WarnerMedia sets up podcast ad sales team as it develops Xandr relationship

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WarnerMedia has formed a podcast-dedicated sales team to support its slate of current and upcoming projects.

Jason Baron, senior vice-president of direct marketing for WarnerMedia Ad Sales, will lead the sales team within the company’s podcast network.

Though he didn’t give a specific number, Baron told The Drum that the sales team is small but will cooperate with other sales groups across WarnerMedia.

“The way that we view it is every person that sells anything is a potential podcast sales person,” said Baron. “Our team is viewed as the center of excellence and we're selling it, but we want to incorporate all of our partners across the companies that are selling digital [or] linear and arm them to sell podcasts.”

The podcast ad sales unit will work directly with brands and agencies, with Baron saying there’s some automation to the buying process but no true programmatic offering.

WarnerMedia’s sister company Xandr has a buy-side platform that, as part of its cross-media offering, makes audio inventory programmatically available. However, advertisers that want to go the programmatic route won’t have access to WarnerMedia podcast inventory through Xandr, Baron said.

While on stage at the IAB Podcast Upfronts in New York, Baron touted WarnerMedia’s relationship with Xandr and AT&T and the enhanced insights each company can offer. After the presentation, Baron told The Drum that the merger with AT&T is still “relatively new” and “we’re going to be engaging with Xandr and AT&T” more over time on WarnerMedia's podcast business.

Both WarnerMedia and Xandr have also been highlighting AT&T’s 170m so-called “consumer touchpoints”, or the direct relationship the telecom giant has with its customers.

Tyler Moody, vice-president and general manager of WarnerMedia Podcast Network, also sited the recency of AT&T’s acquisition of WarnerMedia, saying “all sorts of ideas are on the table” regarding how to leverage those millions of consumer touchpoints.

To take advantage of the mobile-first relationship most consumers have with podcasts, Baron said WarnerMedia has talked with AT&T about the possibility of somehow integrating its podcasts into the telecom company’s mobile phone offering.

“We feel like it's a golden opportunity,” said Baron.

WarnerMedia is onboarding a new sales team as it dives further into podcast production. Adding to its stable of more than 70 podcasts, WarnerMedia announced new projects from HLN, Turner Sports and TCM. WarnerMedia also showed off three new shows from The Roost, the podcast network of its subsidiary Rooster Teeth.

Moody noted that there will be more content to come, especially from CNN and WarnerMedia’s sports properties, which are “going to be investing heavily in the space and adding team members for more original audio”.

Baron said that the new sales team will eventually work across all of WarnerMedia as each brand develops more podcasts.

“I think ultimately we're going to be selling across all of WarnerMedia, all of the brands that we have. We're only engaging with some. Eventually it will be all. We want to use all of the tech that all of the brands can offer. We’re not there yet with some, but that it’s coming,” said Baron, adding that the AT&T relationship should quicken those technological advancements.

Adding to its ad offering, WarnerMedia is also bringing to market a data cloud that aims to help advertisers target specific audiences based on factors such as education and income.

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