Did you know that Twitter makes about a billion dollars every quarter? And that most of that billion comes from advertising revenue? Yet podcasting—all of podcasting—has yet to break that threshold over an entire year? Juxtapose that with the reality that more people listen to podcasts than use Twitter, and you get a sense of the imbalance.
Seriously. Show us the podcasters the money
But let’s be real: advertising on Twitter and advertising on podcasting are birds of a different feather. Twitter is a platform with a single interface that lets advertisers easily place ads to relevant—or not—users across the entire platform. Can’t do that with podcasting. I imagine Twitter’s revenue picture would be significantly lower if advertisers were forced to negotiate ad deals with individual Twitter accounts.
Podcasting’s Darling Doesn’t Scale
Buying ads on podcasts are a pain in the ass. No, I’m not even going to abbreviate that to make it more palatable. It’s freaking hard to do podcast advertising, regardless if you’re a buyer, a supplier, or someone in the middle. It sucks.
It sucks because the staple of podcast advertising, the host-read baked-in ad, cannot be scaled.
You don’t need me to link to the numerous studies that demonstrate the power of host-read ads. I believe it. You believe it. We get it. But that doesn’t change the fact that they haven’t been and can’t be scaled across multiple shows. Not easily.
Podcast Advertisers Are Lazy
While we’re all high-fiving each other for having a killer ad unit that’s hard to replicate in other formats, we’re forgetting a truism: Ad money flows to the easiest placements. That holds true for the advertisers who’re committed to advertising in podcasting. They’re spending money on podcast advertising, but in the easiest ways possible.
That’s why you’re hearing two, three, or more ads narrated in succession inside—or in front of, or behind—the episodes of your favorite podcast. Candidly, it’s your fault, working podcaster. It's your fault because that show has made it easy to place ads with them... and you haven't.
From Downloads to Addressable Inventory
To make it easy for advertisers to spend money on your podcast and spread the wealth, you have to utilize DAI—dynamic ad insertion.
With DAI, your episodes become more attractive to advertisers. Put in the parlance of the industry, DAI turns your episodes into “addressable inventory”. Because downloads alone aren’t enough and are, by definition, worthless to advertisers if they can’t run ads on them.
Getting Your Podcast’s Share Of The Revenue Pie
In the past, I’ve told you to ignore advertising unless you’re getting 50,000 downloads per month. I’m revisiting that advice in light of the maturation of our industry. Call me a flip-flopper if you want. I just call it adapting to reality. It’s a skill!
Even if your episodes only see a few thousand or a few hundred downloads in the course of 30 days, I still think you should open your episodes to DAI placement. Doing so doesn’t mean your show will start running ads you don’t approve in advance. Not at all. All you’re doing is setting your show up to be part of that easy money train mentioned earlier, but only when you are ready.
If you're not subscribed to Sounds Profitable, the weekly adtec newsletter written by Bryan Barletta and edited by me, you should be. This week, Bryan provided an excellent primer for DAI in podcasts and made a bold argument: If your media hosting provider doesn't at least have a plan to roll out DAI in the next few months, migrate away from that podcast hosting company.
Now, that's going to be a challenge. It’s a snap to seamlessly switch to a new host without impacting your show’s current subscribers/followers. The real headache is updating all of the embedded media players on your website, perhaps going back hundreds of episodes. Oh, and the non-trvial effort required to mark each episode for dynamic placement.
But it's a necessary and overcomeable obstacle if you’re going to help solve podcasting’s advertising problem. The good news is this is totally an outsourceable issue. If you turn it over to someone who’s careful and knows what they are doing, it can all happen behind the scenes with minimal involvement from you and zero impact to your listeners. Get in touch with me if you want to discuss that in more detail.
Or, if you have the time, do it on your own. But do it. And if you found the advice helpful and want to show a small token of your appreciation, go to BuyMeACoffee.com/evoterra and toss a couple of bucks my way. I’ll say nice things about you if you do.
But most importantly, help a friend podcaster with this. You probably know a podcaster who laments their lack of ad revenue. Well, they may not be a listener of Podcast Pontifications, which means they didn’t hear this advice and may be unaware that there's a podcast, a newsletter, a YouTube channel, and a website dedicated to overlooked “mid-list” podcasters who get overlooked.
That’s the underserviced audience I’m trying to serve with Podcast Pontifications: podcasters who clearly aren’t beginners and are still on their journey to making their show commercially viable. So please, tell a friend about Podcast Pontifications.
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.
Podcast Pontifications is written and narrated by Evo Terra. He’s on a mission to make podcasting better. Allie Press proofed the copy, corrected the transcript, and edited the video. Podcast Pontifications is a production of Simpler Media.