Should podcasting platforms do more to allay brands’ security concerns?

The podcast industry is largely unregulated but, as we find out as part of The Drum’s Audio Deep Dive, a series of high-profile cases of misinformation and hate speech have renewed advertisers’ calls for a increased monitoring.

Without proper controls in place, advertisers risk damaging their reputation when appearing on podcast platforms. Alongside podcast producers, some brands have argued that it’s time for platforms to start ramping up content moderation.

Tamara Littleton is CEO of The Social Element and works with brands such as Dr Pepper and Nisan. She thinks the industry should do a lot more to highlight the risks to brands and how they can protect themselves.

Should the industry do more to highlight brand risks? /Jukka Aalho via Envato

Littleton, who has his own podcast and hosts brand safety workshops, says the industry has only just begun to take notice of the problem. “It’s not tapped at home like other media because podcasting is still not seen as mainstream advertising. It’s a bit early because brands haven’t gone that far compared to other platforms.

Spotify and Integral Ad Science teamed up in June for the podcast industry’s first third-party brand safety and suitability reporting tool. Spotify’s brand safety plans follow the fallout from the Joe Rogan saga in February.

Jake Dubbins, Managing Director of Media Bounty, calls podcasting a “Wild West” environment and says “there are no regulations in this space.” He asks, “Who is doing podcasting right now? Because I have no idea. Who do you talk to right now if you hear awful anti-abortion content? »

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Dubbins is also co-chair of the Conscious Advertising Network, which campaigns against misinformation about advertising funding and hate speech. He says the industry is becoming “increasingly aware of this problem [brand safety in podcasting] and talk about quality environments”.

He thinks podcasting platforms should work with NGOs and experts in this space to develop policies and invest in AI and human surveillance to enforce those policies. “At some point, they [platforms] are going to have to have content moderators. I’m not saying every podcast or podcaster needs to have an imposed producer, but there needs to be significant investment in these platforms to ensure they don’t make the same mistakes that Meta has historically made.

Dubbins advises platforms to create a clear definition of what constitutes free speech and what is hate speech. “You have to have definitions and precise language. If you don’t have them in the policy, then how can you enforce anything? »

Podcast advertising can either be automatically served by hosting platforms, or partnerships can be made directly with the brand and the podcast producer.

Steve Carsey, managing director of podcast production company Storyglass, typically works alongside advertisers, producing podcasts for Red Bull and Penguin Roundhouse. He tells brands and agencies to be “aware of the danger” that can come from being associated with the wrong types of content. “Choose your partners wisely and work with people who won’t expose you to these kinds of problems,” he advises.

Many of the top producers are trained in editorial guidelines and know what you can legally say. “If you work with these types of growers who understand compliance, you can rest assured that you’ll be in safe hands,” adds Carsey.

He says the platforms that run the ads should take responsibility for controlling the content: “The whole business model is about being a good partner.” And if he doesn’t call for an Ofcom equivalent, Carsey says platforms “should have some sort of method where inappropriate content can be flagged and removed.”

Acast brand security measures

Every show on board Acast is vetted by its Creator Network team and all contracts contain a clause stating that content can be removed if it violates “reasonable moral expectations”.

Podcasters must adhere to its guiding principles and community guidelines.

Advertisers can choose categories of podcasts to line up, and shows are matched based on IAB certification.

Acast uses Comscore technology to define risk categories and uses conversational targeting tools that allow advertisers to select specific words that are not appropriate for their brand.

For more on the power of sound, check out Audio Deep Dive from The Drum.

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