What Is the IAB’s Podcasting Buyer-Seller Checklist?

Effective communication is crucial in the world of podcast advertising. The IAB released the buyer-seller checklist to help publishers and advertisers manage change. It’s a great way to make sure both parties understand each side’s needs and capabilities. 

When the Interactive Advertising Bureau released new insights from this year’s Podcast Ad Revenue Report, there were many important takeaways, but one data point stood head and shoulders above the rest.

For the first time in the seven years that the IAB and PwC have been fielding this study, the results showed that the majority of industry revenue – estimated to be 61% in 2023 – is attributable to brand-building ads vs. the direct response advertising that has historically driven the lion’s share of podcast monetization.

For many waiting for evidence of this revenue shift, the news wasn’t a sign that DR marketers, who continue to drive benchmark-beating results through podcast advertising, were no longer finding value in the medium. 

Instead, it confirmed podcasting’s increasingly well-understood ability to drive performance related to lower funnel, conversion-oriented metrics and deliver on buyer objectives across the entire marketing funnel, including lifts in brand awareness and purchase intent.

Enter the Podcasting Buyer-Seller Checklist

It was against this backdrop of the changing makeup of podcast ad revenue that the IAB also released the Podcasting Buyer-Seller Checklist, which was designed, in part, to further buyers’ understanding of podcasting’s full-funnel impact through the creation of a shared framework for collaboration with their partners in the podcast publishing community.

The idea to create the checklist first came up in an IAB Audio Committee meeting during which Brittany Clevenger, Senior Director of Audio Partnerships at top podcast advertiser BetterHelp, made a simple but powerful point about the need for information sharing within the podcast industry that became the checklist’s guiding principle.

Referring to podcasting’s constantly changing commercial and technological framework, Clevenger said, “I’m sure there are plenty of things I could take advantage of” that she may not know about yet, and as soon as she said it, everyone else at the meeting immediately agreed that the creation of a blueprint to improve communication between buyers and sellers could be worth its weight in gold.

One of the reasons Clevenger’s comments resonated so much with her colleagues on the IAB Audio Committee is that she is one of the experts to whom professionals in the industry most often turn when seeking information and guidance about advertising in podcasts.

As Clevenger put it, if podcasting’s evolving nature means that even she isn’t always sure of what her sell-side partners can offer in the way of flighting and optimizing a campaign despite her vast experience, the odds are that most other podcast advertisers are in a similar state of curiosity and need regarding their own existing or potential investments in the space.

With this basic premise in mind, the decision to produce the checklist was born.

A Special Kind of Content & Advertising Landscape Deserves a Special Kind of Communication

When people listen to podcasts, they listen with intent. In a digital marketing universe filled with data describing the engagement levels of media consumers across different channels, the results of studies measuring the engagement level of podcast listeners stand out.

To cite just one of many examples, a joint study conducted by MAGNA Media Trials and Vox Media revealed that 82% of weekly listeners surveyed feel that the podcasters they listen to have a positive impact on their lives, with a nearly identical percentage saying it’s like listening to a friend.

The strength of these parasocial connections between podcast listeners and their favorite hosts naturally produces a halo effect for advertisers, and brands and agencies have noticed, with 58% of regularly surveyed buyers already investing in podcast advertising and nearly 80% saying that they are actively discussing its use.

Even with this interest in the power of podcast advertising, many buyers are uncertain about everything that can be accomplished in the space. Publishers and advertisers have a laundry list of ad tech capabilities and standards to navigate as podcasting matures.

Addressing this uncertainty and continuous evolution by fostering conversation between buyers and sellers is why the checklist was created, and it has therefore been designed to promote the widest, most granular possible range of information sharing across both sides of the negotiating table.

When first envisioning the strategic requirements of a new ad campaign, for instance, the checklist guides buyers and sellers through the critically important process of identifying – in advance – everything from core brand objectives, KPIs, and targeting parameters to all the data partners and reporting requirements needed to plan and execute the most effective measurement plan.

Similarly, when undertaking the equally important process of digging into the details of a targeting strategy, the checklist will prompt users to ask one another about everything from the potential use of device graphs and audience panels to the availability of sophisticated brand safety and suitability filtering and related advances in contextual targeting tools.

At every turn — from initial discussions about strategic approach, audience attributes, and targeting needs through activation, measurement, and reconciliation conversations — the checklist is full of recommendations and insights to ensure that buyers and sellers are on the same page from the determination of budgets and proper share of voice to the establishment of impression delivery and post-campaign reporting requirements.

Don’t Assume It Can’t Be Done

When working as part of a group of IAB members who came together to develop the Podcasting Buyer-Seller Checklist, Jay Green, SVP of Strategy and Operations at Soundrise, perfectly distilled the checklist’s focus on promoting buyer-seller communication as a means of navigating change by underscoring the benefits of asking questions about capabilities and needs. 

Citing the importance of diving deep into conversations about the design of a proper measurement plan as an example, Jay put his sell-side POV on the importance of information sharing this way:

“While podcasting may seem like it’s been here a long time now, it is still pretty nascent, and our capabilities are evolving daily. (We should) never pass up the opportunity to ask questions and evangelize what we can do. For our clients, the same holds. Don’t assume it can’t be done. That’s the fun of this industry. Someone is always working on it.”

The Podcasting Buyer-Seller Checklist is a launchpad for intensive communication and creative thinking about maximizing ROI with podcast advertising. Whether you’re a podcast publisher or a brand marketer looking to align your advertising messages with the influential podcast hosts and content that listeners have made part of their lives, the checklist will help you have some fun and take your own podcast advertising conversations to the next level.