When I joined Sounder, I had one mission: Build monetization tools for all podcast creators on our platform. Take a peek into how we’re innovating in tandem with our podcasters to build the technology they want and need. And how we’re modernizing the way advertisers target audio inventory.
People love podcasts. Over half of the US population have tuned into a show. Of those, 82.4% spend more than seven hours a week listening. Why? Listeners love being able to consume a variety of content on-demand, get behind the scenes of their favorite brands and celebrities, or enjoy stories told by hosts they have come to think of as friends. And, turns out, podcast listeners love the ads played on their favorite shows too.
Yes, you read that right: listeners love ads. In fact, more than half of the total podcast listener community say they think about buying an advertised product and 41% of listeners have made a purchase as a result of a sponsored message. There’s an undeniable trust between podcast hosts and their audience. Advertisers are recognizing this connection too. When done right, ads are seamlessly integrated into audio content, making them feel familiar. The result? Revenue for both podcasters and brands.
Sounder’s Ultimate Monetization Mission
When I joined the Sounder team in July 2020 as the VP of Platform Monetization, Kal (our CEO) assigned me one mission: Build monetization tools for all podcast creators on our platform. It’s every product-person’s dream to build something from the ground up, especially when that product serves such a diverse and passionate community. So, I got to work.
I envisioned an ecosystem where podcasters partnered with advertisers who wanted to engage their niche audience — an environment where audio creators of all sizes could get paid for their passion while establishing more of a connection with their listeners.
In the past, I’ve led ad monetization, product operations, and infrastructure for platforms such as AOL, Spotify, and Flipboard. This project for Sounder was different. Podcasting is still in its early days, as is audio ad monetization. The possibilities — and potential — are endless. Here’s how we’re innovating audio advertising and monetization.
What We’ve Built So Far
Today, monetization is live on Sounder. We’re proud to offer Dynamic Ad Insertion and Host-read Ad options.
Dynamic Ad Insertion
We’ve integrated Triton’s innovative dynamic audio ad insertion technology directly into the Sounder platform, enabling our creators to monetize both new and back catalog episodes right in their dashboard.
For many, podcasting is a passionate side gig, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t money to be earned! Our easy-to-implement programmatic audio advertising solution provides early and mid-level podcasters (think 1–3 years in) with a “set-it-and-forget-it” option to fill their pockets with spending cash each month. In just a few clicks, Triton’s technology allows them to select ad placements (pre-roll, mid-roll, or post-roll) and the number of ads per episode.
Advertisers will be able to target their campaigns through Sounder, based on a variety of parameters, including content topic and listener demographic data. These ads can be heard wherever listeners stream the podcast, including leading platforms like Spotify.
Host-read Ad Deals
For large podcasters, we’ve made it easy to effectively use Sounder as an in-house sales team to secure host-read ad deals. It’s this hustling segment of podcasters who need a hand in pitching their show to top-brands.
Through our partnership with DAX, we connect creators (with more than 25k monthly streams) with hundreds of nationally recognized brands in their network, specifically ones that align with their content and mission. We help track payment, handle the backend, and secure deals on behalf of our podcasters. It’s a simple yet robust process. And it puts money in the pockets of dedicated creators.
In just a short period of time, we’ve enabled our creators to benefit from both programmatic audio and direct sales through Sounder’s newly released monetization suite that powers both revenue channels. One suite, twice the power!
Why Sounder’s Monetization Tools Are Different
We’re building our monetization tools from scratch
We know we’re not the only audio monetization tech out there, yet we’re in a unique position to build monetization tools for creators and advertisers from the ground up. We have no existing ad tech that holds us back and no technical debt to slow us down. Companies big and small have entered into the audio space with existing infrastructure, making it difficult to pivot to what the audio advertising industry needs and what creators and advertisers demand.
We have no existing ad tech that holds us back and no technical debt to slow us down.
Part of my job is learning how creators use our product and monetization tools, but more importantly, how they want to use them. In other words, a big part of my day-to-day role is listening. And, as a result, my team has become efficient at releasing tools that support creators in the way they want to make money. The blank slate we started with is quickly becoming a podcaster’s monetization dream.
While Sounder is for audio creators, we recognize the needs of advertisers to find new channels to share their brands too. We’re also listening and building to improve the way advertisers discover new creator content, making it easier for them to align their products and services with our podcasters.
We understand that monetization is about relationships
Creators and advertisers need to connect to take part in the audio advertising ecosystem. Done right, both benefit from each other. Podcasters of all sizes want access to big brand names, but not every brand name has the capacity to find dedicated mid-level podcasters. That’s where we come in.
We’re building a bridge between podcasters who are excited to advertise to the dedicated listeners they’ve established using our Discovery Suite and brands that are excited about being able to discover an entirely new audience. Put simply, we’re enabling our creators to grow their audience and generate additional revenue while providing branding opportunities for advertisers.
We’re innovating the future of ads
All that said, we’re just getting started. We recognize we’re only at the beginning of our monetization journey, but that puts us in the unique position to build a monetization ecosystem that serves all constituents in the audio space. We don’t have pre-existing ideas of what the audio ad tech space should look (or sound) like, but we do know that it must be built around the shared needs of simplicity and results for both the creator and advertising communities.
We know that audio ad tech must be built around the shared needs of simplicity and results for both the creator and advertising communities.
What we’ve learned so far is that audio creators want an easy way to monetize their content without getting bogged down in difficult administrative tasks. We hear their need for automation and a system so intuitive that it simply makes advertising happen so that they can focus on producing. We’ve created the foundations of this tech based on the feedback from our creators and we’ve already mapped out what our future looks like to meet their needs.
How We’re Modernizing Monetization
With accessible monetization capabilities available to all creators, now we’re going to begin leveraging our proprietary transcription technology to modernize the way advertisers can buy and target podcast audio inventory.
The podcast audio advertising space is still in early days of its evolution, but the contextual advertising market is expected to grow to an estimated $447B by 2027. We’ll help creators capture some of that value for years to come by providing advertisers the ability to utilize enhanced targeting capabilities, like sentiment analysis and entity recognition. This in turn generates new and valuable inventory — powered by our growing creator community — that is brand-safe for advertisers.
Come along on this monetization journey as we serve the open audio ecosystem! Feel free to give us feedback every step of the way. And every step of the way, know that we’re listening.