Trade publication Adweek is dramatically expanding its investment in podcasting, creating an initial network of 12 ongoing series, including five new internally produced ones and four more existing business-focused podcasts from outside producers.
The creation of the Adweek Podcasting Network reflects the growing power of the sector, not least as an advertising platform that Adweek must report on routinely, said the publication’s recently named CEO Juliette Morris said in an exclusive interview.
“We already had (podcasts) we’re incredibly proud of and (which) had strong listening,” said Morris. “But we felt that this was really an important time for us to dig in deeper. One, people are starting to get back in their cars, and commute and get out there and two, people are over-videoed and -Zoomed and so people want to have the opportunity to learn, to be inspired, to inform, to grow in every possible way. And this is the perfect medium for that.”
Though work on the network’s creation had begun well before Morris took over as CEO three months ago, she said she was strongly committed to the initiative even during her hiring process. She previously was CEO of audio streaming service TuneIn, and was well familiar with the audience-building potential of audio content of many kinds.
With Adweek, a 47-year-old brand that began as a print-only publication focused on the advertising industry, marketing and related areas, the podcast network represents a significant addition to the Adweek “ecosystem,” alongside live events, newsletters, and its various product lines, Morris said.
“We believe in it, we’re bullish on it,” Morris said. The company plans a substantive marketing spend to drive awareness, and likely additional shows in the future, but “the majority of investment is coming from our talent and brain power.”
Programming for the network included thinking about how to better serve a wide array of audience interests in a sector that now includes influencer marketing, the fast-changing creative agency business, the challenges facing CMOs, and much else far beyond its traditional boundaries.
“When we started working on the network, we had four shows in individual siloes,” Adweek Podcast Network Senior Producer Al Mannarino said. “They were all offered independently, so (let’s) get them under one umbrella, promote them as a family. Then we started thinking about what are we missing.”
The result is five new, internally produced shows that will launch over the next few weeks, Mannarino said, including:
*The Speed of Culture, hosted by Suzy CEO Matt Britton talking with industry leaders about shifting consumer trends.
*Adweek’s Most Powerful Women in Sports, looking at notable women in sports and related brands, media and marketing
*Young Influentials, profiling GenZ entrepreneurs and executives
*Adweek Presents…, featuring conversations with celebrities with business holdings, such as Jennifer Lopez, Shonda Rhimes, Alex Rodriguez, Tracee Ellis Ross, Elisabeth Moss and Jennifer Garner.
•Off Madison, focused on issues around diversity, equity and inclusion across the industry.
Among the external deals is one for The Great Fail, an award-winning podcast produced and hosted by Debra Chen (disclosure: I’ve known Chen, who’s based in the Los Angeles area, since the early days of her podcast). The Great Fail uses a sensibility inspired by podcasting’s many true-crime shows to autopsy notorious business failures such as Enron and Quibi.
The two other externally produced shows being added to the network are:
*Brave Commerce, featuring MikMak CEO Rachel Tipograph and Profitero President Sarah Hofstetter, focused on e-commerce trends among the world’s biggest brands.
*To Dine For, featuring journalist Kate Sullivan in conversation with entrepreneurs, creatives, innovators and others at their favorite restaurants.
Existing Adweek shows that are now part of the network include Yeah, That’s Probably an Ad; CMO Moves; The Business of Marketing; and Metaverse Marketing.
Adweek partnered with independent podcast company Acast to build the network, a deal that came about, Mannarino said, because the company “seemed so committed to working with us in launching this network.” The Stockholm-based Acast hosts approximately 40,000 podcasts in 12 countries.
One crucial element of the deal is Acast’s work in developing dynamic ad insertion, finding the open spaces within a podcast where a targeted audio commercial can be placed in a non-disruptive way.
Given Adweek’s position within the ad industry, it’s important that the company find ways to maximize its advertising opportunities and technologies. The publication will rely on a joint sales effort between its own team and Acast’s, Morris said. She also plans additional initiatives in coming months to further expand Adweek’s media footprint.
“This is just one of many innovations, expansions and evolutions that you’re going to see from Adweek over the next six, nine, 12 months,” Morris said. “I believe we have an incredible foundation and platform to expand our reach and aperture, and can continue to drive this ecosystem, which is very different from what it used to be.”