What? You don't have a podcast? Yes, you too can join the 700,000+ podcasts in the marketplace, almost all of which aren't making a dime. But that hasn't discouraged the firehose of new podcasts being launched every day. (I'm told 22 just went live while you were reading this blog post.)
And that brings us to monetization, the Holy Grail of content creation, at least according to those who sit in the corner offices. At every podcasting (and now broadcasting) conference, those “Two M's” come up again and again:
Metrics & money
And for good reason. At the prices paid for podcast-centric companies these days, “How are you going to pay for it?” is a viable question.
At a recent conference, I found myself on a panel where the topic of podcasting advertising was discussed. And the point was emphatically made that podcasts are an incredibly effective advertising medium because listeners have formed an attachment to the hosts. Thus, when they read their own commercial copy, it is one of the most effective advertising methods that moves products.
Yes, I was the lone “radio guy” on this panel, and felt compelled to mention – at the risk of sounding hopelessly “old school” – that long before Sarah Koenig, Joe Rogan, and “Grammar Girl,” radio personalities like Elvis Duran, Preston & Steve, and John Holmberg built rabid, loyal audiences that wouldn't think of missing an “episode.”
And these same radio stars all do “live reads” that are compelling, memorable, and effective. I hear this in focus groups all the time – respondents are always more entertained and enthralled by a trusted personality reading the copy versus general-audience, produced commercials.
But in a departure from podcasting, broadcast radio often takes these “live reads” for granted. Not to mention that compared to the clean commercial environment in most podcasts, there are at least 5x the number of commercials on typical radio stations in an average hour. And you could argue radio sells too many “live reads,” and often doesn't get premium rates for them.
I was reminded of how podcasting's innovative “live read” technique has totally overshadowed the very same model in broadcast radio when Nielsen sent out a study last week via email with the subject line:
The (Advertising) Power of the Podcast
Like the conference I attended, Nielsen reminds us that “host-read spots are very common in the podcast space.” They call this an advantage for brands that want to be “woven” into program content.
And when asked about how well these ads “fit” podcast's content, Nielsen reveals that nearly two-thirds of their respondents are in alignment:
It makes you wonder how “live reads” in podcasts compare to the same style of advertising for trusted radio personalities.
The fact is, podcast advertising has many of the same challenges radio campaigns do. In last year's Techsurvey 2018, we also asked a series of questions about the efficacy of podcast advertising.
We learned that among weekly podcast consumers, just over one-fifth agreed with this statement:
“I am more likely to buy/support products that are endorsed by podcast hosts compared to ads seen/heard in other forms of media.
That seems like positive finding until you consider that more than three in ten regular podcast fans disagree with that notion.
When we used another agree/disagree statement, the results were also telling:
“I find ads in podcasts to be more credible than those I hear/see in other forms of media.”
See for yourself:
Again, three in ten are in-sync that podcast ads are no more believable than commercials they experience in other media; only about 14% defend the credibility of in-podcast marketing. Now, keep in mind, most of our respondents are traditional radio listeners (who are regular podcast users).
One last point – a bonus research finding.
We also wanted to learn how frequently regular podcast listeners skip through the ads. After all, if you love the host and believe she has credibility, you'll sit through small amount of ads where she reads the copy. So we came right out and asked:
“How often do you skip through ads you hear in the podcasts you regularly listen to?”
Close to half (49%) of weekly podcast listeners skip the ads most and/or all of the time. Like those who watch TV, listen to the radio, or read newspapers, ad skipping is a part of marketing's challenge – yes, even for podcasts.
A great deal more research into the podcasting space is no doubt being conducted as I write this post. And you can bet market researchers will use both perceptual information and real-time listening data to paint a positive picture for this still-emerging platform. For the moment, podcast advertising is living a rarefied existence based on perceptions its live reads are in a class by themselves.
Clearly, many radio companies and brands are guilty of excesses, shabby creative, and other environmental issues related to marketing.
But broadcast radio continues to represent massive opportunities for advertisers to get their messaging across not to just a portion of consumers, but damn near everyone who listens to audio during the course of the week.
And these days, with much cheaper CPMs.
And let's get real about ads inserted into desired content. Whether you're listening to a radio station, watching television – or listening to a podcast – commercials are an intrusion. The art comes from writing, producing, and delivering great copy that delivers a compelling, attention-getting message – no matter the content that surrounds it.
The cartoon at the top of the post by “Marketoonist” Tom Fishburne comes to life when you listen to this Nielsen podcast about the business of podcasting. It's linked here.
However, as the video below clearly indicates, you might want to make sure your talent is prepped and on board before they attempt a live read:
We'll be talking all things podcasting – including monetization – at this summer's “Broadcasters Meet Podcasters” track. It's 3 days of sessions, panels, and keynotes designed for radio broadcasters, and podcasters (of course). Info here.