In the latest signal that branded podcasts are where broadcasters see a growing opportunity, Skyview Networks has teamed up with the podcast services company Amplifi Media on a joint mission to create branded podcasts and digital audio for Skyview’s portfolio of advertisers.

Skyview, best known in the radio industry for its distribution, sales and inventory management services, will work with Amplifi CEO Steve Goldstein to create a resource for Skyview clients seeking a deeper connection with consumers through digital devices. The alliance, announced as The Voice Summit is underway in Newark, NJ, comes in advance of the 2020 upfront advertising season.

“Branded podcasts are a rapidly emerging segment of podcast revenue, having grown more than 6-times to $67 million from 2018-19, and are forecast to increase to $100 million by 2021,” Skyview president/COO Steve Jones said in the announcement. “Working with Amplifi Media, we’ll be better positioned to meet the developing needs of consumer brands that are seeking a voice strategy.” The move fits with what Jones said when he joined the company in March. At the time he said one of the opportunities Skyview intended to exploit was creating and syndicating content for digital audio.

Under the new arrangement, CMOs that work with Skyview-Amplifi will have access to Skyview’s network of 5,000 radio stations to help build awareness of their branded podcast and smart speaker initiatives. The two companies see this awareness-building proposition as a key differentiator of their alliance. 

“What we know for sure in our work with radio, podcast, and smart speakers is that one-size-fits-all solutions rarely work,” said Goldstein. Since leaving his post as the top programming executive at Saga Communications in 2015, Goldstein has focused on helping radio broadcasters extend their brands into podcasting. He’s also been working with brands helping them create their own podcasts.

Even as the vast majority of podcast revenue comes from either direct response or brand advertising, a growing number of marketers are looking at building their own content as a way to use podcasting as an advertising vehicle. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) said branded podcasts made up 10.1% of the industry’s ad revenue in 2018. That’s up from just 1.5% two years earlier. “Branded content is still a small percentage of the amount of revenue, but it is growing. And I think that’s going to continue to grow in the future,” Jacobs Media digital consultant Seth Resler predicted last week.

On a national level iHeartMedia SVP of Marketing Eric Hadley believes branded podcasts offer a big opportunity for marketers looking to do more than the traditional radio buy. “Branded podcasts have formally arrived and are proving that smart, compelling storytelling can be more effective than ads at winning new customers and deepening relationships with existing ones,” Hadley wrote in an op-ed for Forbes.

Resler said podcasts also present an easier way for local stations to jump into the podcast game without needing to score a big national hit show to make any money. On a webinar last week he said that smaller operators may have a better shot at making money at podcast by creating branded podcasts for clients.