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The business of podcasting

TikTok Eyes Podcasting? & 6 Other Stories for August 4th 2022

This week on The Download: New TikTok Trademark Could mean new streaming service, third-party cookies get a stay of execution from Google, Apple App Store ads could signal Apple Podcasts’ future, and two perspectives on the downturn ad economy. 

New TikTok App Trademark

Manuela: Last Thursday Dan Whateley and Amanda Perelli, writing for Business Insider, covered a new trademark application for a service called TikTok Music. As the simplistic name suggests, TikTok parent company ByteDance could be looking to branch the TikTok brand out beyond its current relationship to music and create a fully-fledged streaming platform. 

“The idea that ByteDance would launch a standalone "TikTok Music" streaming service in the US to compete with players like Spotify and Apple Music isn't unfounded. It already runs a streaming app called Resso in three markets — India, Brazil, and Indonesia — that has been grabbing market share from other streamers in the past year.”

While nothing has been formally announced or set in stone, the sources Perelli and Whateley contacted for their story suggest it’s highly unlikely ByteDance would file such a trademark. Filing in the US and Australia wouldn’t happen without a strong chance the company meant for it to come to fruition. Then there’s the matter of this move making perfect sense for TikTok. 

Why cover this on The Download? Well, in addition to the general fact TikTok is slowly devouring the online world, it’s coming for audio specifically and the trademark application lists, among other things, the proposed new app’s ability to stream:

“downloadable mobile applications providing podcast and radio broadcast content.”

What remains to be seen is what the TikTok version of ‘a podcast’ will be.

Google Delays Cookie Death Again

Shreya: Once again we won’t be seeing the death of third-party cookies, as Google has delayed their death blow for another year. Last Wednesday The Verge’s Richard Lawler covered the story in the article “Google delays blocking third-party cookies again, now targeting late 2024.” 

“The plan is to expand the group of Chrome users who have Privacy Sandbox APIs enabled to “millions of users globally” starting in August, then gradually opt more people in throughout the rest of the year and into 2023, giving the publishers and developers of these sites time to find out how the technology works before the APIs are “generally available” by Q3 of 2023.” 

With this second delay third-party cookies are becoming the shoe that refuses to drop in advertising. While podcasting doesn’t depend on cookies per se, the ability to track individual consumers remains an expectation of digital marketers who don’t want to see the genie go back into the bottle. If it does, podcasts are on equal footing with mobile and web ads, and all will have to do the work to target the right consumers.

Apple App Store Ad Offerings Signal Podcast Future

Manuela: This Tuesday’s issue of Stratechery covers many sections of the Apple earnings call, but one particular section stuck out to The Download: Apple’s new advertising slots. The new slots are detailed by 9to5Mac’s Chance Miller.

“Apple is expanding its advertising business and adding two new ad slots to the App Store. Currently, the App Store has two ad slots: one on the main ‘Search’ tab and one in the Search results. The two new App Store ads announced today will bring advertisements to the App Store ‘Today’ homepage, as well as to individual app pages.” 

While the App Store and Apple Podcasts are different services, this change could signal a shift in the winds over in the podcasting world. Currently there are no ads in Apple Podcasts. Apple also puts considerable time into featuring podcasts in places ads would normally appear at no charge. Years of careful curation and optimal placement have caused those spots to become incredibly coveted. By making some of those spaces available for purchase - through search or the home page, or even on pages for OTHER podcasts - Apple would unlock a large revenue opportunity for themselves outside of subscriptions, and provide a new for-pay opportunity for podcast promotion.

Ad Economy Downturn Dual Perspectives

Shreya: On Monday Digiday’s Seb Joseph posted “The downturn ad economy: A tale of two narratives.” 

“There are two competing narratives on advertising at the moment. They sit uneasily with each other. But both are correct. Ad dollars are being spent, but they’re also being cut. Yes, these two things can be true at the same time. No, the latter perspective doesn’t make the former any less valid or vice versa. Really, it’s a matter of perspective.” 

The two warring perspectives in Joseph’s piece are that of the big holding companies and agencies versus the platforms. Both are staring down the barrel of a recession and have different reactions. 

“It’s no surprise that the marketers who can afford to advertise now are trying to make the most of it.  They’re spending ad dollars, rather than looking to pull them. Indeed, economic slumps are usually the best chance to buy share of voice cheaply at the same time rivals reduce their own. It’s a cliche for a reason.  

Otherwise, Unilever wouldn’t have splurged £169.73 million ($206.7 million) on advertising in the first half of the year alone. Coca-Cola did so mething similar, as did McDonald’s. The largest advertisers will try and advertise their way through the downturn — to a point, at least.” 

Podcasting is platform-heavy, working diligently to get the big advertisers to shift their spending into podcasting. Yet those platform peers are the ones getting the short end of the stick when it comes to ad cuts. 

“To survive, companies are cutting costs, including advertising. When these companies advertise, they tend to do so online first and foremost. SMEs and DTCs are nothing but digital-first in many respects. So when these businesses feel the effects of adverse conditions, so do the platforms they advertise on.”

When those in the podcasting industry talk about the push for bigger advertisers in our space, it's not only for growth: it’s to weather the storm. If some of those spend-through-the-storm big fish can be directed to our corner of the world, they’ll keep multiple industries afloat.

Quick Hits Section

Manuela: Finally, it’s time for our semi-regular roundup of articles we’re calling Quick Hits. These are articles that didn’t quite make the cut for today’s episode, but are still worth including in your weekend reading. This week’s four great reads are: 

First: Google Begins Interest Group-Based Ad Experiment by Laurie Sullivan. Google is testing grouping users into interest groups (the article gives “custom bikes” as an example).This has implications for podcasting. What would be a great way to reach custom bike fans? A custom bike podcast.  Podcasting has a window to figure this stuff out. 

Clear your calendar for the afternoon of August 16th as the Latino Podcast Listener Report 2022 is coming your way. The presentation, co-hosted by Gabriel Soto, Edison Research Senior Director of Research, and my co-host on La Descarga, as well as She Podcasts cofounder Elsie Escobar. Registration is open now. 

Also: Podcasts are testing out-of-home ads to reach broader audiences by Alyssa Meyers. In a previous episode we touched on the story of Slow Burn buying a billboard to promote their season on Shirley Wheeler in Roe v. Wade battleground states. This covers the wider trend of podcasts dipping their toes in out-of-home advertising, first highlighted by James Cridland over in Podnews. The habit is growing and catching more attention, though it comes with - ironically - less metrics than the already small amount of fingerprinting traditional podcast advertising comes with. 

Finally: How Slate’s Charlie Kammerer is prioritizing frequency to boost podcast revenue by Kayleigh Barber. In a piece that rarely happens in mainstream podcast coverage, Slate’s Charlie Kammerer talks through the outlet’s podcasting strategy. Of note is the approach that shows integrated value, using podcast paywalls to drive subscriptions of Slate overall. 

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.

Special thanks to our media host, Omny Studio.

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