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Four Dumb Things About Podcasting We Still Haven't Fixed [S3E106]
Episode 1066th April 2021 • Podcast Pontifications • Evo Terra
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Evo Terra:

There's no doubt that podcasting today - producing and listening

Evo Terra:

- is much less complicated than before.

Evo Terra:

But some lingering challenges remain that we must overcome to

Evo Terra:

capture more public attention.

Evo Terra:

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

Evo Terra:

Looking back over the last 16+ years that podcasting has been a thing, we've

Evo Terra:

made some pretty huge accomplishments.

Evo Terra:

Yeah!

Evo Terra:

We've minted a few millionaires with the space.

Evo Terra:

We now have two million shows available.

Evo Terra:

Production houses exist now that gainfully employ dozens, and

Evo Terra:

sometimes more than a hundred people.

Evo Terra:

I mean, we have built a real economy out of this thing called podcasting.

Evo Terra:

It's what I do full time.

Evo Terra:

It's wonderful.

Evo Terra:

But some things in the podcasting industry are still dumb.

Evo Terra:

And I just hope it doesn't take us another sixteen years to put some

Evo Terra:

of these dumb things to an end.

Evo Terra:

So I'm going to cover those four things with you right now on the program.

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Smart speakers still suck for listening to podcasts.

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I've been watching the reports.

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I'm sure you've been watching the reports as well.

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And we see the numbers growing steadily as people use their smart speakers and

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other assistant devices to listen to podcasts, but it's still a tiny number.

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And the reason it's a tiny number is because the experience is still terrible.

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Now, I lay a lot of the blame of that at the feet of AI, which

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is clearly not there just yet.

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The UX is not the greatest thing.

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We're used to giving commands with our voices, but we're used to people

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on the other end, responding to said commands and giving us what we want.

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The AI is not quite there yet.

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Last night, it took me about ten minutes to get the machines to dim

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the lights in the master bedroom.

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Yeah, because I didn't say the words properly.

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What else I could I have said I do not know.

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But it's no different than finding a podcast, right?

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I mean, finding a podcast on a smart speaker is difficult

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enough without a screen, I get that, but again could be solved.

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But just getting that speaker to follow me from room to room.

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I have like six of these things in my two-bedroom condo.

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Why can't it follow me with the thing I was playing?

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Why can't it intelligently pause when Sheila says something to me

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and I want to have a conversation?

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We're not there yet.

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And that's a problem with AI, I think.

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I'm hopeful.

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Maybe that'll be fixed later on.

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Data in podcasting is still untrustworthy and obfuscated.

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Now, you're thinking, hang on Evo, we've solved this problem.

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We now have the IAB guidelines and everything's great.

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Yeah, well, I wish that was true, that it was all great.

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It's not.

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It's still untrustworthy.

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Look no further than the announcement - what was it this week?

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I think?

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Buzzsprout came out and said that Spotify is bigger than Apple

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Podcasts as far as people downloading content from Buzzsprout goes.

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Nobody else thinks that.

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No other podcast hosting company thinks that, which means either Buzzsprout

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is counting weirdly or every other podcast hosting company is counting

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weirdly, but we're not sharing the data.

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The podcast hosting companies aren't saying this is it.

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11%, 12%, whatever the number is the number.

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So we can all compare and contrast, right?

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When different hosting companies make these different bold claims,

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it makes people not trust the data and that's not helping us.

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That's not helping bring people into the space.

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Plus podcasters, maybe you lie about the size of their audience when asked

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how many downloads we get we lie.

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Almost always.

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Or worse than that, we don't know.

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Or the hosting companies we're using have given us data in such a

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way that doesn't mean a lot to us.

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It is also obfuscated.

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So we don't know what to say.

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We just kind of make up numbers because that sounds like a number - I

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saw a number, I'll use that.

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Look, I'm not looking for perfection in stats.

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I'm just looking for some consistency.

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I want them to be trustworthy.

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And why can't we do that?

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RSS feeds still suck.

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We've had a lot of advancements in RSS feeds over the several

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years this podcasting thing has grown, and that's great.

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We also have podcastindex.org, which is helping to crowdsource and vet.

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And we're now seeing other podcast hosting companies implement these new

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namespaces to extend the RSS spec.

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And that's wonderful.

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But they still stink.

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They're still limiting what we can do.

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Why can't I name a season?

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That's pretty important.

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And it seems like a pretty basic thing, we're stuck with

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season one, two, and three.

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Why can't we list out credits like at the end of a movie roll?

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You know, you watch a movie or an episode or a movie on TV, you

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see the credit roll afterwards.

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Why can't we put that in an RSS feed?

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So that, you know, we can start making some connections.

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Oh, this person was on this show, this person produced

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this show, all of these things.

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We're not doing that yet.

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Can't even reference other episodes within an RSS feed, if

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you'd like this, you'll like this.

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We can't do any of those sorts of connections because it's

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not what it was designed for.

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RSS feeds still suck.

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Getting better.

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They still suck.

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And the last thing.

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Podcasting is still terribly under-monetized.

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Yeah, it's really great news that we're going to hit a billion this year, we were

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supposed to do that last year, but COVID.

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But a billion dollars is still tiny in the grand scheme of all other ad

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dollars that are coming into the space.

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And advertising is still really hard to get right on podcasting.

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And by that, I mean how to buy it at scale and also see returns at scale.

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Sure, some companies have nailed it down.

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It's why Better Help is spending more money on podcast advertising than any

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other form of advertising they do.

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But other companies getting to the space, look at this and go,

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I don't know where to begin.

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And how do I know this is going to work for me?

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There's not a lot of, no help bringing them along.

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So, yeah, under-monetized.

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Look, I'm not cranky about this, I'm just realistic.

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Maybe I'm a little bit cranky.

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But I'm also more realistic than that.

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Now, the good news here is I think that all of these issues I just raised

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are solvable and I think almost all of them are being actively worked on.

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Someone or many someones are actively working on all four of

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those areas to bring about change.

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And that's exciting to me.

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Because once we get them fixed or closer to perfection, a more perfect

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podcasting union, that is what's going to make podcasting better.

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Now, if you found this eye-opening, and maybe a little bit cranky, but

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more eye-opening than cranky, Evo, please go to buymeacoffee.com/evoterra,

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and slide a virtual coffee my way.

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And if someone you know in the podcasting space needs to hear this harsh bit of

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reality, but with maybe a slice of hope, then please send this episode to them.

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I would greatly appreciate that.

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Okay.

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I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.