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Pro-Grade Podcast Survey… For Free?

Pro-Grade Podcast Survey… For Free?

Written By

Bryan Barletta

Know the Author

June 29, 2021


Last week I received a great question: who is Sounds Profitable written for?

I write it for the business side of the podcast industry, focused decidedly at the mid-sized companies because of one very real secret I learned very early in my podcast career. Nearly all of the same tools made available for the cream of the crop successful podcasts are absolutely accessible to someone just starting their first episode.

Now, not everyone needs all of the tools from day one, or even day 1,000. But my goal is to explain to everyone from the CEO down to the junior account manager everything they need to know about podcast adtech. Because one day, that CEO might not be able to rely on their VPs to answer a question during a meeting and more importantly, because I want to provide a path for that junior account manager to become that VP who can answer the question.

Writing and talking about all these topics is a solid start. I think it provides a resource to go back and look through all the content and read what’s relevant to your specific situation. I’ve also focused on hands-on examples, like implementing robust DAI with Whooshkaa or setting up a free premium feed with Supercast.

There are unfortunately just some areas that are financially prohibitive to test. It would be a hard sell to convince publishers, networks, or marketplaces to give me some free ad spend and attribution partners or survey partners to track the results for me, because we’re talking tens of thousands of dollars to point to a niche newsletter and podcast. I’m pretty sure I won’t be getting Jordan Harbinger-levels of ROI from those types of tests.

So when Tom Webster of Edison Research let me know that they were launching a completely free DIY template for podcast publishers to build their own listener survey and that the team was up for managing my survey directly, I jumped at the chance to publicly put it to use under a microscope.

But I absolutely need your help or I’m going to completely embarrass myself in front of the Edison Research team and my mom.

Please Listen to My Podcast

There is one critical component to a podcast listener study that I just can’t do without:


Between the premium feed and the unique listener metrics provided by both Whooshkaa and Chartable, nearly 1,000 people listened to the Sounds Profitable podcast in the last month. Which, again, is pretty fantastic for a six month old podcast about podcast advertising technology. But I know that not everyone who listens is going to take the survey. So step one is absolutely to shamelessly beg all of you to listen to my podcast this month.

Since this is a podcast listener survey, I can’t share the link with you here. It’s not a brand survey about Sounds Profitable, nor are there questions focused just on the newsletter, so anything you fill out would be useless if you’re not also listening to the podcast. So the link will be shared as a dynamically inserted ad throughout the month of July, to encourage you to fill it out.

I realize I’m asking a lot. So I want to make clear how much I value the time you’re taking by offering the following:

  • I’ll personally send everyone who fills out the survey and leaves their mailing address a set of Sounds Profitable and Podnews stickers. I have about 1,000 of each on hand. Please make me regret this offer.
  • I’ll raffle off 2x one-hour consulting sessions with me to talk about literally anything you like. Hopefully it’s about podcast adtech, being a father, tabletop RPG’s, or emo bands from the early aughts.

Working With Experts

When Tom first reached out about the survey, I knew I wanted to write about it. So much of adtech focuses on ads, because after all that’s where the money comes from. But there’s a wealth of knowledge to dig into about the podcasts themselves. Knowledge that can improve the listener experience of the show, appealing to a newer and bigger audience, get them more engaged with the host and their community, and so much more.

And everything that a publisher could learn about making a better show will help them have more successful engagement with advertisers, too.

But what really stuck out to me was the fact that Edison are absolutely, no joke, giving all of this away for free. Nothing in podcasting has ever resonated more with me than the mindset that the Edison Research team has on this entire project.

One of the most flattering things I’ve ever been told about Sounds Profitable is that I just give all the information away for free.


That’s the entire goal! There are two outcomes when experts do that: either the person learns from what you put out there and they become an expert and a peer, passionate about the space, pointing back to you as the source they learned from. Or, they come knocking on your door directly saying they love what you’ve done and really want your help executing on it.

Every level of podcaster can absolutely find benefit in the DIY version as long as they can get 100 responses. But for those wanting to knock on their door and get direct expert help, Edison does offer a $3k managed services version.

The big difference? While it’s the same core survey, the premium version is third-party validated, with customized questions built with 15 years of podcast surveying experience by the company whose yearly webinar drives the entire industry to update their sales decks. So if you’re looking to use the study to attract advertisers, the managed service version has immense value.

For Sounds Profitable, the main draw was having the Edison Research team back here to break down the results of the survey so that actual experts on surveys can help us further learn what to do with all the information once we get it back, and you can experience the entire process yourself before you put it to good.

Wrapping It Up

I know I ask a lot of you as a reader, but I feel like I give a lot too.

Hands-on experiences like this, where we get to try a piece of adtech together and learn directly from the experts, is not a common thing in any advertising industry.

But it should be.

Sometimes we need to make time to learn things hands-on. The companies that acknowledge that and put in the effort to make it happen are the ones we should be paying more attention to and seeking out to collaborate with.

You choosing to participate in something like this sends a message stronger than “I want to learn about podcast adtech” and moves into “I want to do more with what I know”. And I want that for you, because I want you to absolutely succeed in what you’re doing in your career, at whatever level that is. Tools like this are only going to become more commonplace and valuable in every aspect of our industry and those with mastery of them will continue to excel.

I’ve learned a lot about surveys from companies like Edison ResearchSignal Hill Insights, and Nielsen. A lot of it is through webinars and reports about either the greater podcasting ecosystem or specific advertising campaigns. The companies creating the studies provide great insight, telling the story of the data in a way that helps us understand why it’s worth talking about. What we can learn from it. How we can replicate it.

And now thanks to Edison, you can go put all of this to use directly, for free. And you can even experience the entire process, from listener to researcher if you listen to the podcast, answer the survey, and continue reading this newsletter.

New Sponsors

Sponsoring Sounds Profitable enables me to stay fully connected with all aspects of the podcast industry, focusing on educating the entire space as well as making connections and collaborating on ideas that will better the industry. So today, I’d like to introduce you to our latest sponsors:

  • Claritas is a data-driven marketing company. We leverage our unique data and proprietary identity graph, to help marketers find their best prospects, improve marketing execution and deliver superior ROI.
  • Podcast Ad Reps connects national agencies and brands with the over 120 podcasts they work with, from independent creators and notable networks including Comedy Central, Starburns Audio, Compass Media Networks, and Ricochet.

Each sponsor receives one hour of consulting time per month as a way to say thank you for supporting Sounds Profitable. If you’re interested in coming on as a sponsor, please hit reply!

REL’s Recs

Each week, Arielle Nissenblatt will be sharing her top pick for what podcast you should listen to. She’ll be collaborating with artist Jake Crowe to combine her pick with his great artwork, to get you excited. Here’s her pick for this week: Financial Feminist

Financial Feminist is a podcast from Her First 100k’s founder, Tori Dunlap. I first found Her First 100k on TikTok and was bewildered by Tori’s tenacity and knowledge of personal finance. When I noticed she started a podcast, I was all in, especially because the first interview was with Jane Marie, creator of the podcast The Dream. These episodes are helpful for anyone looking to level up in the money realm.

Homework – with Yappa

I truly mean it when I say I want to interact with each and every one of you more. I’m really enjoying the idea of Yappa overall and I think it’s a great tool to have back and forth conversations with all of you, exploring audio (and video if you like as well). I hope you’ll click on the image below and leave a question. And, with your permission, we’ll start adding these questions to the podcast.

Market Insights – with ThoughtLeaders

Before we dive in, wanted to give a massive shoutout to ThoughtLeaders for increasing their pool from 12,000 podcasts to 50,000. That’s a massive leap and will absolutely provide even more great data for us to look through. If you haven’t checked out their free tool yet, you’ve got even more reason to now.

Facebook’s push into podcasting isn’t going unnoticed, but with the slow rollout it’s pretty clear we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg of what’s to come. I personally think that Facebook’s entry into podcasting is going to greatly expand the advertising economy around podcasting, not just in it, and may even compete directly for audio ad dollars. When the feature is fully live, I want to revisit this specific trend and see how much larger the brand mentions are in association with it.

Things to Think About

Since this week is all about listener surveys, I wanted to highlight the three part series that Tom Webster wrote on his newsletter, I Hear Things, that really expands on the topic in a way only a true expert can. If you haven’t read these three already or you’re not subscribed to his newsletter (and podcast), definitely change that. He puts a ton of amazing free thoughts out into the world every week.

About the author

Bryan Barletta (He/Him) is the founder of Sounds Profitable, and a widely-cited expert in adtech, sales, and monetization of podcasting. He founded Sounds Profitable in 2020 after a successful career working with some of the leading companies in advertising technology, including AdTheorent, Claritas, and Megaphone. Barletta helped to design some of the tools in use by podcast platforms today for attribution, measurement, and serving audio ads, and uses that expertise to help clients and sponsors get the most from their sales and advertising efforts. He founded Sounds Profitable initially as a platform to help educate persons working in the podcast industry about advertising and sales technology, but has since expanded the brand to become the industry’s premiere source for education, advocacy, and insights designed to grow the entire space. He is an avid gamer and father of two boys, neither of whom have their own podcast, yet.