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Acast, the creator-first podcast company, has launched Sponsored Stories, a new ad offering available exclusively through the Acast Marketplace. Sponsored Stories take traditional sponsorship reads further, giving advertisers longer spots with high production values, more opportunity for storytelling, and a greater share of voice within ad breaks.
Unlike branded segments that are baked into specific podcast episodes, Sponsored Stories — like Acast’s traditional ads and sponsorships — are dynamically inserted in ad breaks across a show’s entire back catalog, and are available to buy across any of the network’s growing portfolio of more than 25,000 shows. That means the brand message can be more commercially focused, without needing to be contextually relevant to a single podcast episode, while remaining current regardless of how long ago the show itself was published.
Running anywhere from 90 seconds to four minutes in length, Sponsored Stories also allow brands — and podcasters — to be flexible and adventurous. The focus is on storytelling: a host might interview someone external to the podcast, for example, or record outside of the normal studio environment — which all makes for an immersive listener experience.
One organisation already taking advantage of Sponsored Stories is the Department for Education (DfE), which ran a campaign in the UK to promote its Get Into Teaching programme. The DfE sponsored the Guardian’s Football Weekly podcast, with the hosts talking to teachers at different stages in their careers about why it’s such a rewarding profession.
By using Sponsored Stories, the DfE was able to bring more authentic voices into the conversation, while the podcasters were still given the opportunity to deliver in the unique style their listeners know and love. The partnership has led to more than 70% of the DfE’s target audience agreeing that teaching is a career for people like them — the campaign’s main objective — while Sophie Gray, Assistant Campaign Manager for the DfE said the results were “above and beyond anything we’ve tried on audio before”.
Sponsored Stories are brought to life by Acast Creative, Acast’s market-leading in-house creative ad solutions team. Since its launch in 2019, Acast Creative has delivered effective branded content campaigns for advertisers including Netflix, Microsoft, Apple and Ford, and its work accounted for more than $6m in global revenue in 2020 — representing more than 258% year-on-year growth.
A quickly expanding team, Acast Creative is currently recruiting for roles including Junior Creatives, Creative Directors, and Commercial Development Managers, in Europe and the US.
Jack Preston, Director of Acast Creative, UK+ and US, said: “We’re fiercely protective of the unique audio environment podcasting provides, and what it allows advertisers to do. By introducing Sponsored Stories, we’re giving our podcasters and the brands they choose to work with more space to be creative — to do something a little different to the traditional sponsorship read — while at the same time creating an even more immersive experience for the listener.
“Many of our publishers and independent podcasters don’t have the bandwidth or the resources to create large scale branded content campaigns, so this product also gives them an opportunity to work with brands on creative executions at a higher price point.”
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