Every year, thousands of people from the podcasting industry descend upon a host city for the annual podcast conference, Podcast Movement. But after a week of panels and networking in Texas, what did we all learn? Here are the biggest takeaways from Podcast Movement 2022 Dallas.
Podcast Audiences Are Growing And Diversifying
Despite being an older digital medium, audience appetite for podcasts is still growing. In fact, 51% of regular podcast listeners just started listening. That means there are a lot of newbies discovering the medium for the first time.
In addition to new listeners, podcast audiences are also diversifying. What began as a medium primarily consumed by mostly young urban users (i.e. Diggnation), podcasting has matured and diversified to be much more inclusive.
When creating new podcast content, how are you catering to these rising podcast demographics? Are you producing content that will resonate with these audiences?
- Rural: Podcast users are spreading out beyond urban areas. Rural residents are seeking diverse voices and information sources and turning to podcasts. This is especially important as small town newspapers continue to shutdown and users seek out alternative local news sources.
- Black & Latino: BIPOC listeners (black, Indigenous, and people of color; pronounced “bye-pock”) say they would listen to more podcasts by and about them in popular podcast categories like history, business and true crime.
- Adults 55+: Seniors and other older audiences might need additional reinforcement with the meaning of terms like subscribe, follow, etc.
- Kids & Family: One podcast genre that is showing major growth is Kids & Family. According to Nielsen, it’s a great opportunity for advertisers because adults listen carefully to their children’s media consumption creating high brand recall and conversion rates.
There’s Only One Podcast Platform That Really Matters: Apple Podcasts
Don’t spend a lot of time trying to optimize and distribute to every podcast platform. According to analytics presented at Podcast Movement 2022, there’s only one app and platform that matters, Apple Podcasts. Apple has always dominated this medium and no one is coming close to challenging them.
How To Get Your Podcast Featured In Apple Podcast’s ‘New & Noteworthy’ Section
TL;DR: To Rank In ‘New & Noteworthy’, Focus On Getting As Many Apple Podcast Follows As You Can All At Once
Apple keeps the criteria and algorithms that they use for ranking podcasts very secret, but people are starting to figure out some tricks.
Have you ever wondered how new podcasts with only a couple of episodes and (maybe) a trailer can debut in the #1 podcast position? According to several experts at Podcast Movement 2022, Apple ranks podcasts by how many and how quickly your podcast can collect new follows, not your podcast’s total downloads, average ratings or positive reviews. The key to ranking is your momentum of new follows!
That means, do NOT launch a podcast without having a….
- Marketing plan with final marketing materials (logos, videos, headshots, etc.)
- Online presence (website, social media, etc.)
- Advertising campaigns already scheduled
- Internal email announcements already drafted
- Distribution plan
- Social Media content
Basically, if you don’t have you crap together, then do NOT launch your podcast and expect it to be featured in “New & Noteworthy” or get ranked on Apple Podcasts‘ Top Charts.
If You Build It, They *Won’t* Come… Unless You Plan For It
One of the most famous Field Of Dreams movie quotes is “If you build it, they will come.” Don’t expect that to happen with your podcast.
If even you don’t want to be included in Apple Podcasts’ “New & Noteworthy” section, you still need to have a marketing plan if you want people to find and subscribe to your podcast.
To maximize the potential of your podcast, it is important to create a development/promotion plan. This will help you reach your target audience and ensure that your podcast is successful.
Make sure to have all of the pieces in place before you launch your show, so that you can reach its potential. Building an audience for your podcast requires time, effort, and strategy.
NERD NOTE: The actual quote from Field Of Dreams is “If you build it, he will come.” not “If you build it, they will come.” But the modified quote using “they” is popularly used by marketers and content creators.
Podcast SEO Matters, But Be Selective On Which Fields You Focus On
We all know that podcast SEO matters, but where you focus your SEO efforts really matters. After using SEO tools like SEMrush and UberSuggest to research your keywords, strategically place them in these locations (listed in order of priority):
- Podcast Title: Do you work at a TV station or newspaper? Consider including that news brand in the name of your show. For example, ESPN has a podcast called “ESPN Daily”. Anyone searching for “ESPN” will see this podcast in the search results.
- Episode Title: Every episode title should have a target keyword phrase in it! Spend most of your time focused here!
- Author: Every podcast that your company produces should NOT just generically list the company as the author. Use reporter names, station names, etc. to change things up and capture more diverse user searches.
Don’t Waste Money Advertising Your Podcast On Different Mediums
Promoting your podcast is a fantastic idea! But don’t waste your marketing budget placing ads outside of the podcast medium. Instead, focus on podcast audio and companion ads inside podcast platforms.
To maximize the return on your podcast advertising budget, focus your resources on audio ads in other podcasts and display ads in podcast apps. These are the most likely places where podcast listeners will be found. Podcast apps like Overcast and CastBox have fewer users than the Apple Podcasts app, but they are super-dedicated podcast listeners.
- Social media ads can help you build a community around your show, but these users don’t necessarily convert to podcast followers or podcast subscribers.
- Display ads are good for driving awareness, not subscribers.
- Video ads are too expensive.
The only exception is your local marketing efforts. For example, if you have a podcast about events in the Seattle area, then you should consider advertising in local Seattle magazines and newspapers.
Pro Tip: Ask local publishers if they’d do an impression swap. Then trade ad impressions in your podcast for ad impressions in their publications.
Use Traceable URLs To Track Conversions And Success
Use podcast link tracking services, like Chartable‘s SmartLinks, to create custom URLs for your podcast. Then strategically use these different links to track how listeners are finding your podcast.
For example, if your podcast has two hosts, then create a separate link for each host to see which one is driving more audience using their social media accounts. Or share one link with internal stakeholders and one link publicly. Get creative!
Host Read Ads Aren’t As Important As You Think
The next time an advertiser insists on having the podcast host read their ad copy, then tell them to simmer down. According to research presented by Tom Webster from Sounds Profitable at Podcast Movement 2022, host-reads don’t have higher brand recall than regular voice talent ads.
Webster analyzed (3) different types of ads: ad-libbed live reads by the host, scripted reads by the host, and scripted reads by an announcer other than the host.
Based on his research, you should use a mix of both talent read ads and announcer read ads in your podcast.
- :30 second ads (brand awareness): Use voice talent ads to communicate authority.
- :60 second ads (brand affinity): Use talent or a producer (if you have a journalist as a host)
The Top Podcast Advertisers, And Podcast Advertising Categories Are…
A lot of brands are finding success by advertising to podcast listeners, but here are some of the most popular:
- Health: BetterHelp, Helix Sleep, Talkspace
- TV/Film: NBC Universal, Comcast, DirecTV
- Meal Kits: Blue Apron, HelloFresh
- Privacy Technology: Express VPN, Lifelock, Norton
- E-commerce: Amazon, My Pillow
- Home Security: SimpliSafe
- Recruiting: ZipRecruiter
- Insurance: Geico, Progressive
- Banking: Capital One
- Small Business: SquareSpace, Stamps.com
- Betting: FanDuel, Draft Kings
- Beauty: Madison Reed, Manscaped
All Podcasters Should Be Taking Advantage Of Programmatic Advertising
If you are currently manually baking in ads into your podcast, then STOP. It took awhile, but DAI (dynamically ad insertion) technology has finally caught up to the podcasting industry.
Popular podcasting platforms, including LibSyn, MegaphoneFM, Blubrry, and SoundStack, all now have DAI options as well as their own programmatic ad networks. That means all that you need to do to monetize your podcast is add ad markers.
You can still create host read ads, just do it as a separate file, not as part of your show. Then traffic that host read ad in a DAI campaign. And if you don’t have any direct sold ads, don’t worry. The programmatic marketplace will help fill your open ad inventory for you.
Podcast Listeners Think Your Podcast Has Too Many Ads
In his opening keynote address at Podcast Movement 2022, Gabriel Soto of Edison Research presented research showing that audiences think there are too many ads in content.
The survey respondents think that the following mediums have too many ads: TV (36%), radio (23%), and podcasting (10%). While podcasting has the lowest percentage, that number has doubled over the years.
As podcasters take advantage of new monetization tools like DAI and programmatic advertising, they need to be careful about their spot loads. Podcast listeners are becoming agitated by the increasing number of commercials in their favorite podcasts.
Quality is also important. Podcast ads can create a poor listener’s experience if they are too loud, overproduced, or inappropriate for the content. However, the main issue is not just a matter of poor quality ads; it’s the number of ads that’s overwhelming.
Podcast creators need to find a better balance between monetizing content and overwhelming their listeners with ads, especially bad quality ads.
Long-form And Investigative Content Is Risky, But Has More Potential For Bigger Success
During a session at Podcast Movement 2022 Dallas, a panelist estimated that one episode of long-form content can take up to 300 hours to produce. If you were paying your production team an average of $50 per hour, that means each episode would cost you $15,000 each. Yikes!
The upside to long-form content is long-tail consumption and IP production deals. Popular podcasts like COLD and Serial and still generating new listens years after they first debuted. As long as publishers have DAI and programmatic advertising enabled on their shows, they will continue to financially benefit from their content for years to come.
Long-form content also has more opportunity to attract interest from film Hollywood. Popular TV series including WeCrashed, The Shrink Next Door, The Thing About Pam, Homecoming, and Dirty John all were podcasts first, before being licensed for a video adaptation.
Media Companies Have A Huge Advantage In Podcasting Production
One of my favorite panels at Podcast Movement 2022 was Dave Beasing‘s session on branded podcasts. The former radio programmer and Jacobs Media consultant divulged a series of insights during the panel, including explaining the incredible advantage that traditional media companies have over independent production houses.
Media companies are well positioned for podcast production. Not only do they have the staff with expertise in storytelling, but even more importantly, they have the tools to promote their finished products. When a company like NBC Universal or iHeart wants to promote a podcast, they have an array of “free” broadcast and digital assets at their disposal.
It’s impossible for independent podcast production houses to come anywhere close to the promotional power behind traditional media companies.
It’s Okay To Kill Sunset Your Podcast
Is the content stale? Are the hosts bored? Have both your advertisers and audience moved on?
It’s okay to end a podcast, even a new podcast. They are a variety of reasons to move on, but if the juice isn’t worth the squeeze, then it’s probably time to sunset your podcast.
But as long as you are using DAI, you still might make a some money after you end your podcast.
Is YouTube The Next Big Podcast Distribution Platform?
There was a lot of debate at Podcast Movement 2022 on if, and how, both podcasters and podcast audiences should use YouTube.
Apple firmly “owns” the podcast space. That’s undebatable. After all, the term “podcast” was coined around Apple’s popular audio player, the iPod. And the Apple Podcasts app is the dominate podcast player – leaving other podcast apps, including the Google Podcasts app, in the dust.
But Google isn’t going to admit defeat anytime soon. Their latest strategy is to promote YouTube as podcast player. Interesting….
Google is the most popular search engine and YouTube is the dominant video player on the Internet, but is YouTube really the best platform for podcast listening?
Some common concerns about using YouTube as a podcast platform include:
- YouTube can’t import audio RSS feeds.
- If they did, most podcast feeds already have ads included and Google doesn’t want your podcast ads. They want to inject their own ads into your content.
- Podcasters prefer strict control over advertisers in their content, YouTube doesn’t allow this.
- What does a podcast look like on YouTube?
- What’s the difference between a video podcaster and a YouTuber?
- What’s a better experience for users: A video version of an investigative podcast or a documentary film?
According to Todd Cochrane (Blubrry) and Rob Walch (Libsyn), very few podcasters make significant money from YouTube. Their advice is to stick to creating your audio podcast and just use YouTube for promotional efforts.
Some examples include:
- Creating video previews and trailers to promote your podcast. Then upload them to YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram.
- Uploading supplemental video content about your podcast
This is in direct contrast to the opinions of researchers Tom Webster (Sounds Profitable) and Jeff Vidler (Signal Hill Insights). Webster and Vidler think that YouTube‘s podcast consumption rivals Spotify and even comes close to Apple Podcasts.
Can Podcasters Use YouTube To Increase Revenue?
Besides audiences using YouTube as a podcast player, the other side of this debate focused on the potential video revenue opportunities for podcast creators.
One of the most popular sessions at Podcast Movement 2022 was the session hosted by YouTube‘s new Podcast Lead, Kai Chuck. But aside from the unveiling a new YouTube Podcast page, Chuck really didn’t share anything of significance with the audience.
Instead, Chuck introduced A.J. Feliciano from the Warner Brothers Discovery digital media company, Rooster Teeth. Feliciano had some good recommendations for the audience, namely suggesting that podcasters should diversify their revenue streams. Using his company as an example, Rooster Teeth only makes 1/3 of their total revenue from podcasting. They use video content on YouTube to create additional sponsorship opportunities for advertisers.
Is YouTube Podcasts Good Or Bad For The Podcast Industry?
Google‘s new focus on YouTube Podcasts is obviously self serving. Getting podcasters to abandon audio for video benefits them. But does it benefit either podcast creators or audiences? Not really.
The main value proposition of a podcast, is that it can be consumed while a user is doing something else. Many podcast audiences listen to podcasts while doing other things, like driving, folding clothes, or walking their dogs.
Podcast apps, like Overcast or the Apple Podcasts app, know this and designed their interface with large buttons and simplicity. It’s easy to scroll through podcast episodes in the Apple Podcasts app while driving. The YouTube interface on either mobile web or the YouTube app is complicated and requires much more attention from users.
Trying to use the YouTube app to find a podcast while driving sounds like a deadly distracted driving incident just waiting to happen. Not to mention, you shouldn’t be watching video on your phone while driving to begin with.
The other group advocating heavily for podcasters to make the switch to video production are money hungry executives. Video ads generate higher CPM rates than audio ads.
But what many of the suits fail to understand, video production takes more time and resources. The additional money they might make from video CPMs often gets lost in the additional production resources required for video.
And when you’re done creating your video episode, what’s the difference between a “video podcast” and a YouTube channel? I’d argue that there really is no such thing as a “video podcast”.
The podcast originated in 2003 as an audio medium several years before YouTube’s debut in 2005. Both podcasts and YouTube have grown independently over the years. Why merge them now? Is there any real advance besides helping Google make more money?
Insights From Podcast Movement 2022 Dallas
As always (see highlights from Podcast Movement 2021), Podcast Movement 2022 proved to be a worthwhile conference full of great insights and networking opportunities for the podcast community. What did you think of these takeaways? Please let us know in the comments.