Podcast brand safety and coronavirus: a brave new world

In our ongoing series of articles, we are taking a look at how coronavirus is impacting podcast advertising. If you haven’t already, take a look at our first and second articles in the series.

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Photo by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash

We were recently approached by a major telecom interested in testing the podcast ad market. Aside from understanding which shows and genres their competitors were on and their estimated budgets, they were especially keen to understand what level of brand safety they could ensure in the often colorful world of off-the-cuff show hosts and guests.

Magellan AI has the world’s largest database of podcast advertiser data. To demonstrate how they could avoid advertising on shows that use offensive language (see George Carlin’s “7 words you can’t say on TV” for a primer), we ran keyword searches scanning the transcripts of over 24,000 podcast episodes. They came away from that with a list of shows and networks that they would need to be cautious of and another to use as a starter to build a media plan.

But this got us thinking, how could podcast advertisers handle brand safety when it comes to the coronavirus? Some recent articles, like this one from CNBC, suggests that some companies are taking steps in other mediums to ensure they are not advertising alongside content about the global crisis.

Much like what’s happening outside our doors, has the virus spread to all reaches of the podcasting world? If we ran a keyword search for COVID-19 related terms, would we see some genres not affected or very little? Is it possible to find a genre NOT talking about coronavirus?

Here’s what we found:

The graph above illustrates the percentage of podcasts by genre that have discussed some topic related to the 2020 coronavirus/covid pandemic.

It’s natural to assume that podcast content created over the last few weeks reflects the ubiquitous coverage of COVID-19. And as the graph above illustrates, podcast coverage of the pandemic has indeed increased across the board. While we expected to see the news genre lead all others in terms of overall increase in coverage (+58%), we were surprised to see such an uptick in comedy (+65%), technology (+42%), and education (+40%).

In addition to the breakdown by genre above, here are some quick stats for the month of March:

  • Across all genres we looked at, we’ve seen a 43% increase in podcasts talking about the coronavirus (8% in January, 51% in March)
  • 1132 podcasts released episodes that mention coronavirus
  • 1728 individual advertisers appeared on those podcasts
  • 11,961 ads were detected on those podcasts

In our next post, we’re going to look to look at how advertisers are adapting their ad strategy post-coronavirus.

Magellan AI creates tools that help marketers at brands like SimpliSafe, Wix, and ThredUP spend intelligently on podcast advertising. Podcast publishers like WNYC and Audioboom use Magellan to track advertisers spending money in the podcast space. Learn More.

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Magellan AI helps leading podcast networks like WNYC, Gimlet Media and Wondery grow revenue. Discover 4,000+ brands advertising on podcasts at www.magellan.ai

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