Mike Kropko, who has been chief operating officer at Ad Results Media for the past six years, took on a new role this spring as co-CEO of this leading creator-based audio and video ad agency. Ad Age Studio 30 interviewed Kropko on the growing importance of the creator economy as well as audio and video’s role within that ecosystem as a marketing channel.
Ad Age Studio 30: Mike, audio advertising is certainly a broad category, and can include podcasts, terrestrial radio, satellite radio, digital audio and even YouTube. With such a diverse palette of formats and distribution methods, what is your approach to innovation here?
Mike Kropko: We’re constantly searching for what drives the best performance and how it was achieved, to continue to learn and refine as the marketplace evolves. It wasn't too long ago that audio pixel-based attribution was an innovative new offering and we were actually the first beta tester to ensure it worked properly. Now we’re leaning into other areas where audio may have also lagged it’s digital marketing counterparts, such as brand safety and programmatic media buying to create an offering that not only can target and measure like digital channels, but also perform substantially better.
Ad Age Studio 30: According to the most recent IAB podcast revenue report, programmatic ad buying represents only 2% of all podcast ad revenue. What opportunities do you see to expand this penetration?
Kropko: The biggest challenge with programmatic right now is that it means so many different things to different people and no one is speaking the same language. But today there are finally the right technology capabilities, as well as premium inventory available, that I predict that by the end of 2022 we’ll see a massive uptick in programmatic adoption.
For the longest time the industry didn’t have the proper tools and data for programmatic to deliver scale, or creative excellence using programmatic. But those days are behind us, and it’s now possible to use programmatic as a complementary tactic to our portfolio approach to campaign management. Content, audience growth and technology are coming together to deliver meaningful results for advertisers.
Ad Age Studio 30: What kind of inventory can brands access through programmatic buying? Can they still buy into niche or independent shows, or those shows that have diverse and inclusive hosts and producers?
Kropko: A wide variety of inventory is now available programmatically, either show-specific or run-of-network buys. But even more important are the improvements in targeting, that can include geo, genre or other attributes that access the long tale of shows, where a show-specific buy isn’t as efficient or effective.
Ad Age Studio 30: Let’s look into the future a bit. What are some of the biggest emerging trends that will impact the next generation of audio advertising?
Kropko: There are three areas that look like important trends I think will have a big impact on audio. Let’s take them one at a time.
First is measurement. The way we track success continues to improve and is crucial to bringing more dollars into the audio space. Audio as a channel combines the online and offline worlds, so there’s a constant effort to make sure full value is captured. I've been very excited to see increasingly sophisticated movement in this area and can only imagine it will improve further.
Next, the overlap of podcasting with video simulcast is expanding rapidly and we’re seeing great performance improvements here. The combination of podcasting and video also enhances the effectiveness of the creative, since a host’s audience can visually see his or her true passion and excitement for their material.
Finally, in the area of CPMs, I believe the supply side has been able to control pricing regardless of actual performance, but that’s shifting quickly as more inventory becomes available. I think in the second half of 2022 and into 2023 we’ll see a greater range in pricing that will unlock opportunities for those who have the expertise in the space to take advantage of them. I invite anyone who would like to explore these opportunities to contact us here.