Interview Transcript

Disclaimer: This interview is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a basis for investment decisions. In Practise is an independent publisher and all opinions expressed by guests are solely their own opinions and do not reflect the opinion of In Practise.

Thank you for taking the time. I'm eager to learn about your experience and your perspective on the podcasting space. A good starting point for our conversation might be some background on your current role, what you're doing now, and how podcasting fits into that.

I'm the director of National Audio and we have a team of about 25 people. We're spread across three offices. I'm the lead in the New York office, so most of the accounts, not all, that flow through New York, flow through me, depending on the situation. There are different conflicts. For example, if I work on a fast food client, I can't work on two of them because of conflicts of interest and bandwidth.

I've been doing this for about 26 years, which is crazy to say. I started in local, moved to national in 2000. Since then, I've been doing national almost since the day I started in national, I was doing some sort of multi-platform buying mostly across terrestrial radio and streaming radio because that's when streaming was really starting to pick up. Satellite radio picked up a couple of years later and then podcasting started coming into play, around 2006 or 2007. I did my first podcast buy back in 2007 or 2008. In fact, I think it was 2008. I was the first person to ever buy a podcast from ESPN Radio. So that's how far back I go. Our team's role is to buy across all national platforms like terrestrial streaming, podcasting, satellite, and that's why we call ourselves a national audio team rather than a national radio team because it's really about audio. It doesn't matter what platform, if you listen to it through a computer speaker, a phone speaker, a car speaker, it doesn't really matter. So we just kind of lump it into audio. So that's the quick background.

Could you give us an idea of the scale of your annual spending budget and maybe the split across the different channels?

Our team's revenue is approximately 300 million a year. I am responsible for about half of that amount. Could you repeat the second part of your question?

I was asking about the distribution across channels, specifically focusing on Podcasts for this conversation.

The answer varies greatly as it depends on the client. Some clients only want to focus on Podcasting, others on streaming, and a few on terrestrial.

Generally, because terrestrial has the largest scale, it attracts more money compared to streaming, podcasting, and satellite. Satellite is quite small and doesn't contribute much. The hierarchy is terrestrial, streaming, and then podcasting.

However, the margin between all three is decreasing. Podcasting is the new trend and many clients are focusing solely on it. While this is a positive development, I believe it's a mistake to overlook other channels, especially terrestrial. The gap between the first and third is definitely shrinking.

If we focus on podcasting, what is the rough split in the types of ads you buy? Between programmatic or direct?

We have a separate team that handles programmatic, so I don't get involved in that. However, I firmly believe that programmatic is not the right approach for podcasting. There are several reasons for this.

Firstly, the main appeal of podcasting lies in leveraging the hosts and their voices. Host-reads and live-reads are particularly effective. When a host endorses a product or acts as a brand ambassador, they become a voice for the product. Programmatic advertising loses this aspect as it only sends a 30- or 60-second pre-recorded spot, recorded by an unknown individual, and distributed across a wide network of shows.

I understand the appeal of programmatic advertising due to its scalability and targetability. However, with a direct approach, you can target more effectively than with programmatic. When you choose specific shows, you can select the exact content and host you want to align with. In contrast, programmatic advertising runs across an entire network of shows, and you have no control over which shows or talents are associated with your ads.

This lack of control can lead to brand safety and suitability concerns. Just because you're reaching a demographic it doesn't necessarily mean they are the audience you want to reach, or that they are consuming the content you want to be associated with.

Conversely, if you're buying a show directly and choosing wisely, you're reaching people with similar mindsets, lifestyles, and interests. Ideally, these are the people you want to reach. Plus, you're getting the host-read.

The brand safety concerns are significant for me and many clients, especially in this political climate. Not having full control over the content and talents associated with your ads is a major issue.

I understand. Broadly speaking, what, in your opinion, makes a good advertising channel in audio from first principles?

Your key performance indicator (KPI) determines the best medium. Some clients require mass reach as efficiently as possible, and terrestrial radio is the best option for this. It is the highest reaching media channel in America. For clients aiming for a wide reach, terrestrial radio is the preferred choice.

However, other clients prefer data-driven engagement, such as click-through ads that lead to a website or trigger a specific action. In such cases, streaming radio, like Pandora and Spotify, becomes more relevant.

There are also clients more focused on the mid or lower funnel. They aim to influence consideration and spark interest in their product. In such cases, they lean towards terrestrial radio options like live reads and host reads. This is where podcasting comes into play.

Podcasting is essentially an extension of terrestrial radio. Consider terrestrial radio shows hosted by popular DJs in America. These DJs are viewed very positively by listeners, who tune in specifically to listen to them. They are seen almost as friends accompanying the listener during their commute.

So, podcasting is similar in that sense?

Yes, podcasting extends this dynamic. It's a "sticky" medium, meaning listeners develop loyalty to the podcaster. They download new episodes as soon as they're released and listen to them within a few days. Podcasting's on-demand aspect is another advantage over terrestrial radio, which requires live tuning in.

People can listen to podcasts whenever they want, sometimes they're at the office or dealing with their kids and can’t listen to a live show. They can download the podcast and listen to it at their convenience. Podcasting and terrestrial radio are similar in this respect for the DJ aspect, minus the musical aspect.

To answer your question, brands that want to leverage the relationship listeners have with their favorite podcast hosts lean into live reads. They get the talent to talk about the brand, engaging listeners and encouraging them to consider the brand. When a listener hears a person they respect and regularly listen to endorsing a brand, they may be more inclined to try it.

What limitations does this bring to the medium in terms of scalability?

There are a few reasons why some people have been slower to adopt podcasting. Firstly, let's consider the scale. Terrestrial radio reaches approximately 90% of the U.S. on a weekly basis. Streaming radio, on the other hand, reaches around 72% or 73% of the U.S. on a monthly basis. This is a significant gap, going from 90% weekly to 72% monthly. Podcasting only reaches about 42% monthly. So, from a total reach perspective, podcasting is far behind the next closest channel and significantly behind terrestrial radio. That's one challenge.
Another challenge is data measurability. There's no real way to know who's listening to the podcast, except for Spotify. However, Spotify mostly keeps this data proprietary, which they put through their SPAN network. For instance, if I purchase a podcast from iHeart Media, I don't know who's listening to that podcast, when they're listening, or even if they're listening once they download it to their device. Apple, for example, provides no information. Despite Spotify surpassing Apple as a podcast distribution platform, Apple remains significant in the grand scheme of things. So, you don't even know if your podcast is being listened to, or if people are listening to your ads or skipping them. There are many unknowns when it comes to a podcast campaign.

As a result, we typically recommend our clients to ensure their podcast budget is large enough to leverage a brand lift study or some other study as an added value from the partner. This is usually in the $300,000 to $350,000 range. This way, you're at least getting some learnings on the back end of your campaign. Whatever your KPI is, you can see if you drove a lift in awareness or intention, those upfront metrics. There are different studies that measure attribution if a podcast campaign is driving to a website and what actions those people are taking once they're at that website. There are different ways to get learnings from a campaign, but again, you have to ensure your budget is large enough to unlock those studies as added value, or pay for the study yourself, which could cost anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000.

Is there a significant gap between the $300,000 to $350,000 you would need to conduct such a study and the typical podcasting ad budget? How large is this gap?

I'm sorry, could you clarify the gap you're referring to?

I'm referring to the gap between the $300,000 budget for a campaign that you'd need to conduct such a study or to make it worthwhile, and the typical campaign budget that people would allocate for podcasting.

There's always a client who believes they can get everything for around $50,000. This is completely unrealistic, regardless of the channel they're using. Some may think that podcasting isn't that big, so they can get it at a lower cost. However, $50,000 will get you nowhere, whether you have a study attached to it or not.

The reason for the $350,000 threshold is twofold. Firstly, the vendors need to ensure that they're receiving enough money to justify the cost of the study. That's obvious. Secondly, it's about ensuring the campaign is effective enough to show some sort of progress.

Vendors have found through research that you typically want to achieve between 12 to 15 million impressions in a campaign to reach a level of statistical significance. This ensures that any study you're conducting is stable and trustworthy enough. To trust that data, it needs to be stable with a sufficient sample size. To reach that twelve to 15 million impression level, you're looking at a budget of about $300,000 to $350,000. So it's not just about cost, but also about ensuring you reach a certain number of impressions to generate a stable level of significance.

Can it be lowered?

You can execute a podcast campaign at a lower cost, but I'm not sure how much it will really impact your results. Different KPIs require different approaches.

Some clients, for instance, who are focused on upper-funnel metrics like mass awareness, need a higher budget to reach as many people as possible. However, if a client's focus is more on driving people to a website, making a purchase, or gathering information from a website, then the focus shifts to a brand attribution study rather than a brand lift study.

These studies are less expensive. You could probably conduct these types of studies for somewhere between $100,000 and $150,000. Since mass awareness is not a KPI and the focus is on attribution, you don't need as many impressions as you would for a campaign aimed at increasing awareness or intent.

For a more down-funnel type of campaign, you can get away with a smaller budget. I wouldn't fully recommend it, but it's possible.

How could the medium make podcasting a better channel for more brand awareness type budgets? So, more upper-funnel because that's where the real money is?

It's a complex question because the channel we're dealing with is highly fragmented. This fragmentation arises from the vast variety of content and niches available. One of the main appeals of podcasting, and why people are drawn to it, is the availability of such niche, interest-based content. However, this means that mass interest is unlikely, and there will always be a limit to the scale.

If we consider what iHeart Media has accomplished, they are, in many ways, a one-stop-shop for podcast advertisers. They offer content across virtually every vertical, from true crime to sports, pop culture, news, and comedy.

If a company has a broad range of shows, each show may not have mass scale individually, but as part of a network or publisher, they can pool these shows into a network and package it for different advertisers. This is probably the best approach. I can approach them with almost any campaign I'm working on, specify the type of audience or content I'm targeting, and they can assemble it with ease.

However, there are podcasters, even some very good ones, who are so niche in their content that they will always have a limit to what they can offer. Have you ever heard of Dear Media?

It sounds familiar.

Dear Media, a West Coast company, specializes in female podcasts and content. Their content is excellent, but it's very specific, so I can only consider them for a few campaigns I work on. They can't be considered for everything like iHeart can.

Now, let me take a step back and address one of your questions about the challenges of working on a campaign. There are dozens of publishers out there that are at least somewhat viable. It's a lot to sift through and decide who to buy from and what to buy.

I had a conversation yesterday with my sales representative for The New York Times. There are many good podcasters with similar audiences, content, and talent. They all have virtually the same scale. The challenge is how to choose between them. For instance, I had a campaign recently where I had to choose between The New York Times, NPR, and Vox Media due to budget constraints.

All these partners are equally credible, strong in terms of audience, talent, and content. But how do you choose when there isn't a great amount of data to refer back to? This is due to the lack of data available in podcasting. So it's not like I can go to a Comscore and pull some information out of there or look at click through rates, because there's no clicking in podcasting. It's like I'm blindfolded, throwing a dart at a dartboard, and whoever it lands on is who I pick. This is another challenge to navigate.

That's very helpful and provide a good amount of context. From what you've seen, who is working on solving these problems?

Spotify is trying to address these issues. They have a beta version of SPAN, which I know is on your agenda, so we can discuss that too.

SPAN is related to the programmatic concerns around brand safety and ensuring you're targeting the right content and talent. SPAN is not necessarily programmatic. You could buy SPAN either programmatically or directly.

So it's kind of a hybrid?

Yes, but the same problems I mentioned earlier about programmatic buying apply to SPAN. Spotify has been told this by many people. In response, they have a beta version called SPAN Select, which allows a bit more selectivity in terms of the shows that you're involved in, and there are more brand safety measures in place.

However, the current downside, as it's still in its beta version, is that unlike SPAN, which allows you to target around 60,000 different Nielsen segments, SPAN Select doesn't offer this. SPAN Select only targets age and gender. This doesn't solve much unless you have a brand that aims to reach everyone, like big box retailers such as Amazon or Walmart. Unless you're one of these big brands, you'll likely want more control over what you're aligning with.

To answer your question, Spotify recognizes the issue and is attempting to address it, though I don't believe they've been very effective so far. iHeart is another forward-thinking company, always trying to work on issues like this.

Interestingly, even though Spotify, the company that created SPAN, owns Megaphone, they still make it available for podcast publishers to use. This can work both for and against Spotify. SPAN with Spotify is a massive network where almost any podcast out there is distributed across the Spotify platform.

Megaphone, on the other hand, is available to any publisher who wants to opt into it. For example, iHeart still uses it. All the concerns I mentioned earlier about brand safety are greatly reduced when you're working with a podcast like iHeart, which is a very brand-safe publisher.

If you do a SPAN type of buy on iHeart, you're in a safer and much more condensed network of shows. However, you're still not avoiding the issue with not having brand host reads. But for clients who don't necessarily care about the host reads and are more concerned about brand safety, they could do a SPAN type of buy on iHeart where the number of shows is much smaller, but they're in a brand-safe environment.

This is an interesting dynamic because Spotify makes this available to anyone who wants to pay for it. They're making money on that. But if there are clients savvy enough to say, "I won't buy SPAN, but I'll buy SPAN through iHeart because I know the network of shows that I'm buying," they'll pass on it.

Presumably you limit yourself in terms of scale, right?

Indeed, iHeart has a significant scale. Spotify does have a larger scale than iHeart, given that Spotify has access to almost all podcasts. However, currently, no one is buying so much in podcasting that they're running into situations where they can't get the number of impressions they need.

If you look at any podcast ranker, you'll see different publishers, but the big ones like iHeart, NPR, and The New York Times, won't present a scale issue. You'll never max out. They will always be able to sell you more impressions than you're likely willing to buy. So, perhaps you're limiting your potential mass reach. If Spotify reaches 100% of the country and iHeart reaches 95%, you're splitting hairs at that point. It's not a significant issue. The benefits of taking a different approach outweigh any concerns over limiting your scale.

If we take a broader look at the podcast channel as a whole, and I want to delve deeper into Spotify specifically later, how would you explain why you're currently not investing more in podcasting?

It boils down to budgets and data. Clients still perceive podcasting as a niche platform rather than a mass platform, and they're not willing to allocate as much money to it as they would to other channels. That's the first reason.

Over the last couple of years, they've been investing more as they've seen the scale of podcasting constantly increase. Just five years ago, podcasting reached only about 20% of the country on a monthly basis. Now it's more than double that. They see this trend and also the buzz in the trades about how big this is getting. However, they're still not ready to put large budgets into it yet.

This reluctance is tied to two reasons. Firstly, the digital world, including streaming and non-podcast digital platforms, has set a high bar in terms of the data that clients can see and act upon during a campaign. Podcasting can't reach that bar, and I don't think it ever will. So there's a bit of a leap of faith involved when buying a podcast campaign compared to a regular digital campaign.
Secondly, there's the issue of CPM. The CPMs in podcasting are much higher than what you'd see in streaming and terrestrial. So not only do you need to spend more on podcasting, but you're also getting less value for your money because of the higher CPM. In essence, that's why we're not seeing more spending in podcasting compared to streaming or terrestrial.

I'd like to revisit the second point you made. Why do you believe podcasts won't ever reach the non-podcast digital standard in terms of data?

A lot of it has to do with the fact that certain platforms, like Apple, do not make data available. Apple simply will not provide data. And Spotify, due to the fragmentation of the space, can only provide data on shows distributed on their platform.

You can listen to shows on Spotify or shows that are hosted on Megaphone or Anchor?

Indeed, shows hosted on Megaphone are also distributed on Spotify. However, they only have access to data for shows that are being listened to on their platform. These shows are also accessible through other platforms, like YouTube, which is a rapidly growing platform. Therefore, it's impossible to have a single source that provides data across the entire reach of a single podcast. Spotify might provide one set of data to its publishers, while Google provides another.

Consequently, you'll never get a singular or uniform stream of data on a podcast because there are too many different places for a podcast to be accessed. There is certain data that Spotify and Apple have available that they can share with publishers, but they're not always doing so. I'm aware I might be oversimplifying this, and there are probably some valid reasons why they’re not getting it, but I believe they should be getting this data.

For instance, Apple provides data to publishers about skip rates throughout the podcast. I learned this from ESPN, where the host of one of their shows discussed how they used this data. They noticed a lot of skipping in the first few minutes of the podcast, which increased because listeners didn't care for the non-sports talk at the beginning. They just wanted to get straight to the sports conversation. So, they used this as a programming tool to limit non-sports talk and get straight into the content.

However, they're not able to use this data to cross-check against ad placements. They don't have the ability to see if an ad ran during a period of high skipping. While this information is useful for programming the show, it's not available from an advertiser's standpoint.

It seems like Spotify is working towards solving some of the problems you mentioned. For instance, with streaming ad insertion, they actually report if there was an impression of the ad.

Yes, they call it SAI.

Excluding Apple and YouTube, how would you rate the data that Spotify makes available to both advertisers and publishers? What can a publisher and an advertiser see from what you observe today?

Well, the SAI is not really any different than DAI through other vendors. They always have to put their own spin on something. I use host reads with other vendors as well, as long as I'm able to do so. Whether it's SAI, DAI, or whatever you want to call it, I do this frequently with iHeart. Spotify also offers SAI. If I'm selecting the shows, buying shows directly, having the host pre-record for my campaign and then inserting it into the podcast, that's become the norm in podcasting. The issue with Spotify is that while their platform is one of the largest for distribution and podcasting, they don't sell a great number of podcasts themselves. That's where SAI comes into play. They have some big ones like Joe Rogan, but he's not brand safe.

They also have Call Her Daddy, another huge podcast, which is not remotely brand safe. They have The Ringer podcast network, which is a good network, but also very expensive. They have some other shows, but not many. So the actual number of shows that Spotify sells themselves, where they can do an SAI campaign voiced by the hosts, is not nearly as much as iHeart, Odyssey, NPR, and others. SAI is fine. It's not any different than buying it from iHeart or anybody else. Then it comes back to the original question of whether I'm buying the right content, working with the right talent, and how it's priced. Spotify prices everything very high, which is another issue I face with them. Unless you have a client who specifically wants to be in the Bill Simmons podcast or the Joe Rogan podcast, Spotify is not going to be very successful in selling a podcast campaign. That's why you see them putting so much energy into SPAN and now the SPAN Select Beta, because they know that's how they're going to make their money, versus their own content.

Can they do SAI in SPAN?

Yes, it's basically the same thing. That's what they're doing within their own podcast. You can do host reads within the podcast that you're buying from Spotify. But yes, they can do it in SPAN.

So, does that mean there are also third-party publishers not owned by Spotify or licensed, as long as they host on Megaphone or Anchor and opt into SPAN? Do you think that helps with the inventory issue?

I don't believe there was an inventory issue with them in the first place. However, when you transition to SPAN, you're opening up the concerns I mentioned earlier about brand safety, content alignment, and the lack of host-read content. Transitioning from SAI to the broader SPAN, you're revisiting these issues. There's no perfect scenario, especially when it comes to Spotify. The ideal situation would be host-reads using Megaphone and aligning it specifically within shows. No one has reached that point yet, not iHeart, not Spotify.

To me, the ultimate goal would be to have a mass SPAN or Megaphone buy, with pre-recorded spots by the show hosts that are inserted only into those shows. We're not there yet, and I'm not sure if we'll get there because it would require very specific analysis. Especially on a network as large as Megaphone, it might be nearly impossible to achieve.

In my opinion, the best way for Spotify to progress would be to allow advertisers to select a number of shows they want to limit Megaphone to. Spotify and the brand could set a minimum number, say at least 20 shows. The advertiser could then go to Spotify and specify the shows they want to use Megaphone targeting for.

This, I believe, is what they're trying to achieve with SPAN Select. But the ultimate goal would be to identify 20 shows I want to be within and use SPAN targeting across only these shows' audiences. Taking it a step further, using host-reads within those shows would be ideal, but likely very challenging.

In a crawl-walk-run scenario, the first step would be to allow me to select the shows I want to run within SPAN. I would be more open to this as it addresses the brand safety concerns. It might not be as effective without host-reads, but I'm willing to look at the data and see how it performs. This would be the ideal situation because it allows control over the content and adds a layer of targeting. I believe Spotify recognizes this and that's what they're aiming for with SPAN Select, but it's not there yet.

When was SPAN Select launched?

It hasn't been launched yet, it's in beta. They said they're introducing it to about five or six different brands that they've identified as good partners for this. They're doing it on a category exclusivity basis.


It's public in the sense that they're introducing it to the marketplace.

I don't know if they've announced it in the trade publications. They certainly didn't say it was confidential when they presented it to us.

Nevertheless, they are moving in the right direction, which is at least something.

They've received a lot of pushback from clients like myself regarding SPAN. It's not appealing to us and they've been repeatedly rejected by some of the larger brands. They understand that they need to address this issue.

You mentioned earlier that you don't think programmatic is the way forward. Do you believe there's any room for unsold inventory to be filled by programmatic?

That's essentially the current model for many publishers. Take iHeart or Stitcher, for example, which is owned by Pandora. Many of these companies set aside a certain percentage of their inventory for programmatic availability. As they approach a specific date and realize they haven't sold as much inventory as they'd like, they make more available through programmatic. This is already a common approach for many publishers.

How much friction is there in podcasting compared to other media?

Could you clarify what you mean by friction?

How many different platforms do you have to use compared to other media? How much effort is required on your part to actually purchase ads?

I can't speak for programmatic advertising as it's not my area of expertise. I'll focus on direct advertising, which is quite challenging. It's not as straightforward as buying terrestrial radio or streaming ads. Firstly, there are fewer publishers and vendors in terrestrial and streaming than in podcasts. Secondly, the limited data available in podcasting compared to other platforms necessitates more research to identify the right podcast to advertise on.

A terrestrial radio campaign can be put together in a few days, but a podcast campaign can take a couple of weeks due to the amount of research involved. You need to identify the right publishers for an RFP, which is challenging given the sheer number of them. Then, you need to review the list of shows they propose, assessing whether the content and hosts are suitable. This often involves a deep dive into previous episodes of each show.

I frequently visit the Apple iTunes page for each show to review recent episodes. This helps me determine whether the show is a good fit for the campaign. After this, you need to present these plans to the client for review and approval. Many clients like to be very hands-on and can be quite nitpicky.

Before even reaching this stage, you need to assess whether the hosts are brand-safe. Have they been involved in any controversies? Have they posted anything inappropriate on social media that could potentially damage the brand? This is another layer to consider.

When presenting to clients, they can be very selective about the content. They often finds minor issues with a podcast and asks for alternatives. This means going back to the vendor, reviewing another list of podcasts, and then returning to the client. It's a constant back-and-forth process.

There isn't a single tool that can streamline this process. I rely heavily on the vendors to recommend podcasts for a campaign. This is frustrating as I prefer to be self-reliant. In streaming, for example, I can use Comscore to identify different streams. In terrestrial radio, I can use a ranker to select the right networks. Podcasting, however, is a subjective channel due to the varying content and personalities, making the buying process quite arduous. There's more friction when buying a podcast campaign than with other campaigns.

So, there's no tool available that assists with the podcast selection process?

There are several tools available, one of which is Magellan. Regrettably, my agency does not subscribe to it, so I don't have access. Even though it doesn't cover the entire industry, it's probably the best tool out there. Vendors tend to use it more than agencies because Magellan also excels in backend reporting. It doesn't provide audience data, but it ensures your schedule runs as ordered. For example, if I order a schedule of all mid-rolls, Magellan can identify how many shows ran my spots in a pre-roll position and vice versa. It's more about stewarding than audience reporting. It can also serve as a discovery tool, pulling together different genres for targeting. While it would make my job easier, the cost is prohibitive, and the agency believes we can do the work ourselves by going publisher to publisher.

What aspect of the advertising channel do you focus on the most?

What am I most focused on?

Yes, what are your primary concerns regarding developments and potential opportunities for increased investment? What is at the forefront of your mind?

Content and scale are my main concerns. It's important to ensure that we're running within the right content and that there's a substantial audience behind it. Even the best podcast is pointless if only a thousand people are listening. Content and scale are closely intertwined when evaluating campaigns; you can't have one without the other. That's my starting point. However, with so much overlap in shows, there are still many options left after the initial check. Then it becomes a subjective and sometimes nitpicky process. For example, when choosing between New York Times, NPR, and Vox, all have great audiences, content, and similar pricing. So, who do I choose? That's when I wish I had a million dollars instead of $300,000. That's essentially how I start, content and scale, and then you make decisions from there.

As a final question, what are you most focused on regarding Spotify's platform?

I'm interested in seeing where SPAN Select goes. As it stands, SPAN is a non-starter for me, and Spotify is aware of this. I'm not the only one expressing this sentiment, or they wouldn't have created SPAN Select. I'd like to see Spotify become more realistic with their CPMs for their direct shows.

Spotify charges more for everything. They believe that because they get people to buy into their pitch, they can charge more for it, even when generic brands are just as good. To answer your question about Spotify, I am interested to see where they go with the whole SPAN select thing and how they can improve it. I want to see their pricing come down because it's excessive, whether it's SPAN versus Acast or their direct CPMs versus other direct CPMs. That's my main concern right now. They're not my first choice for a podcast campaign. I would consider iHeart first because, as we've discussed, the podcasts that Spotify owns are very limited. They have The Ringer Network, Call Her Daddy, Joe Rogan and a few others, but it's not a robust network of shows. They are essentially a SPAN network. I would like to see them expand. Those would be my main points about Spotify.

I see. Thank you very much for your time. This has been a very informative learning experience and I appreciate you taking the time for this today. I've learned a lot and I'm also curious to see where they go with brand safety.

We'll see where it goes. It's going to be a longer than ideal process, but at least they're trying.