Podcast Audience Q&A
This is from Prep D who says, how much do ads typically cost? Like for an ad inside another podcast? Ads inside podcasts apps. Is there a ballgame
for new podcasts?
So, the answer is there is an enormous range. And it ranges all the way from zero dollars to lots of dollars. And on the zero dollar side of things, an ad inside another podcast could be done on a swap basis where we've got two shows and we have similar sized audiences. I like your show, you like my show and we think our audiences might dig each other's work. Let's just do a swap and swaps are typically done for a period of time or they hit a certain number of impressions, a total number of downloads and sometimes depending on the deal that you strike you could get, I'll give you two impressions for one of mine or the other way around. So that is, you can do pure horse trading where no dollars actually exchange hands. If you are part of for instance a podcast network, whether that's sort of a more indie or hob...
byist podcast network or one of the big ones, you probably hear a lot of in network promo, in network cross promo and cross pollination. That's another thing that's at the, basically you're using unused inventory and it's at the zero dollar end. The next sort of step up from that which is zero to however much you want to spend would be things like paid social, right? So you can buy Twitter ads, you can buy linked in ads. You can buy Reddit ads. You can buy Facebook ads. You can buy lots of different social ads for a very small outweigh of cash. What's great about that is you can test those and then double down on what's working and what's not. If you go up a level from there, something like Overcast which is a pretty popular third party podcast app, if you've got a couple hundred dollars, category by category you could buy in app ads. So buy basically a months worth of ads inside the comedy category. I've done this. I found it was actually a pretty good return. And it exposed the show to a lot of new people. Our Overcast numbers predictably went up. So you could spend a couple hundred dollars and then when it comes to pure I'm gonna give you money, please read this thing about my show or please give a genuine personal endorsement, that is anywhere from thousands of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. And then beyond that if you are a large manufacturer of soda you could spend way more. So, zero to infinity.
Great. That was really helpful, thank you. Okay. Right here and then we'll go back there.
First, thank you so much. This was very informative. The question I have is about the paid promos. The two that you had us listen to were, one was very well produced, I mean very highly produced. The other one was more commentary. Who writes those?
Great question. So there could be, I've read a lot of podcast ads for my own indie podcast and a large, and I've done ads for Meal in a Box and Mattress in a Box and lots of the kind of ads that you've heard. And typically the way that works is it's part of the larger campaign and I receive a list of bullets, right? And I'm encouraged to customize that and make it my own and personalize it. Which I do, right? Because an ad in my voice coming from me talking about my relationship with a product that I tried or whatever is gonna come across as more authentic and more genuine because it is, right? So often what you will get is a list of bullets. Sometimes you will get a script and it's please read this verbatim word for word. I genuinely don't take that kind of work, because it's my voice (laughs). But it's again, anywhere from read this word for word to here's some bullets to something completely off the wall. Cards Against Humanity did a really interesting campaign a couple of years ago where they bought ads on a bunch of tech podcasts. Cards Against Humanity the game company, they bought pocket sets where the ad was we bought an ad but we're not gonna make you listen to it. Enjoy not having to listen to ad thanks to Cards Against Humanity and that was the ad. They bought whatever, 90 seconds or two minutes worth of ad time and said we know you just want to listen to the podcast and not skip over an ad so do that. So like that is a really creative interesting way and it stuck into my mind and I'm remembering it now years later. And that I think was largely improvised by the people doing the thousand read. So, it depends who was actually doing the writing. In my experience the best results and the most well executed tune in style ads for another show in a show are collaborative in nature. So, the example earlier of hackable inside reply all. That involved the hosts of both shows. Along that was sort of off the cuff and then assembled together. I'm sure there was a list of here are the points we want to hit but shops like Gimlet Creative are really great at coming up with super creative ad treatments and they did that. There was insight from the agency. The client had some work, we had some say, so it was highly collaborative and I think where it falls down is when it's prescriptive and a please read this verbatim and there's no collaboration or very little communication, and I would stay away from that kind of stuff. Especially if you're doing it in your own voice.
Thank you Dan. All this is very helpful. Wondering about podcast conferences and other events maybe like this. How do you see the relative value of going to one of these or growing the audience? And if you see it as valuable what are the good ones?
That is a great question and I have a long history with podcast conferences. I went to maybe one of the first podcast conferences that was ever held. Run by two people, Mark Blevis and Bob Goyetche in I think 2006. It was called Podcasters Across Borders. I am Canadian. It was held in Canada and we did a, it was like a cross border podcast meet up. And in those very very early days there was zero or no money in it and what everybody wanted out of the podcast conference was first and foremost fellowship and hanging out with your people and also skills development. So sessions on how do I make my show sound better or what's the best distribution platform or blah blah blah blah? Like it was all that kind of stuff. Like sort of like, people wanted to hang out and nerd out with people who were into the same thing as them in the same way that if I owned a VW Bug I might go to a VW Bug convention right? Like there's that piece of it, and then there's the skills development piece of it. The industry's grown a whole lot in the past 12 years or so. There are lots of podcast conferences. I've been to a couple of them. I can't speak to all of them but, something like Podcast Movement I went to recently, I think it was in Philadelphia. They move from city to city every single year. I found that very useful, but it was something like 2200 people all in the room at the same time and I think podcast conferences can be very very useful but like any conference it's useful to walk in knowing what you want to get out of it. Particularly something the scale of Podcast Movement where there's a track for people who are just getting started, there are track for people who are interested in fiction. There's a track for people who are interested in like all of these different divisions and going into a big conference knowing exactly which slice of it you want has been very very helpful for me and I found also that at some of these conventions or conferences industry is there. Industry is there. So like at Podcast Movement if you were shopping around for a new hosting provider, there are lots of them there and you could actually talk to the people. If you were looking for microphones, a bunch of microphone manufacturers are there. You can try their stuff out, right? If you wanted to sign up for a service that lets you do ratings and review tracking they were there. So there's sort of like a trade show element of it which if you were shopping around for a product or a service or tool, that could be very very useful but also the big names whether it's Apple or Spotify or Google, right? Those are the big three at the moment. Perhaps from those companies were at some of the Podcast Movement. So if what you want is face time with industry people, conference is gonna be really useful. I'm not a, I don't like conferences 'cause I don't generally, I'm not good with large crowds of people. I don't know, is that helpful? Okay.
And Wendy had asked and just to kind of further that, what about not in person? Are you aware of any indie podcasters co-ops where a group of podcasters is mutually supportive or other online communities?
I think that's a great question and yes. So I live in Toronto. There's something called the Toronto Radio Group. There are similar, it's a private Facebook group, there are similar versions of this everywhere so find your local version of that. And generally and it's probably a couple dozen people, and it's not exclusively radio. It's largely radio and podcasting together. And people are talking about gear and they're talking about some of this audience development stuff. So there are private Facebook groups, private slacks, those kinds of things. There is probably one near you wherever you live. There are also very large communities. I think that I mentioned Podcast Movement which is an annual conference. They have a large Facebook group as well that I think anybody can join and that's been very very helpful. Especially on the just getting started side of things. I've also found that communities around particular tools can be very interesting places. So, Marco Arment his name has been brought up a couple of times throughout this week. He makes Overcast which is the podcast app. He also makes Forecast which is that really great chaptering tool that I think Brad demonstrated in another class. And Marco Arment makes these tools and there's a slack community that I think anybody can join. There's a link right on the site where you can join if you're a user of Overcast or a user of Forecast. And unsurprisingly podcast people hang out in that slack. And while it's focused on Overcast and Forecast these tools, there are lots of podcasters that are talking about other podcast stuff and industry news, that kind of thing. Another example of this is, I don't know what gear people are using but there are lots of manufacturers of gear and microphones and recording devices and lots of people selling you lots of toys and gear and often the manufacturers of that equipment have communities around them. So they're not necessarily podcast specific though those do exist. But sometimes sort of adjacent communities whether that's I use this tape recorder or sorry, I use this digital audio recorder and so do you or I use Audition where's the local Adobe Audition user script? That kind of thing. I would start looking around for that sort of stuff.
Stand? So we've talked a lot about making a great product and getting it out there and talking to people about it but I'm serious about the actual numbers. How does subscription work? Like do you get paid by each platform that you're on per subscriber and I'm just, anything you can share about what is the metric? What's the number that you reach to make any kind of ad revenue realistic?
Got ya. Okay this is a gigantic question and I will do my best to simplify but the caveat is this is a very simplified answer. So, in my day job making podcasts with brands and in my night job making hobby podcasts where we do sell ads, the primary metrics that we're looking at are downloads and that's sliced a bunch of different ways. Downloads per episode, downloads within a timeframe but the basic unit is downloads. And we also look at subscribers. So, that is not a perfect number. Not all platforms provide it. Some do but we look at subscriber numbers 'cause we want some proxy for what is the rough estimate of the total number of people who are actively engaged with an ongoing relationship with our show? And like Twitter has follower accounts or YouTube has subscriber accounts. Podcasting has a less perfect version of that but we track downloads and we track subs and subs are mostly a directional thing. We want the number to going up. In terms of how podcast ads are sold it is typically on a CPM or cost per thousand basis where you have a dollar figure. So $25 CPM means for every thousands impressions or every thousand downloads you get you're, they're gonna give you $25 and the multiples thereof. And we have with grownups through things they wrote as kids somebody who sells our ads for us. We've also been approached directly so it's like you can email me and buy ads on our show or you can, our ad sales rep and buy as our show. Some people of part of networks, right? Radiotopia is a great example for this where it's a bunch of independent creators. They don't own their own shows but they got some back off this stuff that they share. So part of it is their own audience development. Radiotopia also, you can reach out to their ad sales people and they will sell you ads on one or more of their shows and sometimes the creator of the content is not really directly involved in that transaction at all. So at a very very basic level it is you're gonna pay us money to reach our audience and we're gonna measure it in downloads. And the money is largely either running through either a podcast ad agencies or direct basis but the platforms themselves like Apple or Spotify or Google tend not to be financially involved. It gets a little murkier when you talk about some of these newer platforms that are coming online and platforms like Patreon that allow for direct contribution but it's, people are getting paid in lots of different ways but the basic version is I've got a show with a lot of downloads, you want to reach the people who listen by show, pay me money I'll put your ad in my show. Does that make sense? Okay.
So this is from Camille who says, how do we hire for story telling or creating better editorial ideas? It's hard to locate talent to improve our show so it's more engaging and I know we've been having a lot of conversations with people who are new like how do I get a consultant or how do I get immediate feedback as I'm just beginning?
That, I love this question. And there are a couple places that I would start to look. The first is sort of piggybacking on that conversation we just had about existing online communities and I mentioned I'm from Toronto and I'm part of the Toronto Radio Club and it is an online thing but, it's a private Facebook group but people will also get together in person. We've done meetups and we've done listening parties, right? And one of the things that sometimes happens at listening parties is a bunch of, a small group of people will get together and listen to work that's not yet public, right? So, I have some colleagues who I used to work with in the CBC who debuted their brand new show which was not on the CBC's platform at one of these listening parties. And they hit play and it was sort of a weird experience listening in a group. Like in a room full of people and listen to a podcast all together at the same time but those kind of communities do exist. So again I like first search out what are the local communities that I could tap into and are there meet ups, right? I know that in many cities there are specifically podcast meet ups. So finding those people. I think it is such a good thing to have a second set of ears. Or a third set of ears or a fourth set of ears and a pair of ears that you trust. So what I would encourage especially if you're starting, find somebody else who has taste that you respect, is an important part. Not just somebody who's conveniently close to you, find somebody who has taste you respect, and find somebody who is willing to be candid. And a lot of people in your life are not willing to be candid about the thing you made. Which is just the truth, right? My mom's always gonna love my show. Always. And she is a critical thinker and a critical listener and she's still my mom and there's a certain element of mom ness or the fact that we're related that like, I'm not gonna send my first work to my mom, right? Stephen King I guess has this idea of the ideal reader which is like imagine the one person that you are writing for. I think for Stephen King it's his wife. I don't actually know a lot about Stephen King, but he talks about the ideal reader, right? And like writing for that person and if you actually got that person and you trust their taste and you trust them to be candid with you, buddy up. Like do that. Ideally this person is also making podcasts and probably at a similar stage. Like find these people and you can do that for little or no money. In terms of hiring if you know great people with amazing audio skills and a great editorial mind send them to Pacific Content 'cause we want to hire them. But, (audience laughs) after that, there's a moment going on where there's a lot of money flowing into podcasts. There are companies that are starting up. There are companies that are shutting down. Like there's a lot of movement and there's widely recognized there's a talent shortage. And a lot of podcast talent has been pulled from broadcast and pulled from public radio in particular. I would say especially in the United States. Like a lot of younger people who came up in public radio have been snatched away by podcast companies and I would say that there are, like if you were looking to hire somebody to do editorial work for you I think it is worth looking outside of where you might expect. So don't just poach people for public radio, you could poach people from reality television shows. 'Cause you know who knows story? Reality television show producers. You know who knows story? Magazine editors who might never have worked in audio before but can learn the audience piece of it. It's hard to teach somebody story structure and the editorial things that go along with telling great radio stories or great podcast stories. So people who have stories in their bones, are not necessarily working in public radio so like find those people. So do you know a magazine editor? Do you know a reality television producer who's worked his route and they've got nothing for the next little while? I would look to those people. The world has enough podcast companies full of former public radio.
Brilliant. Well have no come to the end of podcasting week. I want to ask you Dan for your final words. Go forth and conquer to all new or podcasters or people who are just wanting to
increase their skills and get further than they are right now.
There has never been a better time to do this. The tools have never been more affordable, more accessible. The thing that makes me excited about podcasting right now is not the Dos Nerso years that the medium has existed, it's the Dos Nerso years that are ahead of it and the first 10 years of podcasting have been dominated by two people in a basement talking into a single microphone, or rebroadcasts of public radio programs. And while I love those, I am more excited about the genres and the formats and the talent and the voices and the stories that have not yet been told because they are going to come from people who did not come up through broadcast. And they did not come up through public radio, and they did not come up through audio. Like the exciting thing about a new medium is that you get to push at the edges of it and you get to invent new formats and you get to really redefine what it is and we are living in the time where editorially speaking, the sky is the limit and the best stuff has not yet been invented. So, I want you to make new stuff that really pushes the boundaries and is truly creatively brave, and I want you to go tell people about it so I can, I'm looking forward to hearing it.