Bloomberg Businessweek’s Ashley Carman, one of the few reporter’s whose beat is the podcast industry, recently uncovered the hidden business of pay-for-play podcasting, when guests pay to be interviewed for an entire episode. Her article reports that the percentage of shows accepting payment in exchange for airtime is difficult to say, but it does appear the practice is particularly popular among podcasts in the wellness, cryptocurrency, and business arenas.
In an age when social media influencers routinely get paid for mentioning a brand in an Instagram post or YouTube video, this marriage of convenience shouldn’t come as a complete shock. “As someone who’s making money for that type of advertorial content, it should be disclosed,” says Craig Delsack, a New York-based media lawyer. “It’s just good practice and builds trust with the podcaster. It can’t be the Wild West.”
A Federal Trade Commission spokesperson says the agency cannot comment on specific situations. “But this is our general guidance: Regardless of the medium in which an advertising or promotional message is disseminated, deception occurs when consumers acting reasonably under the circumstances are misled about its nature or source, and such misleading impression is likely to affect their decisions or conduct regarding the advertised product or the advertising.”