From the NAB Show in New York City: E.B. Moss of MediaVillage, on the best practices of podcast development and monetization, with Audioboom Chief Operating Officer, Stuart Last, and the scintillating host of True Crime Obsessed, Patrick Hinds. Will programmatic come to podcasting any time soon? Are native ads or dynamically inserted ads the way to go? Will a podcast that is like an audio version of Mystery Science Theater filled with laughter and based on murders “play in Peoria?” Find out!
Here's the topline:
Moss: Stuart, Audioboom is described as “a global podcasting platform that consolidates the business of on-demand audio and makes that content accessible wide-reaching for podcasters, advertisers and brands. In other words, you amplify podcasts, make them accessible and help with advertising?
Stuart Last: I think that's a great summation of it. ...Our technology platform allows you to upload your content and have it distributed out to Apple, Spotify and Google Podcasts. We'll help you grow your audience through promoting your show across our network, help you understand that audience through an analytics package. Then we monetize that content for you through spot advertising ...or on the premium content end, live reads, or host endorsements.
Moss: Patrick produces his own show, but Audioboom also creates original content?
Last: Right. We launched an original content network in October last year. We’re just about a year into it and have 11 shows in that network, including the new Dead Man Talking, a true crime documentary.
Moss: Speaking of original, Patrick, I’ve become obsessed with True Crime Obsessed....which is a serious discussion - through a comedic lens - about murder.
Patrick Hinds: We didn’t invent that formula but we do we have our own spin on it: If you’re serious about true crime but also like to laugh then you'll like True Crime Obsessed. We recap true crime documentaries. ...[My co-host] Gillian (Pensavalle) and I had this idea of doing this very straightforward three-segment show. But when we recorded the pilot and began speaking about the documentary, Gillian started cracking me up. We found that you can laugh about true crime if you do it in a way where it’s not garbage and you’re not being a monster and laughing about the actual crime. Instead you're laughing about how nobody in a documentary ever runs a damn comb through their hair!?
Moss: You’re getting more than like half a million people listening to every episode; and Stuart, you're getting like 60 million across your podcast every month. So, how the heck do you get to those numbers? ...Stuart?
Last: There are a few different parts to it. There's a purely business aspect which is paid promotion and spending money to market your podcast. [For example,] we have 2,000 podcasts and can take a look at the audience within each one of those podcasts and then spend money on those shows to promote one of our new launches. [When we] launched the new true crime podcasts we asked Patrick to talk about it for us... So, buying advertising in other podcasts where there's a like-minded audience is probably the lowest hanging fruit that there is....
Hinds: I have zero marketing background but... I think the thing that we did right was understanding that you build a podcast audience one listener at a time....really engaging. We took our social media really seriously and also spend almost every penny of [our marketing budget] on Facebook ads but we're also in [a listener-created] Facebook group five or six times a day [and] we do FaceTime with fan meet ups once a month. So, I think that you can build an audience without spending money.
Moss: A key differentiator for podcasting is the relationship that the fans have with their favorite hosts and personalities.
Hinds: Yes, the more authentic you can be as a host, the more people will respond to you, listen to you and want to get to know you. I had never heard a gay person host a true crime, podcast and I didn't know if there would be an audience for it. But I was like “I'm just gonna be me”.
Moss: You’ve really leveraged that authenticity because your first live show sold out in like two hours. You also earn money through the advertising efforts of Audioboom and a subscription option for your biggest fans. Can you talk about how that divvies up?
Hinds: When Audioboom first took us in, we were getting like 10,000 downloads. They were still selling ads, but we weren't making a lot of money. ...So, we looked at the Patreon model. Listeners pay five dollars a month and we have almost 5,000 subscribers.
Moss: Stuart, it's so effective when in a baked-in ad the personalities talk about the sponsor as part of the fabric of the content. What percent of your sales are based on big personalities – like Patrick - doing reads, versus dynamic insertion?
Last: Right now, about eighty-five percent of the sales still direct response and so rely on the personality of the host to sell the product. That's shifting. I think we'll get to 75 percent over the next year two years - as the bigger brands come into the space and understand that the value of advertising in podcasting.
Moss: What are some of the obstacles to greater adoption by brands or listeners?
Last: I think measurement has always been the biggest issue. And there’s a long way to go on the content side as well before we bring in that huge audience...where is the next big show? Serial [Season 1] was four years ago. [And the] 500,000 podcasts out there should cover every topic, but they don’t yet...
Moss: We've been niche at scale so far, basically. But audio in general is having its golden age again, which is great. Any last thoughts?
Hinds: I just wanted to say to any aspiring podcast producers that anybody can do it. You can learn how to make a really top-quality podcast for not that much money. And if this fool can figure out how to get five hundred thousand listeners, anybody can do it!