Canadian podcasting marketing, content and monetization company, TPX (The Podcast Exchange), has struck a new sales partnership with Stitcher’s advertising arm, Midroll Media.
Toronto-based TPX adds Midroll to a growing roster of partners that include Corus Entertainment, Stockholm-based Acast, audioBoom, Wondery, and iHeartMedia.
Since it was founded in 2007, Stitcher has become one of the more popular podcast platforms featuring more than 100,000 podcasts. Owned by the publicly-traded E.W. Scripps Company, the Stitcher app features both a free and premium model, in addition to original content. It’s also the parent company of the Midroll Media ad network representing over 200 of the biggest podcasts and Stitcher comedy podcast network Earwolf. Earwolf is perhaps best known as the home of Conan O’Brien’s hit podcast Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend. The late night comedian signed a purported seven-figure deal with Midroll last month that will keep the podcast going for another two seasons.
“Stitcher’s partnership with TPX is an exciting step into the Canadian marketplace,” said Stitcher Chief Revenue Officer Sarah van Mosel, in a release. “Canada is a key market for Stitcher; it has a rich audio heritage and a passionate podcast fanbase who are already listening to many of the shows on Stitcher’s roster. TPX brings the expertise to connect those listeners with brands and advertisers in the region.”
Jean-Marie Heimrath, president & CEO of TPX, says the company will essentially act as Midroll’s “feet on the ground” in Canada with many of the titles in its catalogue drawing huge audiences on this side of the border.
Founded just two years ago with Jeff Ulster, the company’s Chief Content Officer, Heimrath acknowledges that timing has been on TPX’s side in helping it corner much of the podcast monetization market in Canada, driven in part by his own curiosity.
“We happened to be in the right place at the right time, but we also sensed what was going on,” Heimrath told Broadcast Dialogue. “When we started this thing there was a big structural hole in the marketplace that no one was monetizing and so there was an opportunity there as a media sales company. But now we see some other opportunities.”
Those new opportunities have included getting into branded podcast production. TPX’s first effort, the Hello Movies podcast for Cineplex, hosted by Indie88 (CIND-FM) Toronto personality Lana Gay, launched this Spring.
TPX has also inadvertently found itself in the content distribution game. Approached by independent producer Kristi Lee, who is behind the popular Canadian True Crime podcast, TPX was able to leverage its relationship with Acast to get the podcast picked up globally.
“In terms of exporting Canadian content…if it’s great content and a great story, it’s great content. When you put flags onto things, you’re missing the point,” said Heimrath. “When we started this company, the vision was to bring the world to Canada. Today, it’s to bring the world to Canada and Canada to the world. That’s where we’re going and I think that Canadian True Crime is an example of how we want to do that. There are other podcasts out there that I can’t talk about yet, but that’s exactly what we want to do.”
“We believe that we’re just as good as anyone else. You can take a look at the music business, for example, where Canadian artists punch way above their weight and there’s no reason we can’t do that in this particular space. We need to have global ambition because Canada is a small country. There’s nothing wrong with that, but in order to scale you need to look at larger audiences around the world,” added Heimrath.
Heimrath says TPX is open to podcasters knocking on their door, but that ultimately podcasts should already have a substantial audience of between 50,000 and 100,000 listens a month. Canadian True Crime, for example, was delivering 300,000 monthly listening sessions in Canada alone.
“It’s been a very interesting period, in terms of how we’ve grown. Through your growth you start pivoting once in awhile to ensure you’re on mark, and that everything is moving the way it should move,” said Heimrath.
He says agencies are driving the majority of ad buying in the podcast space right now, led by companies like HelloFresh, HSBC, McDonald’s, and Skip the Dishes.
Nevertheless, Heimrath says there is still work to do in educating people about podcasting. He says the company’s sponsorship of the upcoming Rain Summit Canada, Oct. 16, in Toronto, is about supporting the space.
“As thought leaders in the category, we need to be able to promote the category first and then us second. If they don’t understand it, no one’s going to buy anything,” said Heimrath.
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