Podcasts have become the media’s next giant growth market.

As advertising revenue swells year-on-year, the opportunities and approaches to monetization are shifting and becoming increasingly accessible, leaving the traditional models of sponsorship behind.

It is no longer the case that only the podcasts with the highest listenership of over 10,000 manage to secure the attention of advertisers (around 5%). We have been observing a move towards a bottom-up system that spreads advertising opportunities across the marketplace. 

Here at Spreaker we believe that this is great news for the whole industry and we have invested heavily in generating opportunities for innovative monetization models. We have therefore developed, first as a BETA version and now in a fully trained and tested system, an Ad Revenue-Sharing program based on ad injection.

Its most important feature is that it allows an unprecedented degree of control in the hands of the content creator to monitor exactly how ads are inserted into the content.

How ad injection works

Ad injection allows content creators to monetize from audio and visual advertisements automatically placed throughout podcast episodes at different intervals.

Spreaker users worldwide are able to activate Ad Revenue Sharing from the CMS. (See below for editing preferences).

To enable ad injection on a specific episode on Spreaker, the following conditions apply:

  • The author must be a premium subscriber

  • Revenue sharing program must be enabled for the account and terms and conditions must be accepted

  • The podcast must be configured to have at least one pre-, mid- or post-roll

Once these conditions are met, the episode is eligible for ad injection. The ads are provided by Spreaker’s trusted partners. Spreaker will check for available ads with the ad providers active on the listener’s country of origin.

In the eventuality that there are no ads available from any of the active providers (eg: frequency cap reached, no inventory, etc), the provided audio content will be the original one, so basically as if the ad revenue program is not active at all.

Ads are automatically inserted into both downloaded episodes and stitched onto on-demand streaming.

Ad injection works differently based on the capabilities of the application used to listen to Spreaker content:

  • Spreaker’s own website and embedded player, plus iOS/Android Spreaker Player app, plus iOS/Android Customized apps

  • Third-party playback systems (Apple Podcasts, Podcatchers, 3rd party apps and widgets developed with our APIs)

How targeting works

When listeners use Spreaker’s own website, apps or widgets to download or live-stream an episode, the Revenue Sharing program can rely on the exchange of user information to provide better-targeted adverts.

This means more relevant and satisfactory experience for listeners, content creators and ad providers alike. Other than the country of origin, Spreaker is able to gather accurate information for ad targeting, such as age and gender for registered users, or platform (iOS/Android) provided advertising identifiers. This enables a very accurate (but still strictly anonymous) targeting. We don’t disclose in any way any sensitive information.

For example, the same episode downloaded by different listeners in New York and North Carolina would be accompanied by ads relevant to the respective users.

So, based on the inventory of the ad providers, each listener can potentially get a totally different set of ads.

How impression tracking works

Again when an episode is being accessed via Spreaker’s website, apps or embedded players, it is possible to track exactly what part of each single ad has been played, enabling the ad providers to sell the ad slots for a higher CPM (cost per impression) than the market average for ads on downloads.

The system knows exactly which ads have been played and until which point in time and report this helpful information back to the ad provider. Specifically: it tracks general impressions (if the ad has been played) and real-time playback information such as:

  • The playback has reached the first quartile of the ad

  • The playback has reached the midpoint of the ad

  • The playback has reached the third quartile of the ad

  • The playback has reached the end of the ad

Also, for the companion banner (if available):

  • The banner has been displayed

  • The banner has been clicked

Third-party playback systems

Third-party playback systems are apps/websites that are not developed by Spreaker, such as iTunes, or podcatchers like PocketCasts/Overcast.

Targeting and tracking work differently with these, as the exchange of user information is not managed by Spreaker. The only information Spreaker can provide to these systems is the URL of the episode audio file. This URL will be used to download the episode, or play it back in a streaming fashion.

In both cases, Spreaker doesn’t have access to any insight on what the user actually did with that episode at the other end (has it been listened after the download? How many times?) so the ad injection mechanism works differently, whilst also being less accurate.

Also, the ad providers sell those ad slots on lower CPM, since they know it’s not possible to guarantee any accurate impression tracking and targeting.

So, when one of those apps requests to download an episode from Spreaker, if matches all criteria and we have got at least 1 available ad from the providers, the injection starts and the download request is automatically redirected to a different endpoint that will do a real-time stitching of the ads audio files into the episode one.

This process is totally transparent for the end-user, that will download an audio file as usual, but they'll get the stitched version instead of the original one.

As for tracking on third party software, an ad is tracked as "impressed" when a client downloads at least part of it. If you have a 1h audio file with a pre-roll and a post-roll, and the client downloaded just the first 30 minutes of the entire file, Spreaker will track the impression only for the pre-roll ad.

Editing your preferences

In the Content Management System, the content creator can configure per-podcast default settings that control how many pre-rolls and post-rolls are active for each episode, and the maximum duration of each one of them. Check this article to know more.

It’s a self-activated, self-service system, so you can change the settings or switch it off altogether at any time. All settings are evaluated each time Spreaker receives a request to play/download an episode, so if the content creator changes the settings, those settings will be applied in near-real-time.

Using the "Download" button from the CMS, the content creator will always download the original audio file, without any ads.

Monitoring monetization

You will start monetizing as soon as you join the program.

Every time an ad gets an impression through Spreaker’s website, apps or widgets you’ll get 60% per Cost per impression or CPM (1,000 impressions), depending on a variety of factors, like who is providing the ad.

In the CMS, the “Monetization” section provides a complete dashboard where the content creator can check the amount of impressions and revenues accrued on a daily basis. These metrics are calculated with a few hours delay and relate to the sum of all ads played in all the episodes created.

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