On Dovetail: PRX’s Ad Insertion Product

PRX Dovetail Logo

Dovetail is an audio publishing system built from the ground up to serve leading podcasts. PRX, the award-winning pioneer of new talent and technologies for the podcast industry, built Dovetail for producers to increase revenue and options for podcast sponsorship. Originally created for the Radiotopia network and PRX shows, such as The Moth and Reveal, Dovetail was successfully used to serve ads in the second season of Serial, the fastest growing podcast of all time.

With Dovetail, previously static ads can be scheduled and prioritized, capped and balanced, paired or separated. The rules consider a listener’s location, time, and device as well as if the requested episode is old or new, part of a network, or tagged for special handling, all providing maximum flexibility in controlling the ad experience.

To handle massive scale and complex ad serving, Dovetail relies on best-in-class content serving and traffic systems, integrated into a leading-edge media server to address some of the most pressing problems facing podcast producers and sponsors: dynamically delivering ads, and real-time reporting.

Podcasts have proven to be a successful medium for advertisers. They are selected media – chosen explicitly by the listener, making fan loyalty and engagement extraordinary. 

“On Serial Season Two, we had so many campaigns governed by different variables date, impression goal, episode, etc. coupled with a very high rate of downloads, that it would have been impossible to flight the creative without a super flexible ad serving system. PRX pulled it off with Dovetail. It had a huge effect on our ability to monetize the season’s 50M+ downloads,” (Seth Lind, Director of Operations at This American Life and Serial).

PRX has seen up to 40 percent of listening occurring on older episodes, especially for shows with large back catalogs and evergreen topics. There’s no single way for Radiotopia fans  to listen: some binge listen and some cherry-pick, but with Dovetail, PRX serves timely and varied ads to the entire catalog. Beyond improving revenue, the listener experience is also better when ads are relevant and fresh—no more promotions for fundraising drives that have ended or coupon codes that have expired.

PRX brings more than a decade of experience in digitally distributing hundreds of thousands of audio files around the world. In building Dovetail, the team pulled from this vast technical and sales experience, matched with the goals and needs of highly successful publishers.