PRX uses Adzerk to build an innovative podcast ad platform


Public Radio Exchange (PRX) operates public radio’s largest podcast distribution marketplace, and they wanted to offer their podcasters the ability to monetize podcasts with audio ads.

prx podcast ads
prx podcast ads

No current ad tech tools could provide the speed, scale, and customization they needed, especially since most ad tech software is tailored to banner/video versus audio ads.

So PRX decided to build their own podcast ad platform for inserting audio ads into downloaded podcasts. To speed up the process they integrated with Adzerk to power the decision making and reporting.

"We didn’t have to build an ad server from scratch because of Adzerk’s APIs. Their tools solved our problem well."
Andrew Kuklewicz, CTO

What PRX Wanted

In designing their platform, PRX had a few key goals:

  1. To insert the ads dynamically at time of download - not hardcoded into the podcast, so that even old podcasts could have up-to-date ads
  2. To personalize ads to each user so that different users get different ads
  3. To manage the order of ads to offer a "first slot", "second slot", etc - similar to how TV commercials work
  4. To release the product in weeks, not years

Since no current ad tech solution could accomplish these goals, PRX knew they had to design it themselves. But since doing it from scratch could have taken years, they reached out to Adzerk, whose ad serving APIs could help them build this platform in just weeks.

What PRX built with Adzerk

After integrating Adzerk's APIs into their tech stack, PRX was able to quickly build the podcast ad platform they wanted.

The product allowed them to:

  1. Stitch audio ads into their podcasts at time of download - so that even a podcast originally created in 2015 could include a 2020 advertisement
  2. Use targeting tools to show the right ad to the right person
  3. Have placement rules to decide where in the podcast the ad is placed
prx audio ads
prx audio ads

The results

PRX saw positive results immediately upon launching:

New revenue Before Adzerk, PRX could insert ads into just new podcasts (about 10% of total downloads). With Adzerk, over 40% of podcasts now include ads - leading to 4x more revenue.
Launch date Using Adzerk they released this product in just weeks - a 90% reduction in dev time versus trying to build it from scratch

How Adzerk Helped

As the market leader in ad serving APIs, Adzerk's tools made it easy for PRX to build the exact podcast ad platform they wanted. PRX took advantage of these specific Adzerk features to design the product:

  1. Adzerk's Decision API - this API enables PRX to request ads server-side when a user downloads a podcast and then get a response in JSON containing the audio files for both the ads and the episode. PRX then takes this information, stitches it together to form the entire podcast, and sends it to the downloader.
  2. Revenue optimization algorithm - Using Adzerk's revenue optimization tools, if there are multiple audio ads that are eligible for a given slot, then the algorithm will select the ad that'll drive the most revenue for PRX.

By using Adzerk to launch in weeks instead of years, PRX quickly built a high-revenue audio ad platform that advertisers love.

Interested in learning more?

If you're interested in building your own podcast/audio ad product, please feel free to reach out, and we'll set up a free demo.

"Adzerk is a great partner, and we recommend them to anyone building a custom ad server."
Chief Digital Officer, Bed Bath & Beyond

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