AI and influencers are making big waves in podcasting, opening up new possibilities for targeted and personalized ads. But that could bring up privacy and brand safety worries down the line. Agencies are exploring solutions like audio management platform Sounder to create more ad format options that use AI-generated audio, host-read sponsorships and personalized campaigns with custom generative AI voices.
Kristen Coseo from Ocean Media says AI tech like Sounder lets you run “contextually relevant campaigns with the added layer of brand suitability” – though it still needs some improvement. Publishers are also using AI to generate ads tailored to individual listeners, and algorithms to help influencers and hosts figure out the best content for their shows, according to Katie Kelly from Code3.
Kelly said 60% of people have bought something they heard from a podcast ad. She said audio creates more empathy and connection compared to visual media, building trust and making it easier to promote products. Plus, host-read ads are less disruptive than an outside voice being injected into a show.
Rob Silver from Razorfish noted that host-read ads often get better results than programmatic ads. He said their campaigns prove host-read ads outperform pre-recorded ones in key brand metrics like consideration and favorability.
Ian Clark, media director of Exverus Media, said that with Spotify experimenting with AI-generated ad reads based on hosts’ voices, there are potential copyright and privacy issues. He suggested audio should take a page from connected TV’s playbook and focus on algorithmic audience targeting, personalization and data collection.
Bill Simmons, founder of “The Ringer” podcast, reported in May that Spotify was exploring using podcasters’ synthetic voices for ads. Claire Russell, head of media at Fitzco added that scaling audio ads has been a challenge – she noted that over the last three years the number of host-read ads has been shrinking.
“If the host-read ad is baked in or pre-recorded, that affects relevancy too — if it’s baked into the podcast and you’ve got a seasonal message, it’s possible someone may listen to it months later when it’s not as relevant,” Russell said.
Traditional campaigns may offer more scale, but authenticity suffers for it. Still, Russell explained there have been recent advances in podcast measurement that let agencies compare effectiveness between the two types of campaigns as they try out new tools.
“It’s often these realities that have a big say in decision-making instead of just effectiveness,” Russell said.