(by Renee Cassis) At the RAIN Podcast Business Summit in New York City Wednesday, Amplifi Media CEO Steve Goldstein said, “There is a fear that podcasting ruins radio.” Goldstein interviewed iHeartRadio’s Elvis Duran, and Senior Vice President of Podcasting, Chris Peterson, both of whom found great value in the podcast extensions of Duran’s Morning Show.
The explosion of podcasting in recent years has many broadcasters wondering what benefits the on-demand segment of audio holds for them. Podcasts offer extremely niche programming, whereas broadcast radio reaches a wider audience, even within the parameters of a station’s format. For Duran, a lot of the fun of podcasting seemed to come from the lack of constraints that are inherent in delivering an over-the-air program that is designed to satisfy a larger number of listeners. “We can do a podcast on whatever we want,” he said, although he emphasized that the content should be an extension of the on-air show. He went on to share podcast content ideas, such as a behind-the-scenes look at how a radio program is put together or a deep-dive celebrity interview. “People like a deep, narrow perspective,” he stated.
Peterson noted that, “connecting a small portion of your audience to a podcast is a win,” although how a station could monetize that was not discussed on this panel, and it remains a big question for radio. So far, the more popular and successful podcasts have been those that already have a national platform — as with NPR programs or nationally recognized personalities as hosts — or those with content that has captured the attention of a relatively large listening audience, as with Serial.
Radio’s built-in marketing machine was spotlighted as a big advantage by Goldstein, who pointed out that broadcasters have “the megaphone of the radio station,” to promote their podcast programs.
Of course, advertisers want solid audience metrics, and podcasts have been challenged to prove how many people actually listen to downloaded episodes, or at what point there is audience drop-off. Bryan Moffett, COO of National Public Media compared download numbers to magazine circulation figures. Just because a magazine is in the mailbox, doesn’t mean someone opened and read it. “We need to get to that last mile,” he said, referring to listening metrics.
Apple recently announced that it would begin releasing podcast listener data. John Rosso, President of Market Development for Triton Digital, interpreted Apple’s action as a big endorsement on podcasting. Privacy is a big issue in the digital space, and Apple is known for keeping its consumer data close-to-the-vest. Apple will reveal how long someone listened and when they listened, but not ‘who’ listened.
Marshall Williams, CEO of Ad Results Media, foresees different pricing strategies for the higher-listening segments, similar to the way morning radio is higher than other dayparts. According to Moffett, 60 to 70 percent of listeners make it all the way through a podcast episode. The instinct for an advertiser is to frontload all the ads, but Moffett strongly recommends against that. “To keep that 60 to 70 percent, don’t monkey with it,” he advices. Rosso predicted that just as program directors learned to work the PPM, podcasters will learn the numbers game.
Renee Cassis is owner of RC Communications Marketing, a PR and marketing consultancy for the broadcast and entertainment industries. She can be reached at [email protected]