I fell in love with podcasts in college. I was a commuter kid working my way through internships across Chicago. My siblings were young (read: aNn0y1ng), I was struggling to embrace my queerness, and I frequently found myself in unsafe, majority white spaces.
The podcasts I escaped into were my community — where I learned that waking up to Celine Dion on cleaning days was not out of the norm for my people, and found others who grew up watching Dateline on wash days.
But the landscape has evolved so much, compared to the space that embraced me years ago. I often wonder, “if I was a new podcast listener today, would I find the comfort, hope and opportunity that I did years ago?”
Would a pitch for The Read meet a dead end in 2021? Is there a show with Still Processing potential that hasn’t reached mainstream popularity because they don’t know ‘the right people’? Or because the trade-off for network support is not worth giving up the IP they’ve built from the ground up? Or because their audience is too small for brands to give them the time of day?
In the corporate world’s efforts to integrate diversity, equity and inclusion into the fabric of the way we do business, supporting creators who bring divergent, intersectional perspectives to the table is paramount to creating a more equitable future.
For the podcast space to continue to be (or, perhaps, return to) the idyllic, accessible medium that the industry purports it to be, brands must invest in diverse creators. And that means those beyond the shows at the top of the charts, or fleeting heritage month campaigns.
With that in mind, I’d like to share Acast’s approach to helping smaller podcasts and diverse talent grow through impactful revenue partnerships. The following three areas are priorities for my team in 2021 and beyond.
1. Long-term partnerships
In my time at Acast, and in my previous role, advertisers have come forward with two main asks: fully ownable branded podcasts, or creative executions within high volume shows.
While both approaches definitely achieve the goals of their corresponding KPIs, long-term content partnerships give brands a low-lift, cost-effective way to bring audio into their always-on strategy. We want to match our partners with smaller, thoughtfully made Acast shows — ones that are so well aligned they could be branded podcasts.
Together, we’ll find opportunities to authentically integrate your brand or product while supporting creators via marketing investment. Long story short: as our podcasters’ shows grow, so does your brand’s influence.
2. Creator ecosystems
Our podcasters are enterprising. Each show is truly its own business.
They’ve built shoppable newsletters, they’re going on tour (and if you’ve been itching to activate IRL, we have much to discuss), they’re writing books, and so much more.
These are all things brands can be a part of, or that they can help smaller podcasters build.
3. Symbiotic podcast content
Don’t get me wrong, ‘branded content’ is all but written across my forehead. But we have to come to terms with the fact that editorial products are usually way ahead of the advertising world in terms of producing things people actually want to consume.
So it’s no surprise that the best, most successful branded shows reflect editorial trends. That’s why, if you and I are lucky enough to work together, a key focus of our discussion will be how we can leverage our creators’ shows and stories to build something new.
We’ll create a uniquely ownable show for your brand, with the potential to grow and evolve over time — while giving both established and up-and-coming Acast creators a chance to share a different side of themselves with fans.
The result? An existing audience of loyal listeners ready to migrate to your new feed.