Welcome to episode 23 of the Richard Dally podcast where I bring you a UK perspective on the latest news and developments from the world of podcasting and Internet Radio
This week I look at why adverts in podcasts are so effective, I summarise an interview with Gimlet Media Founder, Alex Blumberg, consider how easier availability of streaming might help podcasting and look at more predictions for how podcasting will develop in 2017.
Websites and articles mentioned in the show:
Why Podcast Advertising Works, Dan Schawbel interviews Alex Blumberg and more predictions for 2017. Welcome to episode 23. I’m your host Richard Dally. Each week I curate and discuss the latest news in podcasting and Internet Radio with a focus on the smaller podcaster, radio host and DJ.
In a guest column for Rain News this week, homas Mancusi, the Vice President, for Sales and Development at audioBoom provides some insights On Why Podcast Advertising Works so well. Smart brands are catching on to what used to be something of an industry secret: podcast advertising works remarkably well. According to Statista, U.S. advertising spending in podcasts is estimated to reach 256 million dollars in 2018 which is up from 133 million in 2015.
So, what makes podcast advertising so successful? The article lists three factors: One, advertisers receive a remarkably high share of voice; Two, the adverts are delivered in an intimate, relationship-driven exchange to an engaged audience; and Three, when the advert is effective, the hosts and the listeners both benefit.
The author includes a comment from Collin Willardson, the digital marketing manager at Mack Weldon, a men’s clothing brand which I find really interesting.
At Mack Weldon, Willardson recalls the idea to begin advertising with podcasts started with a revelation about radio. In a meeting about audience reach, Collin recalls: “We asked everyone in the room, ‘Who listens to the radio?’” No one raised their hand. With podcasting, though, the hands went up. That made the decision simple.
Now given that we are always told a huge percentage of adults listens to radio regularly, it always seems to me that the reality is that this is not actually the case – this just seems to be another example of this. So what do advertisers like about podcasts. Well for one they are able to find shows and hosts who really get behind their clients’ products and services. Because the podcast audience is engaged and the host is respected you are tapping into a niche, loyal audience so if your product is a good fit you can be quite confident about being successful.
Staying on the same theme with an article from omniStudio titled: Cash for Comment… Why Do Host-Read Podcast Ads Cut Through So Well? This is a well written piece by Mitch Secrett. Mitch says that Host-read adverts are conversational and personal, and take advantage of the trust an audience has built up for a particular podcast or host and the connection between that host and their audience.
The article notes that host-read podcast adverts in the US can reach CPM’s as high as $80 while commercial radio in the US is looking at around $3 and digital advertising is closer to $10. So what makes host read adverts so effective? This article takes a slightly different tack from the previous one but let’s work through the attributes it discusses.
Listening to a podcast is generally an intimate experience – it’s just you and another human voice in your ears. You’re not sharing the experience with anyone else and therefore most podcast listeners feel like they get to know the hosts on a personal level. This perceived personal relationship means that podcast hosts build a strong sense of trust with their audience. This means that when they mention or recommend a product or service the audience is likely to trust their judgement.
How host read adverts fit into a show can make a big difference to their success rate over other adverts. They can be delivered in a way that’s seamless with the rest of the content and don’t breakup the rhythm of the show. This means that not only is the listener less likely to tune out but they are actually kept just as engaged and in the same mood as they are when listening to the main content of the podcast.
An interesting article highlighted by the podtopod newsletter now. Podcasting Editing Service, Podcastmotor.com, has a detailed article and infographic on why developments that are making streaming easier could open the door to stronger podcast growth. Podcasting has been growing steadily since its inception but there are barriers to listening that could be seen as holding back growth.
We know all about these barriers as they are often repeated in articles like this one:
• Podcasts can be difficult to find and download
• A lot of people think many podcasts are too long or boring –. The barriers to entry as a podcaster are low but show quality matters to listeners.
• Finally, technical issues can make listening to podcasts too much effort. Listeners want the technology to be fast and easy.
This article makes the case that streaming media is the answer for easy podcast listening and that now we are starting to see the necessary technology to support easy streaming. Devices such as Amazon Echo, that I’ve mentioned before have built in functionality that can make it easier to search for podcasts and avoid the need to download them.
I guess the question is whether it is really so difficult to search for and download podcasts. I think once someone has picked up the basics of consuming podcasts it really isn’t that difficult. I suspect the use of smart devices like Amazon Echo is only going to help discovery of the corporate and network podcasts and won’t help independent podcasters so much.
This article notes that you can already ask Alexa, that’s the Amazon Echo voice control system, to play podcasts using the TuneIn service, but it also notes that TuneIn may not feature lesser known podcasts and Alexa may not understand what podcast you are asking for if it is a less common one.
Another suggestion in the article is to use a website and streaming app call Otto Radio. Otto radio curates news and podcasts according to your tastes and enables you to listen with the touch of a button. The Otto radio algorithm uses machine learning and expert editorial insight to curate the podcast listening options. Again this could limit the discoverability of smaller podcasts.
My experience of these smart devices is that they are just as difficult to use as the existing podcast apps so I’m not really sure we are moving forward that much with the technology.
In the last episode of this podcast I talked about the likely podcasting trends for 2017 so now let’s look at some predictions for the year from Australian website AdNews. Author Monique Bowley makes seven predictions.
Shows will get shorter. Yes! I’ll tell you that the very first podcast I ever listened to was the Pokercast – a weekly show that is still running and regularly lasts around three and a half hours per episode. Over the years I have been listening to podcasts I’ve found that my patience for long episodes is getting less and less. I think there is probably a correlation between the number of podcasts you subscribe to and the episode length you prefer – with the acceptable length getting shorter as you listen to more shows. That’s my experience anyway.
Analytics will get smarter. Ahhh – another favourite that is always being debated. Data on where people listen, for how long, at what point they skip through an episode, and when they drop off is being demanded by advertisers. Podcasters love statistics too – I know I do! Of course, for podcasters the statistics are not essential but there are always times when you want to understand why a particular episode was more popular, for example.
TV will join the fray. TV companies are seeing the content and diversification opportunities that podcasting can bring while allowing experimenting using low-risk, low-cost formats. Of course it won’t be just TV companies – major publishers, sports teams, politicians and anyone with a big media strategy will also explore podcasting, says Monique.
Monique also suggests that Facebook’s Live Audio will be the game changer. Facebook Live Audio will provide an easy way to share snippets of audio files through social media and help the sharing of podcast content. I’m not so sure about this one but certainly the ability for listeners to listen to native facebook audio while continuing to browse the rest of their newsfeed is going to be attractive.
Investigative reporting is going to continue to be a popular podcasting genre. I think the popularity here stems from the “watercooler” nature of these shows – they seem to be discussed more between listeners than other types of podcasts.
Better branded content. I talked about host-read adverts providing smooth and seamless content and another way this kind of experience can be achieved is through building an entire podcast around your product or service. These types of shows need to find creative ways to engage the audience but when they work they do it by avoiding the hard sell, almost lulling the listener into a false sense of security – a bit like those advertorial articles you see in magazines.
Lastly for this this episode I’m delighted to talk about an article on podcasting written by one of my favourite authors, Dan Schawbel. Dan is an expert on personal branding and wrote one of my favourite books – Promote Yourself.
The article is a transcript of an interview Dan did with Alex Blumberg , the founder of Gimlet Media, about why he decided to start a podcast network. Also covered is why Alex believes editing is the key to making each podcast episode successful, what he’s learned from the StartUp podcast he hosts, his secrets to building and monetizing an audience and his best career advice.
I would encourage you to take the time to read the whole transcript. You can find a link to the article in the show notes for this episode, which are at richarddally.com/23.
On why he moved into podcasting Alex says that he saw that on demand behaviour — something that had already transformed TV viewing habits — was coming to audio. This change means that producers are no longer dependent on listeners catching the show when it is being broadcasted live on-air. Shows can now be made using the assumption that people will be listening to every episode so making serialised stories makes more sense.
Blumberg says one of the biggest innovations that Gimlet has introduced is taking editing very seriously. Their podcasts go through several drafts, read-through and extensive review before being recorded. This is expensive but Gimlet believe this helps ensure a top quality product that gets bigger audiences.
On standing out in the current fragmented, and competitive, media landscape, Alex shared some ideas about standing out, and building and monetizing an audience.
He says there there are two main lessons. One, care about what you are making and secondly recognise that podcasting is growing and you don’t need to treat other podcasters as competitors but instead take advantage of opportunities to partner with others.
Concluding the interview, Dan asked Alex for his top three pieces of career advice. Blumberg said: 1. Don’t be defensive. 2. Treat people with respect. 3. The first draft always sucks.