As Panoply Media rebrands, CEO says ad efficiency must improve for podcasting to grow

Panoply Media rebrands to Megaphone to reinforce its tech focus

Panoply Media will now go by Megaphone, the same name as its hosting and ad-insertion service.

Brendan Monaghan, chief executive officer of the newly rebranded podcast technology company, told The Drum the name change is straightforward, one that's meant to highlight what the company does best.

Monaghan said customers identify the company most with its Megaphone offering, as media companies like iHeartMedia, Vox Media, Himalaya, and Cadence13 already use the platform.

Megaphone has also built out its audience-based ad targeting and measurement service Megaphone Targeted Marketplace (MTM), bringing on board advertisers including Chase, Citi, Google, Lexus and Starbucks.

Last fall, while still named Panoply, the company moved out of the content creation business. Now as Megaphone, sitting between publishers and advertisers with a keen focus on technology, the challenge is around scaling up podcast advertising without losing the medium's signature, host-read touch, Monaghan said.

"How do you create advertising that is really compelling and maintains that host-read feel, but that scales across hundreds of thousands of shows...? For this medium to grow considerably to the size we all want it to grow, you've got to improve efficiency and scale. And as much as I love the host-read format, obviously there are some operational challenges to that format in terms of how you get it in front of tons of different listeners," he said.

Monaghan added that, for publishers, the focus is around content creation, monetization and measurement, and that Megaphone will focus more on forecasting to help publishers predict their inventory to drive monetization.

For podcast advertisers using the Nielsen-powered MTM, Monaghan said the challenge is around audience segmentation and targeting.

The need for greater efficiency and scalability could lead to a more robust programmatic marketplace, but Monaghan warned that could see the same "canned ads that might be played across a pop radio station" make its way into podcasts.

"If you go that far down the [programmatic] track, you really lose the appeal of this medium. It's balancing having that cool brand campaign or that creative ad copy with the scale that's needed in the space. It just depends, so that's why I get a little hesitant when I hear the word programmatic — because, frankly, in the audio-on-demand space, the term gets really confused and it just depends on how you look at it.

"In terms of scaling the buying opportunities and providing tools that allow people to continue to build...," Monaghan said, "we're certainly exploring that programmatic space more and more."

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