Given the new FTC guidelines, it’s more crucial than ever to maintain compliance with all influencer partnerships. See how Veritone One stays on top of it.
- The Federal Trade Commission has released a new set of guidelines for all endorsements.
- These guidelines primarily speak to influencers creating social media content; podcasting, meanwhile, is not mentioned.
- Our historical adherence to these guidelines allows Veritone One to continue business as usual.
What are the new guidelines?
The key takeaways have been distilled by Robert Freund, an advertising and ecommerce lawyer in his Twitter thread on the matter. A few of them here:
Influencers need not share a positive message of a product for an ad to require disclosure. If they post a photo or video that could convey use or approval of a product—and, crucially, if they have a relationship with that brand—that constitutes an advertisement and requires disclosure. Similarly, if they have something negative to say about a competitor’s product, their partnership with the original brand must be disclosed.
And when they disclose that partnership, there’s no room for ambiguity. Simply tagging the brand in the post, or even thanking them, is not sufficient.
Some new guidelines are specific to the medium in which the sponsored post appears. For example, an ad disclosure in the comments of a Facebook post may not be noticed by consumers—as such, it must be made in the post itself. Similarly, because of the “many competing elements” in a TikTok video, including “#ad” in the caption is not conspicuous enough for the FTC. A clear disclosure must be part of the video’s text overlay so that it is recognizable at first glance.
So wait—is this just for social media posts?
You might have noticed that all the examples we gave above pertain to TikTok, Facebook, or Instagram content. So what does this mean for Veritone One, an agency that specializes in audio and creator-based video advertising?
It’s true that podcasting is not explicitly mentioned in the new guidelines, but that doesn’t mean it’s a lawless land; it’s just that podcast ad breaks are generally delineated a lot more clearly than other social media content. Still, brands should err on the side of caution for all influencer partnerships. Use individual promo codes, unique URLs, and/or bespoke offer language in your Call to Action to let listeners know an influencer has a stake in referring listeners—and don’t request an endorsement from anyone who hasn’t tried your product.
How is this affecting strategy at Veritone One?
The short answer: it’s not.
And that’s not because we’re cavalier about advertising guidelines. On the contrary: we’ve always been incredibly stringent about our endorsements meeting FTC requirements.
Each of our accounts has a creative lead who’s well-versed in what a successful integration looks like, including from a compliance perspective. Every piece of copy we send out includes detailed directions on where and how to disclose sponsorship, as well as any disclaimers the brand needs us to make. Before an execution goes live, our creative team previews the content to ensure everything is on the level; then, our compliance team gives it a final review and provides feedback when it airs.
To us, the most important thing is fostering trust within all of our relationships. The creators we partner with trust us because they know that we’ll keep them abreast of all FTC guidelines and will never ask them to compromise their integrity.
That means providing a product for them to try and love before they talk about a brand. It means kickoff calls where creators can get to know a brand and their mission, ask their questions, and all parties can mutually establish expectations around an endorsement. And it means an open line of communication with our dedicated account team at every step of their execution.
The same goes for our clients. We do everything in our power to ensure they never find themselves at the end of an endorsement controversy—and a finger on the pulse of the industry is just one part of the equation. Our contracts with creators stipulate that each integration be compliant with applicable laws, including FTC guidelines and required disclosures related to paid versus editorial content. And, we continually vet the creators we work with, flagging potential threats to our clients’ brand image.
Veritone One’s commitment to transparency between clients and creators, and between creators and consumers, has been a cornerstone of our long-standing partnerships. So we’ll continue to keep an eye out as the industry evolves—but for now, we’ll continue with business as usual.
Edited by Rubi Mora
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Diversity in Practice: Amplifying Black Voices in the Podcast Space
See how Veritone One is implementing DEI values into our media plans.
- Despite growing listenership and demand for Black-hosted podcasts, only 14% of podcasters identify as Black.
- Veritone One has led a thought leadership initiative to combat the lack of diversity in podcasting, including an 15-20% increase of ad spend on minority-owned podcasts.
- By retooling internal processes to produce quantitative data that informs more diverse media buys, we are helping clients and networks value underserved voices in the podcast ecosystem.
An Industry-Wide Problem
Let’s set the scene: it’s Podcast Movement 2022 in Dallas, Texas, and the Veritone One team is excited, as always, to connect with and learn from our peers in the industry. Among the usual encouraging insights, however, was one disconcerting takeaway: the lack of diversity in podcast advertising and namely, the lack of Black podcasts in the space. According to that year’s The Creators, a study by Edison Research in collaboration with Sounds Profitable, just 14% of podcasters identify as Black and/or African American.
While we appreciated the industry-wide visibility Podcast Movement brought to this issue, we knew that bringing attention to it was just the first step. So, in response, our SVP of Growth Bart Roselli, Account Strategist Kedric Walls, and Senior Podcast Buyer Morganne “Mo” Cameron led the thought leadership initiative for our agency to support underserved voices in the podcast ecosystem.
Speaking to Black Listeners
2023’s edition of Infinite Dial, a long-running annual study by Edison Research, reports that 45% of Black Americans ages 12 and up listen to podcasts each month, while 28% are weekly listeners. The study broke down the top ten podcasts Black Americans listen to as a whole and found that over half feature Black hosts, illustrating the demand for Black voices in the space. The Breakfast Club, Drink Champs, and The Joe Budden Podcast are among the shows topping the list for Black podcast listeners.
People want to hear Black perspectives, to learn from them and in some cases, see their experiences reflected. Another report from Edison Research, in collaboration with SXM Media and Mindshare, the Black Podcast Listener Report, revealed that 75% of Black monthly podcast listeners frequently or occasionally follow or seek out podcast content that focuses on Black narratives and features Black voices, with 63% considering it “crucial” for podcasts to do so.
Furthermore, of special interest to our clients is the fact that Black weekly podcast listeners are more likely to engage with podcast advertisers than the overall U.S. weekly podcast listener. After hearing an ad spot on one of their favorite podcasts, for example, 52% of Black weekly podcast listeners (compared with 44% of U.S. weekly podcast listeners) purchased a product or service.
Currently, Veritone One is focused on guiding the creation of new content that speaks to listeners’ wants and needs, with the understanding that an increase in resonant content for listeners will lead to a demand for advertising inventory from our clients. This then becomes a positive feedback loop: if our network partners continue to see a push for these types of placements, media plans, and advertising opportunities, they will continue to push for these shows to be created and supported.
Our Impact So Far
Anyone can “talk the talk” when it comes to wanting to see diverse creators in podcasting, but at Veritone One, we’re fortunate enough to have the infrastructure and leverage in the space to walk the walk. This means, for example, focusing on growing discoverability for DEI-centered content across our media plans and overall buy strategy.
Over the last few years, our teams have forged deeper relationships with key vendor partners that stand behind amplifying a range of voices—Slate/ForeverDog, Studio71, SXM/Midroll, iHeart – Black Effect Network and Outspoken Network, Lemonada Media, Acast LGBTQ+ Voices, and Urban One Podcast Network to name a few—for our client brands.
So far, Veritone One has seen an estimated 15-20%—and growing—increase of ad dollars into minority-voiced podcasts. These ever-evolving long-term partnerships serve as a test-and-learn tool for our clients to understand, connect, and broadcast to wider audiences.
As we look ahead, we intend to expand our advocacy and amplify the influence of diverse voices in a meaningful way to drive results for our clients. In addition to thoughtful media rationale and strong recommendations on our media plans, we are building naming conventions into our tech and internal processes to support our strategy with quantitative data.
This is where Veritone One’s proprietary data comes in; with years of historical spend under our belts, we are uniquely positioned to make a compelling argument for diversity that’s motivated by our values, but proven out by dollars and cents.
Beyond internal processes, we are dedicated to remaining educated on the state of the industry through participation in engagement research and webinars, such as “Understanding Black Audiences & Their Connection to Audio,” powered by SiriusXM Media. Per the Black Podcast Listener Report, 48% of Black monthly podcast listeners have been listening to podcasts less than a year. We know listenership in this demographic is only growing, and on behalf of both our agency and our clients, we strive to meet listeners where they are.
Diversity teaches us to acknowledge. Inclusion teaches us to learn, connect, and build. And at Veritone One, we are just getting started.
Edited by Rubi Mora
Not All Podcast Ads are Created Equal. Here's Why.
The research is in: here’s the type of podcast ad that brands should shape their strategy around in 2024—and the type they should skip.
- As the medium and listenership continues to evolve, YouTube has emerged as the most utilized platform for accessing podcasts.
- Consumers describe native YouTube advertising “annoying” and “disruptive”—but have a much more positive opinion of host-read podcast ads.
- Veritone One can help your brand make the most of the medium as you shape your digital advertising strategy for 2024.
The most popular way to consume audio… is now video.
What a year 2023 was for audio. As we return to work, many of us will start to compile our learnings from the previous year to plan on building out our strategies for the new year. Brands now know that podcast advertising will become—if it isn’t already—an essential part of their digital strategy in 2024.
Per end-of-year stats from Insider Intelligence, 41% of people in the US tune into a podcast every month and 28% of the population do it weekly, consuming around 11 episodes on average. In addition, around 144 million people listen every month.
And where is all this podcast consumption happening, you might ask? This is where YouTube enters the chat.
YouTube as a podcast platform has been growing since 2019. It is currently the most utilized podcast listening platform in the U.S., followed by Spotify and Apple. However, if you are like me, when you are immersed in a podcast on YouTube, nothing ruins the experience more than the jarring native ads that pop up and interrupt your stream. Sometimes they’re much louder than the podcast you’re enjoying; sometimes they’re just a complete shift away from your content that ruins the mood. Even when you’re able to click the “Skip Ad” button after a few seconds, the damage is done—simply put, those ads are aggravating. And I’m not the only one who thinks so.
There’s just one problem: traditional advertising is no fit for such a personal medium.
In one of 2023’s most compelling deep dives on the subject, Sounds Profitable’s Sound You Can See: Podcasting’s Video Dilemma, a study showed that native advertising is viewers’ chief complaint with accessing their favorite content on the platform. Yep, turns out no one is a fan of those annoying interruptions.
In fact, the top five terms used by my fellow ad skippers to describe this type of spot were “annoying” (43%), “disruptive” (40%), “too frequent” (26%), “irrelevant” (26%), and “too long” (21%)—hardly the headspace in which your brand wants to reach consumers.
This presents a challenge for brands advertising on YouTube, especially when we consider that the authentic connection podcast hosts can foster with their listeners is the very foundation on which the medium’s success was built.
With over $2 billion in placed media of proprietary host-read ad performance data, Veritone One can confirm the following:
- Listeners have a better opinion of and pay more attention to ads that are host-read.
- Hearing the host talk about a product in their own voice reinforces the direct link between the sponsorship and the podcast.
- That being said, podcast ads delivered by the host come across as more of an intimate recommendation than a paid advertisement, allowing a brand to build credibility in an organic way.
- Host-read ads within podcasts are considered less jarring than traditional radio or TV ad breaks; because they tend to feel more like content, users are less likely to skip them.
That’s why our ethos at Veritone One is to create ads that enhance, not diminish, the personal connections between podcast hosts and their listeners. Hearing what hosts have to say about their favorite products is just another way to get closer to them—and the hundreds of campaigns we’ve scaled successfully just go to show how lucrative that can be for your brand.
Host-read ads to the rescue!
The same Sounds Profitable study above revealed an interesting dynamic: video and podcast consumers are not by any means mutually exclusive. Oftentimes, they are the same people. And while they consider native ads on YouTube intrusive, viewers express positive sentiment towards ads within podcasts delivered by hosts or other personalities—say, a fan-favorite producer—associated with the show.
And this is especially true for Premium users: close to 90% of those consumers said that they don’t mind host-read ads in their favorite podcast, compared to only 6% who dislike them. The top three attributes these viewers used to describe host-read podcast ads were “informative” (33%), “interesting” (26%), and “relevant” (25%).
As you can see, it’s not the advertisement itself that rankles listeners, but how it’s executed. The right type of podcast ad, fueled by strategically crafted messaging and a targeted media buy, makes all the difference. And that’s where Veritone One enters the chat.
In conclusion, not all podcast ads are created equal.
As we navigate the dynamic landscape of audio in 2024, the surge in audio consumption, particularly on platforms like YouTube, brings both opportunities and challenges to the savvy advertiser. Here at Veritone One, our teams understand the evolving landscape of audio, as well as how best to continue harnessing the power of podcasting’s authentic and influential nature to create meaningful connections with our audience.
The future of audio is exciting, and by aligning our strategies with the preferences of the evolving consumer, we can make 2024 a landmark year for audio advertising. Trust me: you won’t want to skip this.
Edited by Rubi Mora
4 Top Takeaways from Podcast Movement 2023
Veritone One provides some top takeaways from the 2023 Podcast Movement.
- More and more partners are becoming educated on, and interested in, Simulcast buys.
- Clean, accurate third-party performance data is imperative to future ad spend allocation.
- The podcast advertising industry is seeing a return to form, with dynamic ad insertion buys deprioritized in favor of host-read embedded ads that drive proven performance.
- Our relationship with network partners only gets stronger year after year.
Simulcast is still all the buzz.
As you might have heard in our recent post on the matter, Simulcast is a mutually beneficial solution for advertisers and networks looking to make the most impact across today’s fragmented media landscape.
One major takeaway from this year’s Podcast Movement? Simulcast shows no signs of slowing down, as we saw more and more partners not just broaching the topic, but also asking the right questions so that they can start implementing visual components alongside their podcast buys in the most effective way.
Veritone One has been ahead of the curve by several years. As industry leaders, we are uniquely situated to educate our partners on best practices that will help them make the most of a Simulcast buy—and to continue to define industry standards.
Dollars need to follow the data.
When it comes to shaping a performance strategy, we can’t overstate the importance of starting with honest, clean data. We’re longtime proponents of using data-driven insights to optimize our campaigns, and we have the tech stack to prove it.
This year, the conversation kept coming back to the need for uncompromised translation of data from third-party tracking tools to our internal analytics platform. Making sure our metrics are aligned and our partners are accountable is imperative; it provides us with the most accurate performance data and allows our media team to allocate future spend with confidence.
Buyers’ advice to networks: get back to basics.
Speaking of future spend: sometimes to figure out where the industry is going, we need to look back at what’s worked in the past. This year, we saw trends for podcast advertising harken back to the embedded host-read ads that built this ecosystem in the first place.
During the peak of the pandemic, Podcast, and consequently podcast advertising, grew substantially, and the flood of demand led to the adoption of ad tech solutions meant to maximize inventory. Proponents of dynamic ad insertion extolled the virtues of its flexibility: whereas an embedded ad read would ostensibly live in a podcast episode in perpetuity, DAI allowed for real-time decision making in which a listener would be served an ad during any given podcast download. From an impression fulfillment standpoint, this was especially advantageous to networks, and the high demand meant they had no trouble selling inventory at increased CPMs—even if that filled inventory didn’t perform as well for brands as an embedded host-read ad.
But this year, we’ve noticed the tides shifting again. Networks are taking heed of buyers’ advice to prioritize the ROI of the DR brands that built the podcast advertising space. That means focusing more than ever on embedded ad reads, host-read endorsements, and ensuring impression delivery is fulfilled when audiences are most engaged.
Leveraging proprietary data and our position in the podcast ecosystem, we have been able to educate our network partners on what has worked historically and what will deliver sustained growth to all parties moving forward.
Our partner relationships really do get better with time.
We are heartened by the positive feedback we continue to receive about our team every year. Hearing our partners tell us we are truly the best at what we do is always nice, but looking back at what we’ve accomplished together is all the more gratifying.
Because if you ask us, one of the things we do best is build and maintain deep, constructive partnerships with our vendors. These relationships aren’t just long-standing; they evolve to meet the moment, which is why we have something new and exciting to discuss every Podcast Movement. Our commitment to expanding our offerings and collaborating with partners to get creative with campaigns is unwavering, even—especially—after a year of uncertainty.
Connecting with the people who have helped us do such great work is an incredible experience and one that makes us look forward to this event every year.
Edited by Rubi Mora
Meet the Author
Evelyn is an Associate Director and leads the Media Management Team in client launch, campaign management, and onboarding. She leverages her cross-departmental experience to develop methodical operational changes to drive efficiency. Evelyn prides herself in creating automated and productive solutions for clients and network partners alike.
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