NEW YORK: Slate Group’s podcasting network, Panoply, will focus on selling audiences rather than individual episodes to brands, as its partnership with Nielsen brings the veteran podcast publisher new ad capabilities.

In July, the publisher and the measurement company came together to unveil the Megaphone Targeted Marketplace, which will allow brands to buy across audiences, a practice that was previously unattainable due to the lack of tracking mechanism, AdExchanger reported.

“We’re piping [Nielsen’s data] firehose into the Megaphone platform to unlock all the data available on podcast listeners,” said Jason Cox, chief technology officer at Panoply.

The partnership will allow Panoply to match the small amounts of data it receives from downloads (many listeners chose to download and then listen offline) with Nielsen’s 60,000 audience segments, through the Megaphone dynamic ad server.

“One of the things that has stopped brands from moving into the [podcast] space is the ability to target like they can in other digital mediums and scale,” Cox said. “We can now aggregate impressions and go to brands with impression counts they’re expecting.”

Panoply Chief Revenue Officer Matt Turck added that this new data capability will answer brand’s lingering questions around podcasts, taking the medium to a new level. “We only need a fraction of the mobile, digital and radio budget to completely change the game.”

While Megaphone currently offers only direct-selling rather than programmatic. Turck added that for now the arrangement makes sense, though in future automated buying will not present a large technical hurdle. However, rival platforms such as PodWave offers a "quasi-programmatic" option.

Measurement capabilities with podcasting will soon go mainstream, as Apple announced in June that it will begin sharing data from its podcast player, used for around 60% of all listening, with publishers.

According to Edison Research/Triton figures, podcast audiences have been growing steadily over the last decade. In January/ February 2017, an estimated 67 million people listened to a podcast in the last month. In addition, podcast listeners tend to be younger, wealthier, and better educated.

Meanwhile, podcasts offer engaged audiences over a long exposure. The Edison Triton figures show that podcast audiences listen for 5 hours and 7 minutes a week. In addition, the typical audience spends more time, and tends to follow brands, on social.

Data sourced from AdExchanger, Recode, Edison Research/Triton, WARC; additional content by WARC staff