Author Archive: Jennifer Lane

Gold Medal Podcasts About The Olympics

The Olympics have a way of cutting through the summertime haze and grabbing our attention like few other things. With so many events and talented athletes, the Olympics provide a lot of great interesting content for podcasts as well. For the first time in weeks, winners like Michael Phelps and Simone Biles are at the top of our mind, replacing the negative day to day updates on Trump and Clinton with positive reports about talented athletes performing at the top of their games. The Internet is crazy about the games – NBC has livestreamed more than one billion minutes of the games so far. Everyone’s talking about them on facebook and twitter too.

Which is why it’s surprising that there are not more podcasts about all the amazing things happening in Rio. There are a few, and some are pretty good:

  • Sports Illustrated’s At The Games – this daily podcast features hosts Mitch Goldich and Alex Abnos chatting through a recap of each day at the games. It’s chatty and interesting, and despite not being at the games, these guys cover a lot of what’s going on – with perhaps a little tmi on rugby, and occasional interviews.
  • USA Today’s Going For Gold – Rachel Axon and Nancy Armour of USA Today Sports are on site in Rio. This podcast is produced every few days, and offers highlights from the games.
  • Yahoo Sports Grandstanding – Is a regular twice weekly podcast that has been all about Olympics since the games opened. It’s hosted by Greg Wyshynski, who is in Rio, and it’s pretty interesting.

It seems to me that there should be more, given all the great content there is to talk about. In particular, I would think some radio stations could muster the talent necessary to produce some pretty good updates for their listeners. Perhaps it’s the short term of the Olympics, but producing recaps like this in podcast form is a great way to expand digital offerings, grow audience, and look for new sponsors. You might even call it a gold medal opportunity…

What’s Your Podcast Strategy?

When it comes to building a community to support your business, Another Mother Runner gets it done. AMR is an online business that targets moms that run – providing a community and connecting with their audience through a daily newsletter, facebook page, books, podcasts and more. When it comes to connecting with new members of their community and growing their brand, their podcast strategy is critical. Sarah Bowen Shea and her partner Dimity McDowell have been podcasting since 2011, which makes them trailblazers of the audio variety (as well as being actual trailblazers!) Their most recent weekly podcast was their 221st.

They credit their podcast, which is hosted by Acast, and available on iTunes and Stitcher as well, as one of the most effective ways to get new audience. “I think a lot of brands don’t realize the power of the podcast.” says Bowen Shea. She says the podcast helps them grow and strengthen their community, while at the same time entertaining women as they run. Get that? The goal of their podcast is to grow their community.

Their formula for success is to offer lots of ways for running moms to connect – through the online store, books about running and being a mom, podcasts, the Train Like a Mother club, and on-site appearances at races. It’s working. Their facebook page has 59,000 likes, and their daily newsletter goes out to 13,500 subscribers. Their podcasts get 80-95,000 listens a month. One of their newest brand extensions is to offer archived podcast content behind a paywall through Acast+ for $2.99 a month – an option available through Acast that Bowen Shea says they are really excited about.

AMR’s approach to advertising is as holistic as their approach to their content. Another Mother Runner has about a dozen corporate sponsors, who are visible on the site, and have native ads in the podcasts as well. It’s a highly integrated approach to sponsorship that no doubt creates lots of value for the advertiser.

In the end, Another Mother Runner’s podcast strategy is one to admire because it’s not content for content’s sake – it’s a way to stay connected with their community and grow their brand. And yes, it helps that runners have lots of time on the road when they’re looking for company and something engaging to listen to. AMR’s podcasts keep them company. And, as they promise, they keep talking on the uphill…

IAB Announces Podcast Upfront

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) will host its second annual Podcast Upfront on September 7th and expand from a half to full day long program. The Second Annual Podcast Marketplace will feature 12 podcast companies, selected from a larger group based on their proposals to participate. Attendance is by invitation for advertisers and media agency executives.

Selected sponsors will each have a 20 minute presentation that will spotlight marketing opportunities for advertisers in podcasting. Last year’s event was very successful, and the expanded format for this year promises to be just as exciting.

Selected presenting sponsors include:

  • AdLarge
  • Authentic (formerly Podtrac)
  • CBS Radio’s
  • ESPN
  • HowStuffWorks
  • Midroll
  • NPR
  • Panoply
  • PodcastOne
  • Time Inc.
  • WNYC Studios
  • Wondery

The content of the presentations will feature an impressive list of some of the most popular podcasts:

  • The Adam Carolla Show
  • Engage: The Official Star Trek Podcast
  • Entertainment Weekly: Game of Thrones
  • ESPN: Fantasy Focus Football
  • TED Radio Hour
  • Jim Breuer’s The Metal In Me
  • Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History
  • Radiolab
  • Stuff You Should Know
  • This American Life
  • WTF with Marc Maron

No word on which presentations will include their personality hosts, but I do know that the intial RFP encouraged companies that were interested in participating to make their pitches as appealing as possible in order to be selected, so I’m guessing quite a few podcast personalities will be on stage. It’s bound to be a great day for podcasting. Read more about it here.

Why Millennials Like Podcasts

The study showing that Millennials listen to less radio than older generations is hardly news. Other studies have shown similar trends, and you need to look no further than your favorite Millennial to know that they’re all about connected consumption of all their media.

Meanwhile, we have the growing body of data showing that the very same folks like podcasts. The Podcast Consumer study released by Edison Research shows that 35% of podcast listeners are in the 18-34 demographic. In fact, comScore data shows that same demographic is 44% more likely than the average smartphone-owning adult to listen to podcasts on their device at least once a week. And podcasts are even more popular with younger demos – while 18-34 year olds are more likely than the general population to be podcast listeners, 12-17 year olds are almost twice as likely to listen.

Just this morning I had a conversation with my favorite Millennial about podcasts. She listens at work, and she works in an environment where she can’t be connected all day long. Each day, she downloads her daily diet of podcasts and brings them with her. She says playlists get too boring.

The most fascinating part of this is that Millennials – as well as folks in the younger 12-17 demographic – are listening to podcasts, which are primarily talk programming. The very same programming that on broadcast stations is relegated to the AM dial and listened to mainly by 35+ demographics. How can that be? I’m thinking there are a few things that make podcasts so attractive to younger demos:

  1. It’s all about the device. The younger you are, the more attached you are to your device. If the content is available on your device, it’s worth your attention.
  2. On demand content is the everything. No matter what they’re consuming, younger demos are consuming it on their terms: what they want, when they want it.
  3. Shared content is important. Not only do Millennials like to share, they like to like what others share. Listen, and share with your friends.
  4. Non-fiction and reality content is a thing with Millennials.

Back to the Millennial that I live with. When she’s home from college I really enjoy an evening in front of the tv with her. It used to be easy to pick a movie that we both wanted to watch. But more and more, our tastes diverge, with hers preferring shows about cooking competitions, or brides picking dresses. If it’s fiction, she’s looking for crime and thrillers. The latest Jane Austen novel remake? Not so much.

Offering appealing content in a form that this age group likes to consume is the key to the success of podcasts with younger demos.

Podcasts have struck a chord with Millennials, and it has to do with several things, not the least of which is audio content that they like. While broadcast radio assumes that what they want to hear is the latest hits, it turns out they also want to hear great non fiction programming, on their phones, when they want it. If you podcast it they will listen..



Is YouTube the Next Frontier for Podcasts?

Podcasters are finding YouTube a friendly place to distribute their content. With a billion monthly users, YouTube’s an attractive place to woo listeners. Libsyn, a podcast hosting company, recently introduced a feature that enables podcasters to easily turn their audio files into video and send them to YouTube at the same time they send them to other distribution services such as iTunes and GooglePlay.

But YouTube is a video platform, right? Although it’s often disregarded in a conversation about streaming audio listening, YouTube is by far the largest on demand streaming audio service. It makes sense the podcasters would offer their content on the giant on demand streaming platform as well. YouTube also has some other features that make it a great platform for podcasters – such as search and sharing.

This American Life offers all of its content on YouTube, as do many others. Some, like The Moth, and NPR podcasts like The Hidden Brain and Invisibilia, have organized all of their content into YouTube pages that you can subscribe to, while others, like 99 Percent Invisible and Reply All, are not quite as organized, but easy to find through search.

YouTube also offers recommendations – when I subscribed to Modern Love, produced by WBUR and the New York Times, I got recommendations for a Ted Talk, and a podcast by The Minimalists.

From the looks of the numbers of subscribers to some of the podcasts, it’s early in the idea that YouTube is a podcast distribution platform. The Moth’s 47,000 subscribers seems huge compared to This American Life which has 8562 subscribers. Meanwhile Serial has only 216(!). But Youtube sure seems like a ready-made distribution platform for podcast content. Maybe it’s the next frontier..




Branded Podcasts Come in Several Flavors

Brands are getting serious about podcasts as a content marketing strategy. Podcasts lend themselves well to branded content – their storytelling nature is engaging, appealing to brands seeking a better way to connect with consumers.

Branded content strategies in podcasts can vary greatly, from subtle approaches where the sponsor is barely mentioned, to shows where the sponsor is prominently featured within the editorial, with several alternatives in between.

Branding by Association – A subtle approach to content branding relies simply on a connection with clever, innovative and appealing content to establish a brand’s connection. GE’s The Message is a best in class for this type of content marketing. The podcast was hugely successful and very innovative. The sponsor branding was very subtle – GE Podcast Theater was the producer of the show along with Panoply Networks. GE’s presence in the podcast is very understated, which in this case may well have added to both the success of the series and the effectiveness of the branding. It is really artful branding for sure.

Editorial Branding – A more overt type of content marketing is employed by eBay in the recently launched Open for Business by Gimlet Media. This type of branded podcast features the sponsor’s name and company within the podcast, and in fact, features an eBay partner business within the episode. The editorial content of the podcast is focused on entrepreneurship, and reportedly, the company had input into and final say over the direction and content of each of the six installments. It’s well done, with strong and interesting reporting elements that exemplify Gimlet’s expertise in the space.

Sponsor Produced Podcasts – In this approach to branded podcasts, the sponsor produces its own content, with or without the help of outside resources, and focuses entirely on the sponsor’s business. The McKinsey Podcast, produced by the inhouse McKinsey Publishing, focuses on educating its audience. It’s a well done B2B podcast that discusses topics like the customer experience or the Chinese consumer. It’s a great example of using podcasts to expand a customer base by positioning the sponsor company as a thought leader.

Sponsored Content –  This most common approach to content marketing in podcasts is the one that familiar podcast advertisers like Mailchimp and Squarespace employ. Those companies employ native ads within popular podcast series like Serial to establish their brand. The native ads, often done by the podcast hosts, are personal and effective. I think the branding for Squarespace in the podcast series Reply All is particularly good. Hosts PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman create quirky websites using Squarespace, and then talk about them. (Has PJ met Alex’s son yet is one, and is the other). It’s funny and, as I am demonstrating right here, memorable.

Podcasts as branded content can take many different forms and create really great exposure for advertisers. These deeply creative approaches add enormous value and impact for the brands, and generate both quality content and great buzz that is no doubt part of the momentum driving expanding interest. May they thrive..



Podcasting’s Tipping Point

A few days ago Slate’s Panoply Network launched a new series with best-selling author, speaker, and quirky, insightful social scientist Malcolm Gladwell called Revisionist History. The day it launched it hit number one on the iTunes Podcast Chart. The podcast series of ten episodes will be released week by week and examine past events that were mis-interpreted the first time around – Gladwell will attempt to “correct the record.”

This is a big score for Slate’s Panoply Media, and for the podcasting industry. Panoply’s Andy Bowers thinks Gladwell’s big name will bring new listeners, who haven’t already listened to a podcast before, not to mention new advertisers.

The launch of the program came with a live reading at the iconic 92nd Street Y in New York by Malcolm Gladwell. Attendees were given a handout with instructions on how to download to a podcast on Apple’s purple podcast app – the Revisionist History podcast series is sponsored by Apple’s iBooks, another remarkable aspect of the show. Apparently, Gladwell was thinking about writing a book about these misunderstood historical events, but was convinced to do the podcast series instead.

Everyone is hoping the new series will see the same kind of blockbuster success that Serial saw in its first season. In addition to the live reading, Gladwell’s been tweeting about the series to his 373,000 followers – “My mother says it’s amazing!” Meanwhile, his motives for producing the series are characterized as kind of a lark, more of a challenge than producing another bestselling book.

It just might be a social experiment as well. Gladwell just might be hoping his new series hits at The Tipping Point for podcasting. In his book The Tipping Point, Gladwell examines “that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.” Podcasting is arguably at its Tipping Point – as Tom Webster of Edison Research pointed out in his presentation on the Podcast Consumer a few weeks ago. Podcast listening has been growing modestly for a bunch of years, but this year things have taken off, says Webster, citing the 24% growth in monthly listening and referring to a possible hockey stick pattern in growth. (All hail to Gordie Howe)

When a product reaches the tipping point, “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point,” it can spread like wildfire with a few simple factors, which Gladwell calls “agents of change.” The podcasting pot is arguably ready to boil. I’m thinking this new show Revisionist History is both a new podcast and a social experiment, where Gladwell is looking to be one of the agents of change that propels podcasting into epidemic status. Read the book and see what you think…

This week I listened to the intro and first episode of Revisionist History, and also listened to Lena Dunham’s Women of the Hour. 




Why Binge Listening to Podcasts is a Thing

Podcasters have an episodic approach to content that lends itself to binge listening. People that listen to podcasts weekly listen to more than one – 64% of those that are listening weekly listen to more than two a week, according to Edison Research. This is not surprising, given the “serial” nature of some of the more popular podcasts, such as the popular Serial  (there’s a reason they were not allowed to trademark that name!)

Bridge Ratings confirms not only that more people are listening more to podcasts than ever before, but also that they are listening for an average of 33 minutes per session. This data, which is based on a year-long study of podcast listeners, confirms a healthy time spent listening trend that Bridge says has already “helped some ad agencies take the leap” into investing in podcast advertising.

Podcasts’ long form audio consists of several approaches:

  • Episodic programs, like Serial, where one story is told over a series of episodes -usually released week by week. While week by week releases can put a damper on bingeing, that only applies to listeners who are keeping current with the material. Listeners that are coming to the party mid-stream or later can consume more than one at a time.
  • Theme programs, which have new subjects each week, but tied together around a central theme. These are also compelling and often clever – listeners want to stay with the theme of the podcast and listen to several. WNYC’s Death, Sex and Money, about the topics we need to talk more about, and the New York Times/WBUR’s Modern Love, which covers lots of angles on love, take that approach.
  • Personality podcasts use the host as the consistent element from week to week, and topics cover whatever the host wants to talk about. Marc Maron’s WTF, Lena Dunham’s Women of the Hour, and The Adam Carolla Show for example.

All three approaches are compelling, and I find myself wanting to stay with many of the podcasts I try and listen to more than one. That’s why Netflix-like consumption of podcasts is a big thing, one that is good for the listener as well as the advertiser.

Long form, compelling audio programming isn’t new – in fact broadcast radio’s roots are in that type of programming. The famous “War of the Worlds” was a Halloween episode of a regular weekly radio drama called The Mercury Theater on the Air. Amos and Andy was a personality driven one-hour weekly broadcast. Somewhere along the way that kind of programming disappeared and radio turned its attention to capturing quarter hours. Now we have “news and traffic every ten minutes” but the unique and creative storytelling approach to audio has in many cases left the broadcast building…

This week I’ve been listening to the podcast Modern Love, produced by the New York Times and WBUR. 

comScore: Podcast Ads Are Compelling

New data from comScore says that people listen, like and act on ads in podcasts more than ads in any other digital media. As highlighted in Audio4cast a few weeks back – podcasting has taken a native ads approach that is reinventing audio advertising by integrating the ads into the program and creating a live-read, endorsement feel to the ads that is both memorable and inspiring to the consumer.

comScore Wondery

The new comScore study was commissioned by Wondery and also tells us that two-thirds of the respondents have acted on an ad by researching a product or making a purchase. Not surprising – ads in podcasts are remarkably compelling. Like the ad for Eero, “the world’s most innovative wifi system” in this episode of 99% Invisible. Roman Mars chats the product up at the beginning, “I love these little things, unreliable wifi has been my nemesis.” and “My whole family is happy I’m not stomping around the house…muttering about not being able to watch Netflix.”  He’s even tweeted about the product to his 60k followers:

What’s more compelling than that? The comScore/Wondery study adds strength to the concept that podcasts, and podcast advertising, are creating valuable opportunities for advertisers to connect with listeners with messaging that is innovative, integrated and impactful.

There’s an incredible dedication to crafting great content in podcasting, and it extends to the ads as well. It’s a holistic approach that makes the advertiser part of the program rather than an interruption to be tolerated. The end result – satisfied listeners who listen to, like and react to ads, translating to happy advertisers. That’s the secret sauce driving the energy and success in the podcast space..

This week I have been listening to – you guessed it – 99% Invisible. Still loving my Overcast app..


Podcast Listeners Click and Listen

Last year more people listened to podcasts than ever before, and that number will continue to grow. That’s info we’ve had for a couple of months from the Infinite Dial annual study from Edison Research. Last week we got a bunch of new specifics to go with that info. Some of it is rather predictable – podcast consumers are more affluent and educated than the population at large, they are more male than female, and the bulk of the listeners are 18 – 54 years old.

The survey asked people about their “method of listening to podcasts”, and from that we learn that 59% of regular weekly podcast listeners usually “Click on podcast and listen immediately.” The other choices are “Download manually to listen later” and “Subscribe to and download to automatically to listen later.” It’s tempting to conclude that 59% of weekly listeners are now streaming podcasts. Not so fast. “Click on podcast and listen immediately” does represent on-demand behavior, but it does not equal streaming.

Say you want to listen to Serial. You have a few choices of how to do that. You can go to Pandora, and “Click on podcast to listen immediately,” or you can open your podcast listening app on your smartphone, where you have the choice of streaming it, downloading it, or subscribing to it. Streaming it is a fine choice if you’re planning to stay connected while you listen, but if I’m planning to listen while running, or walking, or getting in my car I choose download so I can have offline listening if I want it. I’m still clicking and listening immediately, but I’m not streaming. This isn’t a meaningless nuance. Part of the appeal of podcasts is that you can download and listen on or offline.

The bottom line of course is that podcasts are consumed more and more in an on-demand fashion. Click and listen immediately includes two different technical options – streaming or downloading, but it does translate to on-demand behavior. It would be nice to know the data within that segment, but it’s possible that trying to get more specific with that question would only confuse casual podcast consumers. As an additional data point we have this chart tweeted out during the data presentation last week, which shows that most listening is still via downloads rather than streaming (this is the activity of one podcast, not the industry):


The immediacy of listening is a selling point for the medium, since advertisers like to buy placements for their ads that are going to be heard within a certain period of time. A transition to streaming is certainly beneficial to the ad supported model – it’s easier to count connected listeners, monitor session length, and confirm that a listener heard an ad when they are continuously connected. But knowing that they clicked and listened immediately, either by streaming or downloading, makes ads at the beginning of the podcasts a lot more attractive to advertisers as well.

Podcast consumption is moving to on-demand. Immediate consumption in any media is a good trend, which lends itself to greater time spent listening. By introducing the “Click and listen immediately” phrase, Edison Research has given the industry a nice way to represent on-demand listening that merges downloading for immediate listening and streaming into one behavior that’s appealing to advertisers.

This week I’ve been listening to StartUp Podcast using my Overcast app. 



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