MarTech Interview with Dan Granger, CEO and Founder of Oxford Road

Dan Granger, CEO and Founder of Oxford Road shares a few observations on the growing popularity of audio ads:

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Welcome to this MarTech Series chat, Dan, tell us about yourself and more about Oxford Road…how has the agency evolved over the years?

I worked in commercial radio for nearly a decade before launching Oxford Road in 2013. I witnessed the opportunity presented by opening the gates of audio content to offer free worldwide distribution to all creators. By working with early-stage Digital Brands like Hulu, DollarShaveClub, ZipRecruiter, MeUndies and others in our first year, we rode the wave of the eCommerce revolution alongside the renaissance of audio entertainment via Podcast. This led to massive growth, leading to our present position as the leading independent audio agency in the world. We have always balanced the art and science of media management, creative development, analytics and attribution for performance focused clients.

As the agency has evolved, we’ve developed international buying capabilities as the landscape develops. We’ve also led our field by pioneering practices and developing new tools to allow brands to buy responsibly and promote content that aligns with their values, in partnership with Brand Safety and Suitability tools for audio like Barometer and Ad Fontes. These functions allow us to support the needs of global brands like no other agency on the planet, while still staying close to our roots through high-performance campaigns for the next wave of digitally native businesses.

When it comes to global audio ad trends, what are some of the key trends you’re observing in this industry? What top-of-mind thoughts/predictions do you have for this market for 2023?

Brand Safety and Suitability are increasing in their importance as marketers seek to align their brand values with their business objectives. We have partnered with third parties to bring tools like The Media Bias Chart for Podcast and Barometer to help advertisers accomplish this goal. With the help of these tools, agencies like Oxford Road and the brands we serve can now effectively obtain “Nutrition Labels” on the content before they sponsor it so they know what they are getting into and can rely on unbiased third-parties to give them reliable information about how closely the program aligns with their company values.

Ad delivery verification is increasingly important so that marketers can confirm that impressions purchased were delivered as ordered. This includes, appropriate frequency, placement in show, competitive separation, copy execution, and more are all executed as specified with this practice. Tools like Podscribe are critical for the future of this business.

International Podcasting is a great emerging opportunity for companies that have the capability to sell to audiences outside of the US. Consumption continues to increase and new channels are emerging to provide the infrastructure necessary to enable such campaigns.

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Why should modern-day marketers and advertisers be more conscious about brand safety when it comes to their audio ad initiatives? How can they enhance this?

Consumers expect brands to support content that reflects their values in ways beyond what we saw in the past. They will hold companies responsible for the content they sponsor, and can create an internal nightmare or a PR disaster if they find themselves alongside the wrong type of content. Businesses are also placing increased emphasis on living out their values, and as such, have a duty to ensure some degree of alignment between what they purport to believe and what content they sponsor with their ad dollars. We have a brand responsibility practice and tools we have helped develop in the marketplace like Ad Fontes Media Bias Chart for Podcasts and Barometer to help brands align their brand values with their business objectives in audio placement.

For brands still at the stage of boosting their overall audio ad goals and plans, what best practices would you share with them?

  • Step one is to find an attribution method that your business can trust. There are several viable approaches available but none are perfect and they all require some degree of faith. But until you’ve established and can trust an attribution practice, there is no opportunity to scale your podcast campaigns.
  • Step two is to find shows that have other sponsors who speak to a similar target customer to your business. Follow their lead and minimize risk by sponsoring shows that they continue to buy because they are likely to work for you as well.
  • Step three is to create ad copy that is clearly written and has shown performance on other media. Then adapt it into copy points that can be shaped and adapted by the host of the program so that they can deliver it authentically in their own voice.

Then, rinse and repeat!

What do you feel about the future of the B2B tech / martech-adtech industry?

There is a lot of skepticism about the tech available in our industry. Adtech in audio needs to take care to not overpromise and under-deliver. Until we can increase the integrity of our tools, there will be a large gap in the dollars the industry is able to realize against its potential. This starts with being able to measure actual impressions vs. downloads and extends to pixel attribution and all manner of ad executions, which automated tools are proving to deliver poorly. Controls must be put in place to minimize the reputational damage to providers and the industry before more trust is lost.

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Oxford Road is an independent audio agency that has helped hundreds of brands scale their efforts in audio using Podcast, Radio, Streaming, Connected Voice and more.

Dan Granger is CEO and founder of Oxford Road, a Los Angeles-based performance marketing agency specializing in audio channels such as Podcast, Radio, Streaming, and Smart Speakers. They have helped more than a dozen DTC brands scale their customer acquisition efforts and grow from Startup to $1 Billion+ valuations.

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