Three months after Vox Media and Group Nine’s branded content studios merged, the newly combined Vox Creative is using its different podcast ad formats to integrate audio advertising into advertisers’ campaigns or to upsell advertisers already in the space, according to svp Yosef Johnson and executive producer of audio Annu Subramanian.
Vox Creative offers three main podcast ad types: one- to five-minute-long custom branded segments, custom series sponsorships (where advertisers buy all the ad breaks across a selection of episodes) and standalone podcasts, where advertisers work with Vox Creative’s podcast team to create and promote a branded show for the Vox Media Podcast Network.
“We have each of these tools in our kit so we can point them to an opportunity to up-level, or a different thing that they haven’t seen before within the toolkit. A brand that may have had success with video before is now saying, ‘We’ll come back and do video and we’ll try audio as well.’ So not only are we up-leveling our native audio clients, but we’re also getting yield from across Vox Creative,” Subramanian said.
Vox Creative has worked with around 300 advertisers in custom audio ads in the last year, and 70% of those brands have spent across multiple podcasts, according to Johnson. A Vox Media spokesperson declined to share how this compares to the year prior. The Vox Media Podcast Network has over 200 shows. The team that works on branded audio has doubled in size in the last year. There’s been “little overlap” between Group Nine and Vox Media’s “key” advertisers, according to Johnson. Before the merger, Group Nine predominantly worked with CPG and retail advertisers, while Vox Media worked with advertisers in the tech, media, entertainment and financial services categories, he said.
After speaking with Johnson and Subramanian, Digiday conducted a follow-up interview with Johnson to discuss how the two studios have been combined in the merger. His answers are reflected below.
This conversation has been edited and condensed.
How were Group Nine and Vox Media’s creative studios brought together after the merger closed in February, and what did each team bring to the table?
Both of our studios were very complementary in terms of our offerings. The Group Nine Brand Shop side was heavily focused on distribution across social channels, from an editorial and branded content standpoint. We worked with advertisers to really take advantage of that scale that Group Nine had across social. With that came expertise across the different platforms, whether that be Facebook, Instagram and increasingly TikTok and Snap. Social know-how was definitely a focal point on the Group Nine side.
On the Vox side, the team certainly worked on social campaigns, but the Vox Creative team was molded in the fashion of Vox at large, which is premium storytelling and utility-driven content. With that came the Explainer Studio, which is drafted off of the Explainer franchise, and brought out to advertisers in a form-fitting way — as well as branded documentaries. We recently had one that premiered on HBO Max. We’re currently in production on a number of documentaries. Audio is another huge capability that the Vox Creative team had, tapping into the Vox Media Podcast Network.
So when I say complementary, I would say Group Nine was playing heavily at one end of the spectrum and Vox was playing similarly at the other end. We’re doing branded TikToks and branded documentaries and everything in between.
Is the team coming from Group Nine Brand Shop focused on the Group Nine brands, or are they creating branded content across the Vox Media portfolio now?
We are mixing it up. The whole point is to learn from each other, from what’s been successful on our networks from the respective companies. We are definitely cross-pollinating right now. And I think that’s really what we’re so excited about. We’re just bringing the content expertise from our respective companies and getting everyone trained and learning. A lot of the skills are transferable, too. We have folks who may be from production but are really well-versed in audio, who can now work on the podcast team and can help bring fresh ideas to that team and vice versa.
You mentioned the focus now is to bring the strengths from the Vox side to Group Nine brands, and vice versa. Can you explain how Vox Creative pitches these integrated campaigns?
We are thinking about ways that our campaigns can span different creative formats. It’s very common that we’ll have a campaign that has custom video, written elements and social elements. Similarly, there have been campaigns that have audio as well as a hub experience as well as distribution promotion through media units. What we’re really looking forward to is bringing those elements together, particularly with audio as a focus. For something like a custom podcast, is there also a custom video component that accompanies that with bite-sized social elements to promote it and standalone pieces of content that live on social? As we look to integrated campaigns now with the full breadth of the Vox Creative offering that we bring together between Group Nine and Vox — there’s just a ton more opportunity for audio to sit as the hero but then be supported by other content formats. That’s something we’re actively working on and talking about.
We see advertisers that start on the audio side, and maybe they start with a daily ad and then that moves to maybe a custom segment, maybe it moves to a fully blown custom series. And then from there, you venture into a video or social. A lot of it maps back to our teams having been separate companies and the advertisers that they were talking to in those respective seats, which knew Group Nine for one thing and Vox for a set of things. And so everyone on our team is now having exciting conversations to say: “Hey, remember how you did all that stuff with us last year? We’re still going to do more of that but by the way. Let me show you this custom podcast we just did for Mattress Firm, and this feels spot on for what you were talking about for your strategy for holiday,” for example.
According to some reporting I’ve done, it seems like publishers are pitching longer-form podcast ads to advertisers. Are you pitching branded podcasts more than other podcast ad formats?
It’s not an either-or. We are definitely pitching them. We love our custom podcasts and you can do really compelling work as we’ve seen with a number of the custom series we’ve done. But we are always keeping the focus on what’s the right format for the advertiser and starting there. Daily ads make up a significant portion of our audio business. Advertisers see a ton of opportunity there. To do a custom podcast obviously requires a different level of time and investment and those make sense for a set of advertisers and specific opportunities and then the daily ads make a ton of sense for a whole host of advertisers looking to take advantage of the Vox Media Podcast Network.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 vs. AMD Radeon 6950 XT: Which GPU should you buy?
Receive near instant feedback on logos, images, text, and more with Helpfull
Confessions of an in-house creative strategist on feeling unfulfilled, difficulty in returning to agencies as the ‘pay is less’
The war for talent between agencies and brands’ in-house agencies has cooled. Even so, for adland talent who’ve made the move in-house, some say they are looking to go back to agencies after feeling creatively stifled. It’s not the easiest strategy to execute.
In the latest edition of our Confessions series, in which we trade anonymity for candor, we hear from an in-house creative strategist about their experience, why they want to go agency-side now and how pay is keeping them from doing so.
This conversation has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
What’s the in-house experience like?
I’ve been in-house for about a year. It’s very one-sided. The difference between agency and in-house is that with agencies, there [are] a lot of opinions and ideas [outside of the brand message] that go into creative. With in-house, you have the brand’s message and all creative is reflective of the brand’s message. With in-house, regardless of trends in the market, it’s a lot of ‘we’re going to stick to this one way of doing things’ mentality. It’s a lot of opinions about what the creative should be based on what it has been before. It makes it hard to introduce something fresh. It makes it hard to hire or be a new hire. If you’re not actually going to adhere to advice from new hires, what’s the point in getting new people? Are you just bringing people on board for a second opinion? That’s what it feels like.
Sounds like you don’t have the creative control you desire.
It feels like more of a second opinion role than to get something to manage or control. [Where I am now] it feels like we’re leaning more into what [our strategy] used to be than thinking about what we could be. That’s a big issue with in-house. With agencies, like I said, there’s a lot more trial and error. With in-house, a lot more of this is what we’re doing, these are the funds we have and this is what has worked in the past. In reality, a lot of what worked in the past, when you put it back into the market, it’s not going to work anymore.
Why do you think it’s more challenging to get to a new creative strategy in-house?
With agencies, you have multiple perspectives. You’re working on multiple brands. You can see something working for another brand and talk to your client about it. You can pivot. You have the background and perspective to [pitch that pivot]. When you’re in-house, you only have the knowledge of your brand and what’s working for you.
Are you looking to go back to agencies?
Personally, I am looking to go from in-house to agency but I get paid a lot more being in-house than what I’ve been offered at agencies. I’ve been in interviews with agencies where they’re telling me that I’ll be learning [programs I already know how to use] so that’s why the pay is less than what it should be. There are agencies I’ve interviewed with who ask me to move to New York for less than what I make now and make that work. [With inflation,] there’s no reason why salaries aren’t also increasing.
So you’d like to make the jump creatively but it’s hard when the compensation isn’t up to what in-house offers?
It’s hard. I’ve been lowballed, too. They’ll post a salary for a position, go through the interviews and then offer less than what’s listed on the salary description. What was the point of putting the salary range there? I feel like people are putting salary ranges on job descriptions just to attract people with the experience that they are looking for but by the time they make the offer, it’s not what they said it would be. It’s offensive.
When Will Bitcoin Bottom Out? Pi Cycle Bottom Says It Will Happen on July 9
Sky Mavis to Reimburse Axie Infinity Hack Victims and Restart the Ronin Bridge as Early as June 28th
Celsius Considers Bankruptcy, Hires More Advisors
Kyber Network Admits A Portion of Its Treasury Was Held By 3AC, But Not Significant to Affect KNC Operations
Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX is Reportedly Planning to Acquire a Stake in BlockFi
‘Continue to ebb and flow over time’: Denny’s chief brand officer on how consumers’ moods inform brand messaging
Bitcoin hits $45K ahead of July inflation report, but one fractal hints at looming correction
Smart Marketing Token (SMT) Is on a Mission to Help Blockchain Projects Reach Their Goals
Identity management org Sailpoint unveils no-code tool
Japan crypto exchange bitbank upgrades performance of its matching engine by 4x
Ethereum3 months ago
Michael Saylor’s MacroStrategy Secures $205 Million Loan to Buy More Bitcoin
Bit Coin3 months ago
Nifty Gateway Partners With Samsung to Develop ‘First-Ever Smart TV NFT Platform’
Tech3 months ago
How ‘eQuad’ Electric Bikes Could Change UPS Delivery
Bit Coin3 months ago
Bitcoin suddenly dives to $46K as attention focuses on large CME futures gaps
Tech3 months ago
Instagram’s latest test makes it easier to support social causes
Bit Coin3 months ago
Binance launches Binance Bridge 2.0 to integrate CeFi and DeFi
Cryptocurrency3 months ago
Layer-2 aggregator platform Coinweb receives crypto exchange license from Lithuanian regulator
Bit Coin3 months ago
Axie Infinity hacked for $612M, OpenSea expands support to Solana, EU’s unhosted wallet regulations cause a stir: Hodler’s Digest, March 27-April 2