By Brian Steinberg // Variety
Madison Avenue is paying more money to podcasting. Now a group of people focused on the industry wants advertisers to pay more attention.
The Media Roundtable, a group of organizations that aims to promote civility and stronger dialogue in media, is launching a chart of what it considers to be the podcasts that display the most and least bias. The debut of the chart, prepared by the research organization Ad Fontes Media, is part of a bid to get advertisers to support content of a better quality in an era when the proliferation of niche outlets makes such stuff more difficult to track.
“Oftentimes, the best performing programs for an advertiser are the ones that have the strongest opinions and often can be very polarizing. It’s very alluring. There are a lot of businesses that have built their companies on the back of polarizing personalities,” says Dan Granger, CEO of Oxford Road, a media buying agency that does a lot of work with podcasters and is a member of the Roundtable. “Then you wake up one day and you see something trending on Twitter because the host of one of these shows said something controversial and all of a sudden, everyone freaks out.”
Ad Fontes Media assigns a team of analysts with viewpoints from across the political spectrum to listen to various podcasts and examine the reliability of the information presented as well as whether hosts engage in rhetoric that is “dehumanizing, vilifying,” says Vanessa Otero, founder and CEO of the organization. “We are trying to make noise saying advertisers have to be more responsible about the money that’s flowing to certain news sources,” she says. The group’s analysis tends to rate general-news programs from mainstream news outlets as less biased and programs from specific partisan hosts as more biased.
The goal of the organizers is to help advertisers find a way to monitor content and avoid boycotts launched by activists and consumers, who often call out sponsors on Twitter and other social-media outlets. The National Institute for Civil Discourse and the Cambridge Negotiation Institute are also involved in the Roundtable.