Brand Safety and Suitability in Podcast Advertising: Navigating Content Alignment And Possible Podcaster Self-Censorship

By Rob Greenlee, Spoken Life Media – rob.greenlee at gmail com

In the dynamic world of podcasting and other user-generated content (UGC), aligning an advertiser brand with specific content topics and themes that reflect its brand values has become a rapidly growing consideration. Advertisers are often concerned about their brand’s reputation in the era of social media and the battle over free speech. Brands increasingly want to ensure their ads run in brand-safe and suitably compatible politically aligned podcast shows and topics to create more accurate matching between a brand being advertised and content in the program being broadcast.

This concern brings to the fore the growing use of brand safety and suitability tools built from AI-derived transcripts and AI analyses of the context of the content to create a GARM (2) World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) moderation rating and rankings of podcast content from a historical or past episode perspective to project a show series safety and suitability for an ad buy in the future. These tools assure advertisers that their advertisements appear in content that the rating it is given aligns with their desired brand values and ethics.

Another entity with significant impact in this area starts up in full swing this coming next month. This announcement from NewsGuard’s global team of misinformation experts will have rated the top 200 news podcasts on the largest streaming platforms by January 2024. These podcasts comprise the bulk of overall news and information podcast listenership and present valuable audiences for brands to reach.

NewsGuard has partnered with three of the largest podcast streaming platforms, which will (hopefully) inform their business partners of the availability or use of this technology from NewsGuard ratings. These three large partner platform names have not been disclosed to date. Concerns around podcaster host self-censorship on the part of these news and political podcasts is a big issue.

Using the NewsGuard Podcast ratings criteria for agencies and brands can decide to:

Target only trustworthy podcasts by filtering based on overall score or risk level—for example, only buying ads on podcasts that score a 7 and above or receive a “lowest risk” rating.

Then also:
– Avoid advertising on podcasts that regularly convey false information.
– Avoid advertising on heavily biased or politically slanted news shows.

Reduced Number of Shows and Reach is a Danger to Content Creators

Brand safety can become a hindrance rather than a help to content creators and advertisers. Advertisers have reduced the number of content channels they are willing to support with advertising. This can create a monetary penalty to discuss topics that a brand may not agree with on a political spectrum that audiences may want to hear about, as the content topic could be considered misinformation or a conspiracy theory today. Still, in a future timeframe, it could be discovered to be verified truth. This has the consequence of limiting the potential reach to listeners/viewers and the campaigns’ budgets.

In a 2023 survey by Alter Agents, only 8% of podcast listeners care to avoid controversial topicsHowever, 73% of listeners say that controversial topics would not affect their purchase of brands that advertise on those podcasts. About half of listeners would think more positively of a brand after pairing with controversial content. 

There is research showing 2/3 of listeners do object to some types of speech like racist, cruel and derogitory content does turnoff listeners from a podcast. Here is an outline on this research from InsideRadio article post. Further the listeners don’t transfer the content objection to the advertiser.

Podcast brand safety versus brand suitability

While often used interchangeably, they have distinct differences. Brand safety in podcasts refers to ensuring that a brand’s advertising does not appear alongside content universally deemed inappropriate or harmful, such as the expanding scope of hate speech or explicit material. This is about avoiding negative associations that could harm the brand’s reputation and perception if the wrong association results in lower ROI or harms the brand reputation related to an advertising campaign.

On the other hand, brand suitability is more nuanced and subjective. It involves aligning a brand’s advertising with podcast content that avoids harmful content topics and resonates with the brand’s values and the interests of the brands percieved target audience wether true or accurate or not given the research showing less audience concerns or impact on advertiser brands.

The term Suitability is increasingly being used over Safety yet is still about finding the right fit for the brand in terms of podcast content rating based on GARM content ratings scales to discover the subtle context differences in discussion topics in a given historical look at past episodes of a podcast to project its content suitability for future advertising campaigns in that podcast series, and alignment of audience, ensuring that the advertising feels relevant and appropriate within the context of the specific podcast content. While brand safety sets a baseline standard for content, brand suitability goes a step further to align advertising with content that positively complements and enhances the brand’s image.

Clarification for Content Creators

For content creators, understanding brand safety and Suitability is crucial. Recognizing that brand safety doesn’t mean you need to self-censor your content to align with a specific advertiser is essential. However, the risk remains that the creator will adjust the topics to appeal to more advertisers. Losing an advertising campaign due to a misalignment or past content can be a genuine concern. However, knowing what constitutes brand-safe values and the types of content that a brand may not want to associate with is key. Advertisers increasingly influence content editorially, directing their funds toward approved content topics.

The Evolution of Content Alignment

Traditionally, brand alignment with shows focused primarily on listener demographics and genre topics. However, the podcast advertising industry has always struggled to obtain complete demographic information about audiences because of the open nature and distributed aspect of the listening side via RSS and non-demographic sharing platforms. This aspect of podcasting drives a stronger focus on content topics to target better ads based on the contextual relevance of topics to advertisers.

Debunking Myths: The True Crime and Comedy Case Study

Many advertisers hesitate to associate with specific genres like true crime or comedy due to misconceptions about their content. However, our research, including interviews with brand marketers and a survey of 6,000 podcast listeners, reveals that what marketers consider “risky” can offer significant opportunities. For instance, while true crime might be controversial, listeners often find it thought-provoking and stress-reducing. This genre, primarily attracting female listeners, offers advertisers a demographic with strong purchasing power.

Controversial Topics: Less Risky Than Thought

Consider a scenario where a listener is engaged with a comedy podcast that includes mature language. About half would think more positively of a brand after its association with controversial content. This data suggests that audiences are more receptive to ads in these contexts than previously believed.

Importance of Ad Content Quality Over Topic Fit

Interestingly, about 80% of podcast listeners listen through ads, with a significant portion recalling brands unaided. This indicates that the quality of the ad content is more critical than its thematic fit with the podcast genre. High-quality promotions that match the podcast’s style are more effective than those that strictly align with the podcast’s subject matter.

Trusting the Host

Podcast hosts play a pivotal role in influencing listeners. A study by Acast shows podcast listeners trust hosts more than any other medium. Around 80% of listeners feel it’s important for hosts to do their research, and over half trust hosts to only advertise brands worth sponsoring. Advertising on a podcast, irrespective of whether the ad is host-produced or not, generally casts the brand in a positive light.

Expanding Audio Horizons

Brands should consider broadening their horizons and experimenting with new genres, titles, and styles in their podcast promotion strategy. This approach can open up avenues to reach more engaged audiences without being restricted by overly cautious brand safety measures and increase ad spending in the podcasting industry.

Brand safety and suitability in podcast advertising is a nuanced field. Advertisers should focus on understanding their audience’s perception of different genres and leverage brand safety tools effectively and make sure they are not used to drive a politically biased and speech censoring agenda. Meanwhile, content creators must be aware of these dynamics and should not feel pressured into self-censorship and accept that certain advertisers may not be available to them if they want to discuss controversial topics.

By embracing a broader range of content and trusting in the quality of their advertisements and the influence of podcast hosts, brands can engage with their audience more effectively and authentically.

For most of the 20 years of the podcasting medium, podcasts have been primarily free speech and open distribution. Brand Safety and Suitability tools enable moderation of podcast content beyond what was previously possible.

Unveiling the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting for Men: A Comprehensive Guide

By Rob Greenlee

It would be correct that this is not a podcasting topic article and that I have other interests and experiences beyond podcasting. So, in recent years, intermittent fasting (IF) has surged in popularity as a health and fitness trend, especially among men seeking sustainable ways to improve their health.

This eating pattern, which cycles between periods of fasting and eating, is praised not just for its weight loss effects but also for a myriad of other health benefits. I have adopted this lifestyle to improve my body’s healing ability and have lost plenty of unneeded extra body fat.

Some advantages I have experienced of intermittent fasting, specifically for men, are backed by scientific insights.

Weight Loss and Fat Reduction

This is one of the most compelling reasons for men to start daily intermittent fasting for weight loss and fat reduction. By limiting the window of food intake, IF naturally reduces calorie consumption, aiding in weight loss. Moreover, fasting periods trigger hormonal changes that facilitate fat burning. Studies have shown that IF can significantly reduce body weight and body fat percentage, making it an effective tool for those aiming to shed extra pounds.

Improved Insulin Sensitivity

Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, which is crucial in preventing type 2 diabetes – a condition that disproportionately affects men. By enhancing the body’s response to insulin, IF helps regulate blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of developing diabetes.

Heart Health

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death among men globally. IF benefits heart health by positively influencing various cardiovascular risk factors. It can lower blood pressure, reduce harmful cholesterol levels, and decrease triglycerides. Additionally, fasting has been associated with a reduction in markers of inflammation, further protecting heart health.

Brain Health

Emerging research suggests that intermittent fasting may bolster brain health. It’s linked to a lower risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, which are of particular concern as men age. Fasting triggers a process known as autophagy, where cells repair themselves, potentially leading to improved brain function and longevity.

Boost in Growth Hormone Secretion

Growth hormone plays a vital role in muscle development, strength, and physical performance – aspects of health many men prioritize. IF can increase growth hormone secretion, aiding in muscle maintenance and growth, which is crucial for overall physical fitness.

Cellular Repair and Longevity

Intermittent fasting promotes autophagy, the body’s mechanism of removing damaged cells, which may increase longevity. This cellular repair process is essential for maintaining healthy bodily function and preventing age-related diseases.

Mental Clarity and Concentration

Many men report enhanced mental clarity and improved concentration during fasting periods. This could be due to the body’s adaptation to burning fat for energy instead of glucose, leading to stable energy levels without the dips associated with regular eating patterns.

Reduced Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is the root cause of many diseases. IF has been shown to reduce inflammation, providing an added layer of protection against various chronic conditions.

Intermittent fasting offers a range of benefits for men, from weight loss and improved heart health to enhanced brain function and reduced inflammation. However, it’s crucial to approach this dietary pattern cautiously and under professional guidance, especially for those with existing health conditions. As with any lifestyle change, individual responses can vary, and what works for one person may not work for another. Thus, consulting with healthcare providers before embarking on an intermittent fasting journey is advisable for a safe and practical experience.

New Media Show #565

From Podfade to Podcast Renaissance: Predicting the Revival and Future Success of the Podcasting Medium – James Cridland, Sam Sethi with Host Rob Greenlee

Have you heard these myths about the future of the podcasting industry? Myth #1: Podcasting is just a passing trend. Myth #2: The market is oversaturated with podcasts, making it impossible to stand out. Myth #3: Only big-name podcasters can succeed in this industry. In this episode, our guests, James Cridland and Sam Sethi, will debunk these myths and share the truth about the future of podcasting.

With guests are James Cridland, Sam Sethi, and Host Rob Greenlee

James Cridland, the editor-in-chief of PodNews, is a well-known figure in the podcasting industry. With his daily updates on the latest happenings in podcasting, James keeps podcasters and content creators updated. His expertise and insights make him a sought-after guest on various podcasts, including his own show, the PodNews Weekly Review. James’s ability to find excellent interviewees and his knack for delivering engaging content make his show a must-listen for anyone interested in podcasting. With his deep knowledge of the industry and his passion for the medium, James brings a unique perspective to the future of podcasting.

We just need to keep on pushing new ideas and eventually Apple and Spotify will wake up, smell the coffee and go, ‘Oh, you know what? That would be quite a good feature for us to include.’ – James Cridland

In this episode, you will be able to:

  • Learn about the latest data and podcast industry discrepancies that could impact your show’s growth.
  • Discover how to integrate live video streaming into your podcast to engage your audience in a new way.
  • Gain insights into the challenges of communication and PR in the podcasting industry and how to overcome them.
  • Find out how YouTube Music’s podcast integration can expand your show’s reach and attract new listeners.
  • Explore the future of the podcasting industry and stay ahead of the trends to ensure the success of your show.

Challenges in Communication and PR
Clear communication and effective public relations are the soul of any industry, and podcasting is no different. Recent developments like the integration of podcasts into YouTube Music highlight the vital role of communication in explaining complex features and addressing queries. Engaging a dedicated PR person to manage podcast-related inquiries, as Apple has done, can significantly streamline communication processes and ensure a smooth user experience.

The resources mentioned in this episode are:

  • Visit the PodNews website ( to stay updated with the latest podcast news.
  • Check out Podfans FM (, a new platform that supports all the podcasting 2.0 standards.
  • Listen to the Podnews Weekly Review podcast ( for interviews and discussions about podcasting.
  • Explore the alternate enclosure tag in podcasting 2.0 to provide audio and video options in your RSS feed.
  • Consider using the Podfans platform to broadcast live events with audio and video capabilities.
  • Utilize the alternate enclosure tag to allow viewers to watch or listen to your content.
  • Experiment with combining audio and video feeds to simplify the user experience and avoid splitting your audience.
  • Check out YouTube Music for a user-friendly switching experience between audio and video content.
  • Consider a convergence strategy by producing audio and video content for your podcast, if applicable.
  • Stay tuned for future episodes of the new media show for more insights and discussions on podcasting.

The key moments in this episode are:
00:00:05 – Introduction

00:01:15 – Podcasting 2.0

00:04:40 – Podnews Weekly Review

00:06:48 – Implications of the Alternate Enclosure Tag

00:07:48 – Apple’s Support for Alternate Enclosure

00:14:36 – Spotify’s Video Feature for Joe Rogan

00:15:02 – Splitting Listeners and Podcast Industry

00:16:21 – YouTube’s Strengths and YouTube Music

00:17:53 – Importance of Alternate Enclosures

00:18:27 – Live Tag and Radio Industry

00:30:10 – Live Item Tag Support in Podcasting Apps

00:30:47 – The Potential of Live Podcasting on Apple

00:34:11 – Improving Streamyard with Permanent URLs

00:31:01 – Simultaneous Publishing for Live Episodes

00:36:58 – Podcast Hosts Embracing Live Podcasting

00:46:32 – The Importance of Repurposing Radio Content

00:47:57 – Podcasting Revenue and Radio’s Perception

00:49:59 – Radio Companies and Podcasting

00:51:30 – Consolidation and Advertising Deals

00:54:31 – Scams Targeting Podcasters on Facebook

01:02:59 – Introduction to YouTube Music’s podcast features

01:03:40 – YouTube Music’s dual approach to playing podcasts

01:05:04 – Difference between YouTube Music and YouTube Studio experience

01:07:04 – Lack of communication from the YouTube team

01:10:54 – Increase in podcast listening among older audiences

01:19:16 – How the hosts’ shares are doing

01:19:40 – Early adoption of electric cars

01:20:26 – Reluctance to buy an Elon Musk car

01:21:17 – Electric car preferences and concerns

01:23:03 – Future of podcasting

01:34:23 – Podcast Industry Data

01:36:01 – Validating Podcasts

01:37:31 – Podcast Completeness Tag

01:40:15 – Discrepancies in Podcast Numbers

01:42:35 – Contact Information

Harnessing the Power of Convergence: Audio and Video Podcasting Strategies

by Rob Greenlee

Spoken Life Media and Host, “Podcast Tips with Rob Greenlee,” Co-Host,

The distinction between audio and video content creation and consumption blurs in today’s rapidly evolving digital media landscape. It is increasing consumption and creation options. This convergence offers creators audience reach, engagement, and monetization opportunities. Here’s a deep dive into the strategies and expertise that can harness this power to its fullest potential.

Rob Greenlee

Audio and live and on-demand video podcasting are two popular forms of media that can be used to share information, opinions, stories, and more.

“According to Edison Research, the percentage of Americans age 12 and older who listen to podcasts weekly has grown from 8% in 2014 to 31% in 2023. However, it’s important to note that only 17% of podcasters will record a video with their audio in 2023. Please note that these percentages can vary depending on the source and methodology of the research.” – Edison Research

Video podcasting can offer advantages over and in addition to audio-only podcasting, such as more visibility, searchability, and content repurposing at massive content discovery platforms like YouTube, Spotify, Apple Video Podcasts, and newer platforms like Rumble.

Many great free online video resources exist to learn about making a video podcast; you can check out some of the video results from any web search. They offer tips and tutorials on setting up a video podcast studio, what equipment and software to use, and how to upload and distribute your podcast.

Expertise in Audio-Video Content Production
Excelling in audio and video content production requires amazingly powerful production tools that enable a meticulous blend of creativity, experience, focus, learned skill, and determined technique. The content leaders in this audio and video convergence sphere understand the nitty-gritty of pre-production live video streaming that crafts audience interactivity and resonating narratives. Then, fine-tuning them in pre-production, production lighting, visuals, recording with ideally less intrusive microphones, and post-production. It’s not just about creating content; it’s about crafting an experience that blends audio and video into a better video and audio experience.

But the magic truly begins during and after content creation. Online content marketing bridges the creator, the brand, and the consumer. By mastering this, they ensure that every story, every piece of content, reaches its intended audience most efficiently.

Technical Prowess Meets Creative Vision
In an era where the audience demands seamless experiences, technical proficiency is non-negotiable. By integrating technical APIs, these content maestros guarantee a fluid media consumption experience, merging tech capabilities with a clear creative vision.

Business Development: Beyond Just Content Marketing
While content is king, its reign is fortified by strategic business decisions. Navigating the industry’s business side, these experts focus on more than just sales growth and building communities around their shows. Their strategies don’t just distribute content; they distribute experiences, enhancing brand visibility and value. With bespoke offerings, every client’s unique needs are addressed, ensuring content that’s viewed and felt.

The commitment to staying updated is evident with an expert evangelist onboard, always on the lookout for innovative recording technologies that promise to define the future of digital media.

Community Growth and Education: Building the Ecosystem
What truly differentiates shows and hosts of shows is their commitment to growing community. By being active voices in key events, moderating panels, and driving insightful conversations, they’re shaping the narrative around the future of media via thoughtful and passionate leadership in those communities.

Specialized training sessions are available online for enthusiasts eager to delve into the world of podcasting. Many of the best ones online are not just lessons; they are customized and clear pathways to mastering the art of content creation.

Recognizing the undeniable power of live and on-demand video
Budding creators in video production, emphasizing building a loyal subscriber base. Their expertise continues beyond there. They’re adept at YouTube channel and podcast development, leveraging two of today’s most potent platforms.

The convergence of audio and video podcasting isn’t just a trend
It’s a paradigm shift in content consumption. As we move forward, it’s evident that the winners in this space will be those who can seamlessly blend all these mediums, offering audiences a symphony of experiences. And with the expertise highlighted above, the future of digital media looks brighter than ever.