Brand Safety & Suitability in Podcast Advertising: A Comprehensive Guide

Oct 4, 2022

Thanks to brand safety standards, podcast advertising is very risk-averse. Consider suitability, and how you can use it alongside targeting to find the right content for your brand and target audience.

For the uninitiated, podcasts may seem like the wild west of the content world, where anyone might say anything, and anything goes. This misconception makes some brands hesitant to hop on the bandwagon. Even those in the know may still rule out entire genres for fear of jeopardizing brand safety.

Rest assured. Podcast advertising is just as safe as other marketing mediums. Not only is offensive and objectionable content removed, but brands also have a say in the level of content suitability they want their ads running alongside.

Let’s dig into brand safety, brand suitability, and—most importantly—how to find the right content for both your brand and your target audience.

The Brand Safety Floor

There is a baseline for content on our podcast network; it’s the brand safety floor. In accordance with GARM and IAB guidelines, the brand safety floor ensures both our listeners and advertising partners aren’t exposed to damaging content.

On the back end, this means we have industry-approved filters in place that remove content to ensure we’re adhering to the brand safety floor. Our content team also regularly monitors and removes content from monetization when it’s deemed inappropriate. This is your brand safety baseline, ensuring your ads will never play alongside content that is either illegal or extremely harmful. 

The Brand Safety Floor

Now that we know that there is no safety risk to podcast advertising, let’s look at suitability, which is really a kind of content targeting. 

Brand Suitability as Easy as 1-2-3

A brand suitability strategy is incremental to brand safety and based on your brand values and situation. We break suitability into three levels:

Level 1 – Content intended to be educational or informative about a topic. This content is appropriate for young children. It’s the podcast equivalent of a family-friendly network. 

Level 2 – Content that is within the context of entertainment or breaking news. This content is appropriate for almost everyone. It’s the podcast equivalent of network TV. 

Level 3 – Content that would not appeal to sensitive listeners. This content is appropriate for most adults. It’s the podcast equivalent of cable TV.

Think Targeting, Not Anti-Targeting

You may be tempted to stick to level one suitability, thinking it’s the safest (and therefore best) option of your brand. But take a second to think of the content—and audiences—you’re missing out on. Like the graphic below, the content opportunities narrow as the suitability bar rises.

Brand Suitability Levels

When you’re deciding what suitability in podcast advertising looks like for your brand, first think about the audiences you want to reach. Who are they? What kind of content do they enjoy? Then think of how you can marry suitability with audience targeting to reach your ideal audience.

Let’s look at a hypothetical example. A company is launching a luxurious skincare line. They want to entice working women and moms to indulge and pamper themselves because they deserve it. Level one brand suitability would eliminate all true crime content, but true crime is a top content category, and it attracts a large female audience. To target the desired audience, this brand should consider adjusting its standards.

More Targeting Tools Than Ever 

You can use contextual transcription targeting to take brand suitability further down to the episode level. This targeting tool allows you to focus on specific topics that align with audience interests across millions of episodes translated and mapped to IAB Content Taxonomy segments. You can also layer advanced solutions to target specific publishers, genres, and audiences. 

Returning to our hypothetical, now the company is on board with targeting the true crime category and has adjusted their suitability level to include most of the category’s content. They can also take it a step further and select specific topics that they want their ads to run alongside with contextual transcription targeting. This targeting strategy allows their ads to run on true crime content while avoiding episodes covering more sensitive topics.

Your Best-In-Class Podcast Partner

When it comes to ensuring brand safety and brand suitability, the SXM Podcast Network is the best around. We’re the first movers in brand suitability targeting for podcast advertising, pushing the industry forward.

Ready to explore suitability for your brand? Let’s talk.

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