Marty Michael, CEO and Co-Founder of Gumball
As an account executive selling branded content on comedy website CollegeHumor in 2012, Marty Michael saw that advertisers craved the connection between creators and their loyal audiences. But it wasn’t until Michael and his CollegeHumor colleagues, Jake Hurwitz and Amir Blumenfeld, began making and monetizing content outside of digital video that they realized podcasting was the best medium for both creators and advertisers to cultivate an intimate relationship with their listeners. Expanding on this idea, the trio started Headgum, a comedy podcast network that became a successful business with over 30 shows, including their flagship podcast, If I Were You. They quickly discovered that scaling host-read, creator-endorsed messages in podcasting was highly complex. The process involved many touchpoints between creators and advertisers, including finding available dates, collecting copy points, and handing off airchecks, all managed manually over dozens of emails. Given this reality, they identified automation as the only solution.
Michael tapped Andrew Pile, then CTO of Vimeo, to help build on the idea of automating and simplifying the host-read ad buying and selling process. Together, they developed Gumball in 2020. Gumball is a tech-enabled marketplace for advertisers to buy host-read ads directly from podcasters, enabling advertisers to scale their campaigns and helping podcasters make money.
With Gumball, advertisers get access to a real-time inventory of podcast shows and can reserve ad slots easily to meet their needs. “It’s similar to an ecommerce experience where advertisers can choose the podcasts, add spots to their cart, and reserve them by checking out with a credit card,” says Michael, CEO and Co-Founder of Gumball.
For advertisers, Gumball helps them cast a wider net and attract new audiences by tapping into exciting opportunities for creator-endorsed content. They also benefit from the incremental reach that podcasting offers compared to other marketing channels like television, etc.
For podcast creators, Gumball makes their work discoverable to over 450 advertisers looking to purchase host-read ads at scale. The platform is designed to assist independent creators in monetizing their podcasts with host-read advertising and gives them a larger percentage of the revenue far more than the market average.
Signing up on Gumball is easy; all it takes is a few clicks to start using the platform. In order to create a premium marketplace, Gumball vets both creators and advertisers. Creators must meet certain criteria (like the number of downloads) before they can upload RSS feeds and set up ads. Meanwhile, new advertisers are asked to pay upfront to ensure that creators get paid for their work.
Gumball’s rich directory of demographic, category, and show publishing information makes it quick and easy to find the podcasts that fit advertisers’ criteria. A process that can typically take two to three weeks is reduced to a matter of minutes. It’s a win win situation: Gumball enables advertisers to gain access to the best podcasts fast, and creators enjoy being discovered by more advertisers easily.
It’s similar to an ecommerce experience where advertisers can choose the podcasts, add ad spots to their cart, and reserve them by checking out with a credit card
Better, quicker discovery isn’t the only reason to use Gumball. The platform also comes with a dashboard to help advertisers gain a comprehensive view of their purchases, upload ad copy and talking points for creators, and receive recorded ads for review. After reading the ad copy, creators can send the airchecks back to advertisers, streamlining the content review process for the entire advertising team.
Gumball’s capabilities were on full display while helping Athletic Greens a direct response advertiser test multiple shows and make informed decisions to run its campaigns effectively. Athletic Greens was having difficulty sourcing the right middle-tier shows for its campaigns. Gumball’s automated platform acted as a gateway to a plethora of podcasts, allowing them to explore and find the podcasts fit for their endeavors to drive more sales.
Steering ahead, Gumball plans to continue its quest of building more efficient products around ad buying and selling, like new tools around show cross-promotion and campaign delivery.