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What does broadcast-to-podcast tech mean for audio advertising?

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By Chris Sutcliffe | Senior reporter

April 17, 2023 | 8 min read

Spotify is investing in tech that easily converts broadcast audio to podcasts. What does that mean for broadcasters’ ad revenue?

A radio sat on a wall

Much of radio’s commercial growth overall last year came from digital platforms / Naadir Shahul

Digital audio ad spend has been on the rise for years. Advertisers have responded positively to platforms like Spotify and Acast investing in attribution and measurement tools for digital audio: forecasts suggest ad spend on those platforms will continue for the next few years, and podcast ad spending is projected to hit nearly $2.2bn in 2023.

That presents an opportunity for both dedicated podcast platforms and radio broadcasters. The former can continue to reap ad spend as podcast consumption continues, while the latter can use its existing stock of audio content to expand into the digital audio space.

Spotify’s head of publisher podcast partnerships for the UK and Nordics Chelsea Bradbury believes that presents a major opportunity for broadcasters: “With this new broadcast–to–podcast feature, we’re empowering radio publishers to reach

existing audiences throughout their day, and connect with new, younger audiences. What’s more, we’re excited to unlock a new revenue stream for broadcast publishers as we make it easy for them to monetize their podcast content themselves or as part of the Spotify Audience Network.”

To that end, Spotify has recently announced the implementation of tech from Whooshkaa into its Megaphone advertising platform. It follows the acquisition of the broadcast-to-podcast tool in late 2021 and is designed to streamline the process of repurposing pre-existing broadcast audio content into a podcast format. Its global head of advertising business development and partnerships Emma Vaughn explained that the integration was made with the explicit goal of allowing broadcasters access to a new revenue stream, either through Megaphone or their own ad sales platforms.

Broadcasters including Bauer have made expansion into podcasting – through resurfacing of its audio content on podcast platforms – a focus of the past few years. In January it appointed Lucie Cave to the newly created role of chief creative Officer for podcasts and commercial content.

She believes that porting audio content to podcasts is imperative not for revenue, but for relevancy: “Consumers are spending more of their time online than ever before, and this is particularly so for younger people. A trend that will continue. While traditional broadcast platforms like FM and DAB+ will remain important, we simply must be relevant to our listeners in online spaces to retain our scale and deliver valuable solutions to our partners.”

Cave did not respond to The Drum's query about what, if any, impact the repurposing and republishing of audio content has on Bauer’s ad pricing strategy, though Bradbury noted that Spotify: “We don’t see any impact to ad pricing at this time. We see more opportunities for revenue and scale.”

Additive revenue

Other radio broadcasters are also recognizing the additive revenue that comes with transferring their existing stock of content onto podcast platforms. Global’s proprietary Global Player includes both radio and podcast content, while BBC Sounds makes its stock of audio content available no matter where it originally appeared.

James Hickman, managing director of Global Player, said: “Creating podcasts from radio shows is something we’ve been doing for a long time. It’s a no-brainer and is well-established and popular with listeners. Not only does it introduce podcast listeners to radio content, but it also works vice versa. It brings audiences into Global Player to experience the huge variety of additional content that’s available there.

“As technology and people's habits continue to change, we need to package content in different ways to suit their needs. Podcasts have become very popular so one exciting opportunity is to enhance the experience for listeners by offering a diverse range of shows.”

Bradbury believes that, for publishers, Megaphone and its broadcast-to-podcast functionality is set to unlock new revenue opportunities for an array of publishers who would otherwise have struggled to monetize their audio content: “Megaphone is the podcast platform of choice for leading enterprise publishers such as NPR which we recently announced at our Stream On event in March, as well as Keep it Light Media, Immediate Media, Reach and many more in the UK.”

In fact, much of radio’s commercial growth overall last year came from digital platforms, representing 6.9% of the overall growth in ad spend. It suggests that there is still a significant amount of headroom for traditional broadcasters to invest in digital audio and podcasting.

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Cave explains that for Bauer, that has created an imperative to invest in new digital audio solutions: “We see growth potential in audio on-demand as time with audio is increasing overall. We have recently announced Rayo which meets the needs of an online, on-demand environment and having this as well as a live radio offer is important as listeners’ needs change. Available initially as an app as well as on the web it will become the destination to unite all of Bauer’s world-class audio.”

Questions remain about the extent to which the audio space will be dominated by platforms. As sleeping giants like YouTube move into the podcasting space, and with platforms like Spotify making plans to expand their content libraries through partnerships with publishers, the revenue share between broadcaster and platform will evolve and change. For the moment, however, it seems that spend is largely additive when broadcasters repurpose their existing content as podcasts.

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