SiriusXM Acquires Simplecast

SirusXM announced the acquisition of Simplecast, a leading podcast management platform that enables podcasters to publish, manage, and measure their content. The Simplecast solution, pared with the award-winning monetization platform of AdsWizz, the adtech subsidiary of SiriusXM, creates an end-to-end solution that enables creators to publish and generate revenue from their podcasts all in one place.

Led by Founder & CEO, Brad Smith, the Simplecast platform, with its leading content management, audience analytics, and dynamic audio toolset, MAE (Moveable Audio Engine), has attracted some of the largest and most highly respected brands and publishers including Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard, Netflix, Maximum Fun, Cloud10, QCODE, Anna Faris is Unqualified, Blue Wire, and Revision Path. The Simplecast platform is employed by a wide range of creators, from enterprise-level publishers and networks to independent niche podcasters.

Simplecast and AdsWizz will form SiriusXM’s publisher solution business, a full-service platform designed to meet the needs of podcast creators of all sizes. The acquisition expands and strengthens SiriusXM’s and Pandora’s tools and monetization services for podcasters and publishers. Through AdsWizz, SiriusXM offers a leading adtech solution for podcasters and networks, from dynamic ad insertion to ad serving, new programmatic solutions for podcasting, and the AdsWizz Podcast Marketplace, PodWave. Through Pandora for Podcasters, creators can easily submit their podcasts to reach Pandora’s millions of users and get access to data analytics tools and useful audience insights.

“Our goal is to provide audio publishers with state-of-the-art platforms and give them everything they need to be successful,” said Alexis van der Wyer, CEO of AdsWizz. “Empowering podcasters of any size to create, distribute, analyze, and monetize their work is the next natural step in pursuing our vision.”

“From the beginning, Simplecast’s mantra and mission was to remain laser-focused on podcast creators – building the best tools for publishing and insights,” said Brad Smith, the Founder & CEO of Simplecast. “The opportunity and alignment with AdsWizz allows our product — and our customers — access to a powerful monetization platform.  Two best-in-class platforms are now able to align with the shared mission of helping publishers succeed, while each team continues to focus on their respective areas of expertise.”

With the integration between AdsWizz and Simplecast’s MAE, podcast publishers are able to take advantage of the integrated solution now.

Simplecast Created a Movable Audio Engine

Simplecast has created a Movable Audio Engine. It is a new platform that offers a unique answer to dynamic audio and ad insertion.

Simplecast’s Moveable Audio Engine, (MAE, pronounced just like May) allows publishers to dynamically deliver advertisements and host-read content, a personalized show opening for a geographic region, or back catalog promotions to first-time listeners. We don’t call it DAI because, well, it is becoming so much more.

CEO of Simplecast Brad Smith wrote that in the coming months, MAE will integrate with Simplecast’s previously mentioned patent-pending listener measurement, allowing publishers to deliver dynamic content based on cross-podcast listening behavior and content preferences, while also providing the foundation for Simplecast’s attribution measurement tools.

Brad Smith continues with: Where standard ad delivery requires standard ad practices, MAE arrives fully-featured – ready to deliver advertisements to pre, mid or post-rolls. Set multiple markers, stack ads to compete based on priority, run in order or randomized, even deliver your impressions evenly paced or as fast as possible. If there’s a buzzword you desire, MAE will have you covered.

MAE 1.0 began rolling out to Simplecast for Enterprise plans in late February, and will continue throughout the spring. If you’re a Pro or Enterprise client, and MAE is not yet available in your dashboard, you can expect Simplecast to be in touch shortly.

This summer, MAE will arrive in Simplecast’s Essential and Growth plans, unlocking a wide swath of dynamic audio (not just ads) for independent creators everywhere.

Blue Wire Teams with PAR and Simplecast

Podcast Ad Reps (PAR) and Simplecast are pleased to announce a sales representation and distribution with Blue Wire, a sports podcasting network of over 85 original podcasts.

Founded in October 2018, Blue Wire has emerged as a home for younger content creators who have built highly engaged audiences on Twitter, Snap and YouTube. Blue Wire’s roster is comprised of beat-reporters, bloggers, super fans, athletes, independent journalists, broadcasters, comedians and internet personalities. The eclectic team has 40 different podcasters on the network who are women of color.

“We’re solving a creator and listener problem in the marketplace,” said CEO Kevin Jones. “Podcasts are changing how fans consume sports. New voices are emerging. Listeners are pivoting away from traditional media outlets and instead finding their favorite topical influencer. Blue Wire exists to help our podcasters and fans build these stronger relationships.”

“Our team was excited to accept the challenges Kevin and his team presented to us,” states PAR President Rick Selah, “and the shows are a perfect complement to expand our existing sports catalog of powerhouse shows like No Laying Up and The Sports Reporters.”

Some of Blue Wire’s notable podcasts include Laker Film Room, Bronx Pinstripes, Light Years, The Chris Van Vilet Show, Snapback Sports, and The Tajh Boyd Podcast. The network covers the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, Premier League, College Football, College Basketball, Fantasy, Gambling and is starting to dip into pop culture.

“We are now capable of offering coverage year-round to our agency partners seeking sports fans,” observes PAR CRO Anthony Savelli. “If a brand wants to reach Hoops fans from March Madness thru the NAB Playoffs, we have 25 shows to offer. Same with Football. And if brands want to reach Soccer fans, NHL fans, Baseball, Gambling, or even Boxing fans, we can bring a loyal audience.”

“The model Blue Wire has created to support emerging talent find an audience in podcasting is innovative and noteworthy,” says Dane Cardiel, Simplecast’s Director of Sales and Partnerships. “We’re beyond excited to partner with Blue Wire and PAR to bring them a truly enterprise suite for podcasting: content management, distribution, dynamic content delivery – all built upon the most comprehensive audience analytics offering in the industry. We can’t wait to see what they accomplish next.”

Blue Wire plans to continue growth throughout 2020 with forays into original storytelling and building an academy for college podcasters.

Simplecast Created a Stickiness Metric

Simplecast announced a stickiness metric. The company wants podcasters to answer deeper questions than they can get from Facebook page likes or website views. Those questions include: Does your show keep listeners coming back for more? Do marketing efforts help attract new listeners? Do marketing efforts create new “sticky” listeners?

While I only selected a few shows for this article, I’ve chosen them to illustrate a few different scenarios of a show’s launch. Show # 1 is a weekly show with a big initial launch day (eg. featured in apps like Stitcher and Apple Podcasts), Show # 2 is a weekly show with an organic growth trajectory (eg. word of mouth or current available audience), and Show # 3 is a daily show and also has an organic growth trajectory.

You can find more information about how Simplecast came up with their data and metrics on the Medium post that was written by Chief Technology Office of Simplecast, Stephen Hallgren.

By “stickiness”, he means listeners who keep coming back to a podcast for more. He expected and hoped to see listeners transitioning from 1 to 2 to 3+ episodes for each episode release. He also hoped to see the percentages for single episode listeners to be low.

Things didn’t quite work out that way with the three shows he gathered data on. Show # 1 pulled in significant numbers of listeners on launch day, but then the number went down. Only 20% of initial listeners returned to listen to at least one additional episode. Show # 2 and Show # 3 had much smaller launch days, but their listeners were more engaged and were likely to keep listening to more episodes.

Simplecast is working on other analytics (beyond stickiness) such as podcast onramps and episode entry points and user behavior across episodes. The concept of stickiness of listeners is interesting.

That said, I doubt advertisers will switch from using IAB information about number of downloads in favor of listener stickiness. Podcasters, however, might find stickiness to be useful for figuring out how dedicated an audience they actually have.

Simplecast is Now IAB Certified

Simplecast announced that they are now IAB certified. They had been working with a third-party auditing firm to achieve IAB Podcast Measurement Certification. All Simplecast Audience metrics have been audited, approved, and certified by IAB.

Certification allows for analytics, regardless of the podcast host, to be reported in a standardized way and verified by a third party. Standardized analytics opens doors for creators, advertisers, brands, non-profits, and institutions to use consistent numbers that they can all trust.

Simplecast has rolled out the first of multiple data points to podcasters’ Simplecast Dashboard – the robust Unique Listeners measurement and comparison report.

Simplecast pointed out that as more podcast management platforms have become IAB certified, each provider made core changes to the analytics they report. This typically caused reported download numbers to decrease. Podcasters on Simplecast can expect to see that decrease as well.

According to Simplecast, they need to further refine their repeat download period to a rolling 24-hour window in order to achieve final certification. That change went into effect on October 24, 2019, and it sets Simplecast’s window-length as the same as all other IAB-certified hosts.

Simplecast Launched Recast Beta

Simplecast has launched Recast beta. It is a listener-driven podcast discovery tool. It allows you and your listeners to share clips from your episodes on social media.

Simplecast offers one-click publishing to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever your audience listens. For $12 a month, Simplecast offers unlimited listener plays, no upload caps, listener analytics, a customizable website, and embeddable audio players with Recast. Simplecast is currently offering a free trial.

Discoverability of podcasts – podcast’s reach – is miles away from perfect, and while we have big plans here too, we began simple: What if podcasts and retweets had a baby? They did! We named it Recast.

The idea for Recast spawned from WNYC’s Audiogram Generator – an open-source social meant to provide podcasters, radio professionals, producers, and audio makers a super easy way to share their work across social platforms including Facebook and Twitter.

Simplecast has an embed player that plays beautifully when embedded in a tweet. However, Simplecast thinks it is unlikely that someone would choose to listen to an entire episode of a podcast via social media. The audiogram is a short video that is designed with a striking visual component. It is intended to attract attention on social media.

Simplecast mapped out the flavor of the audiogram for the purpose of making Recast a personal, intimate experience for the listener. With Recast, listeners can be in control of what’s contained in an audiogram. Recast is the industry’s first, fully listener-accessible audiogram sharing tool.