The Engine Powering Your Show
This leads us into why do you see today podcast hosting and distribution and analytics platforms. It's because all of that technical nature of building an RSS feed and delivering that RSS feed is all baked into a platform, a content management system if you will. 2006 you know the--kind of the advent and the birth of Do It Yourself website builders made it easy for everyone to easily create and publish a website. Podcast host kind of allowed you to do this the same thing without getting pulled into the trenches of RSS and developing net. So, self-hosting and RSS is hard, let's make it simple. How to get the most out of your platform? Again, large number of people here with podcast, anybody just out of curiosity that does their own RSS? Like you write it, you publish it, you self-host not a single person? Okay. So, my role is--my company is called Simplecast and we are one of those hosting and publishing distribution systems there are many options out there and today we're gonna talk ab...
out not just our platform but what it means kind of for the entire industry for you as podcasters. So there's a few elements that your "host" which were most commonly referred to, offers. Hosting is just one piece of it but you'll often hear people say "Where do you host your podcast?" Hosting, distribution, analytics, sharing, growth, monetization tools and then help. When you need help getting your podcast launched. So, let's look at hosting first. The hosting part can typically be brushed off. A lot of people don't think about it, it's like well I can host my podcast anywhere but really, what you need to be careful of is the host where you house your MP3's and you house your podcast. It is the heartbeat of your shell. If that host has downtime, if that host has any errors, your podcast when somebody opens Apple podcast and clicks play, will not work. So, it is something that you want to look for platforms that have impeccable uptime, time-tested, I know a big thing in the industry is because podcasting is so open, it's so easy to move between host and host and host and that's one of the beautiful things about our industry you can go back and forth and move you host and move your show around but a lot of the time, something new, something shiny will come along within any industry and it's like "Oh, I want to go check that out." Always kind of vet the product in the service first. You do not want to move your podcast to a new brand new shiny thing, that's so new it hasn't been time-tested and could potentially have problems. You want things like redundancy, you want a CDN or content delivery network that has points all around the globe so if somebody hits play in Seattle, Washington or somebody hits play in London, they're both getting the file as quickly as possible. One big thing that Apple podcast is pushing recently is SSL or Secure RSS feed. Apple is going to start declining any RSS feed that are not fully secured with SSL most platforms are adding this now. Our platform currently supports this. It is more of a security measure. And then openness, you want to platform that as I said, one of the beautiful things about podcasting is you can take your service and you can leave and go elsewhere. There are hosting platforms out there that do not make it easy to leave. I don't want people to ever leave our platform but people do need the options, you need to know that you can go and take your content elsewhere if you desire to. So as I said, your host, despite that part gets kind of brushed under the rug, it is the heartbeat of your shell. Hosting goes down, your show does not work. So let's talk about distribution really quick and this honestly, could be a four hour class. Dan Eisner talked a little bit about this. But here's kind of some thoughts on distribution, you have your main ones Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and it goes on and on and on and on forever. I mean there are dozens of ways to listen to a podcast on Android even more on iOS--um and really we're gonna get into distribution more a little bit later on but when you choose a platform, you want to find the one that's going to allow you to easily get your podcast in as many places as possible and we'll loop back later on and talk about that. Analytics, stats, dashboards, you hear that a lot. Analytics are a very big deal for your show. They are good for you to understand a lot of things. Things that you need to know as a creator but then also that you need to know as your show grows and you're wanting to go out there and find advertisers. Um--you need to understand things like what is the difference between a download and a play uh-- one thing that really has not been widely accepted is drop off and skipping like I want to know at a point in my show where people drop off the most and why. What did I say at 19 minutes in or what ad did I have that really caused people to hit stop and not come back to my show? We're actually building a platform and technology right now into our system to better track where people stopped listening and then maybe they didn't stop listening, they just skipped ahead and picked up five minutes later but again, that is kind of the life blood of understanding your content, why are people skipping, why are they dropping uh--when and where people listen? The granularity not just knowing how many people listened that last week but let's dig down more and let's understand how many people listen today or more over that, let's look at the fact that you launched your show at 8 a.m. and how many people listened in the first hour? So those are analytics that we are getting ready to release next month and then the one thing that you hear probably a lot about that you might not understand is IAB compliancy. IAB compliancy basically means the industry as a whole doesn't really have standards for downloads and plays and what counts as a download and play if somebody starts listening again two hours later, does that count as a second play? So IAB is putting a group of standards in place that host like us, we utilize, to basically try to standardized this industry so if you are running your podcast on Simplecast and you were running your podcast on a completely different platform, then that is going to allow you to um-- know that when you're speaking with somebody, that content and those analytics are going to match up more one for one. Plus, when you talk to advertisers, they will know that your content and your stats are IAB compliant and there not going to have to worry as much as like "well if these numbers inflated, are all these good?" So that's something that is happening, you're seeing a lot of hosting platforms move toward IAB compliancy. You're gonna hear about more and more and more uh-- Yeah! So, the other thing about a host and your analytics is you want to find a platform that is always innovating the analytics and moving past just like here's your downloads, here's your report, you can run, this is how many you had today. You want a platform that is always thinking about the newest technology because you don't want to. So, that's analytics. We'll touch little bit more on that later. Sharing. Once your shows online, you have in Itunes and Apple Podcast and Spotify and so on and so forth but there is also a big internet out there, I'm sure a lot of your shows probably had websites and in doing so you want to try to have your content and your episodes as many places as possible for the purpose of discovery. So for our platforms, these are embeddable players that you can put on your website, you can put--we've got one here on Medium, uh--so if it's a blog, if it's your website these even embed into social media. So if you want to put this into a tweet, uh--or into that, it's good to capture your listeners where they are. Yes, do you want them to get into Apple Podcast and subscribe? You most certainly do but don't let them come across a link and a tweet and then go through three clicks to get Itunes open and then hit subscribe. Having something like this embedded into your website or your Medium post allows them to take a really quick listen and a quick peek and go like "I like this show, I'm gonna subscribe." Also, with our platform, one thing that we have also tried to do is make it very easy to build and accessible, easy to use website meaning a lot of individuals like--we're podcasters, we don't want to have to think about building a website as well so, what we are baking into our new platform is a website builder so you have the ability to go in, record your show, publish your show, and then have a beautiful site automatically generated from that with a URL that you can customize, you can put your own domain on it and it just makes it easier. It takes that one other thing out of like--"uh what do I need to do to launch my show?" and it takes care of it for you. So again, getting your show in front of as many listeners as possible but again, still having the Apple Podcast and the Google Podcasts and Spotify links, very important but let's not make it difficult for people to discover and get a quick listen of your show. Growth, this is one thing I will touch on a little bit but growth is that whole--what I'm really referring to here is listener growth. How do you utilize your audience, the people that listen to your show everyday, how can you best utilize them, to help grow your show so it's not just on you, hosting on Facebook, hosting on Twitter, sharing all across the internet, like how can we utilize listeners to grow? Uh--and we'll get back to that little bit more too. We also have a new tool that's going to launching early next year and it's called Gauges and it's kind of the first of it's time, first of it's kind and it's podcast benchmarking tool. And the reason we're building this is because a lot of early podcasters have the question of like, is this going right? Am I growing at a normal pace? Is this good? like, what are the other podcast see like when they start out, so what we're doing is we're building a bench marking tool to really let you see shows of you type of how they performing anonymously of course to let you know like "You know what? I'm actually doing better than 80% of all the other shows out there or you know, maybe my downloads are better but I'm not not getting enough views to my site. So showing you a lot of those areas, they're going to help make you to a smarter podcaster. Monetization, this one is a big one. We'll touch on it more later. Monetization is a broad, very broad area and it's growing more and more everyday but how do you make money on your podcast? Again, your hosting platform typically has a lot of tools we personally are launching several over the next six months but monetization can mean a lot of things. It could be subscriptions. People paying to get access to your content. It can be a paywall to potentially you say, have a Patreon that you run as well and in addition to every weekly episode, you do like a little 10 minute you know bonus reel and that's exclusive through Patreon for people that are paying for you show. Tipping is another thing where you are just listening to a show and somebody's like "That persons' kind of fantastic. I love their show. I'm gonna give them two dollars." Uh--audio injection is something you probably, especially with ads we're hearing more and more about, audio injection being the fact that I can upload my show to a host and think back to kind of the days of the internet and the more the banner ads would show up, the more money I would make. Basically a banner has an impression, that's one view, I make something off of that. Audio injection actually over the past year seen a drop from approximately around 56 percent to the low 40's, and that is because listeners of podcast love host red content. They do not like this random T.V. commercial to pop in and just say something, it is more intimate, it is more personal when you and your show are telling somebody, "This person supports my show and here's the product and this is why it's great." It is much better for you to be reading those ads versus getting part of a network that is going to just put random ads that you have no control over it. Uh--and then baked-in ads is what I'm referring to. Baked in meaning the fact that it's you recording your ads. You talking about the product, you talking about the sponsor, you making it personal. You just not saying the name of the brand and then moving right on but talking about the importance of having them be a part of your show. And then help, that's kind of the last thing which I know we talked about a little bit yesterday, uh-- there is a lot to know and a lot to understand and a lot to figure out what their hosting platform and one of the biggest things you don't typically think about is the people behind it, the support, you're going to have a lot of questions about all of these things over on that list so as you're looking for a host, you wanna find somebody that makes it very assessable, very easy to get access to uh-- individuals that can help you grow your show. We personally at our company kind of have a policy that everyone that helps run our support team is in fact a podcaster cause we want our support to understand what it is to like struggle with podcasting, to solve problems, we want them to be in trenches as well. And uh--so again, you're gonna need help so find a platform that offers it. Something else we do uh--is we have a full API, so if developers wanted to build an app or do some integration maybe there is somebody who wants to write a plug in for Garage Band that would allow you to dynamically publish Simplecast straight from Garage Band. We have an API and we kind of have a motto for it. Basically we can build it, so can you too. The other great thing about this is it allows our network, our ecosystem to be fully open. Any content that you put into our platform, is yours to take out, your content, your analytics, you can pull it all out via API. Or you can just do it all yourself. No big deal. I think we just sold everybody today. I'm just like "I'll do it myself. Right?"