Top 5 adtech tools this week: Acast, Google, Blis, SoundOut and Swipe Back

From Discord to DOOH and music matching to podcast ads, here’s our weekly round-up of new ways to power up your tech stack…

Each week, the PMW editorial team selects our five picks from the latest product releases from the adtech and martech worlds, with our verdict on why they made the cut.

This week:

  • SoundOut: “OnBrand”
  • Swipe Back : “Discord service for brands”
  • Blis and VIOOH: ”Integrating DOOH into media buying platform”
  • Google: “Sponsored ads"
  • Acast: "Acast Marketplace"

SoundOut AI helps advertisers pick music for marketing campaigns

SoundOut has launched a new software as a service (SaaS) platform that uses AI to help marketers choose music for campaigns, trained on feedback from half a million people. Launch partners include Unilever, Scholz & Friends (WPP) and Global Radio.

How It works

The OnBrand music search platform combines ‘brand personality technologies. with the scalability of German music AI company Cyanite to transform commercial music selection. It is powered by AI algorithms that predict the granular emotional impact of music, trained on feedback from half a million people and using a combination of over 200 brand attributes, plus self-defined brand personality and brand archetypes.

What the provider says

David Courtier-Dutton, CEO of SoundOut: “Until now, choosing music for marketing has been a largely subjective exercise, with little in the way of objective metrics to confirm brand fit and emotional resonance. At a stroke, OnBrand introduces an objective, hugely scalable solution for brands worldwide. It enables data-informed music choices and provides robust cost/benefit analysis for any commercial music investment.”

Markus Schwarzer, CEO of Cyanite: “AI music tagging technology has advanced significantly over the past few years and has now been adopted by many of the world’s leading music and entertainment companies. The additional AI brand centric layer that OnBrand delivers truly democratises catalogue search for brands, enabling them to find the perfect track for any campaign using brand language rather than musical attributes.”

What the clients say

Stephanie Bau, Global Assistant Brand Manager at Unilever: “With the growth of social media platforms like TikTok, sound has become the ultimate tool in a marketer’s arsenal. Choosing the right sound for our future campaigns has never been more important and this technology will enable brands to amplify their personality and have greater certainty of ROI from campaigns during these economically challenging times.”

Jo McCrostie, Creative Director at Global Radio: "The lack of objectivity in music choices has, for too long, held back appropriate music investment in audio marketing such as radio. I have seen for myself the reaction of brands to the new platform, and it looks set to be transformational for the industry.”

The PMW View

You only need to look at TikTok to see how music clips are becoming an ever-more powerful tool in a marketer's arsenal. This platform follows similar moves from record label BMG to take some of the guesswork out of finding the best track to boost engagement and conversions, rather than paying premium licences for the latest hits or gambling on marketing exec indulgences from their record collections…

Swipe Back helps brands navigate Discord

Metaverse creative agency Swipe Back has launched a Discord service for brands, giving them better access to hard to reach users on the popular VoIP and instant messaging social platform.

How it works

A team of 5 specialists will develop holistic Discord strategies for brands who want to build a presence on the platform, and help them engage in and promote authentic conversations. The agency will also bring to bear expertise that it has built in the less-regulated web3 and metaverse spaces, helping brands navigate the issues that come with experimenting in a less familiar channel like Discord.

What the provider says

Swipe Back’s co-founder and creative director Nikhil Roy: “Our new division has been built on the back of growing client demand; brands are seeing their customers using an increasingly broad range of social platforms and they are keen to understand the right way to engage in these new channels.

“Some brands might be familiar with Discord within the context of an NFT initiative or through its early association with gaming, but we believe that the channel is a powerful community-building platform that gives brands - especially the early adopters - a big competitive advantage.”

The PMW View

This move comes as reaching audiences on traditional social platforms gets harder and more expensive and brands are increasingly looking at alternative social destinations. The Discord channel is highly influential despite being small, meaning that brands don’t need thousands of followers to make an impact. Its format allows them to interact directly with a smaller pool of loyalists and to shape conversations. This personal touch from Swipe Back will help give brand confidence in a deeply personal, but lucrative space that's set for future growth in the metaverse.

Blis expands into digital out of home with VIOOH

Blis has teamed up with VIOOH, a premium global digital out of home supply side platform, to bring JCDecaux’s premium digital out of home inventory to the Blis platform. The partnership kicks off in the UK, with other European markets, the US and Australia to follow,

How it works

The partnership helps clients access premium digital out-of-home (DOOH) inventory through a single integrated planning and buying platform.

Through a strategic integration with VIOOH’s SSP, Blis now offers clients access to JCDecaux’s premium digital transport, billboard and street furniture inventory. By using Blis’ interactive planning platform, Audience Explorer, clients can layer location, lifestyle, telco, spend and other rich anonymised data to create target audiences, so they can buy the digital out of home placements that are most relevant to their campaign goals.

What the providers say

Amy Fox, VP Product at Blis: Bringing digital out-of-home inventory to our platform is a key milestone, as it marks the next step in Blis becoming a true brand campaign partner for our clients by delivering a fully omnichannel offering.” “

Gavin Wilson, Chief Revenue Officer at VIOOH: "Including programmatic DOOH within omnichannel campaigns is a key area of interest for the market now, and we look forward to working with Blis to deliver meaningful and efficient campaigns with optimised results to their clients around the world”.

The PMW View

With Google also integrating digital posters into its programmatic 360 display network recently, this Blis and VIOOH partnership shows how performance marketing is stepping out into the real world. This combination is unique because of the layering of these other data signals, including clients’ first-party data, via Audience Explorer to inform fully-integrated DOOH planning and buying that is part of a broader omnichannel media plan.

Google makes search ads easier to distinguish from normal results

Google has made three key changes to its search ads, changing the 'ad' label to ‘sponsored’ and adding business names and logos.

How it works

Previously, the landing page URL appeared at the top of search ads, followed by the ad title text. Now, business names will be the top visual element of search ads. In addition, Google is now displaying business logos in search ads, to make it more apparent to searchers which business is paying for the ad, so there are no surprises when they get to the landing page. Lastly, Google is doing away with the “Ad” label in favour of a new “Sponsored” tag. The word “Sponsored” will now be featured on its own line in the top left corner of search ads.

What the provider says

Senthil Hariramasamy, Director of Product Management, Google Ads: “As the search results page becomes more visually engaging, we want to ensure people can continue to connect with your business through rich ads that are clearly distinguished from search results.”

The PMW View

Google has faced criticism for ads looking too similar to organic results. With this update, there is likely to be less confusion- especially with big business logos. This change could also be helpful in situations where a business is bidding on a competitor’s keywords. It will be more apparent to searchers which business’s website they’re visiting when they click on an ad.

Acast launches first-party data targeting marketplace

Podcast company Acast launched a new tool that lets advertisers leverage their first-party data to target high-value audiences

How it works

Previously, brands have not had the ability to leverage their own first-party data insights into podcast advertising due to the scarcity of user identifier data signals across the medium. Through a combination of IP address and other unique listening consumption signals, the Acast identity graph will now enable advertisers to onboard their own first-party data and to find and match their high-value audience segments across the Acast Marketplace, creating new ways to target relevant audiences who consume podcasts.

What the provider says

Henrik Isaksson, Australia’s Managing Director of Acast: “Acast is proudly at the forefront of pioneering new ways to enhance listener experience as we drive monetisation opportunities for podcasters – this development is a huge milestone for our industry.”

The PMW View

Podcasts are becoming big business - and now the ad targeting is starting to match the sophistication of more mature mediums. Wall Street analysts have recently projected the podcast advertising market to triple in value, reaching $6bn by 2026. Acast, one of the biggest names in independent podcasting, is making a smart move to help brands better monetise their ads across the platform's vast array of shows. As advertisers continue to prepare for the anticipated death of the cookie and restrictions on using mobile identifiers, which will require them to rely on their first-party data.