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Changes in Podcasting? Is it needed?

When I mention podcasting many things come to mind. Brands in podcasting are TWiT, NPR, Adam Corolla and more. We are having a renaissance of sorts with the medium. Prior to this a lot of podcasting were geared towards technology and things a bit geekier. I can say that cause I consider myself a geek.

Now that podcast is going mainstream it has been pointed out that there maybe some issues. Ben Thompson of Stratechery and the Exponent podcast, spell out some issues with the medium. Specifically with the article, “The Future of Podcasting.” He covered a few things that maybe missing. I am going to focus on two things specifically. Analytics and Advertising/Monetization. The two go hand in hand.

Analytics

The main reason most companies like digital marketing is that it’s trackable. You can see the purchase path from start to finish. On top of that you can figure out your ROI of your marketing campaigns. Podcasting is a bit of a different animal. Currently, with a few exceptions, you can just track downloads of podcasts.  Producers have no way to track.

Subscribers – people who subscribe to their shows.

Demographics – Info about subscribers

Plays – How long people listen or if they listen more than once

Play speed – If they listen at 1.5x, 2x or 3x speed

These may seem like no brainer numbers that you should have. All the big players in the space don’t offer these analytics. They include Apple, Google, Pocket Casts, OverCast and more. The big problem now is how would it be implemented. Would it be on the player side or the prodcucer side? The easiest would be the player that would report back on how many listens and for how long a show would recieve. But that’s just my opinion.

Advertising/Monetization

Another area of concern is monetization. There currently are two ways for podcasters to earn money off their shows. The first is advertising and the second is crowd funding. Advertising is very similar to radio advertising. The most successful are on the TWiT network. The ads become part of the show. The best example is when they do an Audible ad. Most of the show’s guests have used the service and recommend new audio books. There is no script for the commercial. Its a throw back to the 50’s and how TV advertising was done.

The next method is crowdfunding. The most popular is a Patreon. Patreon is the Kickstarter of the creative world. People can give anything from a per show/post to a monthly payment to help off set the costs of producing a show. Shows like Daily Tech News Show use this model. There are no ads from advertisers but a plug each show by host Tom Merritt about how to join.

It depends on the show as to which is right for the individual producers. But what if there was a third option. A subscription done through a player or service? None of the major players now offer this. Apple, currently, has a policy of all podcasts are free. Google, which recently launched their podcasts, has the same policy. There are a few smaller services coming on the market that are sharing revenues among producers. But none of them currently allow for subscriptions.

How do we solve these issues? There are not easy solutions to these problems. I will keep you guys posted as things develop. Over this year I think we will see some changes in the way podcasts will get distributed and also analytics. As the medium grows more popular, this will be needed.

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