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Do We Need The Zillow Of Podcasting?
Episode 7224th January 2022 • Podcast Pontifications • Evo Terra
00:00:00 00:14:04

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Buying a house and finding a new podcast have a lot more in common than you think.

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You aren't always in the market for both, and there's a problem

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if you have too many of either.

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Can lessons from one inform the other?

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Hello, and welcome to another Podcast Pontifications with me, Evo Terra.

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For years now, there has been a snipe hunt or a Holy Grail quest or

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a Fountain of Youth pursuit, pick your metaphor, for someone building

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the YouTube of podcasting, or maybe even the Netflix of podcasting.

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I'd like to offer a different Eldorado quest for you to

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consider - the Zillow of podcasting.

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Now, hear me out on this, I know that sounds weird.

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Before Zillow, buying a house was pretty much fueled by chance or proximity or

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took the help of a professional guide.

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That means you either saw a sign in the yard as you were driving by, you were

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flipping through the listings in your local paper, or you called up and used

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the services of a real estate agent.

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What you couldn't do, and I couldn't do, was access the MLS.

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That's the Multiple Listing Service, and it connects lots of different private

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databases together so that the agent you call can show you more offerings, more

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listings than just the one they have.

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You as a buyer and me as a buyer, back in the day, we had no way to

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access that database that showed every single house for sale in a given area.

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So if we wanted everything available in a given area, we couldn't get to it.

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At least not on our own.

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Zillow changed all that.

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Now, anyone with an internet connection can view almost every

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single property for sale, almost anywhere in the entire country.

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I wouldn't be surprised if they're planning on going international.

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All right, all right, all right.

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"What does this have to do with podcasting?"

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I can hear you asking.

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Rightly so.

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Especially in podcasting, we have databases right now that do show almost

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every single podcast, at least the podcasts that are freely available

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to anybody, all you have to do is search in an app and a directory.

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And that's true, but here's the thing, Zillow does more than just show

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the address of a property for sale.

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Zillow's service, much to the chagrin of some real estate agents out there,

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unpacks and exposes data, lots of data, on every property listed in Zillow.

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It's that data that help would-be home buyers make better decisions on which

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house they actually do want to buy.

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And that is what I think a Zillow-like service could bring to podcasting

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because, right now, our directories and our apps do little more than just

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show the address of a podcast property.

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"So what about Podchaser?"

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You're probably saying, "Isn't that what they're doing?"

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Sort of, yes.

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And I'm a big fan of Podchaser, have been since the beginning, and I don't

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have any insight or info of what's going on over there, but maybe they're

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thinking around the lines of this anyhow.

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I see a new service offering that gives a different set of benefits than what

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you might be thinking about right now.

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Here's a couple of them.

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New podcasts available near you!

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Well, here "near" isn't a physical distance thing, here "near" is

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what you'd like to listen to.

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Because the recommendation engines we have right now in podcasting are

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pretty rudimentary at best, which is partly why word of mouth continues to

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reign supreme in podcast discovery.

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But imagine a system that ingested and analyzed podcasts, all podcasts.

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Think how that might be much better positioned to make better

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recommendations than just what's in another subscription list.

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I see a system that's crunching through all the available data points possible

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like length of the episodes, the tone and the style of that particular

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episode, the subject, how long it's been there, there are dozens, if not

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more, factors that could be analyzed.

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Someone's listening behavior, and also other people's listening behavior.

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By atomizing the podcast itself, the whole thing, atomizing the podcast down

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to disparate points, as opposed to looking at it as one overall show, discovery,

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specifically pushed discovery, could get a whole lot better than we have today.

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Or how about an open house but for podcasts?

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Now, podcasters don't see it like this, but getting someone to follow or subscribe

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to your podcast is a really big ask.

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Is this really the kind of content that the listener wants to hear

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just by looking at a listing?

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Is that enough to tell them will your episodes be overloaded with

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commercials and they won't like that?

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Is the content coming out often enough for that listener, or maybe

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is the content coming out too often and they don't have room for it?

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There are loads of little decisions that make a podcast right for some

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people and not right for other people.

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Kind of like a house!

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So a well-built service for podcast listeners might let

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them experience what it's like to " live" in a podcast for a while.

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I'm talking about more than just "start here," guide-post episodes,

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which I think are a great idea.

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Also, it's going to be a different level of commitment than subscribing

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or even just sampling an episode.

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For many listeners, it's a hassle to unsubscribe or follow something

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if it wasn't a perfect fit.

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An open house for podcast listeners.

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Now, that's just two benefits for the listeners of those.

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And I think there really are many more.

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But there are also a slew of challenges to the system.

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The good news is that all of these datasets that this service would need

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to ingest and analyze are public.

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The bad news is that the data sets are public, but they're woefully lacking

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because we've never really concerned ourselves with anything more than just

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listing an address of a podcast property.

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So this isn't something that will be solved in a weekend hackathon project.

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This requires an investment, probably lots of investments in time and resources

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to create new complimentary data sets.

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And who's going to pay for that, right?

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Heck, which platforms are even going to enable this?

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I also think a service like this is going to be wading into very treacherous waters.

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Zillow pissed off, and continues to piss off, a lot of the real estate

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industry from what I understand.

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So big networks, powerful podcasters, dominant platforms, they may also

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see this new service as a threat.

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That would need to be mitigated or mollified as much as possible.

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But I think the biggest hurdle here is going to be listener adoption.

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Zillow wasn't just useful to people who wanted to buy a house.

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It was so vastly better than the other option that people loved it and it got

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so much mass adoption that agents didn't really have a choice whether or not

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they wanted to participate with Zillow.

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They had to deal with it.

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I think podcast listeners have got plenty of ways of finding podcasts today.

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The discovery process isn't broken, it's just not great.

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But again, it's their process.

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It's their habits.

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They've got those habits.

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And those habits of finding podcasts are going to be hard to break if this new

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offering is only incrementally better.

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But, if this experience is not just better, but orders of magnitude better,

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then the shift is going to happen.

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People will start using the fantastic product.

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All right, I know it's another crazy thought experiment from me.

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What're ya gonna do?

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But I think it's important that we think not just of podcasting today, but the way

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that podcasting might be in the future.

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With millions of podcasts available today and no signs of stopping,

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someone is eventually going to build the Zillow of podcasting.

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And I think listeners are going to love it.

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With that, I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.

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Cheers!

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Podcast Pontifications is written and narrated by Evo Terra.

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He's on a mission to make podcasting better.

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Links to everything mentioned in today's episode are in the notes

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section of your podcast listening app.

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A written-to-be-read article based on today's episode is available at

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podcastpontifications.com where you'll also find a video version and a corrected

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transcript, both created by Allie Press.

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Podcast Pontifications is a production of Simpler Media.