SiriusXM creates a podcasting brand safety and suitability tool for advertisers

Illustration of a microphone next to a book that says 'Buy This Mattress.'

Broadcasting company SiriusXM on Thursday introduced a brand safety and suitability verification offering for podcast advertisers and agencies.

Developed in partnership with brand safety company Barometer and marketing automation platform ArtsAI, the tool will give agencies and brands the ability to run an ArtsAI pixel on their campaign, and then use Barometer to measure suitability and safety of that contextual targeting. Reporting will be available mid-campaign so users can optimize it in real time, and post-campaign analysis will include brand suitability and contextual insights.

Media agencies can continue to use their contextual targeting for a campaign through SXM Media, the ad sales arm of SiriusXM, and its subsidiary tech arm AdsWizz, but this new arrangement will entitle those advertisers to third-party validation for the brand safety/suitability metric. The SiriusXM Podcast Network includes its owned and operated studios, including Stitcher Studios and Team Coco, and publishers including NBC Universal and OWN.

“We just heard from so many advertisers that were on the brand side and agency side that they wanted the [brand safety and suitability] extension into podcasting,” said Lizzie Widhelm, svp and head of B2B marketing and ad innovation at SXM Media. “They understood this audience was growing, that it was a really intimate format and something that could drive ROI.”

Currently, marketers are only able to evaluate most brand metrics post-campaign, explained Scott Walker, svp of ad platform at SXM Media and AdsWizz. Now, he added, they can apply more nimbly and optimize their targeting approach to increase reach if certain aspects were too restrictive or target certain types of shows or content.

In the long run, SXM execs hope these tools help advertisers expand their targeting. In one case, Widhelm explained that an auto retailer initially avoided all news shows and news content. Barometer was able to flag a suitable Formula One racing news show that otherwise would have been excluded, thereby helping the brand extend beyond its initial audience and category targeting.

“This was a good example of being able to pull in that additional reach of that show, by understanding that it would have fallen out of [consideration] — because it would have been classified as news if you just took a really strict targeting approach,” Widhelm told Digiday.

Agencies also said this helps the podcast business navigate brand safety and suitability challenges in the absence of platform standards for content or FTC regulation.

“This priority is critical for brands to access the long tail of podcasts with greater confidence and have more tools to avoid misaligning their company values with the content they sponsor,” said Dan Granger, CEO of podcast ad agency Oxford Road. “This is a big win for the advertising community.”

Tamara Zubatiy, Barometer’s cofounder and CEO, added that the partnership builds on existing show and post-campaign reporting — giving advertisers real-time reporting on the episode and show level where ads are running. It provides brand suitability data, such as contextual tags and new data feeds to optimize a campaign’s performance, that lets users tweak as they go, “instead of just having to wait until after the campaign ends,” Zubatiy said.

Erik Lundberg, chief revenue officer of ArtsAI, believes this will pave the way for more ad growth in the podcast industry. “This will help the podcast ad industry grow substantially, allowing marketers to buy deeper into even more podcasts,” Lundberg added.

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