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Reintroducing Podcasting

Reintroducing Podcasting

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Written By

Tom Webster

Know the Author

February 7, 2024

Last year, Sounds Profitable published a study called The Podcast Opportunity, which was a study of ad buyers on both the brand and agency side. We wanted to find out how they thought about podcasting (if they thought about podcasting!) and what some of the opportunities might be to increase spending in the space.

We certainly uncovered some things that we as an industry can do to make ourselves easier to buy. But we learned something else: a lot of buyers had some out-of-date notions about the possibilities and efficacy of podcast advertising. If you poked your head in on podcasting five or six years ago, with an experimental buy for a curious client, you saw the space in its infancy, as far as ad tech is concerned. Today, podcasting is much more targetable and measurable than legacy media like radio and TV, and adds a human touch that digital and CTV rarely capture. We just needed to re-tell that story.

We decided that we needed to lead here, so we took a chance: what if we bought an entire, official day for podcasting at SXSW, where so many of the brand and agency buyers we are trying to reach assemble each year? It was a big swing for us, but thanks to our partners, and additional sponsorship from The Roost, ESPN/Good Karma Brands, Magellan.AI, and Ad Results Media, we are pleased to finally announce the lineup for the first-ever SXSW x Podcasting Sound Summit, the only official full-day event dedicated to podcasting at South by Southwest.

What we have assembled for the day is a true showcase for the medium (you can read more about it here) both on the business side but also the content side. Highlights include Brittany Bigelow and Kylie Low from Audiochuck (the home of Crime Junkie and Dark Downeast) as well as Jonathan “Mr. Ballen” Allen and Nick Witters from the Mr. Ballen Podcast to talk about the business of True Crime. We’ve also assembled a panel of celebrity podcasters, like Dave Coulier from Full House Rewind, Nick Viall (“The Bachelor” and AdvertiseCast), and Christy Carlson Romano (formerly “Kim Possible,” founder of PodCo) to talk about how podcasting extends influence and engagement. And we have a panel of podcasting’s heavy hitters to talk about leveraging IP from Hollywood to Headphones.

We will also premiere a brand new study, called The Ad Bargain, which looks at the attention paid to advertising across a wide variety of media channels, from CTV to Podcasting, and which ones drive more action and consideration. Whenever a consumer gives some of their attention to advertising in exchange for free content, a bargain is struck. How well do the various ad-supported media channels pay off that bargain? We will find out in an exclusive first look at this comprehensive study, followed by a panel of top sales executives from SXM and Wondery to talk about how to interpret and implement the results.

Our goal isn’t just “a Sounds Profitable event.” We want to highlight ALL of podcasting at SXSW, from the iHeart Radio Podcast Awards, to the VOX live taping stage. Traditionally, podcasting has had a sporadic and scattered presence at SXSW, but by highlighting these events AND planting a flag with the first, officially sanctioned day-long event, we are hoping to bring more eyes to the medium – and to your work. If you have a podcast-related event happening at SXSW this year, check out our contact form or submit your press release to our portal – we will be sure to highlight it as well!

The event is part of the official program, and all you need is a badge from SXSW to pop in – no other ticket needed. The event will be at one of my favorite hotels in Austin, The Thompson, and there is only room for 250 people, so if you are going this year, come early! But even if you aren’t, I hope you will watch and listen to the podcasts and videos we are going to create at the event, because ultimately we want to help you sing the song of podcasting to everyone from your friends and family to potential sponsors.

To aid in that, we’ve also enlisted four wonderful speakers from across the medium: Michael Kropko from Ad Results Media, AJ Feliciano from The Roost, Craig Karmazin from ESPN/Good Karma Brands, and Cam Hendrix from Magellan.AI. Each of these speakers will give a short, rhymes-with-Ed-style talk about why podcasting matters from their perspective. These aren’t sales pitches – these are impassioned ways to talk about this wonderful medium to everyone you meet, to make the case for the spoken word.

Podcasting has been roughed up a bit in other forms of media (many of which would love to have podcasting’s ever-growing audiences and ad revenue) but let’s not get it twisted – as far as the audience is concerned, podcasting is bigger than ever and adding new listeners (and viewers!) every year. This is what I continue to point to as my north star as I read articles about how podcasting is “down” – humans continue to flock to podcasting, and will do so as long as we keep raising the bar on content.

If you are going to be at SXSW this year, I hope you’ll join us in reintroducing podcasting to the audience in Austin as we take this big swing for the industry at the SXSW x Podcasting Sound Summit. But even if you can’t be there, I hope you’ll follow along and more importantly use the insights and advocacy we produce there to continue to spread the word not just about your podcast, but podcasting period.

I don’t see any reason why podcasting’s revenues can’t equal and even exceed those of commercial broadcast radio in the next decade, and it’s time for this medium to hold its head high and sing that song, loud and proud.

New Partners

Sounds Profitable exists thanks to the continued support of our amazing partners. Monthly consulting, free tickets to our quarterly events, partner-only webinars, and access to our 1,800+ person slack channel are all benefits of partnering Sounds Profitable.

  • Steve Lack Audio creates a wide range of podcasts for networks, production companies, and independent podcasters. They love working with creators to help them share their story.

  • Auddia is an audio technology company and maker of the faidr mobile app, which delivers AI-enabled audio streaming.

Want to learn more about partnership? Hit reply or send us an email!

About the author

Tom Webster is a Partner at Sounds Profitable, dedicated to setting the course for the future of the audio business. He is a 25-year veteran audio researcher and trusted advisor to the biggest companies in podcasting, and has dedicated his career to the advancement of podcasting for networks and individuals alike. He has been the co-author and driver behind some of audio’s most influential studies, from the Infinite Dial® series to Share of Ear® and the Podcast Consumer Tracker. Webster has led hundreds of audience research projects on six continents, for some of the most listened-to podcasts and syndicated radio shows in the world. He’s done a card trick for Paula Abdul, shared a martini with Tom Jones, and sold vinyl to Christopher Walken.

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Frequency, Repetition, and Consumer Perceptions of Podcast Advertising

How much is too much when it comes to podcast advertising? In Ad Nauseam, Sounds Profitable's latest study, we surveyed 1,000 weekly podcast listeners to find out just where they stand on these expectations. The free half-hour webinar debuting the research will be hosted by Tom Webster on Wednesday, June 12th, at 3:00 p.m. EST.

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