Podcasting platform Anchor claims to have found a way to do something that still seems to elude many others in the field: make money off of advertising.
The company reported this week that the number of ad-supported podcasts on the market has doubled since it introduced its monetization program late last November. If accurate, the self-reported numbers highlight how money-making methods have generally failed to keep pace with recent explosive growth in the podcast market due to issues around inconsistent metrics, targeting and discoverability.
Anchor drew its estimates from the podcasting analytics service Magellan, which showed that around 7,000 podcasts were running ads when it rolled out its monetization scheme in November—about 1 percent of the total titles on the market. It claims to have since added another 7,000 to that number through its Sponsorships program, which matches creators with brands like SeatGeek, Cash App and Living Proof and guides them through the ad creation process.
The platform purports to be the only service of its kind to offer production, distribution and monetization tools under the same roof, making it particularly useful for smaller, homegrown projects without the resources of an established network. The company estimates that its suite of software is now used by around 40 percent of all new podcasts, up from the 33 percent figure it announced mid last year. Anchor declined to reveal how many podcasts use its platform in total.
While advertising may seem ubiquitous to listeners who only tune into a select few of the most popular podcasts on the market, the vast majority of titles still struggle to monetize.
Anchor CEO Michael Mignano said that because most podcasting ad sales still happen through individual one-to-one contract deals and agency buys, it can be difficult for podcasts with smaller but still engaged followings to find an audience with brands. The company aims to solve that problem by bundling its huge catalog into what is effectively a single network. Brands can choose to sponsor either individual podcasts or large swathes of anywhere between hundreds and tens of thousands of available titles at the same time through ad copy scripts that are distributed for hosts to read.
“You’re left with all this supply that can’t be monetized—brands can’t get access to it and most podcasters can’t monetize,” Mignano said. “[Sponsorships] is a way for brands to get access to our catalog at scale.”
Anchor’s announcement comes just after iHeartMedia’s podcast network joined Panoply’s Megaphone platform this week to distribute and monetize its titles. Panoply cut all of its editorial operations last fall to focus on building out its ad tech.
While Mignano is confident that monetizing at scale can solve some of the problems with podcast advertising, others, like a lack of consistent measurement standards, will take industry-wide effort. He said Anchor plans to meet the conditions necessary for the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s new metrics certification by the end of the financial quarter.
“It’s definitely encouraging to see that different companies and organizations are looking forward and collaborating in ways to improve measurement,” Mignano said.