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Podcasting overtakes talk radio, CPMs increase & 7 Other Stories


This week: Podcasting overtakes talk radio, CPMs increase, video game ads counting as podcast downloads, and Publishers test personalizing newsletters.


Podcasting overtakes talk radio, CPMs increase

Manuela: For today’s first segment we’re going to cover two recent pieces about industry growth. First, Kurt Hanson’s Rain News recap of the Audioscape 2022 talk by Cumulus Media executive Pierre Bouvard. The biggest eye-catching number from Bouvard’s presentation of Edison Research media involves how the 18-34 age group spends their weekly time listening to talk or personality-driven audio content. Terrestrial radio has been overtaken in this bracket, with podcasts taking 60% of those listening hours. 

“Even within the older demos of 25-54 and 35-64, podcast listening’s share of talk/personality listening is high — 47% and 39%, respectively, with those numbers up nearly double and more than triple, respectively, compared to five years ago.”

Continuing the trend of good news from new data, Libsyn’s Advertisecast has published their Podcast Advertising Rates 2022 report. The presentation is compiled from reporting data provided by 2,985 podcasts. Podnews editor James Cridland reported on Monday:  

“There has been a jump in the average CPM for podcast advertising, according to Libsyn’s AdvertiseCast: the average is now $24.35, the second-highest on record. It’s up 3.7% month-on-month, or 5% year-on-year.” 

Podcasting continues its upward climb. More listener share over radio and growing CPMs sounds like a good thing to us. 


A follow-up on video game ads counting as podcast downloads. 

Shreya: Last week we covered Ashely Carman’s piece covering podcast companies, most notably iHeartRadio, purchasing downloads via mobile game ads. In a follow-up piece covering industry reactions posted last Thursday, Carman got official comment from the Interactive Advertising Bureau. 

“The standards are in a continual state of review,” said Eric John, vice president of the media center at the IAB. “We’re trying to ski to where the puck is going ultimately, and we’re going to make standards to match the industry’s needs.”

On the same day Podnews reported a response from Podtrac explaining why the gaming ads only playing 20 seconds of an episode of were counted as full downloads.
“It’s our understanding they appear as browser traffic without a unique user agent (or [unique] IP address). These downloads don’t have a material impact on the publisher rankings including the rank order of the top publishers.” 

Then, in related news, HotPod reported on an InsideRadio piece covering Podtrac suspending its weekly data newsletter after iHeart stopped sponsoring the project. The decision was reportedly made over a month ago. According to HotPod, the last data tracker email they’d received was published September 13th, while the last one with iHeartRadio branding had been sent August 15th. 

Since the HotPod publication went live, InsideRadio - a company owned by iHeartMedia - has pulled their Podtrac story. 


Publishers test personalizing newsletters with varying degrees of success

Manuela: Last Wednesday Digiday’s Sara Guaglione reported the experiences of publishers who experimented with using tools to generate personalized newsletters for subscribers. We’re covering it here as the tools and methodology involved might just be of interest to podcasting. From the article: 

“As companies like The New York Times and The Washington Post experiment with personalizing their homepages to get readers to consume more articles, publishers are also tweaking newsletters to serve readers’ specific interests and behaviors — but to varying degrees of success.

The piece opens with the success story of The Telegraph, which has run the personalized newsletter Headlines for a year. Each time a newsletter needs to be sent, an algorithm selects vertical-specific content recommendations based on browsing history, including making sure to not recommend articles the subscriber has already read. 

The Telegraph reports higher click-through rates, page views per click, and time spent on the website from Headlines subscribers vs. their standard hand-built newsletters. In contrast, publications like The Toronto Star have tried similar things and found little to no results. Newsroom director David Topping told Digiday:  

Most newsletter subscribers “seem pretty happy getting what everyone else got,” Topping said. The personalized newsletter drove engagement for a “niche audience” who wanted tailored recommendations but it wasn’t “necessarily something that’s going to move the needle,” he added.”

Niche audiences are a thing podcasting does well. The recommendation tech used to create these newsletters could be of use in the podcasting industry. An individual news podcast could build itself live akin to how Spooler allows The Refresh to add new segments on the fly. Except, with a recommendation engine, a news podcast could be constructed of only segments the recommendation tool knows the listener would enjoy. 

Or, scaled up to an entire production house or network, the same tech could be applied to give bespoke RSS feeds to subscribers that only dole out episodes of podcasts that company produces that the listener would enjoy. An elegant solution for the existing logjam of either dozens of individual RSS feeds for a stable of similar podcasts, or one feed containing multiple different shows. 


Quick Hits: Recommended Weekend Reading

Shreya: Finally, it’s time for Quick Hits, our roundup of articles that didn’t make the cut for today’s episode, but are still worth including in your weekend reading. This week: 

Numbers games by Brian Morrissey for The Rebooting newsletter. An excellent op-ed discussing how recent focus on having writers create content that generates subscriptions to a publication is the modern version of prioritizing writing that generated page clicks. Both overlook the meaty day-to-day content that keeps readers coming back. An excellent piece of opinion about an industry next door to podcasting. 

What are the Top 10 Alternative ID Solutions and How Should You Use Them? By Andrew Byrd for Admonsters. For those looking to get into some deep-level tech discussion, Byrd details ten privacy-focused Alternative IDs to future-proof for the day when Google eventually kills third party cookies. 

Political advertising is propping up a slow ad market by Jeremy Goldamn for InsiderIntelligence. Political ads are a hot-button topic for podcasting, but there’s no denying it’s a midterm election year and spending is only going up between now and November. 

Hit Songs Are Staying on the Top Charts Longer Than Ever by Lucas Shaw for Bloomberg. A companion piece to last week’s Quick Hit from The Guardian, Shaw details how modern streaming analytics are making top charts stagnate. Where a person who buys one CD a quarter and listened to it 500 times didn’t affect charts in the 90s, that same listening habit can keep artists afloat for years on Spotify. 

How ad tech aims to build back better by Ronana Shields for Digiday. We’re four years into a post-GDPR world. Shields covers the current state of adtech and privacy via discussions had at the first in-person Dmexco conference since 2020. 


The Download is a production of Sounds Profitable. Today's episode was hosted by Shreya Sharma and Manuela Bedoya, and the script was written by Gavin Gaddis.

Bryan Barletta and Tom Webster are the executive producers of The Download from Sounds Profitable.

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