Tom Webster, partner at Sounds Profitable, and Danny discuss the latest findings from Sounds Profitable's studies on podcast advertising. They also talk about the growth of the podcasting industry and how podcast ads can be more effective.
Tom and Danny discuss the recent Podcast Movement conference and the After These Messages report. Tom shares that the report is one of the strongest studies he's ever worked on, and that the conference was a great opportunity for people in the podcasting industry to come together and discuss important issues. Danny asks about the biggest changes Tom has seen in the industry over the past 18 years, and Tom talks about how the industry has grown and evolved, with more people than ever before having access to podcasting technology and platforms.
The main change that Tom discusses is the breaking down of the structures of what makes a technical podcast to where we are today with what the mainstream public thinks is a podcast. He explains how this has both positive and negative effects on the industry as a whole. On the positive side, it means that more people are exposed to podcasts and they can be consumed in different ways. However, it also presents challenges in terms of monetization and the overall definition of what a podcast is.
Tom and Danny discuss YouTube's recent entry into the world of podcasts. They question whether or not YouTube will be successful in this venture, and speculate on how the company will approach it. They also discuss the potential impact of YouTube's entrance on the podcasting community as a whole.
03:47 The Evolution of Podcasting: From Technical Definition to Mainstream Media
05:50 Tom on the Future of Podcasting on YouTube
10:35 Twitter Spaces and Podcasting
12:14 Tom on the Importance of Trend Tracking in Podcasting
14:35 The Benefits of SoundCloud for Podcasting
19:11 The Impact of Podcasting on Advertising and Consumer Behavior
23:06 The Benefits of Advertising on Podcasts
27:31 The Future of Podcast Advertising: Education, Expectation Management, and Improving the User Experience
30:01 The Benefits of Programmatic Advertising
34:08 The Future of Podcast Advertising
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So obviously podcasting is going to grow, the revenue is going to grow, but what could really unlock that is being able to run ads at scale on those millions of podcasts right now, where it's just too difficult to do so for an advertiser.Danny:
Today, it's my pleasure to welcome Tom Webster to the show, a name that needs little introduction for anyone in the podcasting space. Tom is partner at Sounds Profitable, a collection of media properties that provides industry leading research around podcast's most pressing questions. Their latest two studies, After These Messages, and The Creators, drop a lot of eye opening data around podcasters and their listeners, as well as how different ads perform. Previously, he was Senior Vice President of Edison Research and he's also the coauthor of the annual Infinite Dial Study that looks at the habits and trends of the podcasting industry. That's just the tip of the iceberg. We'll be chatting about that and more in this episode. So without further ado, the man who puts the Webster in the web, Tom Webster. Welcome to the show, Tom.Tom:
Thank you, Danny. It's been a while since we've talked, so it's great to see you.Danny:
And I was trying to work out an introduction because I try to get a little play on words with my guest names and I wasn't sure to do who puts the web in Webster or the Webster or on the web. I was quite sure which way to go.Tom:
I like who puts the Webster in the web. I think you nailed it there.Danny:
I'll keep that. And you come back from Podcast Movement over in Dallas. How was that for you?Tom:
It was phenomenal. I mean, it's always a phenomenal week now, especially then I'm able to focus on podcasting full time. It's like the Super Bowl kind of, right. But it was also the first time that Bryan Barletta, my partner at Sounds Profitable and I were able to actually put on our own event and it was a fantastic success. We had 300 of podcasting's biggest leaders in the same room together. We haven't really had a way to do that in a while, I think. I'm sure you've noticed the space is maybe less collegial than it was when you and I got started in it, but this was a really good chance to get everybody together talking about the same issues in a frank and open way. And it was a great way to start the week, but had a great time, ate some good food and went to a lot of sessions, moderated a few panels and only now dug out from all that.Danny:
From all that you mentioned, it must have been awesome because you actually opened the show with the After These Messages report, is that correct?Tom:
Yes. So on the sort of day zero of Podcast Movement, we put together the Sounds Profitable Business Summit and we did three panels amongst the business leaders who were there. We did one on video, we had someone from YouTube on the panel, which was great. We did one on metrics and the various types of metrics in podcasting and then we did one on programmatic advertising and then we wrapped up the day with the debut of After These Messages, which was a study, I'm sure we'll talk about it more, but it was a study sort of looking at various creative executions of podcast advertising and the effectiveness therein. And it's actually one of the strongest studies I've ever worked on in X number of years of media research.Danny:
And speaking of, I mean, you mentioned X amount of years of media research, you've spent 25 years in radio, streaming, podcast and anything to do with audio, basically. And you recently tweeted in a thread that you're approaching your 18th year, or this is your 18th year in the podcasting space. And it's fair to say I think that you've seen quite a lot of changes. And I'm curious, out of the research that you've done and just your own personal experience along with working with various brands, what's been some of the biggest changes that you've seen, maybe for good or bad, in that space?Tom:
Yeah, I think the biggest change for good and interesting, I'm not sure any change is bad changes, but we'll call it interesting has been the breaking down of the structures of what makes a technical podcast, a technical podcast to where we are today with what the mainstream public thinks is a podcast. You and I both started in this back when there was a very strict technical definition of a podcast. If you did not do that, if it was not an audio enclosure in RSS and all this other stuff, then the heck with you, that's not a podcast, you're having a laugh. But that was with a fairly small group of podcast listeners and podcast creators and ultimately to grow out of that, it had to become something else. And now you can ask ten people what a podcast is, or if a certain show is a podcast, and you might get ten different answers. I mean, for some people, a podcast is just a person with a microphone and an opinion and they may not be wrong, it may not be available in an RSS feed, but at this point, I don't want to relitigate any of that. I think any attention podcasting gets is great. So on the positive side, that means that what we may not have thought of as podcasts before, things on YouTube and things like that are growing the space and are growing the audience. But it also presents challenges, right? It's not as special as snowflake anymore in terms of being a secluded space, and it's also harder to monetize when you're on all of these different platforms and these platforms have different economic structures and things like that. So it's both a positive and it's interesting that this podcasting is not quite podcasting anymore. It's something bigger, but it's also something harder to pin down.Danny:
You mentioned YouTube there and I was wondering where you're at the YouTube panel at Podcast Movement, because I think a lot of people were expecting more information from them, it was going to be like the big launch, etc. And it hasn't really materialized. And I'm curious, how do you feel YouTube's going to approach this? Do you think they'll take the Spotify approach and go all in gung ho, or more the Facebook approach and maybe in twelve months time it's a failed experiment from Google.Tom:
I don't think they'll treat it as a failed experiment. I think podcasting in some way, shape or form will remain on YouTube. The question is whether or not it's sort of set aside as its own dog, I think is the big question. The one thing that I've taken from the various YouTube channels that I've watched or been on over the past couple of two or three, Podcast Movement, Podcast Movement Evolutions and things like that, is that this sort of happened without YouTube planning it, right? Podcasts showing up on YouTube. Companies like mine started revealing that people were getting lots of podcasts on YouTube and all of a sudden YouTube had to, well now what do we do? Right? So I think they're playing catch up in a lot of ways, which is not something that we're necessarily used to associating with Google, but they are playing catch up. And the one thing I've gotten from these various panels is that they don't quite have the answers, they don't quite know what they're doing. And it's a good time for podcasters to try to speak with one voice here, to try to be the change you want to see in the world here. Because I think the opportunity to get your content on YouTube, which is the best content search engine in the world, right? We talk about discovery being a problem for podcasting. YouTube kind of fixes that, they're really good at it, that's the positive. But if I listen to a podcast on YouTube and I look over in that right column and I see what's recommended to me, if what's recommended to me are not podcasts, then that's not as good for us as I think we would hope, right? What we would hope, I think, is that it recommends other podcasts and that it treats the goal of the user listener to be I'm in a podcast mood, show me some audio first content, even if it has a visual, right? And maybe they'll do that. I think they've got plans to ingest RSS feeds and maybe they will set that aside and actually truly make it its own special space. But they're not there yet, so we can only hope and it'll be interesting to see what they do.Danny:
As you mentioned earlier about is it a podcast if it's not RSS? And all this argument that we see online recently. And if YouTube does go down the route of not ingesting via RSS, will that make it more palatable to the people that are RSS fans? So, yeah, I'll be curious to see how they go, like, between Twitter Spaces at the moment, how they've just added podcasts into that. It seems like not quite a full on effort. Maybe they're testing the waters. I'm not sure how you feel about Twitter Spaces and the addition there.Tom:
Yeah, I mean, I was fairly down on Clubhouse when it came out and wrote a couple of things on that. People are not very good at live. And if you have an entire network full of people that are not very good at live doing live things, it didn't seem all that interesting to me. Twitter Spaces seemed different to me though, because it was truly a more social tool and I've enjoyed doing a number of Twitter Spaces. I think that the podcasting and even just recording Twitter Spaces, it's not quite there yet. I know I did one with Arielle yesterday and I had everything all set up. It sounded great. I had an external mic working and as soon as I pressed the mic button to be a speaker, it just went fakaka, you know what I mean? Nothing worked. Like, all of a sudden the audio wasn't going through my headphones, it was coming out of the phone speaker and it was like, okay, so still some bugs to work out there. But I think it enables a different kind of audio than a podcast, which podcast is still a one to many sort of broadcast medium in that way. And Twitter Spaces can be something different. So I am slightly bullish on Twitter Spaces and podcasting through Twitter and more so because, look, Twitter as you know, is an incredibly important promotional tool for podcasts. It's one of the promotional tools that podcasters rely on the most. And if I can then actually get the podcast that you're promoting in line in a native way, that removes a step, that removes some friction, that increases the chance that you're going to get a listen. So ultimately it's a good thing.Danny:
Now, obviously you have access to a lot of data, both for your job and for the reports and the industry and sTATS that you put together. And I'm curious, is there a set process of deciding what data will be used, what will be left out, and whether you revisit any discarded data after the initial report is out in public?Tom:
Yeah, I mean, I tend to be very conservative about data and if something looks really persnickety about it, as you might imagine right. And if something doesn't quite look right, I try in every way possible to disprove it. And that's really the goal of science. If you're a real scientist, you seek to disprove, and if you can't disprove it, then it might be right. And I've certainly seen some things where I've thought, you know what, let's sit on this and look at it next year, and maybe a content marketer would go, oh, that's a dynamite stat. Let's put that out. And I was like, yeah, let's hold it for a year and then look at it again. And then, okay, that's a trend. Let's run with it. I feel better about that. So I tend to be very conservative about things like that because the trend is your friend. I mean, one of the things about that Twitter thread that I put out a couple of days ago that you referenced was there's a graph that I attached to it of the 17 year tracking of podcast listening that I did while I was at Edison. And that's a really powerful graph, right? Like, to have all of that tracking data, the weight of it behind you. So I do tend to be a little bit more, though I am liberal in many other ways, Danny. I'm very conservative when I look at trends like that.Danny:
And speaking of research, you've worked with Howard Stern on The Howard Stern Show, as well as Elvis Duran, and I'm curious, how did that come about and what was the experience like with each one?Tom:
Yeah, before podcasting, I did a lot of work in the radio industry and in the music business and just doing a lot of entertainment research. And as a part of the company I was with, this was before I was with Edison even, I did a lot of work with syndicated morning shows and radio. So I did some research on the Howard Stern Show, as you mentioned. I did some research on I worked with Elvis Duran, actually for many years, and some others, I did some work on The Bob and Tom Show in Indianapolis, which is like the home of comedy in America, the John Boy and Billy Show, which was a really widely syndicated Southern morning show and things like that. And it really came partially from a research methodology that I helped to develop. The company I was with at the time had developed for music testing, and I tweaked it a little bit to turn into a talent testing product. And we actually were able to do these incredible sessions with talent where we would get listeners to those shows in a room with these little kind of electronic dials, and they would listen to the show, and they would turn the dial up if they liked it, turn it down if they didn't. Then I would go back with the same groups and say, hey, Francis, you didn't like this part. Why not? And actually get some dialogue out of it. And it made those shows so much better. And honestly, that's the kind of work I would love to be doing in podcasting. Podcasting is not there yet. It's not really doing content research. It's still in the kind of the three stages of research and media to me. Stage one, is it a thing yet? Right? And that was certainly most of the work that I did at Edison. Is podcasting a thing yet? Is it big enough for us to really care about? And then stage two is, all right, so how are we going to make money? And so that begets a lot of sales research and advertising effectiveness research, and I've done a bunch of that. But I think ultimately to be sustained at sort of the top company level, you then have to start doing content and audience research. And I think the space is just about big enough to do that.Danny:
And we'd mentioned earlier about a tweet that you just posted. Was it earlier this week or was it the end of last week?Tom:
Tuesday, Tuesday, Tuesday. I woke up in the morning and I was like, I feel like a thread. And so I just dropped a thread.Danny:
And there you go. You drop a whole bunch of truth bombs and wisdom in there. And one of the nuggets of wisdom, actually, that stuck with me was you about podcasts telling our listeners on where to listen to the show, or listen to the show, where you follow podcast, where you get your podcast, but you finished that tweet in response to Arielle, actually about they might not like the answer with YouTube and SoundCloud being the top two. And I can see YouTube, obviously, you mentioned earlier YouTube is an awesome discoverability platform. But I was surprised with the SoundCloud so positioned because this is me going old school, I guess. But I was looking at Soundcloud being music and it's very clunky from a UI point of view and what have you. So I was surprised to find that as being so high up on the listener scale.Tom:
Yeah, I mean, it's a consistent finding, Danny. We saw it every year in Infinite Dial. We saw it every year in Edison podcast metrics. Bryan and I see it in our research now. And John Spurlock on Twitter this week just put out an analysis of the top hosts. And SoundCloud was higher than a lot of name hosts in the business. I think they had like 4% of hosted podcasts and they are mostly known for music. But you know what, there are a lot of music podcasts. I listened to a couple of music podcasts and June Deep Editions, and another one from Angela Beats, it's a record label. And they put their stuff out on SoundCloud, their podcasts, they're made for music. They do. Well, it is the home of a lot of music audio, but those are, in fact, podcasts. So every time that we say check us out wherever you get your podcasts. And I think I said this at Podcast Movement the first time. Maybe three years ago. Because I was seeing the data of how many people were saying at least some of the time I listened to podcasts on YouTube. And I've been seeing it in share of your data for eight plus years now of how much music listening was happening on YouTube. People just calling up a playlist, whatever, minimizing the tab, putting the phone in their pocket, whatever, they are listening, and that's what they're using to listen to. I think when the old school podcaster says, check us out wherever you get your podcasts, they're thinking, I need a badge for Overcast and a badge for podcasts and all that. But the newer listener today is much more likely to be getting their podcasts from Spotify and YouTube.Danny:
So would you recommend that it's worthwhile? Because obviously SoundCloud is essentially another podcasting host, but a lot of the time you can just limit it to SoundCloud. So if you're on, say, Captivate, a Buzzsprout, an Anchor, whoever you're on for your hosting, do you feel it might be worthwhile for a podcaster to add basically a duplicate on a SoundCloud only feed?Tom:
I don't think so, necessarily. I don't know that it depends on what your show is. I think if it's a music show, then that's a place to find audience, right? If you're Pod Save America, I wouldn't expect to find your audience on SoundCloud. I think it's figuring out where your audience happens to be and where your audience is more likely to be found. I think the exception to that is YouTube. I think if you can figure out a way to get your podcast on YouTube, that you really should, if for no other reason than to take advantage of the discovery and the algorithms and things like that. Right. And it's not necessarily that people will always listen to your show on YouTube and you look at this with things like in response to a Twitter question, I mentioned the H Three podcast, and H Three has been around for a long time. They are just as big on video, if not more than they are on audio, but they're pretty big on both. Some people really like to watch them because they're funny, and other people, when they can't watch them, maybe they'll put on YouTube and stick it in their pocket and listen to it on YouTube, or they'll listen to it through Apple or something like that. But coming up with a visual strategy for your podcast, is it a must have? No. But you are shutting yourself off from a huge potential discovery audience if you don't try something.Danny:
And you'd mentioned earlier, talking about research and knowing your audience, you're on about stage one when you're in Edison, like the stage one of the data and reporting the data was saying, is this something we want to get involved in? And I'm curious, was there any not so much pushback, but how difficult or what was it like trying to get Edison on board to focus on podcasts, which may have been seen as a very niche, maybe even nerdy kind of medium at the time.Tom:
It wasn't hard at all. I mean, so I pushed to add podcasting to the Infinite Dial study back in 2005. But the Infinite Dial was really started in 1998 as really the first study to look at at the time, online radio, streaming radio, and many of those names are lost to history now. Well, I think Live 365 is still around, but AOL Radio and Broadcast.com, Mark Cuban's thing and all that stuff, Spinner, those companies are all gone now, and many of them are, but it was a natural because at the time, the study was really designed to be the survey of record for digital audio. So adding podcasting to it was kind of a no brainer. And the other thing that made it a no brainer was at the time, 2005, 2006, the podcasting community was very small and very technically focused. They're very technically focused on the actual nuts and bolts of producing a podcast and RSS and things like that. But I wasn't focused on that. I was focused on the behavior. The behavior to me was, oh, this lets me listen to stuff that I want to listen to whenever I want to listen to it, instead of at 3pm on Wednesday. Well, who doesn't want to do that? And so when you frame it like that, it's a natural behavior. I think it's a natural thing for humans to want to do. So we were confident, even when it was a rounding error in our data in the mid two thousands, we were confident it was going to grow because it's a natural behavior and given us.Danny:
That obviously helped shape a lot of the industry and how podcast is now seen by corporations and larger organizations. Did you see a tipping point or do you think there was a tipping point where the data you were providing and Edison was providing helped other businesses and organizations think, oh, we should be looking at podcasting for our business goals and research to consumer behavior?Tom:
I guess, yeah, 100%. And honestly, if there's anything that I'm most proud of in my career, it's just having been a part of enabling an economy. And it started really maybe a year before Serial came out. And then when Serial came out, people started talking about podcasts. And it wasn't like the general public all of a sudden discovered podcasting because of Serial, because most of Serial's audience were actually already podcast listeners. But that was the point at which agencies and advertisers started to pay attention to it. And a lot of the clients that I had at the time. Companies like What's Now. SXM and NPR and some others started bringing me into agencies to show this data. To show actually, not only is it becoming a mainstream behavior, but this particular audience is very passionate about the content. Very passionate about the hosts. Very likely to be getting a lot of their content from subscription sources. So they're not being exposed to as much traditional advertising. They're very affluent, they spend a lot of money and they are sliding off of your ability to reach them. And here's a way not only you can reach them, but that they want to be reached. I told that story for a number of years and again, I'd like to think not in any kind of ego way, I want to grow the space. It's done very well for me. I want podcasters to do well if I've been able to do anything. It's to help build an economy, it's to help build an industry, to quantify it, to make it a safer space for advertisers. Podcasts make more money and more investment goes in. Podcasters make more money and better content gets made and this thing continues to grow.Danny:
And speaking of advertising, I know both yourself and your partner Bryan over at Sounds Profitable, are firm believers that it's not ads that are bad per se, it's the implementation of them, whether by the podcasting side or the podcaster side or the ad agency side of the host side, etc. And this ties into one of the data points from After These Messages that kind of stuck out to me, where it showed that 77% of active podcast listeners visited a company's website from hearing an ad, but almost 60% purchased something and even less 56% use a promo or discount code, which seems a huge opportunity. That's almost 20% disconnect from a visitor to that visitor taking an action like a purchase or a promo code. And I'm wondering where you feel the biggest disconnect is and how brands or businesses can really take advantage of a well implemented ad.Tom:
Well, I suppose there's a couple of ways to look at that stat. One is, have you ever gone into a store and not bought something? Of course you have. What percentage of the time that you go into a store? I'm not saying the grocery store is different, but if you go into a department store or the mall or something like that and actually I would submit that difference between have you ever visited a company's website and have you ever bought something. It's phenomenal conversion. To get that many people who check it out, to actually then go convert and buy it is a real testament, I think, to the trust that podcast listeners have with the host and the support that they show the program and things like that. There are some disconnects in podcasting. There are disconnects with advertisers, there are disconnects with podcasters. One of the disconnects with advertising agencies and things like that is that they see podcasting as a digital medium. And yeah, it is, right? But they want it to behave like display ads and it doesn't behave like display ads, right? First of all, it converts a heck of a lot better than display ads does. But that's a world of impressions and if you look at the number of impressions you might get from a podcast compared to some run of website thing you might do through Google or something like that. It might look fairly small, but that's not the sole power of a podcast ad. The power of a podcast ad is that transferred relationship, that support of the show, so many things that a banner ad will never be able to do. So that's one disconnect and I think another disconnect, and we just touched on it a little bit, is with podcasters who kind of fear advertising on their shows. They fear the inability to control what the ad might be, or they fear having terrible ads and programmatic advertising, which most people don't really understand what it is. It just sounds like the devil. But the reality is you think about I'll go back to YouTube here. You and I have probably both skipped our fair share of ads on YouTube, right? It is incredibly annoying to sit through content on YouTube and have to continually flick away annoying ads. We don't take it out on the content, we keep watching it. If the show's good, you're not going to lose people. If people really get off of your show because of a bad ad, the ad was not your problem, right? That doesn't happen in other media. We shouldn't assume it happens in podcasting. Those are the things that Bryan and I are really focused on, are kind of blowing up some of those assumptions and received wisdom and things that maybe work ten years ago but don't work now. And we always want to keep up on that.Danny:
And I'm wondering then, obviously, as you mentioned, you've got yourself and Bryan at Sounds Profitable. You've got James over at Podnews, you've got a lot of excellent resources that are talking more about advertising monetization, how podcasters can stop putting themselves down and being, as you mentioned, being scared of getting involved in that space. And I'm wondering, do you feel like podcast hosts, for example, have a bit more to do? There's a lot of hosts now that offer either dynamic add inserts or host enabled insertions. Do you think a lot of education wise should come down to the host to explain to their users, this is how we do it properly and this is what it can mean to you, this is what it won't mean to you. And here are some resources like Sounds Profitable to go check out about this topic.Tom:
Yeah, I think there's expectation management and I think that's something that is incumbent on hosts, Captivate certainly being one of them, to manage the expectations of kind of independent podcaster stories. Here's what you can expect, right? Let's explain what the M is in CPM and it's not necessarily going to make you rich. But look, if you have a podcast that gets 10,000 downloads a month, you could make a lease payment on a car with that, with programmatic advertising. Honestly, and podcasters should know that and not really be afraid of that. But there's education to go all around and the same thing has to happen in podcasting that happened with Facebook seven or eight years ago. If you look back at Facebook seven or eight years ago, your Facebook ads were terrible. They were terrible. They were scammy. Here's one weird trick to lower your weight and your mortgage at the same time with this bowl of fruit, whatever, and they got a lot better. They got a lot better. And the reason they got better, it's not because Facebook will do so, it's because people got smarter about the tools. And that's what programmatic advertising enables, is really smart, clever targeting. And so eventually the people that master those tools and understand those tools and use them better than other people will win because they are actually delivering relevant ads to people who are receptive to those products and want to buy them. And that's why Facebook ads work. And that's why podcast ads should work even better because they're also transferring that relationship that people have with the content and the host. I think anyone offering programmatic advertising tools to podcasters, and that certainly includes the hosting companies, I think should do a good job of trying to explain all that. But also the people that are using programmatic tools to traffic in advertising also need to get better. And some of that is with the publishers as well and making sure that the ads that are coming into your podcast, you don't run two in a row of the same one that they don't run twice as loud as the content. There's responsibility all around, but ultimately a bad ad is a bad ad and no podcast is going to save a bad ad.Danny:
And speaking of programmatic, and I'm not going to spoil this because obviously we do want people to download the After These Messages report. It's a really interesting report, but I was interested to look at the Jordan Harbinger experiment with the host read ad, the actor read, I guess, and the programmatic ad and how different audiences responded to that advertisement. And it seemed that live host read still seems to be the preferred option, but programmatic came out really well. And I'm wondering if to get around the fear of programmatic for a lot of podcasters where they feel it's going to be a non-contextual ad, gets lumped in and split up the audio and all that kind of stuff. Is there an opportunity for advertising agencies or brands to work directly with the hosts that they want to appear on. But instead of a live read, you always make a live programmatic read ad by the host as an opportunity there for more to get involved with?Tom:
Yeah, absolutely. I think not using a host voice in a dynamically inserted ad or something that's bought and sold programmatically is a failure of the imagination. Why wouldn't you, why couldn't you do that, I think we'll start to see more and more of that. I mean, obviously it's better, I think if you're a podcaster to go the direct sales route, you have the most control over what gets on your show, right? But most independent podcasters, probably a lot of Captivate's clients and podcasters, they don't have the bandwidth to go do direct ad sales. But I think what all of these tools offer you are options, right? If you have the opportunity to sell to a sponsor for a premium to get exactly the kind of content you want, then you have the opportunity to do that. But you also then have the opportunity to fill what's left programmatically. And the best thing you can do there is a be as specific as you can be in all of the metadata around your podcast, all of the little ways that a programmatic marketplace might use to target your podcast. Be really specific, be really specific about the things you do want and don't want. And as people who use programmatic tools get better and better, and we're going to see involvement from people like the Trade Desk, which is a huge programmatic marketplace, and they're going to get involved with podcasting and they're going to show people how to do it right, and some other entities are really going to show people how to do it right. And all of that is just going to lift the space up and elevate it. And I'm convinced the IAB puts out these estimates every year of where podcasting is as an industry, $2 billion industry, and then projections of where it can be in a couple of years. I don't project anything like I don't project any growth in a couple of years because there's a lot of shows right now in the sort of the fat end of the long tail, like the biggest shows that are sold out. And there's all of these million plus shows in the long tail that are not really easily advertised on because they're not open to programmatic advertising, right? So obviously podcasting is going to grow, the revenue is going to grow, but what could really unlock that is being able to run ads at scale on those millions of podcasts right now, where it's just too difficult to do so for an advertiser. So there are going to be some bumps in the road and people are going to run some crappy ads. And I think now that companies like yours have tackled kind of the programmatic tools, I think the next step is going to be things like brand safety and brand suitability to make sure that a podcaster doesn't get an ad from the type of company they don't like and then an advertiser doesn't advertise on a show that they wouldn't want to be seen on. Like those tools are actually fairly advanced, fairly robust, and they just need to start being incorporated into podcasting more.Danny:
It's funny you mentioned that there was a post in one of the Facebook groups this week, actually, where a podcaster had signed up for the kind of the auto ad insertion from their host and their shows, like a PG rated show. And they got an ad for a BDSM company running prior to this little kiddie show, PG rated show, started wondering how they could stop that from happening. And like you say, this brand safety and brand insurance are going to be so key. Ensuring that I think, like you mentioned, that would be a really great way to certainly ease the minds of a lot of podcasts. Okay, I'll open up to anybody, but I will still be in control as to what's going to get played in front of my content.Tom:
I can't even imagine what a BDSM ad would sound like or what they'd be selling.Danny:
Is it the whip sound or something?Tom:
Yeah, I don't know. Yeah, that's a good one. But there have been some of those horror stories. I think Spotify ran into an issue with one of the alcohol accounts that they had advertising on sobriety shows and things like that. But those are tool failures. Those are not failures of programmatic advertising as a concept. Like I said, it's not the devil. It's always basically somebody's fault, right? It's not the tool itself, it's somebody didn't do their job as the tools will get better, but also the somebody's have to get better.Danny:
Right? Exactly. Tom, this has been an education, which I knew it was going to be. And I will definitely get you back on when your next report comes out because the data always fascinates me. I always like digging into it, especially hearing your take on it and how to break it down. So for people that want to connect with yourself either on Twitter or at Sounds Profitable, and download the After These Messages report and even The Creators report. Where's the best place to connect with you online and find all this information?Tom:
It's all available at soundsprofitable.com. There's a big tab on the menu marked Research. Both of those studies are plainly available there. So you can connect with me there. You can also connect with me on Twitter. I'm at @webby2001, which I think tells you how long I've almost been on Twitter. But look, I'm not going to change it now, so there I am.Danny:
You're on Twitter before it was built. You were only speaking back in the day.Tom:
Yeah, Twitter had to build it for me.Danny:
That is awesome. And I'll be sure to leave the links to Tom, to Sounds Profitable, and Tom on Twitter in the show notes. So wherever you're listening to podcasts, especially if it's SoundCloud, make sure you check out the show notes afterwards. All the links will be there. Again, Tom. I appreciate your time today. Thanks for coming on the show.Tom:
Thanks, Danny. Bye.