Manuela: This is The Download from Sounds Profitable, the most important news from this week and why it matters to people in the business of podcasting. I’m Manuela Bedoya.
Shreya: And I’m Shreya Sharma.
Manuela: The Download is brought to you by Magellan AI. Track the trends in spend, ad load, podcasts on YouTube, and more with Magellan AI’s advertising benchmark report for Q1, available now. You can find a link in the description or visit Magellan dot AI.
Shreya: This week: Sounds Profitable’s newest study focuses on buyer perceptions of podcast advertising, SXM Media announces closure of Stitcher, and Bloomberg reports film and TV profits have dropped in recent years.
Let’s get started.
The Podcast Opportunity.
Manuela: This Wednesday, Tom Webster debuted Sounds Profitable’s latest research in a live webinar. Titled The Podcast Opportunity, the research aims to present buyer perceptions of podcast advertising. The research was conducted in partnership with Digiday and Signal Hill Insights.
Both qualitative and quantitative data have been collected to build the study. On the quantitative side, 293 online interviews with buyers from both the brand and agency side were conducted, with 93 sourced from Digiday’s buyer’s panel and 200 further verified buyers sourced from a reputable B2B panel. On the qualitative side, 11 interviews were conducted with veteran buyers of podcasts, largely from the agency side with some representation of holding companies and brands.
Among other findings, themes emerge showing there’s likely quite a few buyers bouncing off podcast advertising due to lack of education on podcast advertising’s capabilities, if not outright misconceptions about adtech. For example, about a third of those asked have not used pixel-based attribution solutions to measure success.
The top reason for people who previously bought podcast advertising but aren’t in 2023 was lack of demand from client brands or that buyer’s brand for podcast advertising, making up 42% of responses. With people who have never purchased podcast advertising at all, 37% said there was no brand-side demand from agencies to buy.
This pairs with results from the survey question asking those who had never purchased podcast advertising why they hadn’t. The top result, with 37% of respondents, is “no demand from client brands or my brand.” The third and fourth reasons given are lack of ad effectiveness or delivery measurement, and insufficient targeting or demographic information, both at 24% of respondents.A quote from Webster’s presentation of the data:
“Podcasting needs a concerted industry effort to reintroduce itself to both the public AND to brands- many brand marketers are simply unaware of the advances podcasting technology has made over the last five years, particularly in targeting and measurement. “
However, even with all the advancements, more experienced buyers are still experiencing frustration with existing tools. Audiences have grown, but technology for targeting, measurement, and ad operations needs to grow along with it to allow smooth integration from creative to campaign.
Webster also stresses the importance of making podcast ad buying easier for everyone. Old-guard buyers who’ve been with podcasting since the beginning should find it easier, not more difficult, to set up direct buys of host-read ads. It should be easier to buy in podcasting, regardless of what and how they want to buy.
This study has also revealed a few areas that warrant additional study in order to overcome or address potential objections to buying podcasting, including the prevalence and potential impact of ad-skipping in podcasting compared to other ad-supported media.
Shreya: This Tuesday, Hollywood Reporter writer Caitlin Huston covered the sunsetting of one of the oldest apps in podcasting. Stitcher, originally launched in 2008 as a podcast listening app, will sunset in August of this year. According to an internal SXM Media memo announcing the decision to retire Stitcher, the move is in anticipation of the much-teased new ‘streaming experience’ SXM is planning to debut this fall.
Stitcher listeners are being encouraged to move their podcast listening to the SXM app, with paid Stitcher subscribers having already received a six month free trial offer for the Platinum tier of SiriusXM’s streaming service.
Huston’s coverage makes an effort to highlight the fact that the Stitcher retirement comes with no layoffs and no content cancellation. The SiriusXM Podcast Network, which presides over the content production companies previously making content for the Stitcher brand, will continue operating as-is. A quote from the internal memo announcing the decision to retire the Stitcher app:
“Our unique ecosystem gives us flexibility to experiment, and with the new SiriusXM streaming experience launching this fall, we are taking inspiration and learnings from the Stitcher app to drive improved podcast listening for our subscribers, with the goal of making SiriusXM a competitive and credible listening platform for talk and podcast content from across the Company. With legacy Stitcher team members embedded within every aspect of our business, from programming and marketing to sales and technology, we are thrilled to continue to bring podcasting into everything that we do.”
While undoubtedly some will miss the Stitcher brand, as evidenced by several blogs having popped up on the topic in recent days, it’s worth highlighting an example of a smooth transition in podcasting. The content users enjoyed still exists, and previously paying subscribers get a temporary boost by having access to everything on SXM ad-free, not just podcasts. Content producers get to continue making the podcasts they’re committed to with no cancellations or layoffs. Not a bad dismount for a podcasting company that’s been around since almost the beginning.
Manuela: This Sunday, Lucas Shaw, writing for Bloomberg, published a piece with the headline “Film at TV Profits Have Collapsed over the Last Decade.” According to numbers from Bloomberg, profits from the largest film and TV companies have decreased since 2013, with only Netflix having a higher share of profits in 2023.
In the interest of full disclosure, Shaw’s article notes Bloomberg’s data on this claim differs from publicly-reported numbers from “some of” the companies mentioned, but maintains the ‘macro point’ of the graph remains the same. Shaw likens the consolidation and shrink of traditional media companies to the consolidation of print media in the 2000s and 2010s in response to the spread of the internet. A quote from the article:
“The number of news employees at traditional outlets has dwindled, as has the group of major record labels (down to three) and book publishers (five). These numbers are less depressed if you factor in the explosion in independent media and include podcasters, bloggers and YouTubers who consider themselves news employees, musicians and publishers.”
Despite the attention-grabbing headline, the piece ends on the sentiment that the profit shrink and consolidation of film and TV companies is less a sign of the industry dying, and more that there simply is more media with which to compete with for attention. Netflix’s share of media profits was small enough to not be visible on Bloomberg’s graph in 2013, now it’s challenging the profits of peers who’ve been in operation since before Technicolor movies hit theaters.
So where does podcasting fit into all of this? Legacy studios are finding value in companion podcasts to television. Some films have experimented with releasing director’s commentaries as free podcast files while the film is in theaters to promote repeat viewings. Production companies like QCode and Plan B are finding success in developing IP as audio fiction series to build interest, creating a step before the often costly process of creating pilot episodes.
Podcasting has its own place in the media ecosystem, though it also has the benefit of being able to form symbiotic relationships with other forms of media in addition to existing in its own niche.
Shreya: 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:
ARN data shows exponential growth in podcasting for the iHeartPodcast network in Australia, doubling in four years. Both branded podcasts and traditional ad-supported podcasts perform well. Podcasts are doing great Down Under.
The company has announced the launch of host-read sponsorships on the Acast self-serve platform. Advertisers around the globe can book sponsorship campaigns that will be host-read by shows on the Acast Marketplace.
The IndiePod Manfiesto is built from census data acquired from 1,200 independent podcasters worldwide. Findings include 51% of “experienced independent podcasters” still are not using any form of video, and 32% have no plans to incorporate it.
I know we went through today’s stories fast, so be sure to check out the links to every article mentioned, right in your podcast listening app, or on SoundsProfitable.com/Podcast. And thank you for sticking with us as we bring you the top stories you might have missed from the past week. I’m Manuela Bedoya.
Shreya : And I’m Shreya Sharma. Our producers are Bryan Barletta, Gavin Gaddis, and Tom Webster. Special thanks to Art19 for hosting The Download. And thanks to you for joining us.