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YouTube Gives Tips To Podcasters + 8 more stories for June 23, 2022

YouTube Gives Tips To Podcasters + 8 more stories for June 23, 2022

The Download

Season 0 • Episode 27

This week on The Download: a YouTube channel dives into podcasting on the video platform, the absence of podcasting’s middle class, and what do IAB’s measurement standards in video games mean for podcasting.

Last Thursday, Creator Insider, a YouTube channel operated by a creator-focused wing of YouTube, uploaded a four minute FAQ video about podcasting on YouTube. 

While the video doesn’t necessarily contain new groundbreaking information for someone who is deep in the podcasting industry, it’s a wonderful sign for the future of small-to-midsize podcasts unsure about perceiving YouTube as a viable podcast platform. Strategic Partner Manager Erica even backs up the size of YouTube’s reach with a citation of Edison Research data.

Having good, concise resources to facilitate an easier move towards the mentality that YouTube should be treated like any other podcast aggregator is a promising step. It’s also interesting to note how much importance is placed on properly arranging podcast episodes in playlists. The video takes great care to establish best practices for naming and arranging playlists. While “RSS” is never spoken aloud, it feels like YouTube’s approach is to use the existing functionality of easily saving video playlists to treat playlists like an RSS feed.

Who knows, in a few months we could be hearing about updates to the platform that bridge the gap between how YouTube is consumed and audio podcasts are consumed.

Speaking of YouTube… Last Monday an exclusive from Reuters reporter Foo Yun Chee shared details on Google’s newest bid to negotiate an EU antitrust probe without a substantial fine. Luckily for podcasting, this could have beneficial knock-on effects.

Google parent Alphabet has proposed to open their digital doors for the first time to allow third-party programmatic partners to place ads on YouTube videos.

“The European Commission opened a probe last year to examine whether the world’s largest provider of search and video was giving itself an unfair advantage in digital advertising by restricting rivals’ and advertisers’ access to user data.”

If Google does end up waiving the requirement to use Ad Manager to place YouTube ads, this could both please the European Commission and open up a considerable amount of valuable inventory to podcast ad buyers. Inventory through platforms they’re already familiar with and – since YouTube is pushing for more podcasts on their platform – that inventory will still be going to benefit the podcasting industry.

Last Friday, a prominent podcaster under the Spotify umbrella said the quiet part out loud. As detailed in last week’s Hot Pod, sports analyst and host of The Ringer Bill Simmons revealed Spotify parts the metric curtain for creatives that sign with them. The following is in reference to a recent episode of Peter Kafka’s podcast Recode, in which Simmons appeared.

“One thing he mentioned in the podcast that stood out to me was how he uses data. Although he said that he does not pay too much attention to his own show’s performance metrics, he indicated that he takes advantage of Spotify’s other data resources to scope out the competition and better position his shows.”

The newsletter goes on to quote Simmons’ interview in Recode in which Simmons describes having the ability to see the metrics of competitor’s podcasts on Spotify as having access to “an incredible war chest of intelligence on the habits of people who listen to podcasts.”

This is one of those rare moments where a known fact being stated out loud makes it sound like new information. It’s not particularly breaking news that a content aggregator would have excellent data. Everyone in the business can use access to the data of a podcaster’s competitors, it’s just not often talked about. The fear behind what Simmons says here is that Spotify owns more than just the aggregator. Big Green owns hosting platforms and one of the largest ad businesses in Megaphone.

There’s nothing new under the sun. Retail giants like Walmart and Amazon have done this for retail purchasing competition in the past, but now podcasting is growing up and one-stop-shops like Spotify are becoming more common.

Last Thursday Eric Nuzum published an installment of his Substack The Audio Insurgent in which he floats the question “Does Podcasting Lack a Middle Class?

The piece begins with Nuzum speaking at a conference heavily attended by GMs and CEOs of public radio stations. During a talk Nuzum hosted he asked the group of over 200 public radio heads, a demographic famous for embracing podcasting, who had at least one podcast that made 50,000 downloads a month. Fewer than ten attendees met that metric.

“Why are those numbers important? The average CPM ad rate in podcasting is about $23.16 per thousand downloads. To qualify for buys at even that average rate, you generally need to have a podcast that’s downloaded 50,000 times per month. Public radio sees podcasting as a critical part of its future, yet today only eight stations in the country are capable of hitting that rate on their own.”

Nuzum’s piece proposes the predominant narrative for smaller podcasters has created a class divide where the majority are told the only real strategy is to create content without fair compensation long enough that a magic larger company will buy the podcast for a massive windfall. Independent podcasters are expecting to either make it huge or fail out. There is no middle ground.

“Podcasting has been around for more than 18 years, and public radio has been considered leaders in its development and growth. Yet of the 200+ stations in the room, exactly one of them had figured out in all that time how to produce a show that was self-sustaining for a staff of one.”

The gulf between blockbusters and small indie projects is wide. There must be a place in the middle for creators and providers alike to make a good wage producing podcasts. There’s adequate amounts of gold in them there hills, if the industry will stake claim to it.

This one’s for the gamers in the audience, though as per usual we’re looping back around to podcasting by the end. Marketing Brew’s Ryan Barwick covered some interesting new updates from the IAB regarding measurement standards in video games. 

The standards, which hadn’t been updated since 2009, used to consider an impression to have happened once a player had been exposed to an ad for at least ten seconds. Barwick says:

“That’s been cut down drastically to one continuous second for in-game display ads and two continuous seconds for video ad units, so long as at least half of the advertisement’s pixels are in focus. Those are more or less the same guidelines for online display ads.”

These are more or less the same metrics applied to online display ads, but with the added consideration of ads existing in 3D space. The IAB’s guidelines take into account viewing angle and pixel clarity in an acknowledgment that modern gaming is capable of placing ads inside game worlds. It’s about time, too. The Download script writer Gavin Gaddis remembers when the Obama election campaign purchased billboard space from open-world racing game Burnout Paradise in 2008. Fashion brand Diesel bravely bought ad space on the side of vans that drove around the city. Vans that could be destroyed by players ad nauseam.  Quoting Barwick again:

“The IAB’s new standards should be finalized by the fall. To Francesco Petruzzelli, chief technology officer at the in-game advertising firm Bidstack, the standards feel a bit like a minimum. One second isn’t enough time for an impression, he argued, and that it could lead to an oversupply of inventory.”

How does this relate to podcasting? In a world where seeing a Pepsi logo on a street sign while playing a multiplayer match of Halo: Infinite counts as an impression, there’s no room for arguments about the validity of considering podcast downloads “real” engagement.

This last full story is a Ryan Reynolds tweet, of all things. On Tuesday the actor posted a video in which he professes his love of shooting ads, describing them as mini-movies with the same creative process and crew requirements. And, like movies, ads are shot in places other than Hollywood without many initiatives to ensure diversity and inclusivity in many of the necessary career paths.

“Almost two years ago we started the Group Effort Initiative to increase inclusion in the entertainment industry amongst BIPOC and underrepresented communities and it’s just been hugely rewarding. That’s why I’m proud to be co-founding the Creative Ladder.”

The new nonprofit will, like Group Effort Initiative, work to make careers in the advertising creative space accessible to everyone. We love to see more diversity in every corner of the industry.

Finally, it’s time for our semi-regular roundup of articles that didn’t make it into today’s episode, but are still worth working into your weekend reading.


Bryan Barletta: Hey, Bryan Barletta of Sounds Profitable here. After coming back from two conferences in Europe, announcing our first ever event for our sponsors on the Tuesday of Podcast Movement in Dallas this year, and prepping for our first two public research reports with my new partner, Tom Webster, I realized that I fully exhausted our backlog of recorded podcast episodes at the worst possible time, but with the influx of new subscribers to the newsletter and podcast, I realized now was the perfect time to highlight four amazing episodes from this season of Sounds Profitable: Adtech Applied that I'm positive you'll love. Oh, and if you'd like to learn more about our free and livestream research presentations in June and August, or attending our sponsored event, check out the episode description below. Brand suitability and brand safety are topics that we're never going to get away from in any aspect of podcasting or advertising in general, and that's why I was so excited to have Claire Atkin, co-founder of Check My Ads on the show earlier this year. This episode called, Disinformation and Ad Accountability is a great listen, and I personally, as an individual, support their movement and contribute to it every single month.
I highly recommend listening to this episode, subscribing to their newsletter, and throwing a few bucks towards the only nonprofit ad watchdog in existence.

Claire Atkin: My name is Claire Atkin, and I co-founded Check My Ads with Nandini Jammi, and we uncover the economic relationship between hate speech and disinformation and the ad exchanges that send them ads and money.

Bryan Barletta: I love that. Well, I want to ask a quick question on that. When you uncover that and you make it visible to everybody in the space, your goal is just to point out that it's happening, right? You're saying like this ad is on this piece of information, and then you're making it available for them to decide what they do next, right?

Claire Atkin: That's right. Every major ad exchange, really, has a policy that says they only work with premium publishers. They don't send ads and add money to publishers that promote violence or COVID-19 disinformation or what have you. They don't adhere to their own policies, and so when we point this out, usually the ads get dropped or the publishers get dropped.

Bryan Barletta: What I really like about that is you're taking the public response that these companies have said. They say, "These are our standards," and you're taking the advertiser's response and saying, "This is what we want to be associated with," and you're just pointing out that this content, with examples, doesn't align with what anybody has publicly said, and then you kind of turn it over for them, and so far, it seems that everybody who has engaged with it has realized the mistake and realized that the partners that they're choosing to work with might not be scrutinizing the inventory as well as they could, and we're kind of seeing a big change of that. We're seeing the reality that publishers can't or shouldn't be able to automatically sign up to just receive money. A human needs to vet that against their policies. Adtech can help a little bit by saying like what category of scrutiny you need to put into it, but overall, human has to kind of look through it.
My first big question to you is, "What should buyers, publishers and adtech companies each be held responsible for in that advertising ecosystem?"

Claire Atkin: There's a chain of command between the advertiser and where the publisher gets the ad, and that chain of command loosely goes like advertiser, agency, ad exchange, and then the publisher. Our general advice to buyers is don't trust anyone along that media supply chain. Don't trust the agency. Don't trust the ad exchange. Don't trust the publisher to maintain their own publisher standards.
You have to keep an eye everywhere along the supply chain, and that's why we called our company Check My Ads. It's because we need you to check your ad campaigns yourself. Get those log level files. Remove the personal information. We don't want anyone tracking anyone else, but see where your ads have gone, and identify the websites that are brand unsafe for you.
Maybe even go so far as to build an inclusion list and make sure to have brand safety guidelines. Those brand safety guidelines, they're there so that you can communicate what is and is not appropriate use of your ad campaign down the chain of command. When those brand safety guidelines are not adhered to, if you've communicated them clearly, that is your cue to demand refunds.

Bryan Barletta: Yeah, or stop working with those partners, all of those things. What you're saying when you say don't trust them is you're saying you need to audit it yourself. You should be working with partners that provide you the transparency and the ability to double-check or check your ads where they're placed appropriately. Those partners can help facilitate it. An agency can get you spend across way more than you might be able to do internally.
An ad exchange might be able to get you at a price you want or at targeting you want. That's all fine, but what you're saying is you can't just trust these people in the sense of like hit and shake, they're going to do what's in your best interest because you're one of many clients for them, and there's no reason why you shouldn't have visibility into it. This belief that if you know exactly where they're buying, you'll just go circumvent them and spend directly, that fear isn't real because they could have done that from the start by just not working with you and going to find those publishers through basic research that's probably cheaper. This is about visibility and holding people to standards, and holding them accountable for when you spend money with them. I love that.

Claire Atkin: Exactly, and so what can agencies do? Well, agencies in their turn, they don't want their clients to be upset, so how can they make sure that their clients' ads are not funding hate speech and disinformation at a time when we are in a disinformation crisis? The first thing that I tell agencies is you have to understand that disinformation works in networks. This is not a page-by-page decision. This is not a website-by-website decision.
You have to make network-by-network decisions. That is to say if Charlie Kirk is on and, you can't just take off, you also have to look at where else he writes, where else he is prominent, what other companies, publishers that he owns, so the first thing is to get a brand safety specialist on board who understands disinformation because it's not super easy, I understand that, but there are some key pieces of knowledge that they must have so that you can not only speak to your client, but also get the job done appropriately. Then, the second thing is maybe start to move clients away from real-time bidding because the system is not working very well in this particular way, and that's an opportunity to be creative. Again, I think it's part of a larger conversation to have, sort of bigger picture, but it's an exciting one. It's a creative one, and it's what agencies were meant to do.

Bryan Barletta: Yeah. I think that we've been lazy as an advertising industry, relying on technology to just do as much as possible so that we can move on to the next task, and we're not even monitoring the equipment anymore. That's part of the problem. When you say real-time bidding, I think what you mean, and you can correct me if I'm wrong, is you mean open marketplace, right? Programmatic is a neat workflow to make sure that you're buying exactly what you want if you do direct deals and private marketplaces, but the open marketplace means anybody who signs up to that vendor that you're buying from is eligible to get your dollars if that vendor says that everything works, and that is just proving to not have as much value.
That's why you're saying have an allow list from the start and say, "These are the places I want to be," and continue expanding it, instead of reactionarily removing things from a big, open place where you're never going to catch.

Claire Atkin: That's right. I think direct sales are still the most pragmatic way forward if you want to support journalism and if you want to stay away from things that are not going to help the ROI of your campaign. You asked, "What can adtech do as well?," and that's a really simple one for me. Like adtech should stop working with white nationalists. Adtech needs to ...

Bryan Barletta: Yeah.

Claire Atkin: Adtech needs to start to draw the line. How do they draw the line? Well, they've already started. Have clear publisher policies. Be specific about what you will and will not accept into your inventory, and have a clear contact email when people start to have questions, so when I contact an ad exchange and ask them why they're still funding Charlie Kirk, or Dan Bongino, or Glenn Beck, I want to be able to contact them easily and quickly so that I don't have to go to Twitter, so that I don't have to go to whoever's running their social media, so have a clear policy, make sure to adhere to it, and force your own standards, and then have a feedback loop.

Bryan Barletta: I love all that. You're saying don't have white nationalists on there, and I super agree with that completely, but just to fully circle that up, what you mean is if you have a policy not to support this type of content, you have to remove that content, and even more so, you should have ways to make sure it never ends up on your platform in the first place. I believe there's a network that you've talked about that ... Is it rumble? That is super cool with that type of content, but as an advertiser, you need to know what you're buying, and if that's what they're selling and they're okay with it, that sucks.
That's not where I want to spend my money as a consumer. Those are not the companies I want to buy products from in the future, but as long as everybody in that loop knows, I'm not happy with it, but it's not the same problem you're trying to address. You're saying when someone says, "We have perfectly vetted content that follows these standards," and then you're seeing this garbage on there, that's the problem, because advertisers are believing that statement, spending money with them, and you're pointing out, saying like, "Hey, this isn't true," and kind of a child could have vetted that and proven that right.

Claire Atkin: That's right. If you say that you never work with publishers who promote violence, don't work with publishers who incited an insurrection.

Bryan Barletta: Yeah. That's pretty clear-cut right there. You mentioned working with a brand safety specialist. We'll put it in the episode details if you have any links to it. Is there like outside of Check My Ads ...
Obviously, this is stuff that you do. Is there anybody else out there that you can point to? How do people find out more about this? Is this a career path that people should start exploring, because the two of you have built this into something really awesome, but there's room? I mean, there's people on Twitter that engage with you and help hunt this stuff down to make this visible so people aren't funding all of this. Is this something that we're going to see expand in the future?

Claire Atkin: Yes, we will be expanding into training and education simply because we are desperate to welcome as many people as will come into the tent where we understand how to draw a line. The very first thing that I would suggest is to sign up for BRANDED, which is our newsletter-

Bryan Barletta: Fantastic.

Claire Atkin: ... to, and that's the place where we have these discussions. We're putting out more and more information as time goes on. We are right now hiring in research, in editorial. We are going to be increasing the amount of content that we put out, not for content's sake, but because there are so many stories to tell and so many ways to understand how disinformation is still being funded by the adtech system. Our mission is to defund disinformation entirely from this system, and we are going to need everyone on board.

Bryan Barletta: I love that. It's so cool because I think that the three of us have a similar experience, that we were in all these roles where we saw these things and we pointed them out, and everyone's just like, "Just kick it down the line." Right? Like you can't fix it, it's big machine, that's how the industry works, and it feels like in the last few years, a bunch of us said, "No. We need to talk about this."
Maybe everybody's going to ignore it or a bunch of people are, but enough people will hear about it that they'll want to join fixing these spaces because there's value in them, right? Companies need to be able to advertise to grow as a business, small businesses especially in these things. They're the ones hurt incredibly by this because they don't have the power to fight against this stuff, so it's really cool to see not only the work that you've done, but that you're working to educate people, right? As a non-profit, you want as many people with this mindset, with this skill set out there changing the ecosystem for the better, and I really applaud that. It's very cool to see.

Claire Atkin: Thanks. We want more people to be able to draw the line. I know you work in podcasting, and podcasts are featured prominently in media this week because we're starting to have that conversation very publicly. Neil Young and everyone who supports a free and fair democracy and health information that can save lives is taking a stand against COVID-19 disinformation on Joe Rogan's podcast. Now, that is a huge deal, of course, and we're here because podcasting is a central force of our town square.
It is a place where we are having cultural conversations about important topics, and it feels intimate, and it feels trustworthy, and if you're advertising on podcasts where information is being shared that is going to lead to harm, to violence and to discrimination, that is bad.

Bryan Barletta: Yeah. Yeah. No, I agree with you, and so what's your general ... Podcasting is so different as a format, but it's so intimate and everybody laughs when we say that, but it is. It's in your ear. People are listening to this right now.
They are focused to it in a way that an article isn't going to get across them, so podcasting has tons of problems, the same way blogging does, the same way the adtech space does. What's like your one thing that you would tell the podcasting industry to prioritize to get ahead of this so that they're not seeing as many of the issues as we're seeing in the rest of the disinformation space?

Claire Atkin: I want to give you the technical details of what I think we need to do, but honestly, I mean you know, Bryan, that podcasting is led by people who are generally white, people who are generally men, and what we need for the entire podcast industry to do is to take a stand and say, "No, we will not flirt with white nationalism. We will not flirt with misinformation, disinformation for the purpose of discourse, for the purpose of having a debate." We are sick of hearing that it's worth platforming people who want to hurt minorities, who want to spread chaos for the sake of the conversation. That is a bad faith understanding of what we need right now. While anti-democratic forces are rising, the podcasting world has to take a stand.

Bryan Barletta: I agree with you on that, and if it was all for the debate for all the discourse, then those would be ad-free feeds, right? Like in that situation, if they were like, "That's the problem," these people have keyed onto something that monetizes well, the ads that these people sell, even (inaudible) work very well, and that shows that this is not necessarily what they believe, it's a business, and that business is dangerous and harmful to not just the country, but to the world, and podcasting has a real opportunity to get ahead of it, so I thank you so much for your time on this. I really hope that everybody in the podcast world subscribes to BRANDED, donates to Check My Ads. Sounds Profitable absolutely does donate to Check My Ads. I'm such a big supporter of it, and I really am going to make it a priority to make sure that more people in the podcast space know about you two and all of the things you do, because this is not specific to any one media format, but podcasting has the opportunity to get ahead of it and make real change quickly because there is a lot of problems in podcasting with this type of content. Thank you so much for joining.

Claire Atkin: Thanks, Bryan.

Bryan Barletta: Thank you for listening to this conversation. For the full original episode, which includes my conversation with my co-host, Arielle Nissenblatt, please check out the whole episode in the episode details. Sounds Profitable: Adtech Applied will be on break until mid-July, but we're really excited to bring you a whole slew of new content and guests. In the meantime, check out the download, our Thursday podcast that covers everything you need to know about the business of podcasting and why it should matter to you in 10 minutes or less. If you haven't already, please subscribe to the Sounds Profitable newsletter at