Today marks the second day of our Broadcasters Meet Podcasters track at the Podcast Movement conference in Orlando. This morning, we will show podcasters something that is very familiar to professionals in radio, television, and film, but still largely unknown in this fledgling industry: the focus group.
Joe Saul-Sehy, the host of the Stacking Benjamins podcast — a lighthearted show about money — has bravely volunteered to let our founder, Fred Jacobs, bring six of his listeners onstage to solicit their feedback. (Last week, Joe told us what he hoped to learn from the focus group.) Fred has been conducting this type of research for the radio industry for decades, but to conduct a group like this in front of a live audience is still equivalent to flying without a net; you never know what could happen.
Up to this point, the content of most podcasts has been driven by gut instinct. The content creators believe that they know what makes for a good show, and the download numbers prove them either right or wrong. But this reliance on gut and crude download numbers doesn't provide much actionable guidance. If this were the radio industry, we'd still be in the days when DJs picked their own music for their shows. Some people in the industry cherish this type of freedom, but as more and more money rolls into the industry, the people writing the checks will demand more reliance on research and less on instinct. It's the natural maturing process for any media industry: Investment leads to management which leads to research.
We hope that podcasters will see the value of getting feedback from their listeners. It can not only show them what's working for a show and what's not, but can also suggest ways to take the podcast to the next level. For example, it can help podcasters to identify new streams of revenue, such as merchandising or touring. Or it can show them the best ways to market their podcast and attract new listeners.
As the podcasting medium continues to mature, we believe that this type of audience feedback will be crucial to the success of hit shows. If you're in Orlando for the conference today, please join us in the Conway Ballroom at 11:30 to watch the show. If you're not, we'll be sure to let you know how it goes.