How to Ruin a Podcast With Programmatic Ads


PodMov Daily: Wednesday, July 13

Episode 680: Your Midweek Update

How to Ruin a Podcast With Programmatic Ads

“Cheap, sloppy dynamic ad insertion (DAI) in podcasts continues to degrade the experience for listeners,” tweeted Overcast developer Marco Arment. But don’t blame the technology, and don’t blame the podcast app. As Arment tells podcasters playing fast and loose with ads: “You’re throwing your audience away.”

Bryan Barletta of Sounds Profitable summed up the problem with programmatic – careless business decisions. “DAI is a killer monetization tool that, if used wrong[,] can get very bad very fast.” One commenter has come across five minutes of pre-rolls, as well as the same ad repeated three times back-to-back. 

It’s easy for listeners to blame listening apps. (Why would their favorite podcasters choose to torture their fans?) The following three-star reviews were left for Overcast:

  • They recently added random ads that are quite frequent and quite annoying…the ads I'm referring to are different than the podcaster's and … seem to change based on my location.
  • I'm not sure why they think they need to turn up the volume to such destructive levels just to get your attention…Pretty amazing that practice hasn't died out yet.

Dane Cardiel, VP of Business Development at Headgum, has observed a sea change in the last year. Inexperienced creators are diving into DAI “using tools that vary wildly between hosting platforms.” This makes total sense. For every claim that podcasting is a fountain of easy money, a reckless ad spend gets its wings.

Using DAI and valuing your audience are not mutually exclusive. It’s unwise to dismiss the technology based on podcast horror stories, Barletta explains. “We generalize, with a major focus on pointing out the unsavory bits, leaving out the fact that each of us can control if we even want to include those options.”

Fortunately, he’s planned a few articles to help us make sense of it all. Remember that no one is trying to force podcasters into it. (Unless you believe that corporations are people.) In the meantime, maybe tell your listeners not to fault their app for the screaming car commercials they hear on other shows. 

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Here's what else is going on:

  • Guess what: Spotify has acquired Heardle, a Wordle-style music game with millions of users. Players’ stats appear to be erased, and the game is now blocked outside the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. At least it will “deepen interactivity across the Spotify ecosystem,” right?
  • Cut loose: A new comedy podcast festival is coming to London on October 6-9. Cheerful Earful, “a celebration of funny shows big and small,” will take place across three venues. From the lineup, Desert Island Dicks has one of the best show concepts we’ve ever seen. Tickets are available à la carte.
  • Over it: Scusi, a new free app for macOS, transcribes audio messages you’d rather not listen to. Drag and drop a voice note from iMessage onto the app overlay, and a very millennial prompt appears: “What is even being said there?!” Speech-to-text is done locally, and the app supports 14 languages.

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