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A Year in Acquisitions, YouTube Ingests RSS, Accounting for Authenticity, & More

A Year in Acquisitions, YouTube Ingests RSS, Accounting for Authenticity, & More

January 12, 2024

This Week in the Business of Podcasting

Happy New Year, podcasting! Let’s recap the week, as well as some of the bigger bits of news to happen during our hibernation over the past few weeks.

Podcast Acquisitions & Investments – 2023 Industry Recap

This Wednesday on Sounds Profitable: Bryan Barletta kicks off the year with his annual piece collecting the previous year’s big acquisitions and investments in the world of podcasting. Barletta kicks the piece off with the following:

“Last year filled me with a ton of confidence in our industry, not necessarily reflected in the acquisitions and investments listed below. Economic, media, and advertising impacts far greater than podcasting absolutely disrupted goals and growth within our industry, but that wasn’t unique to us. We chose education, with many companies putting in considerable effort to do more research along with better equipping their buyers and internal teams with an understanding of how podcasting works. We chose collaboration, acknowledging that at the size of our industry we are not competing with each other as much as we are competing with other opportunities outside of podcasting.”

In addition to the dozens of deals listed, the piece reflects on lessons learned in 2023. Podcasting found a ‘new normal’, having stabilized from the pandemic spike and subsequent falloff back to baseline numbers. Podcasting is growing, even when larger economic pressures cause spending slowdowns. Efficiency and education is now the name of the game, with growth-at-all-costs mentality taking a back seat to refining and fostering existing content.

SXM Media’s Digital Audio Research Recap

For this first Recap issue of the year, we bring you some stories that happened in the far-flung past of 2023.  From Brad Hill of Rain News, posted December 27th: SXM Media has published “Digital Audio Vs.,” an aggregation of data on the efficacy of digital audio as a marketing channel in comparison to other media.

Highlights of the report include the finding that audiences use digital audio to tune out from CTV, with a majority of survey respondents saying they turn to audio to escape too much visual stimulation. There’s also a generational divide, with Gen Z respondents to an eMarketer survey saying they spend 94% more time with audio than with streaming TV. Millennial respondents said they spend 66% more time doing the same.

On social media, podcast listeners say they find podcast hosts to be “more authentic” than other media figures online. According to data from Pandora’s 2023 Soundboard report, podcast audiences 18+ find podcasts 9 times more authentic and trustworthy than traditional TV.

YouTube Launches RSS Feed Ingestion

This Wednesday from PodPod’s Reem Markari:  YouTube has released their RSS feed ingestion out of beta. The feature is now available for YouTube users in 98 countries, including the US, UK, Europe, Middle East/North Africa, and South East Asia. Users can now add their podcast’s RSS feed to their YouTube profile and start the process of automatically posting episodes to their YouTube podcast feed.

Subscribers will only be notified about future episodes, so uploading a back catalog does not run the risk of overstimulating followers. As has been noted in the past, podcasts uploaded to YouTube can only have host-read ads or sponsorships that follow YouTube’s ad guidelines.

Branded Music and Authenticity

This Thursday from Kimeko McCoy at Digiday: Brands face an uphill struggle when it comes to the shifting landscape of data collection, campaign targeting, and finding engagement. A tried-and true strategy that’s finding popularity once more is turning to popular music for viral branded hits.

Recent highlights range from Chili’s hiring Boys 2 Men to cover their 90s baby back ribs jingle, to General Mills promoting its Halloween monster cereal line with a zombie DJ remix of the 60s hit Monster Mash. That said, the strategy does require caution. Here’s a quote from BMF marketing agency founder Brian Feit:

“You’ve got to be really mindful of who you’re partnering with because that’s the demographic that you’re going to get to. And if it comes off as inauthentic, the fans are gonna see right through it.”

The same is also true for podcasting. Passionate fans of an IP or creator are excellent allies as they’re the most engaged part of the audience, but that also means they’re more likely to bounce off a campaign if the presentation is inauthentic.

Quick Hits

While they may not be top story material, the articles below from this week are definitely worth your time:

  • 5 Strategies For Podcast Expansion In A Zero-Sum Audio World by Steven Goldstein. Recent Edison Research data shows daily time spent listening to audio content has remained stable for a decade. Goldstein discusses strategies for podcasting to grow in a world where a listener’s time is largely already accounted for.

  • iOS 17 by Pete Birsinger. The Podscribe CEO has written an explainer on how iOS17 changed auto-downloading behavior and how it will likely impact campaign performance for podcasts. For more reading on the subject, we recommend Livewire Labs’ regularly-updated data on download performance since iOS 17’s release.

  • Content Mood Targeting from SXM Media. Publishers working with SXM can target music-listening audiences based on the mood assigned to millions of songs in a growing library of cateogorized music, as well as submit their own music to be assigned mood tags.

  • The Untapped Potential of Audio in Retail Media Networks by Joshua Yamuder. Triton Digital’s Director of Partnerships and Programmatic Marketplace promotes digital audio as a must-have inclusion for retail media networks looking to diversify their marketing mix.

  • Since the last issue of The Download there have been two podcasting bankruptcies of note: Audacy and Voxalyze