Data driven. Entercom, which we have mentioned a fair bit in these pages recently thanks to the broadcasting company’s acquisition of Pineapple Street Media and Cadence13 back in August 2019, has announced the creation of a new campaign measurement tool for podcasts. It’s a collaboration with the marketing company Claritas, and will apparently use a “proprietary data set of over 120 million households and more than one billion devices” to test the purchasing habits of a podcast’s listeners compared to similarly composed non listening audiences, thus allowing conversions from specific shows and channels to be tracked.
As we said in our 2020 preview a few weeks ago, metrics and measurements continue to be a major theme for the podcast industry, with the imperfect solutions that the space has long relied on being ripe for tweaking. Attribution has always been at the core of concerns about podcast advertising campaigns, of course, hence the ubiquity of coupon codes and so forth. The market is therefore ripe for solutions like this that promise to make the effectiveness of a particular sponsorship more easily measurable, and I think we’ll see a fair amount of activity in this area over the next few months as different publishers consolidate and look to derive more value from the shows they already own.
Deals aplenty. Spotify has inked another content creation partnership: this time with Audity, an audio division of the Asylum Entertainment Group. Audity was only announced in September, with the stated intention of leveraging the entertainment connections available via its parent company — the original write up in Deadline says that the plan was to “partner with celebrities, influencers, and storytellers” on shows as well as targeting “film and television adaptation, touring and experiential events and educational and cultural content”. No word yet on what kind of content, or indeed how many shows, Audity will create for Spotify, nor whether they will be exclusive to the platform or distributed more widely.
Given Spotify’s existing partnerships with the likes of the Obamas and Amy Schumer, Audity seems to fit in with that side of things. Frank Hajdu of Legendary Digital Networks has been hired as Executive Vice President of Audity to oversee the new push into audio with Spotify. Hajdu is probably best known for his work on The Nerdist Podcast Network, and with this new venture will be responsible both for Audity’s content slate for Spotify as well as any potential for IP sale for television or film. That old podcast-to-TV pipeline, eh. Still going strong.
Showing the numbers. I noted back in December how great it is when independent creators share their numbers on things like on-air diversity, since it helps to balance out stats from big publishers like NPR and so on. I’d apply the same lens to this post from Amanda McLoughlin at NYC-based collective Multitude, which lays out some lessons learned in 2019 as well as some specific stats for ad sales. The key section:
“In 2019, we ran 374 ads from 49 sponsors across our four podcasts. I booked 88% of those directly with the sponsors, and took 27 days on average to get paid (fastest: zero days. Slowest: 218 days). For the remaining 12% of the ads booked through a third-party ad service, it took us 88 days to get paid on average. 67% of our ad inventory for 2020 is already sold out.”
This is fascinating to me on two fronts. Firstly, that Multitude is having such success with direct approaches to sponsors in an industry that has largely coalesced around third-party sales systems. McLoughlin addresses why they went this route in the post too: “I spent several years getting turned down by ad sales companies because my shows were too small.” Ad sales has even turned into a side hustle for the collective, which now helps 21 other shows with their monetisation.
Secondly, the transparency that McLoughlin is offering on how long it took for sponsors to pay up feels really valuable to smaller creators. I’m betting that lots of you reading this are, like me, self-employed, and know what it’s like to wait and wait for an invoice to be paid. (218 days!) Often it’s easy to feel like you’re the only one struggling with this, or that you did something wrong and that’s why the finance department are ignoring you. But if everyone is a bit more open about this stuff, at minimum you’ll know you’re not alone, and it might even put pressure on companies to reform their billing practices, who knows.Three show related notes to end on:
(1) It’s been reported that the BBC’s flagship political podcast Brexitcast, which has also had a run on TV, will be coming to an end at the end of this month, when the UK officially leaves the EU. Which, given the show’s name, makes total sense. Getting rid of it entirely most certainly does not make sense, though, especially at a time when the BBC is leaning heavily towards digital products and cutting costs elsewhere. There are rumours that the show will continue under a different name — which is plausible, not least because it rebranded as “Electioncast” during the election campaign last year — but there has been no official word from the BBC yet.
(2) CNN Audio expects to drop its first show as a standalone audio division this quarter, according to Digiday, and it will — you guessed it — be about Jeffrey Epstein. I’ve lost count at this point of how many Epstein pods we’re up to, but this one is a seven episode series hosted by CNN senior reporter Vicky Ward and titled The Jeffrey Epstein I Knew. In it, Ward will reflect on her time working on that now-infamous Vanity Fair profile of Epstein.
(3) I continue to be interested in the ways that book publishing is (and isn’t!) engaging with audio, and this new project from Riverhead Books and author Marlon James looks fascinating. It’s a conversation between James and his book editor Jake Morrissey, and will see them hotly contest the relative merits of different dead authors (eg Charles Dickens vs Anthony Trollope).
There’s no specific promotional tie in as far as I can see — James doesn’t have a new book out imminently or anything — it seems to be a general brand-building exercise by Riverhead rather than something tied to a specific campaign or title (which we’ve seen a lot of from other publishers in the past). The first two episodes of Marlon and Jake Read Dead People drop on Monday, with an episode a week for six weeks after that.