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Insider March 17, 2022 — TikToking to millions

And Spotifying to millions more

We are talking SO much promo today. Let’s have fun.

A podcast? Blowing up on socials?

I was really struck by a big, splashy social media campaign around a recent podcast launch, so I wanted to share some of the specs with you here — especially because it seems to have worked.

Dear Media, a podcast network behind nearly 70 interview and chat shows, just released its first scripted podcast, a fictional story called Bone, Marry, Bury in partnership with RomComPods, and they really went all out on promoting it. The protagonist is a 26-year-old, and the title is a less profane play on the name of a raunchy kids game. So where else would you go to promote the show than TikTok? The land of the young, where work exists to be remixed? 

Running with TikTok’s readiness to recontextualize, the Dear Media team came prepared with its own sounds, clipped from the dialogue between the show’s characters, and users took them in all different directions. This includes creators with big followings whom the team deliberately tapped to use the sounds; cumulatively, they say this resulted in a TikTok reach of 29.5 million users.

“Across the Dear Media roster, we are seeing a ton of growth through TikTok,” says Paige Port Orell, Dear Media’s VP of talent and business development. But with Bone, Marry, Bury, the push was deliberate, and there might not have been a better show to try it out with: a “raunchy reverse whodunnit,” jam-packed with one-liners that sound like they were made to be turned into TikTok audios. Port Orell phrases it more diplomatically, describing it as “authentically aligned” with “social opportunities.”

And such opportunities they took. Identifying their intended audience up front, and assuming they’d be “drawn to social content that was provocative with fresh humor,” the team also created one of those custom augmented reality filters on Snapchat and Instagram that spins a wheel on your forehead; in this case, it was a “bone, marry, bury” scenario that populated with names from pop culture, prompting you to say which you’d bone, marry, or bury. Fresh indeed.

Port Orell says the team knew Bone, Marry, Bury was particularly well suited for social media, with its cheeky tone and a story pace that she describes as “snackable.” Devoted promotion, though, is something they stand behind more broadly.

“Given Bone, Marry, Bury was the first scripted original podcast under the Dear Media umbrella, we turned up the heat here,” says Port Orell. But it’s just a glimpse of what they’re committed to doing. In that way, another point of this campaign, beyond announcing a standalone debut, was “to really signal to the industry that every new show gets a full 360-degree, thoughtful and tailor-made campaign that will inevitably make a huge splash.”

Breaking out the cross-promo

Okay, speaking of neat marketing: courtesy of Podnews, I was tipped off to the new show Mashups from the organization Kids Listen, which is a show solely to highlight other shows within its network.

We know lots of podcasters find it valuable to appear alongside a host that an audience already trusts and to plug their show there; in fact, I’m told that Gumball is even considering introducing a feature within its ad marketplace for shows to formally book cross-promotions with one another. 

Designating a particular show solely for that purpose, though? At first, it didn’t seem like it’d be effective. If a show is new, there’s no existing audience to plug anything to. Yet, here we are, talking about it, plugging it. The word is spreading. 

Plus, Kids Listen as an org conducted a kids and families listenership study, which seems to be pretty unparalleled in the industry, so I trust that they know their audience, what they need, and where they’re looking.

Give me characters or give me death

And speaking of neat marketing AGAIN. I truly had never thought about how so many audio ads are just straight up… ads. They might start with a story (especially if you’re Rose Eveleth, storyteller supreme), but most ultimately end up being literal, first-person monologues about a product.

As Inside Radio reported, SiriusXM, Veritone One, and the mattress brand Purple recently cross-tested these kinds of straightforward ad reads with promotions defined by “storytelling, dialogue between characters with unique identities, a clear sense of place and word plays” — and the stories won! They outperformed straight promos in recall, brand sentiment, and intent to purchase. So where are podcasts’ Super-Bowl-tier ad plots?

Loads and loads and loads of TV ads are acted out. They have concepts. They’re fictional stories, and we’ve come to accept that about them. It sounds like that’s not only missing from audio, but it could mean that advertisers are missing out on money.

As if Spotify needs more exposure

The company is finalizing a $310 million sponsorship deal with the soccer team FC Barcelona in which “Spotify” will be affixed to players’ jerseys and, oh yeah, added to the name of the stadium. FC Barcelona is reportedly in a massive amount of debt and needed the money, and lord knows Spotify has it.

On the flip side, Spotify has a lot to gain. Soccer’s a huge sport internationally, and Barça is a super popular team. So when Alex Norström, Spotify’s chief freemium business officer, said this in an interview, it made a lot of sense: “As we look to grow the Spotify brand worldwide, there are few partners that have this sort of scale and global reach.” Also from that interview: “most of Barça’s fans are under the age of 30, which is a hugely important audience for Spotify. Those fans also reside in some of Spotify’s fastest-growing markets, including India, Latin America, and Indonesia.” As Norström hinted, fans may at some point be geo-targeted, using dynamic in-stadium ads, to showcase musicians from their locales.

A weird venture, but I guess Spotify did buy The Ringer.

If you’re not prepared to have an hour-long phone conversation with your brother about the politics of football sponsorships, do not bring up this Spotify thing. You’ve been warned.