Today, it's my pleasure to welcome Jeff Umbro to the show. Jeff is the CEO of The Podglomerate, and helps brands and independent podcasters foster their ideas through conception, development, production, and distribution. This includes monetization through ad sales, premium content, and live events.
Jeff's most recent project saw him as the Executive Producer of Missing Pages, a Podglomerate original that used a host of marketing tactics and initiatives to take it from launch to a hugely successful project.
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There's a million TV shows out there, there's 100 million YouTube channels, there's 50 million books. I think that it's frankly a good thing if like podcasting, five years from now, we're talking about like, the 50 million shows that are on Spotify, because it just means that people are still interested in the medium and, yeah, it'll get harder for people, but maybe I'm the odd man out here, but I don't really want to do something that's going to be easy.Danny:
You're listening to Pod Chat, the show that invites leaders of the podcast space to share their insights on the trends will help you grow your podcast. I'm your host, Danny Brown, and today it's my pleasure to welcome Jeff Umbro to the show. Jeff is the CEO of The Podglomerate and helps brands and independent podcasters foster their ideas through conception, development, production and distribution. This includes monetization through ad sales, premium content and live events. Jeff's most recent project saw him as the executive producer of Missing Pages, a Podglomerate original that used a host of marketing tactics and initiatives to take it from launch to a hugely successful project. We'll be chatting about that and more in this episode. So, without further ado, the man who puts conglomerate in Podglomerate, Jeff Umbro. Welcome to the show.Jeff:
Hey, thanks for having me, Danny. That's one great intro. So thank you.Danny:
You're welcome. And if I'm not mistaken, are you based in New York, Jeff?Jeff:
So, I actually used to be. I was in New York for about a decade and when I started the company, but I'm a COVID transplant, so I live in New Hampshire now.Danny:
Oh, nice. I've always had a great thing about New Hampshire. It's like one of these things you hear in movies, it's always one of these beautiful places that people move to New Hampshire.Jeff:
It's the greatest. I grew up here, went to New York and loved it. Spent a lot of time there and learned a lot of cool things and just didn't want to be there when I turned 50. So came back to New Hampshire.Danny:
Yeah, I hear you. We moved from Toronto to a small village where we live now, so I completely get you on that. Now. You've had quite a varied career and you've been involved in the growth and marketing of some very cool initiatives and one that caught my eye. And also we speak about some of them later in the show. But one that caught my eye, especially because of the announcement today while we're recording this episode, is from the UK that the Prime Minister had resigned. You were involved in Vote Please, that made it super easy for people to vote in the US. So how did that come about? What was all that happening there?Jeff:
Yeah, wow. I don't get that question very often, so thank you. So, prior to that, I worked in book publicity in New York, so my job to basically work with authors to get their books featured on all of these interesting websites and blogs and newspapers and magazines and everything else. And in the process, I was kind of like the digital guy. I was, like, 25 years old at the time and the authors started to ask, like, hey, I heard about this thing, like a Reddit AMA. Or there's this really cool website called Product Hunt. They're doing book things. How can we get in front of those audiences? And because I was the youngest guy on the staff, it became my job to figure that out. And so as I was doing that, I built these relationships with all of the folks that worked at these organisations. And, you know, this would have been like 2011 to 2015 and it doesn't seem like it, but even back then, people were still figuring out how to use a Facebook page to promote their products. So as I was doing this, I realised that there's just, like, tonnes and tonnes of people who have put, like, their time and energy and money, in some cases into, like, creating these books, which were, like, these lifetime projects for a few of them. And then they were trying to figure out how to actually promote them. And then simultaneously, you had all of these different platforms that were trying to get as many people as they could onto the platforms to use them. So it became this really cool, like, symbiotic relationship where I was able to take these authors and put them in front of the audiences from these platforms of people who were, like, out there making new things and engineering new technologies. And then simultaneously, these technologies would promote these authors because they needed the content. And also, like, a lot of these authors had big followings that they could bring to these platforms and continue to grow them. So in the process of all this, I met a lot of people who are, like, Silicon Valley like, techie founder people. And one of them, right before the 2016 election, asked if I wanted to go and work for Sam Altman, who is a big name, you can Google him. Good guy, behind a lot of things. At the time, he was the, I believe, chairman of Reddit and president of Y Combinator and big rich guy who wanted to put a tonne of money into this company called Vote Please that would ultimately help to get folks, specifically younger folks, to register to vote. Think, like, Rock the Vote or something like that. And they were going to do that through technology. So I was put in touch via a friend who thought that I might be, like, the perfect person to, like, help run, like, some of the public relations slash communications marketing side of this to help get people onto the app. And it was kind of the perfect storm. Like, I had been at my job for five years in the book world. I was looking for a change. As much as I loved that job and learned so much, it was time for me to move on. I'd always wanted to live in California, and this was the perfect excuse to do it. And it was a cool initiative that I could really, like, put some energy behind because I'm sure everybody remembers, but this was the 2016 election. It was Trump vs. Clinton theres. What felt like quite a bit at stake at the time, still is, but, like, this is kind of before. This is like the before times. And so, anyway, I said yes, I took the job and I went out there, and my goal was basically to get a lot of attention for Vote Please, to bring a lot more people to the app and have them, like, you know, go out there and, in theory, register to vote.Danny:
And you mentioned Product Hunt, and I guess from Vote Please, is that where you landed up a Product Hunt, in your role at Product Hunt?Jeff:
I was just a consultant. Okay. Yeah. I consulted for half a dozen companies at that point. I was moonlighting for those roles. I loved the book PR job, and it was great, but I was kind of in my free time exploring other opportunities. So that's where I helped out a little bit with Product Hunt.Danny:
And then, obviously, from there, you ended up at Goldberg McDuffie Communications, which ties in perfectly to, obviously, your past career with PR and books, publishing, et cetera, where you were you the director of digital marketing. And with its focus on public relations for boot publishers and offers, was this where maybe you start to put down some of the ideas that you start to use with Podglomerate and obviously Missing Pages, for example?Jeff:
Yeah. So one clarification. The book PR firm that I worked at was Goldberg McDuffie Communications. But yes to the rest of the question, that is entirely correct. I actually started a podcast in 2014, I believe, while I was working at Goldberg McDuffie. It was called Writers Who Don't write. And a friend of mine and I would go and interview authors about their careers. One story they can never tell. My buddy worked in an advertising agency, and he had a really amazing studio right in the middle of midtown Manhattan. We were just some bootleg operations, just like a couple of literal, fresh out-of-college kids who just wanted to meet their favourite authors. And I don't want to say we tricked people, but we kind of tricked people into showing up to these interviews because it was at this really fancy studio. So they would come in at, like, seven or eight at night after everybody had gone home for the day at this ad agency, and we'd be able to offer them, like, the coffee and the snacks and the tea and bring them into the studio. So, anyway, we got to record a lot of these interviews with these authors that were known entities and we were doing it literally just for fun. And on the side, I was like, bringing one or two of these authors into Goldberg McDuffie and getting some commission because I brought a new business. So that was like another selling point for me, but it was just an excuse for me to do something creative and play around with all these things that I was, like, advising authors to do every day. And it was my first foray into the podcast space and I was just, like, endlessly fascinated. I was reading Hot Pod every day and Podnews and Googling everything I could. And I'd always wanted to be a writer, which is why we started a writing podcast. So I started doing reviews and features for the Daily Dot and Paste magazine about the podcast industry. And I had one really funny moment where I wrote an article in, I think, 2017 called, like, the State of the Union and Podcasting, or the Podcasting State of the Union, and I should not have written that article. I thought I was making these crazy statements and really had a hold on the industry. And the article is still up there, it's fine. Like, there's nothing that's like, blatantly incorrect in there or anything, but I just didn't know enough to have written that. And I remember it got tweeted out by, like, huge names in the industry, like, people that I won't mention today, but, like, you would know who they were and a lot of them were like, wow, this is cool. I'm glad this is happening. But they got this wrong and this was wrong. Anyway, it was a funny moment of me kind of like learning about the space. So I was doing that simultaneously when I went over to Vote Please. And throughout that process, I had started to get emails from some of these bigger networks that were like, hey, Jeff, do you want to bring writers who don't write into the fold and we'll sell ads on your behalf? And we would tell them, like, yeah, we would love to do that. That sounds great. The show is getting X downloads a month and it was not the number that they wanted to hear to successfully sell ads. So, like, we had these, like, big networks again, names that you would know who came up to us and asked us about this. And then when they found out the numbers, they were no longer interested. And so I was in this weird position where it's like, I was out of the job because I had left my PR job. The voter registration obviously was going to end after the election and I didn't have a next step. And then simultaneously, I was getting all of these emails from people who were saying, we'd love to represent your show. We love it. And they clearly liked the content. But because of something as silly as download numbers, they couldn't sell it. And I'm being facetious, by the way. I got out of that role and was really lucky, and I was able to kind of take a step back and decide what I wanted to do next. And that turned out to be the Podglomerate. And so I launched the company with the intention of basically taking a lot of shows like mine that I liked personally, but that didn't necessarily have the audience to, like, make a compelling package for an advertiser. And I had the idea to just bundle a lot of them together, which today you can see with AdvertiseCast or Gumball or something. Back then, I think advertisers may have started the same year, but otherwise there wasn't really many options. I very quickly realised why there weren't many options. It was just, like, not an easy thing to do without resources, money, technology, etc. And so Podglomerate went through a few different changes over the years, and today we still do the ad sales and we represent over 70 shows and millions of downloads a month. And, like, we have that part relatively figured out to the extent that anybody does these days. But then we also have a few other services. We produce shows, internal and white label for third parties. Excuse me. And we run audience growth campaigns for a lot of, like, big podcast, podcast networks, like NPR stations, et cetera. And that's your question that I've now stretched out too long? Yes, that is kind of where that particular service that we offer, the blueprint of that was a lot of the stuff that I had learned at Goldberg McDufie Communications.Danny:
Right. And looking at the podcasts around your roster, there's a good mix of, obviously, originals from Podglomerate and third party podcasts, as well as some good indie podcasting shows there, and a really good varied group of topics. So I'm curious, obviously, the genesis, I guess, came about because you saw the space where good shows weren't getting to work with advertisers because of download numbers or perceived download numbers. And I'm curious how you choose the shows that come on board Podglomerate and how you work with these creators.Jeff:
Yeah, absolutely. It's funny, I've kind of gotten away from my roots a little bit when I launched the company back in 2016. The idea was, let's take all of these shows that have been orphaned for one reason or another and put them under one umbrella, and we still have a couple of those shows that are on the roster. But since then, I've realised kind of what advertisers are actually looking for. And it doesn't have to be like a show with numbers. Like, we can help grow a show if we think that it's, like, a strong fit. But traditionally, we are looking for something that has at least 40,000 downloads a month. We are looking to bring on shows that fall under, like, verticals that we're typically working under, such as business and entrepreneurship, or education, academia, literature or entertainment, film, TVs, books, et cetera. So we kind of break everything down into, like, these little sub networks, and we're going to actually be experimenting with that idea in the coming months and years. But generally speaking, a show that is a good fit for us has to satisfy download numbers, like timing and expectations and content. There's 100 variables that we look at, like, just trying to break it down and codify it for the sake of this conversation. But that's generally what we're looking at. Okay.Danny:
And speaking of originals, is obviously Missing Pages. That's a Podglomerate original, and that's been received really well. I know that there's been some interest in marketing put around that, which we'll talk about and dive into. I'm curious where the idea for that particular show came from.Jeff:
Sure. And thank you. By the way, Missing Pages is the result of a dozen people. So when it comes to the marketing and the production and everything else associated with the show, there's a lot of parties that are involved there. Everything I say is coming from my mouth, but it involved a lot of people. So just to keep that in mind, in terms of the genesis of that particular show, we always I mean, I come from book publishing. Half the people on my staff come from book publishing. And I'm very much of the belief that you should work on things that you really understand and that, you know, and we understand books. So that's where Missing Pages came from. Initially, like, broadly, that's where it came from. But it actually the idea itself came because I was listening to an episode of Revisionist History, Malcolm Gladwell's podcast, and he did this thing called Oh, Howard, You Idiot. And it was about a guy who had written a fake autobiography of Howard Hughes and put it out in the world. And then Howard Hughes, like, a day before publication, basically held a press conference. And Howard Hughes is this reclusive billionaire who they made a movie about him called The Aviator with Leonardo DiCaprio. But Howard Hughes, the day before, nobody had seen him in 20 years, came out and said, oh, he made it all up. It's a lie. Anyway, the whole point of the episode, from Malcolm's point of view, was like, Howard Hughes an idiot. He should have let people believe this. It doesn't matter if it's true or not. It would have been a really good perception. And I'm sitting there listening to it. Malcolm kept on saying throughout the episode, but he would talk about the author of his autobiography, and then he'd say, but this show is not about him. This is about Howard Hughes. And I'm sitting there the entire time I'm listening to this on a drive, and I'm just like, wow, that is such a missed opportunity. Why isn't it about the author? There must be a dozen stories of people who have done ridiculous things like that. It could be like some kind of fiasco. It could be some kind of grift or hoax or whatever. I mean, I can come up with a dozen examples right now on the spot and essentially show me a page six of the book publishing industry. Anyway, that's where the initial idea came from. And then it went through like a thousand brainstorming sessions with our team who involved a bunch of people who are a lot smarter than me, and we kind of crafted it into what it is today, which is a podcast about essentially famous, like, literary fiascos through history. We'll take something from 10, 20 30, 40 years ago and then look at it through the lens of today. JT Leroy, Greg Mortenson, Kavya Viswanathan, these are all things that kind of dominated the news cycle when they happened. And in looking back at them, we realised that there's often, not always, but often a lot of pieces that looking at them with a historical critical eye don't totally hold up. So we created a narrative show that surrounds that idea. And this was our first truly owned and operated original that we've ever put out. We've had plenty of originals that are formed through partnerships, but this is the first one where we actually like, from start to finish, control it. And we're able to kind of flex a little bit with some of the things that we've learned over the years and really like, have fun with it, try out new marketing tactics or new production techniques or something. And so that's why you probably saw a lot of the attention put towards that that you did, because it was the first time that any consequences that come from something going wrong would go straight to us as opposed to one of our clients or partners.Danny:
Pod Chat is sponsored by Podnews. Get a daily email with all the latest news about podcasting. It's free at podnews.net from jobs across industry to events and conferences. You'll find the latest podcasting info in the daily newsletter. You can add Podnews net to your daily briefing on your Smart Speaker too. Just search for it in your Smart Speaker app. And now back to this week's episode. And as you mentioned, it's an interesting topic that maybe not a lot of people previous to the show coming out or your team come up with it would be expecting. Because you don't always think of the book industry, the book publishing industry and deep, dark secrets and behind back room door deals and all that stuff. And so to see the different topics that each episode dives into is there a favourite episode or a favourite example of something that happened that you can look into for the episode that stands out and you think, wow, how did this even happen in real life?Jeff:
Yeah, I mean, there's a lot of them. And honestly, if you ask anybody on the team, Bethany Patrick is the host. Kayla Litman and Matt Kelly are producers, along with Jordan Aaron. And then there's Chris, Bonniello, the marketing team. Joni Deutsch, Morgan Swift, Madison Richards. There is a lot of folks who were involved in this and every one of them would have a different answer. But my favourite episode is about Greg Mortensen, who you all might remember Three Cups of Tea, which was a book that came out in the early 2000s. It was a memoir about Greg, who had climbed K Two and he came down and got lost and was stuck in this village in Pakistan where the folks who lived there took care of him and gave him three cups of tea. And to repay them, he wanted to come back and build a school for the young girls that live in the village. So he did that. But when he was trying to fundraise for this, he couldn't do it and nothing that he was doing was working. So he actually wrote this book, which ultimately became this massive bestseller. He was on the list for like four and a half years, which is unheard of, and he was taking the money from that book and presumably putting it into these schools and he built like 300 schools in Pakistan. On its surface, he did this really amazing things. But then it came out through the 60 Minutes interview with John Krakowar, who is like a really famous outdoor journalist, that maybe Greg was not so philanthropic. He maybe was like, using some of the funds from this institution for himself and for his own gain. And it's just like some crazy stories that happened. We don't go into this in the episode because it's not really our place, but like, he had a co author on the book who went through some tragedy of his own. He had like a lot of things with his family and ultimately, in looking at this particular event, we saw that there's really a bunch of different ways to look at this. Like, depending on which lens you're using, he either did this really awful thing intentionally that also did a lot of good, or he did this really amazing thing and was just kind of out of his depth and got blamed for it. So that's kind of the idea of every episode. We look at this through a bunch of different excuse me, we look at this through a bunch of different viewpoints to see really what is the story here. And I don't think that for the most part we make any kind of sweeping distinctions or critiques or anything. We just kind of present the facts and it's through a three act structure. For every episode we talk about Carolyn Calloway, Anna March copy of this one and hen JT Leroy Dan Mallory and as mentioned, every person on staff has a different favourite episode for a different reason. I'm probably biased because I really like hiking. So the Greg Mortensen story has stuck with me for years. But yeah, it's been really fun. And honestly, I learned so much from that experience and I know everybody on the team did like, good and bad and we've all produced shows before, but this was the most ambitious that we had tried. And I have a whole new level of respect for the folks who are putting out these, like, strong narrative shows every few weeks or months or years. There's a lot more that goes into it than we ever anticipated.Danny:
I know Evo Terra, he started putting out a newsletter about fiction podcasts. And he's mentioned before that you can see he doesn't know because he has his own podcast about podcasting industry, but he said the same thing. You can see now, the amount of effort and time and production values and all that that goes into a show like that, as opposed to someone just sitting there with a hindenburg proportion and editing episode together.Jeff:
Well, that's the big argument that I think is kind of like controlling our industry right now. I mean, this has been around forever. I was probably late to the party, but the first time I heard this, you framed the way that it was was when Gimlet was bought, I think in 2019 or something. Alex Bloomberg is doing an interview of startups where he's talking about the Ringer and how Bill Simmons can go in there and put out an episode where he talks to a basketball player or something, get a million downloads, and then Gimlet can go and spend six months with the staff of 20, like making a podcast that gets a million downloads. And one of them you can get like maybe four or five extra CPM, but it doesn't make up for the difference. And it's like there's this tension in the industry right now where you have some lower lift podcasts, which are great and people love them and there's nothing wrong with that. And then you have these more ambitious projects that take a lot more time, money and resources, which are also great and people love them and there's nothing wrong with that. But there's a tension behind how do you monetize all of this stuff and is one better than the other? The answer is always going to be like, what are your goals? And that's going to be how you answer that question. But it is a really interesting thing to think about because if you really take a step back, that's what's controlling a lot of what we're seeing today across the whole industry is like that question.Danny:
And that's something I want to bring up as well because that ties into the marketing of Missing Pages. And also your background is in marketing in the book industry and the publishing industry, and your team's very strong at that. I know Joni was talking about some of the cool market initiatives put behind Missing Pages and the most recent one I think is the Apple Books complementary, you know, collection that talks to the books that are mentioned in the episodes. So I'm curious, obviously you mentioned that marketing is a key driver of a show success, whether it's an indie show with one person doing everything or a team of 20 or 30 doing everything. So what are some of the things that you've done that you've put into practise for lessons learned? You mentioned good and bad for future shows and future podcasters.Jeff:
Love that. Great question. And first of all, Joni is Joni Deutsch who is our VP of Marketing and Audience Growth and she is amazing and very talented at everything that she does. So. Thank you, Joni. When we look at a marketing campaign for a podcast, we really look at five unique levers and we look at this holistically. So it's publicity, marketing, cross promotion, pitching the apps and then paid acquisition publicity. Everybody's pretty familiar with that. But you write up a press kit, all the who, what, where, when, what are you pitching x, Y and Z. And you create a media list of targets for Missing Pages. Like you have podcast folks, you have book folks, you have culture and media, you have arts and entertainment, et cetera. And your goal is ultimately like reviews of the show, lists of best podcasts about X, Y and Z, interviews, features, et cetera. Then you have marketing which is like how do you use your own and operated vehicles, so newsletters, social media, website, events, apps, et cetera. And how do you get those folks to listen to the show? A lot of best practises there. And then also how do you track attribution on stuff like that. So like in this instance, like Chartable, Podsights, etc. Like how are you using this stuff in a smart way? This can go all the way down to what dai platform you use to deliver like promotions on the show. Then there is cross promotion, so interviews, feed drops, cross promos, there is retailer merchandising, so partnerships with Apple, Spotify, Amazon Music, et cetera. New noteworthy Editors Choice features around certain collections, et cetera. And then paid acquisition. So how can you pay to get your show in front of all of those same folks in apps and audio, social media, email newsletters, etc. That's how we break down any campaign that we're going to run. And we run campaigns for a bunch of people in the industry as a third party, like for higher service, including Substack, MIT, Stanford, Harvard Business School, New Hampshire Public Radio, Virginia Public Media, Wyoming Public Media, et cetera, et cetera. I could keep going, but with Missing Pages in particular, as mentioned, we were able to kind of experiment with a tonne of stuff that we wouldn't necessarily do for others because we don't know if it's going to work. So we don't want to spend their money to. Do that. And so some examples of that would be like we ran a bunch of ads on Reddit to promote the show in like, the book subreddit. We hired a bunch of influencers to create content around the show. We partnered with Apple Books to create a list of books that are promoting the podcast. I'm sorry, a list of books that we mentioned in the podcast. And then there's like a chiron on Apple Podcasts that basically said, Bethany and Patrick, hosts of Missing Pages, curated this list. Listen to the podcast here. We did similar partnerships with like, Libra FM, which is an audiobook company, like an audiobook distributor, and we were able to get mentioned in a newsletter that they sent out to like 15,000 librarians or something. So we were able to really try out a tonne of stuff that might take us a lot of time, but we didn't necessarily know some of the stuff you kind of know. We didn't always know how effective it would be. And then we also use all the tried and true stuff that we use all over the place elsewhere and got to see how effective that would be. For example, if we give somebody a hundred thousand impressions for cross promos, will they mention us in their newsletter that goes out to a million people, stuff like that. And it was just really interesting to see. Apple gave us a lot of love because we did a paid subscription with the show on the Apple channels and we're able to it was very worth it. We saw a lot of traction from that. But our goals were different for this show than some other peoples might be and it was a lot of work to produce the content that went behind that paywall. So it was like a big lift there that we had to account for so I could keep going all day. We're actually working on some kind of case study that we're going to release and I'll send it your way if you want to share it with your audience. It won't be out for a few weeks at least. There's some interesting things that we picked up on and some examples of stuff that didn't work. There was some like, social ads that really didn't have much traction. There was some media hits that were great but took a lot more time than the results that we got out of it. Just simple stuff like that. I feel like you see that a lot with any campaign that you're going to run.Danny:
Did you know every time Pod Chat gets a review, a baby podcaster takes their first steps? Help a baby podcaster walk today by leaving a five star rating or review on the likes of Apple Podcasts, Spotify and more. Just head on over to podchat.ca/review and do your magic. These little feet are counting on you. And I noticed that I looked at some of the Rephonic data for Missing Pages, which was really interesting for me too. I was like looking at data and numbers and just seeing, oh, that's interesting, and it jumped out that Castbox was really popular for a listening app for Missing Pages. And I'm curious, was that just because it's pulling from other APIs or was a partnership there at all in the Castbox app?Jeff:
We did a paid promotion with Casbox.Danny:
All right, that's cool. How did that work? What does that look like? If you're allowed to mention, I know for sure.Jeff:
So we did a paid partnership with half a dozen apps, including Castbox, and it was really effective. We do that for a lot of our shows. They do some really interesting promotions. They're driving a lot of traffic to downloads of the app. And when you advertise on the app, your show becomes one of the recommended follows for those new listeners. So what we find is we get a lot of traffic and the retention is going to entirely depend on the quality of the show, like the art you're using, the title, how the audio sounds, et cetera. But we find that Castbox is usually a really effective vehicle for driving traffic. And there's a few other paid apps that we experiment with, like Podcast Addict, Overcast, etc. And we have a lot of data from just the campaigns that we've ran over the years of like, how effective all of this stuff is. So we kind of have a sense of what we're going to get out of it. But there is always a level of variance based on the quality of the show.Danny:
Yeah, which makes sense. It goes back to us. You can market a show for so long, but if the quality is not there, the retention will disappear pretty fast.Jeff:
Yeah, I always use the example of like, if you build a website, you can very easily go and send a million people to the website through paid ads, but you're going to see how good it is based on how many people stick around.Danny:
Now, speaking about marketing, obviously, you mentioned that the industry, it seems fractured a bit at the moment with different creators saying that you need to have X amount of dollars or X amount of downloads to attract sponsors, to make money, to reinvest in the podcast, to make more money and more listeners and bring more sponsors. So marketing and promotion and growth of a show, which obviously your company is good at, and one of the core features of your company for podcasters, the recent story about iHeart buying downloads, obviously on mobile games, for example, and it was a big fall out on that from indie podcasters versus people that used to say paying promotions, et cetera. Well, that's just another form of advertising. It may not be ideal, but it's just a form of advertising. And I'm curious, do you feel that that could eat away where indie podcasters could get that breakthrough success and become the next Jordan Harbinger, for example, or the next Missing Pages from your point of view? Or is that just the way it is and unfortunately, you're going to have to pay to play now?Jeff:
Yeah, I think there are two really things at play with what you just said. The first being, what does it really mean for the industry that people are able to buy downloads? Because there's a few different ways that people do that. It's a big grey area. I don't know if you followed the Oz Media story a few months back or years at this point, who knows? But they were buying just a lot of traffic from frankly. Like crummy websites out there and then they were selling that back to their advertisers and it became this like really hideous. Like. Cycle. Like a Ponzi scheme basically. Where it's like they'd sell this inventory. They have to get the inventory. So they go and buy it a little bit cheaper than they sold it for and blah.Danny:
Blah. And that is not what's happening in podcasting as far as I'm aware. The story that came out with iHeart and inapp purchase, all I know about that is what everybody else knows based on that article. I know that there's a bunch of folks out there that are operating in this kind of like, grey area where they're sending a lot of traffic to various shows, that there are questions about the quality of the traffic and the retention that goes into it and I don't know anything about that. And we will run tests on our internal shows before we sell it back to clients and stuff just so that we can really validate what we're doing. I guess my point there is there's this weird grey area in media in general as to like, are you just looking for downloads or traffic or whatever metric you're using or do you really want to focus on like the quality of stuff that's out there? And like you want people to come back and read or listen to what you're putting out every day and engage with it and find value in it and share it with their people and whatever. And that's the better growth mechanism in my mind is like just put out like really super high quality content and there's smart advertising initiatives you can do to put this in front of the right people. But there's always this tension out there of people wanting to look like they have big numbers or need to have big numbers because of ads that they've sold or something and they're going to be constantly at odds with the proper way of doing this and that's ultimately going to go back to people's goals. But then the second part of that is, is it still possible for an indie to break out? First of all, you mentioned Jordan Harbinger as an example here. I think he's on record as saying he spends a pretty significant amount of money, like promoting a show. So while he is an indie well, I don't even know if I would count him as an indie because he's represented by podcast one. But in any case, he's somebody I would put into a different bucket. So there's a thousand indies, there's a million indies out there that are doing amazing work and really standing out and I think the key is like really this goes back to the Nicola article about is there a podcast hit that's out there? I think that in terms of a hit as in like Serial or Smartless or something like they're going to come like few and far between. I think that they're still going to exist and they're still going to be out in the world and we will all see and hear them. But I think that more than anything, people need to put out stuff that they're supremely confident in if they really want to stand out and like really know your stuff. The second part is really understanding the niche of like the folks that you're trying to connect with and serving those people as opposed to looking to serve like the broadest audience possible. And then the third thing is just really like define what you're looking for. Like, do you want to make a tonne of money? Do you want to make something that is impactful and makes a difference in somebody's life? Do you want to make something that's really insightful for students or something? There's a different approach to any of those goals and people really need to figure out what they're trying to do before they put the time into doing it and that's my biggest advice. You'd be shocked at how many times I have conversations with people who don't know the answer.Danny:
I think that's a great point that it's about what you would go for it because as you mentioned, some people, they want to start a podcast just to make money, which always finds a weird reason to start a podcast because that's going to be tough for you. Do you actually make money from the off? It's interesting you mention scale there and about whether there's going to be another hit like a Serial or something because of the amount of podcasts that are around and trying to become that hit. And I don't know if you read Tom Webster published an article over at Sounds Profitable yesterday about the there's only actually 40,000 podcasts or actively paying to promote their shows, which gives you a far smaller competitive field that will give you a bigger advantage, I guess.Jeff:
Yes, I think that that is accurate and obviously there's not 4 million podcasts out there that are like publishing every week or something that are trying to get in front of your ears. And yes, it'll give us a competitive advantage if there are less competitors but at the same time, and I know this is a tired example, but there's a million TV shows out there. There's 100 million YouTube channels, there's 50 million books. I think that it's frankly a good thing if, like, podcasting, five years from now, we're talking about, like, the 50 million shows that are on Spotify, because it just means that people are still interested in the medium. And, yeah, it'll get harder for people. But, like, I don't really frankly, I mean, maybe I'm the odd man out here, but I don't really want to do something that's going to be easy. I like a challenge, and I like the fact that our industry is growing to a point that we actually have to think about these things. But, yeah, to Tom Webster's point, it all depends on really how you clarify or how you kind of certify what a competitor is. Because even if there are 40000 shows out there that are paying to advertise their shows or to grow or whatever it is they're doing, you don't have 40000 competitors. Your competitors are the people who are operating in your genre or in your small corner of the podcasting ecosystem. Danny, your competitors are probably like Tom and Bryan over at Sounds Profitable, or James at Podnews or Evo, or some of the other folks that are doing podcasts, like, about podcasts, like She Podcasts like Jessica and Elsie. And I think that, like correct me if I'm wrong here, I'm sure you would love to have a million listeners, but I'm sure you only care about those 40000 podcasters that are out there trying to grow because those are the people that are going to be interested in your services and learning about what you have to say. That's how people, I think, should be thinking about it now.Danny:
And I like that. It's a perfect point where you mentioned that it's not about the 40000, it's about the 1000. It's in your niche that your audience is trying to pick from the 1000. So, yeah, it's perfect clarification and yes, I'm definitely going after James and Evo and all these guys who followed up. Most of them have been on the show, which is nice. So it's a friendly competition.Jeff:
Well, people talk a lot about how podcasting might not be as friendly as it was a few years ago. I don't totally agree with that. Factually. I think it's true. There's a lot more competition, but I think people are still very kind for the most part. I think everybody wants to see everybody else succeed.Danny:
I agree. Well, Podnews sponsors the show, so James is kindly putting that out there. So. Thank you, James. I got my shout out there. So Jeff, this has been an education. I really appreciate you coming on today and sharing your insights and your learnings from your career and obviously the company for people that want to find you online. Listen to your podcast potentially read the podcast and State of the Union piece that you wrote a few years back and learn more about the Podglomerate and the services they are. Where's the best place to check out, connect. Et cetera.Jeff:
Sure. Thank you very much for the opportunity. You can head to thepoglomerate.com or podglomerate.com. We just got that domain name, so very excited about that. You can also email us at listen at thepoglomerate dotcom and we're on all the socials at Podglomerate, and then we have a team of, I think, eight full time folks at this point, and they're all up on the website and you can feel free to email anyone if you have specific questions about production versus ad, sales versus distribution, et cetera. Put it through the listener at the podglomerate dot com email and we'll make sure it gets to where it needs to go.Danny:
Awesome. And I'll be sure to leave the links as normal in the show notes, so whatever podcast app you're listening on, if you're on the website, be sure to check out the show notes afterwards and all the links over to their will be in the show notes. So, again, Jeff, I really appreciate you coming on today. Thank you.Jeff:
Thank you. This was a lot of fun.