- Agnes Kozera and Dave Kierzkowski founded one of the first deal marketplaces for YouTube stars, FameBit, in 2013.
- Their new startup Podcorn, a matchmaking tool for audio creators and brands, aims to provide a similar service in the podcasting space.
- Podcorn has onboarded 27,000 creators, lured in hundreds of advertisers, and facilitated thousands of ad campaigns since launching a year ago.
- Business Insider spoke with Kozera about the startup's first year and the differences between working with YouTube stars and podcasters.
- Kozera said the typical rates for ad content on Podcorn fall between a $25 and $50 CPM (cost per thousand) plays.
- Subscribe to Business Insider's influencer newsletter: Insider Influencers.
Agnes Kozera and Dave Kierzkowski founded one of the first deal marketplaces for YouTube stars, FameBit, in 2013. And now they're betting that podcasting is the next frontier for digital creators.
"We just see this as the next big emerging medium where influencers will proliferate," Kozera said.
Their startup Podcorn, a matchmaking platform for podcasters and brands, has onboarded 27,000 creators, lured in hundreds of advertisers, and facilitated thousands of ad campaigns since it launched a year ago, Kozera said.
Many of Podcorn's early users arrived through partnerships with podcast-hosting platforms like Buzzsprout, Podomatic, Captivate, and Omny Studio. But the team is also eyeing YouTube stars they used to work with who have since launched spoken-word shows.
"YouTube channels that are diversifying to podcasting sort of have a different identity in their podcasts," Kozera said. "Whereas with YouTube people focus more on tutorials, lookbooks, unboxings, here it's a lot more about original and more journalistic creative storytelling."
With more YouTube and TikTok stars embracing podcasts this year (and charting on Apple Podcasts' and Spotify's top lists), the timing looks favorable to push a creator marketplace focused on audio content. The Podcorn team hopes to train advertisers to approach podcast marketing similarly to how they run influencer-marketing deals on social-media apps.
"When it came to ads, it really was more of a radio ad slot mentality versus treating podcasters as personalities and influencers and we really saw an opportunity in that," Kozera said.
Moving from YouTube to podcasting
Podcorn is Kozera's and Kierzkowski's second crack at running a deal-making platform for creators.
The pair's first company FameBit, which they sold to Google in 2016 (it's since rebranded as YouTube BrandConnect), helped advertisers connect with YouTube stars for influencer-marketing opportunities.
Podcorn similarly plays matchmaker for brands and creators. Advertisers post campaign opportunities to Podcorn. Creators respond with an ad proposal that meets the campaign's criteria. And the parties negotiate on price and format. The platform facilitates a variety of ad types from host-read ads to interviews or roundtable discussions.
"There's a lot of similarities just because a marketplace is a marketplace," Kozera said. "But from a distribution standpoint, it's very different. With FameBit, we only distributed to YouTube whereas with podcasting there's a lot of distribution channels. It's different even from an analytics perspective. The space is very fragmented, so you don't plug into an API. You have to sort of build your own from scratch."
Kozera said the typical rates for ad content on Podcorn fall between a $25 and $50 CPM (cost per thousand) plays. Host-read spots cost less, while podcasters charge more for brand interviews and "longer integrations."
"We really didn't want to dictate too much [on price]," Kozera said. "We wanted to open up and just see what podcasters feel is worth to them. To someone, $100 for an integration might be fair and a lot of money. To another person, $500. So it's really up to the brand and the podcaster."
Podcast startups are on the rise after multiple companies have seen successful exits
While creator-focused companies have drawn interest from investors in recent years, podcast upstarts are also becoming a hot commodity.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon was looking to buy the podcast studio Wondery. And Spotify and the New York Times recently acquired podcast brands like Gimlet Media, Anchor, Serial, and Megaphone to grow their presences in the category.
Spotify noted that its acquisition of Megaphone would help the company expand its dynamic ad insertion tech (a feature in which an ad can be placed programmatically in a podcast stream) outside of its owned-and-operated shows.
Podcorn, which has raised around $2 million from investors (according to Crunchbase), is leaning more into host-developed ad content rather than programmatic ads.
As with influencer-marketing campaigns on YouTube or Instagram, its podcast campaigns remain fairly high touch with draft reviews and back-and-forth discussions between creators and brands. That's unlikely to change, Kozera said.
"We strive away from scripts and the traditional cookie-cutter ad," she said. "What we're really automating in the space is the discovery of podcasters, streamlining communications, providing security."
For more stories on creator-focused startups, read these other Business Insider stories:
- A new startup helps TikTok creators get paid to post videos with fans as the app's stars look beyond brand deals: PearPop's platform allows TikTok influencers to monetize their accounts using some of TikTok's collaborative features like "duets" and "stitches."
- Finance startups are launching new products designed for influencers including an app that lets YouTubers get paid early: Fintech companies are raising funds and launching financial products for YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram creators.
- Influencers describe what it's like to use Community, the invite-only marketing app that lets them text message with their fans: Business Insider spoke to influencers testing out Community's app to learn more about the invite-only platform.
- Meet the startup helping YouTube creators earn millions in extra ad revenue by reposting their content on Facebook and Snapchat — including $68,000 from a single video: Posting videos across YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, and Snapchat can be a headache for creators. Startup Jellysmack is trying to streamline the process.
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