Spotify and IAS partner up to tackle brand safety in podcasting

Duo strike partnership to figure out how to verify brand advertising in podcasting

Spotify and Integral Ad Science (IAS) are partnering up to tackle the next brand safety challenge around podcast advertising.

The pair this week announced new plans to establish a third-party brand safety solution for podcast advertisers and said they’re embarking on rigorous analysis to help the industry understand what tools and resources are key to ensuring brand safety in podcasting and digital audio more broadly. Their ultimate objective is to create a third-party brand safety and suitability reporting tool, to bring more transparency around podcasting advertising.

The pair confirmed global media agency, UM Worldwide, as part of the exploration process and the first agency to test the proposed solution once it’s realised.

According to the IAB’s annual study with PwC, podcast ad spending has grown rapidly over the past few years and surpassed US$1 billion in the US 2021. It’s forecast to almost triple to more than $4 billion in 2024.

While there are well-established brand safety guidelines and technology across the digital advertising ecosystem, most notably for video, these do not yet exist in audio, IAS said. Creating a third-party solution for this now mainstream medium is critical to maintaining advertiser confidence and continued media spending.

Backing up the plan is IAS’s freshly inked 2022 Amplifying Media Quality in Digital Audio Report, which found US media experts are concerned about ad fraud in digital audio and agree third-party verification may address those challenges. The report found 87 per cent of media experts surveyed are either concerned or very concerned about ad fraud in audio. And while the desire to participate in digital audio engagement is high, those experts say they are willing to rely on third-party verification to preserve media quality before further investing in digital audio advertising.

Overall, 93 per cent of respondents said they are likely to use digital audio advertising this year, with 73 per cent set to transact audio ad placements programmatically. In addition, nearly half of experts (45 per cent) said it is important to compare campaign performance across audio, display, and video. Yet less than half have confidence when discussing audio metrics with clients. The big gap is in comparing to viewability, a key performance metrics across other digital media formats.

At a local level, IAB Advertising Audio State of the Nation Report in 2022 found usage of digital audio advertising has consistently grown over the past six years. More than seven in 10 agencies (73 per cent) either significantly use streaming digital audio services or regularly consider them as part of activities, up from 69 per cent a year ago. Nearly six in 10 (59 per cent) regularly consider podcast advertising, up from 36 per cent from last year.

Spotify and IAS said the first step for their partnership is to better understand how to effectively validate that advertiser messages are served in their intended context for podcasts. These results can then inform a brand safety and suitability tool to aid in campaign planning, management and reporting.

The solution will use Spotify’s first-party data and be verified by IAS’ analysis solutions based on the Global Alliance for Responsible Media’s categories and guidelines. Initial efforts will focus on third-party content within the Spotify Audience Network.

“Spotify pioneered the digital audio landscape as we know it today and we’re excited to continue our leadership here as we rise to the next challenge: brand safety,” said Spotify global head of advertising revenue innovation, Julie Clark, stated. “We are pleased to be partnering with IAS – one of the most trusted leaders in media – to give advertisers confidence that their messages are heard in the right place while further validating the contextual targeting solutions we already have in the market.”

IAS global chief commercial officer, Yannis Dosios, claimed its partnership with Spotify and UM is a transformational step for advertisers targeting the audio space.

“With podcasts expected to reach more than 500 million listeners worldwide by 2024, this solution will offer advertisers more control and confidence that their messages will deeply resonate with their intended audiences,” he said.

UM global chief media officer, Joshua Lowcock, added clients are increasing investment in the podcasting space.

“However, without a way to validate brand suitability across the depth and breadth of shows, they are hesitant to go all in,” he said. “We’re pleased to see Spotify and IAS step up to create a brand safety solution and are ready to work with them during the building and testing phase to ensure advertisers’ needs are addressed from the start.”

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