Podbridge Launches Ad Network

Podcast measurement and advertising company Podbridge has launched a new advertising network which will include inventory from large publishers like the BBC and Clear Channel radio.

“From an advertiser’s perspective, there’s been a clear shift in thinking about podcasting,” Murgesh Navar, Podbridge’s founder and CEO, told ClickZ News. “It’s no longer seen as a fad, or something on the leading edge. It’s definitely not mainstream, but it’s being seen as part of the media mix.”

Podbridge will serve and track audio ads to podcasts in its network. Most ads will be :15 or less, and can be placed within the podcast, or inserted before or after the podcast. If a publisher wishes to insert ads within the content, he can either use a cue sheet to notify Podbridge of the timestamp where the ad should be, or he can insert a tone into the broadcast which the Podbridge software will recognize and insert ads automatically at that point.

Podbridge’s technology inserts ads dynamically, so new ads are inserted at the time of download. In addition, Podbridge is able to update the ads automatically when users download a podcast through iTunes, so ads can be replaced each time a user synchs their iPod. At the same time, detailed playback information for the podcast and the ad are uploaded to Podbridge’s server at each synch. Podbridge expects to add plugins to do the same in other media player, such as the Sony PSP.

Ads will be sold through an exclusive relationship with Ronning Lipset Radio, an ad rep firm for the online radio industry. RL Radio also sells ads for Yahoo’s Launchcast, AOL Radio, Live365 Radio, Clear Channel Radio and MSN Radio. Since October, Podbridge has been inserting ads into newly launched podcasts from Sports Byline, which produces weekly radio shows for 200 terrestrial radio stations, Sirius Satellite Radio and the American Forces Network.

“For podcasting to become a mainstream medium, it needs a business model to encourage content providers,” Navar said. “We aim to help our content partners generate revenue by providing the insight and accountability needed to attract advertisers.”

Ads will mostly be sold on a CPM basis, based on downloads or number of listens, and occasionally as sponsorships of premium content. Podbridge is exploring pay-per-call options to place performance-based ads on its remnant inventory, Navar said. Targeting is available by age, gender, location and podcast content. Demographic information is obtained through a short form filled out when a user first downloads a client’s podcast. A campaign manager application shows advertisers a dashboard view of the number of times an ad is played, including which podcasts it appeared in.

At this point, the most eager podcast advertisers are national advertisers, Navar said.

Podcast ad networks are beginning to pop up with more frequency, especially since Apple integrated podcasting into iTunes in July. In January, both Kiptronic and Podtrac launched networks. Podtrac began selling ad space on individual podcasts in its network, and across multiple podcasts in a category, while Kiptronic’s podcast ad marketplace launched with an auction-based model. Several other players have also announced plans to launch networks.

According to Forrester Research, podcasting will reach 12.3 million households by 2010, as portable player adoption climbs and broadband reaches 62 percent of households. Already, 42 million iPods have been sold and 29 percent of iPod users have downloaded podcasts, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

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