Edition 24: Sponsored Podcasts

Note: Started writing this on the 18th. Now its almost 2020

It’s almost the holidays so that means things are slower & I can write this.

I had lunch with Amrita last week and one of the things we talked about was podcast advertising. Not long ago I bought the domain - sponsorapodcast.com with the idea to create a marketplace to match podcasters with niche audiences with advertisers looking to reach that niche. I haven’t worked on it since I bought that domain but as I think about it more, I think podcast advertising is going to move from the big agency/brand world to programmatic ads. If you’ve been following Spotify, they’ve bought Gimlet/Anchor & are increasingly moving into the podcasting world (both are a media company & a tech company with Spotify hosting podcasts, etc). When Spotify Ads launched it was in early beta & you could only target by music genre or playlist. A few months ago they rolled out targetting by podcasts (not within podcasts but folks who listen to podcasts as a category. I can see the world where Spotify can place ads within podcasts since Anchor already offered that functionality. Combining Anchor (which they own) with Spotify’s ad inventory/bidding & you have a programmatic exchange for podcasts.

The elephant in the room is … Apple.

Apple is likely the biggest player in the podcast player space and it’s unlikely they’re start inserting ads in podcasts you listen to since it isn’t part of their core push in subscriptions and I don’t see them going for subscriptions based podcasts (they’re heavily invested in media with AppleTv+, audio subs aren’t likely a big enough market) but companies like Luminary are already trying to build a premium audio company with subscriptions & exclusives. In the same breathe - Gimlet is likely going to do Spotify only exclusives in the near future which will require a Spotify sub to listen to.

Podcasts are a lot like the journalism/blogging world - there’s always going to to be free stuff but the premium content will be put behind paywalls (think NYT & The Information & WSJ).

Recently in the Martech world - one martech company acquired another martech company without disclosing financial terms. I always get skeptical esp when it happens in martech. I am talking about Terminus (programmatic ads/abm) acquiring Sigster (email signature tool). I have zero knowledge outside of the press releases but I’ve used both tools in the past and very surprised by the acquisition to be honest. Terminus is facing some competition from other cheaper/agile upstarts (ListenLoop/ Metadata) and they’re likely struggling to keep their momentum going. Like all martech tools, it’s one tool too many to do a small job - it wasn’t till recently they integrated with Salesforce to push/pull data.

Sigster is an email signature tool - sure it integrates with some marketing automation & other tools but in the end I imagine its incredibly hard to build a business tackling a small piece like email signatures syncing across the company for $10K/year price tags.

The acquisition was odd because both product roadmaps seem so different. It makes little sense for Terminus to acquire sigster and I don’t see how the two products will intersect short of placing programmatic ads inside folks email signatures. My guess - it was an acqui-hire of sorts. I wonder how the two companies will merge together in time and what that will look like.

It’s easy for me to do an armchair analysis and this is by no means to discredit the incredible hard work both companies have put in.

Of note: Both companies had Edison Partner as its lead in the last financing round. Sigster had raised a total of 11M and Terminus 30M. The acquisition cost was likely in the 10M-15M range (an educated guess based on no information). They also just appointed a new CEO. I expect more changes in 2020 in the whole Marketing Technology landscape.

It’s easy for me to do an armchair analysis and this is by no means to discredit the incredible hard work both companies have put in.

Attribution - again. I did do a breif demo with the CalibreMind folks. I’ll put detailed thoughts together another time but all attribution models seek to create a perfect world when such a thing doesn’t exist & its not as much about the tool or capturing/reporting on the data as much as it is about ‘what the hell are we going to do about it’.

There’s a general …. head roll when it comes to paid acquisition in saas these days. Alot of folks talk about it as if its a bad thing but Lenny’s breakdown shows paid drives of value for marketplaces. Of course paid needs to be done right with the economics in mind.

A collection of interesting takes. Next time I’ll talk about the 40-hour work debate & how it genius of BaseCamp to ‘have strong opinions’ & more companies need to do that. It’s marketing & it works. We live in the attention economy, you cant get attention & time if you regurgitate what everyone else is saying.

I went in a bit of a different route this time. I’d love to hear what you think.