That media buy is a positive sign for publishers that are expanding their podcast programming. The deal lasts through the end of the year and includes a joint effort by OMG and streaming platform Spotify to develop audience research and a set of best practices on podcast ads. OMG is interested in the growing audience for podcasts and the improvements in ad targeting and measurement, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
As publishers look for ways to grow revenue, develop new audiences and repurpose their editorial content, podcasting presents a more enticing possibility.
The market is crowded with thousands of podcasts, but many are short-lived projects by people who run out of ideas or don't realize how hard it is to keep a show going after six episodes. The field is wide open for publishers better positioned to maintain a quality product, given their editorial expertise, familiarity with producing content and relationships with key sponsors.
Looking at Apple's list of top 100 podcasts, it's evident that only a handful of traditional publishers have created podcasts, such as The New York Times. Many of the other podcasts are from radio broadcasters or startups that Spotify has acquired in the past couple of years.
Spotify has identified podcasting as a way to create exclusive programming that differentiates its service from rivals like Apple Music, Pandora and Amazon Music. Music is a commodity licensed from the same record labels, while podcasts can be exclusive.
Podcasting listening declined somewhat during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic as fewer people commuted to work, a key time to stream audio programming. That slide appears to be a short-lived phenomenon, as more people get back to work or listen to podcasts at home on smart speakers.
The format has major advantages for publishers that want to provide audiences with a hands-free experience whiile listeners drive to work, take mass transit, exercise or handle chores. It's highly portable on smartphones, giving publishers a way to deliver audiences to advertisers almost anywhere.
Podcasting also is being monetized. Before the coronavirus pandemic dampened media spending, podcasting ad revenue had been forecast to grow to more than $1 billion next year from $679 million in 2019, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. OMG is committing to the format, and publishers should consider it, too.