Wonder Media Network CMO Shira Atkins on making (and selling) branded podcasts

Scroll through Apple's list of top podcasts and you'll see a lot of big names (including actual Hollywood celebrities).
Within that landscape, Wonder Media Network has managed to make critically acclaimed podcasts without the A-listers.
"That's kind of a silly media strategy, honestly. How are you supposed to build an audience with non-celebrity?" said company CMO Shira Atkins on the Digiday Podcast. "But we're just testing to see if this is viable."
One way its managing that is by dedicating a lot of resources to branded podcasts, which offer the possibility of scale.
"The ideal scenario is, 'let's get Microsoft to sponsor a podcast and also promote the podcast.' Because they look good being attached to the show; we get the audience and we get the money so that we can create the good content and it's a beautiful cycle," said Atkins.
One recent example: Fiverr, a freelancers' platform, paid for a month-long takeover of the company's Encyclopedia Womannica podcast, a five-minute daily that tells stories of notable women in history.
For weekend episodes, they switched up the formula to focus on women involved with Fiverr instead (including the company's CMO). Fiverr also got post-rolls ads on every episode, and in addition, "we did some PR with them, and they promoted nearly every day on all of their social media," Atkins said.
Overall, Wonder Media Network, which was founded in 2018, is a purpose-driven media brand that performs a balancing act between activism and non-partisan story-telling.
"Our full mission is to amplify under-represented voices and to inspire action and promote empathy," Atkins said.