|Podsights, a podcast analytics startup, is announcing a $1.5 million fundraise today. The round includes Greycroft (which has also invested in Wondery, Glow.fm, Chartable), Betaworks (Gimlet Media and Anchor), BDMI (Wondery and Art19), Rooks Nest, plus a group of angel investors that includes Michael Kassan, the founder of Medialink.
The announcement comes with a series of other changes at the company, including a rebrand, some re-arrangement of the product, along with several new hires. Full details on those specifics can be found on a company blog post that went out earlier today.
If you’re unfamiliar with Podsights, here are the broad strokes: the company generally focuses on building out various analytics and research tools meant to help advertisers better track (or at least feel better about) the impact of their buys on podcasts. At the moment, it claims a client list that includes Barstool Sports, the New York Times, NPR, and Wondery.
Central to Podsights’ efforts is the notion of cross-platform attribution; that is, being able to ascertain whether a specific podcast ad led to a desired outcome, like the purchase of a product being advertised. Historically, attribution in podcast advertising happens on a rather absolute level, with outcomes primarily assessed via visits on vanity URLs or purchases made using dedicated promo codes. Based on its self-description, the company’s intent is to provide advertisers with more information on the various ad-triggered interactions that can happen before that point. Its methodology broadly involves the usage of a pixel that would sit on the brand site that’s meant to match, to the best that it can, an analytics prefix that a publisher would implement on its hosting platform, with the goal of signaling to the brand whenever someone who listened to a specific ad did, indeed, head over to the brand’s website. There’s quite a bit more to the mechanics of it all, and if those specifics are directly relevant to you, you can dive deep on the site’s documentation.
Here’s my sense of the big picture: Podsights strikes me as the type of thing that sits directly in the middle of two competing industry impulses. On the one hand, you have a chunk of the community that’s advocating for more robust podcast analytics so they’re able to attract, retain, and deepen relationships with more advertisers, most of which are generally accustomed to a certain granularity (and user privacy invasion) when it comes to assessing their ad spends. On the other hand, you have a chunk of the community that’s vehemently skeptical of, and antagonistic to, any movement to bring podcasting closer to digital modernity for fear of seeing what happened to the rest of the internet happen to podcasting. (Not for nothing, reading about Podsights’ fundraise in the wake of Spotify announcing its own push into podcast ad technology is certainly… interesting.) From the looks of its website — and briefly speaking with the team for this story — Podsights exhibits a certain brash confidence that it will be able to forge a solid middle path forward. Then again, of course they would.
If Podsights succeeds in achieving greater traction, things to watch would include: how the company handles concerns about privacy (the team says it’s compliant with GDPR and CCPA); how its data universe will mesh with and be accepted by the rest of the podcast industry (notably, Podsights isn’t IAB certified, and positions itself as an improvement on it); how effective its modernized data sets will be understood to be (I’ll let the aggregate publisher class decide on that); and how the podcast advertising market in totality reacts to the introduction of that data (in other words, how would publishers’ revenues be impacted by the change in understanding of their reported downloads).
This company is worh keeping an eye on. It has the potential to trigger… quite a bit of change.