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Client Spotlight: Upstart


How AI-driven lending platform, Upstart, has leveraged big data and testing models to scale an impactful podcast strategy

Artificial intelligence (AI) continues to have a major impact on how businesses operate today, upending existing industries while simultaneously creating new ones. From the invention of self-driving cars to smart home assistants to advanced language translations and more, this technology that learns and self-improves has become an ever-growing part of our everyday lives.

One company, in particular, broke artificial intelligence ground within the credit industry, and that is Upstart. 

Innovators in Lending

Upstart is a leading artificial intelligence (AI) lending platform designed to improve access to affordable credit. By leveraging its artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) platform, Upstart is able to reduce both the risks and costs that come with traditional lending for bank partners. With higher approval and lower loss rates, Upstart offers a seamless customer experience that rivals the competition.  

The lending industry is centuries old and has existed with fairly little innovation over the years. Modern financial institutions continue to rely on conventional FICO-based models. This “scorecard” method limits the ability to evaluate risk accurately. Upstart’s innovative model uses non-conventional variables including education, career, job history, and more, to determine risk. This approach increases access to credit for many, especially borrowers who may be overlooked by the traditional credit system. With a smarter, continuously optimized AI-powered credit model, Upstart has nearly quadrupled the amount of loan applications that are instantly verified since 2017, and has originated over $6 billion to date, truly proving that there is so much more to individuals than their credit scores.  

Building A Podcast Advertising Strategy

Upstart began working with Veritone One in September 2017, with the primary goal of growing awareness and driving conversion through audio advertising. Upstart tested into several audio channels finding podcasts to be extremely efficient. 

“Our approach to podcasting has been slow and steady,” says Rishabh Kumar, the Multimedia Marketing Lead at Upstart. “We began with a great deal of testing, focusing only on shows with a proven track record of success. Now that we’ve built confidence in the channel, we’re moving forward with a larger strategy that includes broader testing and diversifying of show format, continuing to find new ways to expand our reach.” 

Within the podcast ecosystem, certain (and genuinely unexpected) genres have emerged as top performers for Upstart. True crime shows, as well as short-run limited series, have both proven to be successful for the brand. 

Beyond finding notable niche genres, Upstart understands that the ad script is crucial in driving customer acquisition. By consistently optimizing ad copy based on performance, Upstart maintains a fresh and appealing voice to repeat podcast audiences. With the help of Veritone One, Upstart transformed a collection of show-specific ads into a single scalable and efficient core script that works well across most podcast categories.

A Winning Combination

With even more show testing and platform expansion on the horizon, Upstart’s future is looking nothing but bright.

“We’re extremely excited to continue experimenting with new shows, channels and content. We have plans to expand with YouTube influencers and test national, streaming, and satellite radio. Our goal is to become the leading lending platform on audio.” Says Rishabh Kumar at Upstart.

The integration of Upstart’s advanced AI/ML data with our proprietary AI-based tools at Veritone One has helped optimize both frequency and buys for the brand, leading to high performing, targeted campaigns and podcast-host partnerships. This is proof that, like many other businesses, savvy integration of artificial intelligence has and will continue to be a fundamental differentiator in Upstart’s success. And with that, there’s truly nowhere else for them to go but up.


Photo by Michael Longmire, on Unsplash

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