uninspired — both from a content perspective and an experience perspective. Why do you think there has been so little innovation in this arena?

Mollie: The advertising community is just starting to catch up when it comes to podcasting and the huge opportunity it provides to brands. Audio, particularly podcasting, has started to receive more and more attention, so I think we are going to start to see a lot more interest and innovation in the space very soon.

We recently conducted a survey with buyers on our platform and 100% said they were interested in podcast advertising, but 40% also said they didn’t know where to begin, and felt the buying process was complicated. I think advertisers know that podcast advertising is authentic and impactful, but there isn’t enough education around it. I think with education will come innovation, and that is going to be really exciting to see. 

Lynn: It’s been a renaissance of sorts when you think of the shift in attention that consumers are giving back to the audio experience. Increased consumer attention opens up business opportunities across all sectors of the market – from delivering a better experience to creating unique content and insights. We are going to see a ton of change come quickly, and I think some of those changes will parallel other industries – with increased emphasis on measurement and creative. 


Q: What have been some of the pain points in podcast advertising?

Mollie: What we consistently hear from advertisers who want to enter the space, but haven’t yet, is that there is a lack of measurement, which has made them hesitant to jump into podcasting. However, this is definitely starting to change. There are several companies who partners can now rely on for measurement in the space, and I think this will only continue to grow and improve. 

Lynn: Another challenge we hear is around controlling for when customers ultimately hear the ad. Subscribers automatically download every new episode of their favorite shows, but may be waiting a week or two to ultimately give it a listen. If you’re a marketer with messaging in that episode for a very specific timeframe, this can be a huge issue. All of a sudden, your ad is irrelevant and wasted on the listener. The good news is that there are already solutions available. It’s just a matter of education and awareness for what marketers can be using to combat this concern — and continued innovation to make these solutions (and new ones) even more effective.

Q: Tell me a bit about how BrandVerge is shaking up how podcast advertisers are connecting with creators?

Mollie: We’re replacing a manual and tedious legacy process with intuitive technology that makes it super quick for buyers to find what they’re looking for. What we’re doing is empowering advertisers, brands and media partners with on-demand access to what they crave. For advertisers and brands, that is the key information on media partners (and their opportunities for partnership) required to make an informed decision versus manually sending a written brief to a very limited number of media partners and waiting up to two to four weeks to get ideas back. Instead, users are able to log into BrandVerge and pull relevant options for consideration right then and there. Our consistent template for each opportunity also ensures options can be considered as much of an apples-to-apples comparison as possible. This ultimately gives buyers the freedom to browse at their leisure and on their own terms, rather than relying on other people’s timelines, to make the right decision for their business.

Lynn: We’re also giving podcast creators the opportunity to connect with more brands and ultimately choose the right partnership for them and their audience. They can work with brands that are personal favorites, or focus on the products that best align with their podcast audience. When this happens, it’s an awesome experience for everyone because the audience learns about something new, the brand gets a passionate ambassador, and the podcaster retains authenticity. 


Q: How do you think podcast advertising will continue to evolve in the coming years?

Mollie: Podcast listening is going to evolve and grow, which inevitably means that advertising will as well. We will start to see things such as Voice Technology enter the space with the rise of Alexa and Google Home. It’s an exciting time to be in the space, and we are happy to be a part of it. 

Lynn: What’s exciting is that we don’t know how it’s going to evolve! Changes are inevitable for sure and we’re excited to be part of the process.