Slate Group-owned Panoply, a podcast network launched in February, has acquired the Australia-based Audiometric software platform. Audiometric is a podcast publishing platform that includes ad insertion and analytics. The deal positions Panoply for expansion and more effective monetization across its portfolio of shows.
In a phone conversation with RAIN News, Panoply Chief Content Officer Andy Bowers said, “We wanted a robust Content Management System, one that was easy for producers to use. Ad insertion is also very important to us. For nearly a year we had been looking for a simple but effective ad-insertion technology. When we came across Audiometric, we liked it very much and were going to be their first enterprise level customer. But then we thought, hey, we could work together on this. That’s how the acquisition came about.”
For Panoply, the acquisition provides a unified publishing and monetization infrastructure for its programs, most of which are produced by other content companies. Panoply includes 15 Slate-produced podcasts and over 20 externally-made shows, including programs from The New York Times Magazine, Real Simple, and The Huffington Post. As the network grows, the Audiometric platform will provide a single point of entry, distribution, audience aggregation, and advertising.
Audiometric was co-founded by Australians Jason Cox and Darren Cox in 2012. The platform developed from Darren Cox’s own podcast, as he sought for better ways to insert advertisements. Audiometric aspires to be a complete Content Management System (CMS) for managing episodes, feeds, advertisements, and analytics. The ad-insertion piece handles pre-, mid-, and post-roll advertisements in podcasts. Ad insertions happen in real time, when an episode (including back episodes) are played.
We asked Andy Bowers about Panoply’s current advertising effort, and how Audiometric’s ad-insertion capability might affect the type of ad which appears in Panoply’s shows. In particular, whether Panoply will reduce the traditional host-read commercial which populates so much of podcast advertising.
“Host-read ads are not excluded from ad-insertion. You can have inserted host-read ads. they are just not recorded in the stream of the podcast, as it’s usually done now. You can have a host-read ad that is recorded and inserted at a different time — that has been in radio for years. That said, there might be other types of ads also. And we’re not only talking about direct response advertising.”
Direct response ads define podcast monetization to a large extent, but Bowers told us that Panoply (and Slate podcasts preceding the recent formation of Panoply) have enjoyed success marketing inventory to brand advertisers — an area which most observers say is lagging in podcast advertising. We asked Andy Bowers whether he regarded Slate/Panoply as a leader in that regard.
“Absolutely. Panoply is bullish on brand advertising, and we have success in that area. Our sales team is a combination of a unique Panoply resources and the Slate team which has been selling podcast advertising for 10 years. They work together. We just celebrated our 10th anniversary — Lexus was one of our first advertisers. so we’ve been doing brand advertising for a long time. In the last few months we’ve had Volvo, Delta, and Acura. It’s a big focus of our expansion in the advertising space.”
We asked Andy Bowers about ad revenue particulars, especially podcast CPMs.
“We are currently seeing most CPMs between $50 and $80. That range is staying strong. We think brand advertising will support those high levels.”
The Audiometric website has been re-branded with The Slate Group and Panoply, with a notice that a beta launch will occur in the fall. As of today, Panoply is accepting applications for beta invitations to Audiometric. Andy Bowers told us that podcasters who are invited to join the platform could be considered for potential inclusion in Panoply, but Audiometric will also serve other users outside of the Panoply brand. “Our first interest is to get our shows onto the platform where we can manage them and monetize them better. But we also intend to operate it in a curated way for producers beyond the Panoply network.”