Rain Podcast Summit 2021

Podcasting is growing so quickly that Stephanie Donovan, Senior VP of Publisher Development at Triton Digital, joked during Wednesday’s RAIN Podcast Business Summit that some of her numbers would probably look a lot different if she returned to next year’s conference. But there are already lots of indicators of a medium moving in the right direction based on Triton data on programmatic ad sales, CPMs, and reach. Here are five takeaways:

Sports Had More Programmatic Buys

Triton’s programmatic audio marketplace Yield Op sells across more than 13,000 live, on-demand, and podcast streams from across the globe, averaging 400 million unique impressions and 11.1 billion auctions per month. So who’s spending?

“Sports is the highest spend based on our programmatic platform,” said Donovan. Triton said advertisers in that category placed $629,000 in programmatic ad buys in 2020. The second biggest category, with half as much spending, was Events & Attractions advertisers, which invested $310,000. Comedy advertisers ranked third, with $265,000 in programmatic orders, followed by Political ($249,000) and Documentary Movies ($134,00).

“In 2020, we saw a huge increase in supply being made available,” said Donovan. “More midroll inventory was available programmatically.” She said that led to a 600% increase in revenue from midroll programmatic ad sales last year at Triton, including a 73% jump between Q3 and Q4.

It was not just midroll ads. Triton had a 182% increase in programmatic pre-roll ad inventory during the fourth quarter compared to third quarter. And there was 49% increase in post-roll spending.

“There are emerging opportunities for every show to monetize more. This is not a replacement for direct sales. It is a complement,” said Donovan. “Host-read is still a very important part of podcast revenue, then you have direct sales. But programmatic plays an important role even for podcasts that are just getting started.”

CPMs Are Rising

Despite fears that programmatic ad selling would undercut podcasters’ pricing power, Triton says the opposite is occurring. “CPMs are rising,” said Donovan. Her research found a 26% rise in CPMs in the past year. “This proves that programmatic is not a race to the bottom in terms of CPMs,” she said.

More Shows, Bigger Reach

With more than two million podcasts available to listeners, one risk for marketers is creating a list of shows that is too short. Donovan said Triton looked at what the impact would be on reach if a marketer buying a top ten series added more shows to their media plan to measure listener duplication. When the brand added their second choice show to the buy, she said they found a marketer could grow their overall reach of the campaign by 53%. And if they bought across the top ten shows, their reach would jump 203%. Triton plans to release more details on that analysis later, Donovan said.

Smart Speakers Important For News, Kids Podcasts

Donovan also said that among the shows hosted by its Omny Studio, downloads remained strong despite the pandemic. Between February 2020 and January 2021, podcasts in the News category made up one-third (33.8%) of all downloads. The segment includes not just the daily news series but also political, business and sports news podcasts. True Crime is second with a 13.5% share of downloads followed by Comedy (11.9%), Society & Culture (7.9%), and Sports (7.2%).

Omny Studios has said that smart speakers were its fastest-growing listening device in 2020. They represented a 4.9% share of all downloads last year, a 145% increase from a year earlier.

But Donovan said smart speakers are not as big with all show genres. The amount of News podcasts occurring on smart speakers was 17.7% compared to the average of 5%. “The Kids & Family genre also over-indexes on smart speakers at 12.4%,” she said.

The 72 Hour Window

One-third of podcasts are listened-to on the same day they are released. That is based on data collected from Omny Studios after a 30-day period. It shows another 22% of podcasts occurred either on day two or three, meaning more than half of all downloads occur within 72-hours of a podcast being published. And two-thirds were consumed in the first week.

Once again, Donovan said there were variations based on the genre. Not surprisingly, current-event focused News podcasts had a 51% same-day download rate compared to 20% for True Crime shows. Donovan noted that True Crime also showed their long shelf life with the same 20% listen rate for shows that are two-to-six months old.

“It is incredible for the podcast creator, but it is also great for advertisers,” said Donovan. “True Crime is a great example how monetizing your back catalog really has a powerful impact because you are able to get to that audience however they’re listen to your content.”