The podcasting realm has blossomed into a full-fledged media powerhouse, with over 90 million Americans tuning in to podcasts weekly as of this year. This digital domain not only offers a haven for diverse voices and topics but also presents a fertile ground for monetization.
Acast, a pioneer in the podcast scene, leads the charge in helping creators monetize their podcasts. Offering a range of tools and services, it has won the trust of over 100,000 creators and turned podcasting from a hobby into a potential money-making adventure.
To understand how important is the podcast industry in today's digital landscape, we talked with Lizzy Pollott from Acast, a company that's all about connecting the world through storytelling. In our exclusive interview, Lizzy shares how Acast acts as a strong support for podcasters, helping them grow their audience and earn revenue.
As a Chief Communications & Brand officer, Lizzy leads all marketing, PR, and brand activity for the world's largest podcast company, Acast. Acast hosts, grows, and monetizes 100,000 shows including WTF With Marc Maron, Giggly Squad, The Adam Buxton Podcast, and those of the BBC, Economist, and Warner Bros Discovery. An avid runner, she listens to 3.7 hours of podcasts a day (often whilst running).
Spotlight: Can you tell us how Acast helps independent podcasters increase their audience and monetize their podcast?
Lizzy: We believe in the power of a world connected through storytelling and we’re on a mission to empower anyone, anywhere to connect through and create value from podcasting.
More practically, Acast provides a wide range of tools and services to help independent podcasters find and grow their audience and generate revenue. Firstly, our product team is continually conceiving, developing, and releasing features to help our podcasters optimize their shows for success — for example, integrations with services such as Headliner, to make social sharing as simple as possible. Or tools like AdCollab — a platform that enables our podcasters and advertisers to collaborate on campaigns in real time.
We also believe knowledge is power so are dedicated to educating our podcasters on the best ways to grow their podcasts through initiatives such as our comprehensive Learning Center, as well as workshops such as Aclass or accelerator programs such as The Funny Side.
When it comes to monetization, we have the most advanced podcast advertising solutions in the industry, designed to help as many podcasters as possible make money. We work with thousands of brands — from blue chip companies to local SMBs — to match them to the right podcasts either via our self-serve advertising platform or through our experienced sales teams.
The power always remains in the creators’ hands, allowing them to monetize their show in the way that best suits them. For example, they control the types of ads they take, and where they place them in the episode.
Many companies feature podcasts as a complementary part of their business. Can companies whose priority isn't monetization still benefit from using Acast?
Absolutely. We see a range of motivations in the companies that choose to make use of Acast for their podcasts. The distribution, analytics, and audience engagement that we provide add so much value regardless of monetization goals. One such use case is the use of podcasts for employees as an internal communications tool. Another is of course the companies that use podcasts to raise their brand awareness.
Tools and analytics provide tremendous help, but that's only part of what you need to thrive as a podcaster. Can you share some general tips for fellow podcasters?
Absolutely. I would say:
- Keep on honing your unique idea or perspective — take feedback from your listeners as well as your analytics to evolve your show into the best possible podcast it can be
- Maintain a growth mindset — there’s no silver bullet to growing your show. Keep testing and learning, and keep at it
- Stay consistent and persistent. It takes work — but it’s worth it
Are there any genres or types of content that perform exceptionally well on Acast, and why do you think that is?
No, everything does — this proves how diverse podcasting is as a channel. Every story has an audience and it’s our job at Acast to help people find that audience — whether you’re talking fly fishing, finance, or fungus. (There are currently 70 podcasts about fungus, yes)
Another reason why we see such massive success across all genres and various content types at Acast is that we are a global company. With experts on the ground in each market, Acast is uniquely positioned to help source, distribute, and monetize based on regional nuances.
How quickly can a new podcaster expect to start monetizing the content and generating revenue through Acast?
You can more or less start monetizing straight away through our marketplace. You turn on ads, set your ad preferences, and away you go. You can also set up a membership option through Acast+ right away too — charging listeners however much you choose to let them listen ad-free or to give them bonus content. But meaningful monetization takes longer. Podcasters need to focus on building an audience first and the revenue will often follow.
Can you tell us more about Acast's relationship and integration with podcast platforms like Spotify and Apple?
Acast is the open ecosystem. We send your podcast to all the major platforms like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, etc. with just one click. This approach makes podcasts instantly available and monetizable across all platforms, without any paywalls or fiddly processes.
Dynamic ad insertion is one of Acast's notable features for monetization. Can you explain how this feature works and why it benefits podcasters?
Dynamic Ad Insertion puts ads into an episode in real-time, the moment a listener hits "play" so that advertisers can serve timely and up-to-date messages across a podcast’s entire catalog, and podcasters can continually earn money. We invented it back in 2014, which in turn went on to create the commercialized podcast industry we know and love today.
It's equally important to also mention what Dynamic Ad Insertion isn't. Throughout the industry, Dynamic Ad Insertion is often used synonymously with programmatic advertising, which is a huge misconception and ultimately a detriment to podcaster monetization potential when there is such confusion around ad buying.
Programmatic refers to a way to transact when buying a podcast ad. Programmatic is a bid-based buying system, similar to a stock market, that fluctuates based on a variety of factors. All ads that are bought programmatically are dynamically served into podcast episodes — but all dynamically served ad content is not necessarily bought programmatically. In fact, many are bought directly through a dedicated sales rep.
At Acast, we offer both direct and programmatic buying routes for our advertisers.
How do you ensure advertisers and podcasters become the right match?
We use smart matchmaking. Think of it like Tinder, but much better. We do this through both humans and robots. Firstly, our sales teams work with advertisers and agencies with large budgets to curate the right podcasts for the right advertiser campaigns. Then, we use advanced data techniques like transcripts, machine learning, and AI to perfectly match advertisers to podcasts — right down to an individual conversation level in an episode — based on audience, tone, sentiment, keywords, and hundreds of other factors.
What are the key challenges the podcasting industry faces today, and how is Acast addressing them?
Discoverability and audience growth are key challenges. Consumption is very fragmented and as such, there’s no central way to discover new podcasts and attract new listeners. There's no one central source of truth either when we think about how the music charts used to work back in the day.
We work hard on this through both product integrations — with the likes of the industry's intelligence engine, Podchaser — as well as marketing support and solid relationships with the platforms surfacing the right content to the right listeners.
Finally, we educate our podcasters to help themselves grow their shows through our learning content in written, audio, and video form and also through our teams’ consultation.
Can you tell us more about podcasters who have become successful while using Acast as their primary platform?
So many creators have found huge success with Acast. That’s why more than 100,000 of them choose us. Success stories that stick out are, for example, My Dad Wrote a Porno - which was one of our biggest earliest UK hits. More recently the wonderfully-titled Who Shat at My Wedding? gained massive traction through Acast. I promise we have less risque titled shows too — like in the US, the hugely popular Giggly Squad from the always-funny Bravo stars Paige DeSorbo and Hannah Berner, and many others around the globe.