Skip to main content
How Is Podcast Adtech Different From All Other Adtech?

How Is Podcast Adtech Different From All Other Adtech?

The Sounds Profitable Podcast

Season 2 • Episode 24

Today on the show, Bryan Barletta speaks with Conor McKenna, director at LUMA Partners. They discuss how adtech in podcasting applies to adtech in other adtech-led companies. Listen in to learn about:

  • How we’re still in the early days of building technology specifically made for podcasts
  • How we need to build software that makes the process of buying and selling ads more seamless
  • How we need better attribution technology because downloads aren’t enough
  • Why Conor recommends that publishers build out other content channels beyond podcasting

Here’s our favorite idea from this conversation: Bryan and Conor don’t agree about everything. And it makes for some interesting takeaways!


Bryan Barletta: How does ad-tech in podcasting compare to ad-tech in other ad-tech-led industries? And what can we learn from it? That's what we're talking about on this week's episode of 'Sounds Profitable,' ad-tech applied, with me, Bryan Barletta.

Arielle Nissenblatt: And me, Arielle Nissenblatt.

Bryan Barletta: Thanks to this month's sponsor, 'Claritas.' As a third party provider 'Claritas's' white glove service offers the science and proven methodology for accurate, transparent and scalable podcast campaign measurement. Find out more at

Arielle Nissenblatt: Special thanks to our sponsors for making 'Sounds Profitable' possible. Check them out by going to and clicking on their logos in the articles. Hey Bryan, how are you? What have you been listening to lately?

Bryan Barletta: Oh man. I can actually say that I have taken a pause from my current binge that will not be named for the time being.

Arielle Nissenblatt: Oh, goodness.

Bryan Barletta: Yep, Sierra, my wife has told me, I say it too many times, and need to really get past it. I actually listened to a little bit this morning of the Squirrel Girl Radio Show. That was the Marvel and SXM media project that just came out and it's fun.

Arielle Nissenblatt: And for folks who don't know what Bryan was covertly referring to, you can listen back to our previous episodes. That's just going to be our plug for prior episodes. Nothing about ad-tech, just to find out what inside joke we're talking about.

Bryan Barletta: There we go. And what about you? What are you onto now?

Arielle Nissenblatt: I have been re-listening to old episodes of Love and Radio which is one of the most consistently recommended podcasts throughout the years at 'EarBuds.' We did a five year data dump for 'EarBuds Podcast Collective,' which is my weekly newsletter. And we found that 'Love and Radio' popped up more times than any other podcast. It's just such a consistently great show. So big recommend. They're still putting out new episodes. It's been going on for a long time. I'm listening to an episode right now called; The Episode about Animals, and it's just little vignettes of animal stories and yeah, I very much would implore folks to listen if you love animals.

Bryan Barletta: That's awesome. I'll have to check it out.

Arielle Nissenblatt: All right, so Bryan, in just a moment, we're going to hit play on a conversation between you and Conor McKenna, who is a director at LUMA Partners. For some context, LUMA Partners is a strategic advisory firm with a focus on digital marketing. How did you get in touch with Conor, and what was it about his work that made you want to talk to him about the podcast space?

Bryan Barletta: Yeah, so LUMA is very well known for their LUMA scapes. So their holistic views of an entire marketplace. They have one for audio. And when I kicked off what 'Sounds Profitable,' Conor had reached out to talk about the audio one and talk about the space in general. And it was very cool to see an outside organization really trying to map audio. It actually led to what we partnered with 'Magellan' on to do the podscape version. Because we wanted a little bit more narrow view. Conor and I have been talking on and off since I started 'Sounds Profitable.' He has some really great insights. And I honestly really enjoy that we disagree on a bunch of things, because while I do have outside experience from the podcast industry and ad-tech in general, some of it's a little stale. I'm happy to admit that. It has been mostly heads down podcasting for a while. So it is very fun to talk to someone who has got his finger on the pulse a little bit more, and make sure that we're all aware of the things that he sees on a day to day basis.

Arielle Nissenblatt: There was definitely some disagreement. This is a bit of a spicer episode than normal.

Bryan Barletta: But it's good, right?

Arielle Nissenblatt: Yeah, it's great.

Bryan Barletta: I think that 'Sounds Profitable' needs to be challenged. I think it's very cool what we've been able to create in the opinions that I can bring to the table or the people that I can highlight. But I'm just as happy to bring people up that have a different point of view and really back it up. I think Conor does a killer job at that. I think that's what we need more of, right? It's educated disagreements. It's backed up disagreements. It's motivated, right?

Arielle Nissenblatt: Yeah.

Bryan Barletta: Because Conor wants to see the space grow as much as I do. We just have different thoughts on how we get there, and we have different experiences.

Arielle Nissenblatt: With that, let's get to your chat with Conor McKenna from LUMA Partners.

Bryan Barletta: So, how does podcasting compare to other industries that LUMA is a part of?

Conor McKenna: So at LUMA we really are, we sort of define our sector focus as the intersection of media marketing technology. That's largely ad-tech, marketing technology and digital content. And podcasting in that respect is a certainly digital content, and advertising is the primary form of monetization.

Bryan Barletta: Absolutely.

Conor McKenna: That's where we certainly come at it from. Why are we interested in it is a little bit of pattern matching recognition of where, what's worked in prior industries and why podcasting is sort of set up to have a huge ad spend, which frankly doesn't have today. So our firm was founded about 12 years ago. So as programmatic advertising open web started to really take hold, and programmatic advertising open web is not that dissimilar from podcasting in the sense that it's pretty easy and cheap to create content.
So content and publishers are very widespread. There is starting to be lots of demand from advertisers, and in digital it would be a little longer. So there've been long time demand to spend. Consumers are obviously using it. And then automation is getting going. And what we've seen in that ecosystem, and now into others is there tend to be a couple things that drive ad spend to start to accelerate. And they don't necessarily have to go in any order, but they sort of all three need to be there. And that is buy in from demand, which is buyers want to reach the audience, which is generally driven just by there being an audience.

Bryan Barletta: Yeah.

Conor McKenna: The next is; buying from suppliers to set up their ecosystem in a way that demand can buy the way they want to. And then finally, a lot of this, especially as you get towards like programmatic, or how does it really scale quickly, is tied towards getting technology in the right hands, right? There can be technology out there, but if it's not easily accessible for the buyers or people don't have a large enough platform, you can't get the flywheel going. And in programmatic advertising that really happened when Google acquired double click. So that was about 2010 or so, or sorry, that was 2007. Then they acquired an SSP and a DSP around 2010, 2011. And that's where things started to really accelerate. So you didn't just have willing buyers and sellers wanting to advertise. You then had technology that wasn't a huge platform to get things out there. We've seen this also in the convergent TV or CTV ecosystem. There had been publishers trying to push people there.
There was a lot of S-VAD capabilities there, which we mostly use on streaming. Now there is a lot more consumers using advertising supported, which means marketers are wanting to come to that channel, which is creating more technology and technology starting to get in the right hands. Podcasting is very similar. In all these cases I'd say the underlying theme is, follow the consumer.

Bryan Barletta: Yeah.

Conor McKenna: If you look at the trade and EdisonReports every year, it's very clear, consumers are spending time on podcasting. And we have started to see even technology get in the right hands, right? The biggest platform, Spotify, iHeart, Amazon, et cetera, have started to acquire some technology in that, which is a good thing for the industry who are at large, right?

Bryan Barletta: Yeah.

Conor McKenna: You need that to sort of start to rise all boats. But podcasting is still a challenging dynamic I think. You've got enterprise publishers, and then you have a ton, and a ton, and a ton of long tail publishers. And unlike the open web where it was very simple to drop in a cookie, which has its own massive flaws and we are seeing they start to play out now as they're going away. It's much harder to make podcast advertising addressable easily, right? And easily get into an ad network or a programmatic platform, et cetera. So it's taking a longer time to get there. We're sort of in that early stage of building technology that's not just trying to repurpose technology that's built for another channel, but tech that's built for this channel, works for this channel, has a good consumer experience. And is that sort of point where the ad spend can catch up to the consumer spend because I think time spent is there, right? It's really the user experience addressability and to get the ad spend to catch up to it.

Bryan Barletta: Yeah, and you said there's a lot to unpack there, and I think we'll probably have you back on for more of it in the future, but specifically here, you highlighted programmatic. I think a lot of people in podcasting are nervous about programmatic because in podcasting there's no visual cue to say this is an adverse, this is a content. So it's all content when it gets to the listener. Making sure that the audio match is making sure it's contextually relevant, making sure the targeting is not too aggressive, are all things that can slow people down for that.
When you say programmatic, we're not necessarily talking about open marketplaces, putting the inventory up there with minimal controls and anyone can buy anything, right? We're talking about just the automation of flow that a buyer in their home turf of a DSP can initiate deals, some that are open, but just as many that are preconfigured, and there's less interaction required to get something off the ground. Is that accurate, or do you mean like open marketplace is really what's going to kick it off?

Conor McKenna: This probably will be both, right? But I largely mean the automation of advertising workflow. The open web was created in programmatic was usually called realtime bidding, right?

Bryan Barletta: Yeah.

Conor McKenna: Because that's what it was. You were bidding on that timeframe. That's not how better publishers want to work. That's not how better advertisers want to work. It actually creates a pretty bad ecosystem for publishers, a pretty double edged sword. Like, yes, you fill remnant inventory, but it's very hard to differentiate on premium content, right?

Bryan Barletta: Yeah.

Conor McKenna: Once you're only buying on trackers and cookies, the content doesn't matter that much anymore. So if you're the New York Times, or you're Conor McKenna in your basement, it doesn't make a huge difference. As long, if you're getting tracker, and bid in real time. So there's definitely protections against wanting to do that. I think of the term of programmatic has really expanded well beyond that.
If you look in the TV ecosystem has been very careful about this. That's the last thing they ever wanted to do is be real time bidded because it costs so much money and it's so hard to make TV quality content that you want to be able to differentiate on the quality of the content and consumers coming to you specifically for that, which is why you've seen a lot of shift towards things called, private marketplaces and things of that nature. The difference is what you don't want to be doing is, picking up a phone call, swapping excels back and forth. Leverage software to take over the workflow solutions, make it easier, set up rules that allow people to come to you without you having to have a massive staff of managing inbound from different advertisers.

Bryan Barletta: Hundred percent.

Conor McKenna: That's the goal of programmatic in this, and certainly the way we would view it.

Bryan Barletta: Yeah, I like to throw the lob ball like that because programmatic for people outside of podcasting really means a way to initiate deals on prenegotiated terms, right? Like me, and you could have... You could say, "Here's my inventory. Here's what you get access to. Here's the pricing for it. And here are the rules of content that we go on there." I sign that agreement, and then I am open to honor those rules and buy into it whenever you make a request. What I send there is between us. We've already made that agreement, but that can be premium inventory, right?
I think for podcasting, one of the things that we always jump over, because there isn't really a way to do it today in other mediums, is that programmatic doesn't mean host-read. I think it would be a massive challenge for programmatic to encompass host-read. But I think that if any industry could try it, I think podcasting could do it because what you're really talking about here, like you said, it's less phone calls, less emails, less Excel spreadsheets. It's saying you have the rights to do this. Your creative can be this, this is the pricing, and if you respond, it better honor all of that based on our contract.

Conor McKenna: Yeah. The other aspect of host-read is, host-read is just ad creative, right?

Bryan Barletta: Yes.

Conor McKenna: So in the end, and you're finding more and more in podcasting at least personally listening to, there's still a cut away to a host-read. It's not as if they're doing it live while the guest is listening. In which case you can still optimize for who of your audience is listening to that because a podcast or a marketer may want to optimize for a certain type of customer or a certain amount of frequency. And if you can stitch in your host-read shirts, it's not as scalable, is completely open, but it's still scalable.

Bryan Barletta: Exactly, yeah.

Conor McKenna: And then you can fill in the remnant inventory with other platforms that maybe aren't hosted, right? It can be a mix of both. So there's still stitching and automation that in theory can be possible. I think that the other big challenge to podcasting is the infrastructure's sort of different, right? It was built origin on RSS feeds that have not allowed as much capabilities along those lines. As you get into streaming, it becomes... There's a lot more flexibility to do things with a stream of how you're going to manage ad slots and putting stuff in. The challenge there is, streaming tends to be managed by different platforms that are--

Bryan Barletta: Very aggregator controlled.

Conor McKenna: Yeah, take their share of it so.

Bryan Barletta: I don't want to put you on the spot and say which way you think podcasting will go to survive, but do you think that it is possible in the open RSS framework for podcasting to grow in this method, right? Let's say we do a better job, and we really stop making excuses for the download, but simply stand strongly behind the value of a download as an industry. And we continue to show research and support for the success of it. And we do build programmatic as an operational path to be a stronger and more accessible way of going about things. Do we as an industry need to concede to a more closed aggregator solution to survive and grow, or can we, is it possible for us to stay open in your view?

Conor McKenna: Things are shifting sort of broadly speaking in advertising technology. I think the fear that everyone has is you don't want to become following a world where you're landing on Facebook and Google again, the walled gardens, right?

Bryan Barletta: Yep.

Conor McKenna: And you've got valuable content, you want to be able to sell it, you want to be able to control it. And certainly on Facebook you've seen what happened to publisher, right? There were a lot of publishers, I call it that whole digital 2.0 phase where scale was the biggest, the most important thing. The challenge was that scale was built on Facebook, right? So it was rented users. It wasn't actual customers.

Bryan Barletta: Yeah.

Conor McKenna: Then Facebook changes an algorithm, and you can fall off the map quick. There were companies that did 40-million-dollar of net income, and then they crashed in a matter of a couple months on those situations. So you definitely want to avoid that, but that's been in the light, right? That was the first time that had happened, at least in the digital era. We are sort of saying the open web was now, it used to be walled garden and open web, and now there's walled gardens, open web. And in the middle is hedge gardens. And this is where you're seeing a lot more focus on first party data and all those types of things sort of owning your customer, but opening up data so that you can create more automation, more targeting, et cetera, while protecting some privacy and leveraging the data that's yours to your benefit. I don't have exact application of that towards podcasting today. But that general view of the world is shifting where I think there's going to be a lot more protection that get falling into another walled garden.

Bryan Barletta: Yeah.

Conor McKenna: I think broadly speaking trends are moving away from that being a concern. I think the challenges isn't with, is it open or is closed a little bit with the architecture of RSS feeds and is there another platform or another medium to do it that is more open, or better way to serve it to customers? That's ultimately the goal. I think if you're going to say stick to the RSS feeds, stick to downloads, we're never going to change. Someone's going to change. Someone's going to be opportunistic, and you don't want to be left sitting behind. Because even today, the podcasting audio or podcasting advertising experience, isn't that much different than radio, right? There's a lot of direct response. It may be host-read, it may be sponsorships, may be not. There's nothing too unique to it.
We're early days in voice technology and more audio technology and better automation here that someone's going to figure out applications of ad spend that is more unique to this medium.

Bryan Barletta: Yeah.

Conor McKenna: It happened in Facebook with native advertising. It happened in mobile apps Broadly, which are very focused on sort of pushing consumers to another app to download, or to reengage. And sort of create its own ecosystem. So audio hasn't done a ton of that yet, and we're only at the cusp of where you could interact with potential audio ads. So.

Bryan Barletta: The whole thing there for me is that has to be siloed to happen because the RSS framework is ingested and used by too many aggregators. And none of the aggregators are going to agree on next step forwards that benefit the entire industry. They're going to do proprietary things. It's a great example, be Spotify so focused on advertising. I truly believe Spotify has done such a killer job at selling audio advertising that they are not podcast advertising or music advertising or anything anymore. They're their own channel, right? When you think of audio advertising, we have radio streaming audio, streaming music, podcasting, and then Spotify. They won. Give them their own category within the entire audio bucket. I don't think podcasting can advance technology wise to compete with what an aggregate like a new aggregator will do, a new walled garden. But I think you're right that the appetite for walled gardens has decreased.
So they'll get a little bit of the budget and they might get a little bit everybody's budget, but in the same way that podcasting primarily isn't arguing with people about moving all their radio spend over into podcasting. They're not going to fight with people who want to spend 10% of a campaign on Spotify or whatever the next aggregator is. I think that podcasting as a tech platform, you're right, that the programmatic part, the automation, the ease of purchasing needs to get better. But I think the biggest failure is this belief that download isn't inaccurate enough measure when people buy just fine on radio, terrestrial TV before some of the panel based tracking really took off, right?

Conor McKenna: You're but you're not factoring in inertia there, which is the most powerful force in it. I agree that it's not any worse than that, but it's a new medium, right?

Bryan Barletta: Yeah.

Conor McKenna: So you're not going to drive someone over for something that's just as good. I think the other aspect of programmatic that's in all of this, which is just a broader shift to where marketing advertising is going, is performance, right? Which is sophisticated marketers want to be able to better show the results of their ad spend. So move away from the "50% of my advertising's good. I just don't know which half," and move towards, "Okay, if I spend X, I'm expecting to get some sort of return on it in some sort of performance metric. " And that can be brand metrics that can be down to, "Okay, I spend X and I got this many sales and the back end." What's great about those types of purchases is that you spend to the efficient frontier. Once you've determined, "If I spend X, I'm going to get Y, you're going to spend that amount," until your margin makes sense.
Facebook had sort of cracked that. They're struggling with that right now with their changes around data identifiers, the cost for brands to get a new customer, I advertise on Facebook, has gone four to five times. But that means they can still measure it, right? That is the sort of measure that is needed. And sure, a download can be a good proxy for that, but there needs to be better attribution technology that's showing what that did. And it's probably not just research. It probably needs to be a little bit more real time. Can you measure the impact of, "If I advertise X amount on podcast, what am I getting out of it?" And that's technology that's being developed omnichannel.
It's a challenge in digital. It's a challenge in TV. It's a challenge across the board and sort of the holy grow what people are trying to solve for. If you say, "Well, we're sticking with a download and that's going to be it," and that's what you have to use, I think that's a tough place to be. There will be people that are going to be opportunistic and try to move beyond it. If it's a, "Look, this is what we have now. Let's all continue to be thinking about ways to better open up access to data or show what we're getting from a download," or people clicking through, obviously there are lots of direct response calls in podcasting already. So those are pretty performance centric.
But that sort of outflow of data from consumers listening to a medium, I think is important. And again, streaming has some aspects of that or if there's ways to link off it. And it's a tough one where podcasters, right, the publishers aren't directly tying to their consumers. They're going through some sort of listening app for the most part, and that's not going to change so.

Bryan Barletta: Yeah, I just don't think they'll get any closer. I don't think that's a bad thing. I think that, like you said, the people that will be opportunistic on these will be silos. And I think the taste of advertisers on silos is pretty tarnished. But you talk about Facebook, and being able to put in a certain amount of money and get a multiple pull back in return. What open advertising ecosystem enables that? In open web, in standard display programmatic, does that still exist as well as it does in Facebook?

Conor McKenna: No. Which is why Facebook gets a premium.

Bryan Barletta: Yeah. But that's the siloed approach, and this is what I mean, podcasting can be the comparable part of audio as open web.

Conor McKenna: Oh, yeah.

Bryan Barletta: It's close to having to get there.

Conor McKenna: I totally agree with that.

Bryan Barletta: Yeah. And then the streaming silos will exist, right? Spotify making their own solution that takes the podcast content and what people like about podcasts, augments it into that digital approach will be attractive. And there'll be more of those. There's no reason why Google and Amazon won't step into it. Google with how they're moving with YouTube. Amazon with their amazing amount of data and not talking earlier enough about podcasting while they loop everything else together. It's coming.

Conor McKenna: Yeah.

Bryan Barletta: But what I think is really neat about that, and it's the same thing on Facebook too, is that silo works. And then you can take it and extrapolate the research you do from that silo to the open space, to open programmatic, to open podcast advertising. I think me and you are kind of getting at the same thing here that the death of podcasting is the belief that you can just do open RSS podcasting.
We are content creators in this industry. Our format is audio. The belief that you can only be available in RSS only for open aggregators, only focusing on the download is the only way you sell, is not how this industry grows or not how companies succeed. However, we are going to need to play the silo game. A big portion of everybody will be that open. But will you also sell directly through Spotify or collaborate with them, or Amazon, or YouTube as they dig into that? Will you try other streaming platforms? Will you try other mediums as they pop up? What won't you say yes to if your format can be represented there and you can take their more accurate silo data and apply it to your open results?

Conor McKenna: Yeah. I think would agree largely with all of that and agree. There's still going to be a big ecosystem in the; call it the open web, and then in the open podcasting space, for sure. And just by nature of where consumers are listening, right? That's the goal. I think the nuances though, is that no one in open web would say, "Cookies are great," right?

Bryan Barletta: Yeah.

Conor McKenna: And let's rely on that. That's been the almost decade I've been in this space, has been a driver and there's been incremental change all along the way that has improved it and worked out better for driving better demand, better advertising, spend more advertising spend. Obviously we've seen digital ads been continued to go up, both in the open web and in those walled gardens. So I would say there's still that that you have to be driving it forward, no matter what.

Bryan Barletta: Yeah. Sorry. I agree with you. The download is all we have today. We should be thinking about more, but I don't think we should dismiss the download, right?

Conor McKenna: Yes. Yeah, use what you have and innovate for the future, yeah.

Bryan Barletta: Yeah, the innovation's going to be hard when you have multiple different people who are trying to build a silo and may not want to give you more back. All it takes though is one to challenge it. If anyone of those; Apple, Google, Amazon, Spotify decide to give podcasters just a little bit more data as an aggregator, gets us the next step past download, to more accurate user count that can be matched to your hosting data. It sets a waterfall that the other partners will have to participate in, or pull out a true app podcast advertising, true podcast openness, and be a full on silo that doesn't participate in our ecosystem. That's kind of the dam I think that has to break. But yeah, this has been a killer conversation. I think seeing the key thing here is automation and always challenging for more is really where I think we both align here on it.

Conor McKenna: I would say one other thing that I wanted to mention, and as you just brought up on one of those platforms giving you more data. There's certainly an opportunity in a play that someone could have to go that route and take like Apple who's at least claimed that they aren't an advertising company although some of the stuff they've done in the mobile apps recently, you could argue against that. But because of that, I think the other thing to keep in mind from a publisher perspective, and this is where people struggled in digital media, is that reliance on your touching your consumers in just that single channel, right? At this point, if you're a podcaster, you are a brand, you have an Instagram, you have a TikTok, you have other ways to touch your consumers. You have newsletters.
There's ways to reach your consumers and at least get the core down where they have other ways to meet you. And what's important there is what you're doing is, you're building brand. And the importance of brand for a content creator is I think more important than ever before. It gives you so many more options. If you own your brand and you get consumers who are coming to see you, not coming because they looked up podcast conversation and found this conversation. You might get a single listener and that's impressions. And that's what people used to get in digital advertising. And then they were very susceptible to changes in programmatic, changes in platform algorithms, et cetera.
If you have built a consumer base and really focus on building your brand, then you can go to Spotify and your people will with, right?

Bryan Barletta: Yes.

Conor McKenna: You can go with Apple and people will come with you. And you can monetize them not just via podcasting, but that might be the start of your flywheel. And then you monetize them many other ways.

Bryan Barletta: Yep.

Conor McKenna: I just think that part, even as you get into, we're not talking about web theory and I don't want to go any further than this.

Bryan Barletta: No.

Conor McKenna: But as you think about those types of things, that concept becomes that much more important.

Bryan Barletta: Every single person who realizes that they're a content creator and multi-channel will succeed far more than the rare few who can narrowly just be podcasting, right?

Conor McKenna: Yeah.

Bryan Barletta: I completely agree with you. It may be your flagship channel, but it can't be your only channel. And if your goal is to grow your brand in your reach and your revenue, you have to be open to every variation with every siloed partner and every growth potential.

Conor McKenna: Would agree.

Bryan Barletta: Well, thank you so much for joining me today, man.

Conor McKenna: Absolutely. This is fun.

Arielle Nissenblatt: Okay. Great conversation. I would love to share some takeaways with you. Are you ready?

Bryan Barletta: I am.

Arielle Nissenblatt: First up. We are still in the early days of building technology specifically for podcasts, for example, not adapting technology made for other media. What is an example of that, and how do you see that progressing?

Bryan Barletta: Yeah, I think programmatic is a great example right now. So much of programmatic is built on real time responses, for you to bid live on a campaign, which the focus of programmatic is a lot of requests come in, you bid on just the ones you want, and you know immediately so that you can pace the campaign and continue buying. Podcasting has a little bit of delay with that. It could be minutes, it could be up to an hour. Really depends. The framework isn't as clear as it can be in other spaces. So while programmatic can work and we are adapting that from another space, there's some concessions on how it works in podcasting that we have to be aware of and that the greater industry of advertising needs to be aware of too.

Arielle Nissenblatt: And you recently had a conversation with Sean from 'Flightpath' about building technology specifically for the podcast space. How does that tie in here?

Bryan Barletta: So much of podcasting is built off of things that did work and allowed people to move forward. I think a lot of what we do, and a lot of our processes are based around headcount, right? More people can solve more problems, but sometimes it's just notes on the back of a napkin, basically to get everything done. And while there are tools out there that do order management and other aspects like that; creative management, programmatic buying, even direct sales management, what we're really lacking is something that translates how we do it in podcasting today into those processes, and also education for how we can learn the core process of how these things are handled outside of our space. So we are desperately in need of translation layer products. Either bring us up to speed with the rest of the industry or take our secret language and make it understandable to the rest of the world.

Arielle Nissenblatt: My next takeaway is something that you've mentioned a few times throughout the history of this podcast; the belief that your podcast can only be available in RSS and the act of solely focusing on the download is not how podcasting grows. You've said this before, you said it again here, what do you mean by this? And what should we focus on in addition to the RSS?

Bryan Barletta: Yeah, I think so many people are coming at us for ways for podcasting to be for creators. Remember sounds profit is built for medium businesses all the way to enterprise businesses. So you're really investing in this. This is a company, this is a career, this is an investment. So all of the new technologies, all of the things that are really pushing us to grow as an industry when we talk about YouTube, when we talk about Spotify not having an RSS feed, when we talk about every option that takes a concept of podcasting and spreads it out further, we're talking about podcasters becoming creators, right? Sounds proper as a YouTube channel, not super traffic, but it's there. We have social media, we have the newsletter, we have all these different things. Our podcast is an important part of it, but we are spread across multiple different creator channels and that's how we will grow and how we'll benefit.
So anytime a podcaster can become a creator, they have multiple channels to optimize, to license their content, all of these amazing things. And that's why it's really critical to think about that. Because podcasting is going to shrink as podcasting and silo. If we say podcasting is just this, it's an audio file that you listen with the screen off, and it has to be from an RSS feed. That concept is going to get chipped away at. We'll have tons of cool core things there, but we're going to have long tail audio that might never have an RSS feed. Anchor by default doesn't populate one, but that doesn't mean it's not podcasting. We're going to have the opportunity for some publishers to explore silo, like solutions with Spotify, with YouTube, with all of these other partners out there. But they can also live on the open RSS feed. Podcasting has so much potential, but the potential in it is realizing that by being an open format, we have to be malleable and open to going in every format.

Arielle Nissenblatt: Break down what you mean by siloed. You mean that a publisher might only publish on Spotify or might only publish on Apple podcast subscriptions?

Bryan Barletta: Yeah, or even the fact that you might have to dual publish, right? If you want to have subscriptions on Apple and Spotify right now, and you choose to do it their native way through Apple directly, or an anchor for Spotify, and you also have an RSS feed and you choose not to host your RSS feed on Anchor. That means you have a core hosting platform distributing your podcast, in Apple you're manually uploading your show. You are also duplicating that work in Anchor so that it is available as a subscription in Spotify. That's now three executions. That's three hosting platforms.
You add in YouTube, even if you push something over to that, at some point, you're going to be able to augment on top of what you push over. You want to push these clips into social media, that's great. That's more content sources. Those are more angles where the core data doesn't get back into your primary hosting platform. So yeah, I think that when I think about siloed, what I'm talking about is the channel. Spotify's data and Apple's data is never going to one to one match with a download. Let's not say never. I'm not optimistic that they're going to start providing the metric that's core for us. But I do believe that it is in everybody's best interest to explore places that they can replicate their content.

Arielle Nissenblatt: And to close it out, my last takeaway is from Conor. Conor recommends that publishers begin building out other content channels. This is what you were just talking about. I want to reiterate how much I believe in that as well. It's all about cultivating a brand, and that'll give you as a publisher a lot more options and possibility when it comes to how you interact with your consumers. If people are coming to your show because they love you, that is much stronger than them coming to your show based off of some keywords. You're going to find more people over time coming to you because of you rather than searching one term that you might have mentioned on your podcast once. That is better for your consumer base, that is better for potential brands that might want to work with you. Ultimately that'll go a long, long way. So I love that takeaway from Conor, and wanted to reiterate here. Any thoughts on that, Bryan?

Bryan Barletta: I mostly think that trying the other channels is valuable to do if you're a business. Dedicate a few months to it, dedicate headcount to it. And really give it a shot in the same way you had to at some point break into podcasting from another medium or start a new show, or how however you're going about it. Give it a serious shot in those other channels. Because like you said, it might be a great way to catch people into your net, to pull you into what the core aspect of the show or the network is. But that's what it is.
It's marketing, it's advertising by trying another channel by seeing if you can pull people in, and not every channel works like we talked about before. TikTok probably not going to work for 'Sounds Profitable.' It could. We put in a little bit of effort but not enough to really figure it out. So I agree with you fully, it is valuable to make your content stretch as far as you can. But it's also okay to say, "We tried it and it didn't work." Don't say never. Just put it on the shelf for now.

Arielle Nissenblatt: What do you think of the show? We want to hear from you. Please reach out if you have any questions or comments. We're on Twitter, @SoundsProfNews, @BryanBarletta, or @arithisandthat. If you want to send us an email, that's,

Bryan Barletta: This show is recorded with 'SquadCast.' The best place to record studio quality, audio and video for content creators. I use 'SquadCast' for all of our podcasts and for the product deep dives to get that awesome video quality that we love to share with all of you. So please go to, for a free seven day trial. And let me know what you think because I'm positive you'll love it.

Arielle Nissenblatt: Do you want more from 'Sounds Profitable?' We have a bunch more podcasts that you can explore. You can find them by going to, Thank you to Evo Tarra and Ian Powell for their help on this episode.

Register for our upcoming webinar:

Ad Nauseum

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.

Register for free