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Finally, Sounds Profitable Has a Podcast

· By · Editors: Evo Terra, James Cridland

Talking about podcast adtech is easy for me to do. Breaking the tech down and making it accessible to all of you is a skill I’ve worked hard to refine. But the one major gap in Sounds Profitable was that it lacked a podcast. I wasn’t actively putting any of my own advice to use for you to experience first hand. So this week I fixed that, and I’m here to walk you through my entire process.

Introduction

I made a podcast.

When I say “I” what I really mean is that I talked into a microphone to smart people I respect, then begged Evo Terra and Ian Powell to turn it into something worth listening to.

My goal was simple: instead of just talking about all the cool ideas available in podcast adtech, I wanted to create a playground where I could actually experiment with different solutions. I wanted to stay hands-on with the tools that I was covering and make sure I could continue to relate to all levels of the podcasting space as I write this newsletter.

Each episode of the podcast will highlight a past article of Sounds Profitable, where I’m joined by a guest to expand on the topic. Around that content, we’re going to find creative ways to utilize podcast adtech to produce tangible examples of how you can actually leverage adtech with a little bit of effort and creative thinking.

Find the podcast in Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app (probably).

So, let’s walk through the structure of the first episode, including my wishlist for how I’d like to grow it.

Welcome to Sounds Profitable

Every episode of Sounds Profitable is going to start off with a cold open. The idea is that I tee up something quick about the episode and introduce myself. Regardless of if it’s episode one or one hundred for me, any episode can be a new listener’s first introduction to Sounds Profitable, which makes it important that my voice is present from the start of the show—not someone else’s voice narrating an ad.

Geotargeting, repetitive ads, and toasters. That’s what we’re talking about on this episode of Sounds Profitable with me, Bryan Barletta

After the cold open, I’ve configured two dynamic insertion points. While I’m definitely using this technology for both content and ads, it’s important to remember that both are scheduled through the campaign settings on the hosting platform. So if your hosting provider offers dynamic ad insertion, you should be able to replicate most of these steps.

The first pre-roll will be a ‘house ad’, which I’m using to showcase the Sounds Profitable product deep dive series. This ad will change twice a month. Both versions of the ad will tell you about the previous product deep dives, but the one at the start of the month will remind you of who is coming up next and when, while the one at the end of the month will let you know that the latest episode is now live. So depending on when you download the episode, you’ll hear different content.

The second pre-roll is another ‘house ad’ I’m using to showcase my sponsors. I’m constantly blown away by the amount of support Sounds Profitable has received from brands and podcasters just like you, so I’m making it a priority to mention my sponsors anywhere that fits. But instead of reading the full list of the names of sponsors every episode, I recorded a quick ad for each of them and set all the sponsor ads on even rotation, that way they each get even exposure to the audience. So if you listen to a few episodes back to back, you’ll likely hear about a different sponsor each time. No more boring read-outs!

Many times now I’ve busted the myth that dynamic ad insertion means settling for pre packaged ads only.That’s not true. Dynamic insertion absolutely can be used for host-read ads. I’m proving that now and demonstrating how it can be done better, taking the concept a step further as I attempt to replicate the feel of baked-in ads in a fully dynamic environment.

Oh, and because of some clever and careful audio editing, the bed music that plays throughout the intro, both house ads, and leads into the next bit is seamless. Well… seamless-ish. This is still very much a work in progress, so a few beats will probably not line up on the money. But we’re working on it. Eventually, we think we can get it down so that you won’t hear any interruption in the beat, tempo, or volume. Yes. That’s possible. We’re close to doing it. We picked a very ambitious bed music track to test this out with and are considering switching to a new track.

We’ll see how it goes.

Intermission

One of the first conversations I had with James Cridland revolved around how awkward it is to hear a host say “and we’ll be right back after the break” just to immediately cut back to “and we’re back”. It kind of makes my skin crawl.

A better and much smarter way is to put those “ad wrapper” messages actually around the ad and not in the episode content. Leveraging DAI, the beginning of the ad could easily include the break language at the start before I go into the ad, and that’s what I’ve done for the first episode’s midroll ads.

But what if the ads are announcer-read or programmatic? I can’t very well assume that ads I’m provided by another entity would contain ad wrapper language specific to my show, can I? That’s currently a fly in my ointment, so I’ve submitted a feature request to the team at Whooshkaa—my podcast hosting company and supplier of the DAI tech that makes all this possible— for the ability to link ads together in a dependant fashion. The idea is that ad X will only play if ad Y is eligible. If they can do that, I can add the initial break language—recorded by me—as ad X. And ad X will only run if the associated ad Y is eligible, and so on.

Skipping the awkward “We’ll be right back… and we’re back!” experience when no ad is served is fantastic on its own, but think about the value that will add for announcer-read ads. If the host can tee up the ad in an entertaining way before the announcer-read ad plays, some of the host’s appeal might rub off on the ad.

So at a natural point somewhere in the middle of the episode, we’ve marked two midroll ad insertion points. Today, I’m filling them with host- and announcer-read ads provided by my Twitter followers who responded to my request for ads from small to midsized podcaster or brands run by people of color, marginalized genders, or disabled folk. If you fit that category and would like me to feature your ad, just hit reply. Seriously, it’s the least I can do to give back to this community.

Post-roll Is Still Bullshit

I still don’t love post-roll. In fact, Jake Crowe, Sound’s Profitable’s fantastic artist, is working on a sticker set as a referral gift for the newsletter, and that’s definitely included. But writing something off instead of working hard to make it better is for quitters.

After the interview with my guest ends, we enter into the most complex part of the dynamic ad insertion setup. You’ll know you’re there when you hear my voice say:

Thank you for listening to this episode of Sounds Profitable on [PODCAST APP]

No, I’m not saying “open bracket podcast app close bracket”. That’s shorthand for what’s happening in the background. If you’re listening on Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Spotify, or Google Podcasts, you’ll hear me say the correct app name. Otherwise it defaults to a catch-all. Am I spying on you to do that? Nope. It’s just the dynamic insertion dropping a different bit of creative depending on the user agent of the device you’re using to download the media file.

Currently, I’ve narrated that sentence to cover the popular user agents. I’ll do more in the future, because that list of popular user agents changes over time and as Whooshkaa considers expanding to support the Open Podcast Analytics Workgroups extensive useragent list.

Then the content kicks back to the episode itself, where I thank my guest for joining and to remind everyone what article of mine we were expanding on. And as with the opening bit, the music bed is fully synchronized across ad and episode content so it continues to sound baked-in. On to the next ad!

Don’t forget that Sounds Profitable is also a weekly podcast adtech newsletter, available all over the world, but especially in [COUNTRY]

If you’re in the US, UK, CA, or AUS, geotargeting will make sure you hear the correct country. If you download the episode from one of the 189 other countries on the planet, you’ll be served the “global” default, with no mention of a specific country. And yes, I want to expand on this list in the future.

After that, we enter the world of day-parting. This is where we have a bit more fun. This next ad I’ll illustrate works on the assumption that anyone who downloads the latest episode within two hours of the release date of the episode is already subscribed.That’s neither a fool-proof nor blanket assumption, but in the case of my fledgling podcast, I feel it’s pretty accurate.

If your download fits the criteria you’ll hear:

It really means a lot to me to have you as a subscriber of this podcast and hope you’ll tell your friends and colleagues.

Podcast apps like Spotify throw the entire assumption out the window, as you can follow my podcast and it still doesn’t automatically download to your device. So for apps that don’t auto-download subscribed episodes, they’ll absolutely be asked to subscribe right now. But I’ve got a few ideas on how to expand this.

If you grab the episode any time outside of that window but still within the week it was released, you’ll hear:

I appreciate you checking out my latest episode and hope you’ll consider subscribing.

And what happens if you download or stream an episode older than the week we’re currently in? You’ll hear the following message, which makes another assumption that you haven’t subscribed yet:

Glad to see you checking out an older episode. If you’re not subscribed already, I hope you’ll consider it after this.

This is done by modifying the old episodes ad placement name, when I go to upload the new episode each week.

After that, and with the music still synced nicely, you’re dropped right back into the episode content again. This will likely be my canned outro for quite some time, sharing my contact info, thanking Whooshkaa for providing the hosting, and sharing my gratitude for the support and assistance I’ve received from Evo Terra, James Cridland, Ian Powell, and Sam Mars (who came up with the awesome name of Sounds Profitable).

Finally, to cap it all off, I’m using DAI to power an ad just for folks who are streaming the episode instead of downloading it.

Hope you enjoy the rest of you [DAY] [MORNING/EVENING]

I think it’s got a nice touch to it, don’t you?

What Comes Next

My goal is to flood this podcast with adtech in creative ways, pushing against the very edges of the envelope. Here’s my current wishlist of additions, but this is just scratching the surface. If you have any thoughts on collaborating, please let me know:

Programmatic Ads

While I definitely will keep the free ad slots, I really want to include programmatic ads from every partner in the space that would like to collaborate. The idea would be to use the linked ad feature to introduce the specific programmatic partner and encourage listeners to contact me to tell me how accurate they felt the targeting was.

Tracking & Attribution

Prefix URLs, CDN exports, and ad tracking tags. There are so many great partners out there that can provide additional insight. Not only that, but being able to compare the data from multiple sources, including Whooshkaa’s IAB numbers, might lead to a lot of interesting questions.

Private/Membership Feeds

This is an area I plan to dig into further in a future article, so having live examples excites me. Not enough podcasters are using these features and the ones who are haven’t scratched the surface on how to creatively use these tools.

Community Interaction

While scale is often an issue, it’s very cool when a podcaster can interact directly with their audience. Any tool that is available for podcasters to do that, be it podcast player or website, I want to explore. Could the features be interesting enough that I encourage listeners to use a specific service for us to interact? Will the listeners follow?

Data Visualization

I want to freely share all of the aggregate data that I gain access to from any of these wishlist sources, plus the data provided to me from Whooshkaa, Apple, Google, and Spotify. Programmatic fill rates and revenue. Membership and community stats. Listener metrics. Everything. This is an adtech experiment for me to explore these tools and so you can experience them in the wild, let’s share every bit of data available.

Wrapping It Up

Most people who work on the industry side of podcasting have never made a podcast. Until this release, neither had I. That was a mistake I’m very happy I fixed.

I learned a lot and I hope this encourages all of you to create your own if you haven’t already. It doesn’t matter what your role is in podcasting, you need to understand how all of this works from a hands on perspective.

Credit where credit is due to Todd Cochrane, CEO of Blubrry, who has recorded over 1,500 episodes of his podcast. I’m honestly shocked by how few companies, let alone their leadership, have a podcast, internal or external. We need to fix this asap.

Sounds Profitable now has a staging area. Any article where I reference podcast adtech in the future, I’ve got the opportunity to implement live examples of that adtech for you to experience hands-on. So now after reading my long-winded articles that explain a topic, you can listen to my long-winded podcast where you can hear it in action.

And while I’m positive that the content will bring value to you if you enjoyed the newsletter, I won’t think twice about trying something out in the podcast that might miss the mark and adjusting it as we go.

If you’ve got ideas for things you’d like to see implemented, fit the criteria I listed for free ads, or you’re from a partner that offers something from my wishlist, please reach out.

This is the start of something very cool, and I’m excited to share as my birthday gift to all of you.

Homework

Podcast adtech excites me on its own almost as much as teaching others about it does. This space is absolutely accessible to anyone who wants to learn, and it’s important to me not only to share my knowledge with you but to help you ask questions to further your own understanding.

This week, there’s no questions, just a request: make a podcast.

Learn the tools your company represents or the processes they follow to enable customers in this space.

If you already have a podcast, consider finding time to just get creative with all the tools you have access to. There are a lot of fun options out there, and this is just scratching the surface. When you do create your podcast, send me an ad for it, I’ll gladly promote it.

Sounds Profitable will never charge our readers to learn from us, but several individuals have asked about supporting us directly. You can find out more about our individual sponsorship at our Patreon.

New Sponsors

Support from our amazing sponsors is truly the only way that Sounds Profitable could exist. They provide me the means to stay completely independent, allowing me to fully write about all aspects of this industry without being bound to any one company. With that said, I’d like to introduce you to our latest sponsors:

And our new title advertiser for this, Chartable - Podcast attribution with new audience insights and built-in benchmarks. Start for free today.

Oh and quick point of clarification, Pacific Content is from CA not ??, as you might have seen listed last week. (Emojis don’t work everywhere, it turns out).

I appreciate the support of all our sponsors, so please take a look at the full list below. If I can make an introduction for you to any of the sponsors, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

If you’d like to learn more about sponsorship or advertising with us, just hit reply.

Market Insights - with ThoughtLeaders


This week, ExpressVPN makes the biggest move we’ve seen so far, from #2 to #6. And Ritual.com joins the list, all the way up at #7. Curious to hear your thoughts on how you use this information each week. Hit reply and let me know what you’re seeing.

Product Deepdives

Have you had a chance to check out January’s Product Deepdive with Triton Digital? Their Podcast Metrics product is the backbone to their regional rankers they release and offers more features for brands and advertisers to check out.

If you missed our previous product deepdive with Podscribe, you can find it here. And keep your eyes peeled for more information about our February deepdive with Adswizz.

Things to Think About

I highly recommend all my subscribers also subscribe to Podnews. Last week, I found a few pieces of information that caught my attention.

Also, Jake is about halfway done with our referral sticker pack. Let us know what you think!

Sponsors

Our sponsors support a collaborative and educated podcasting space and are committed to raising up the whole industry together. Find out how you can become a sponsor today

Bryan Barletta (He/Him) is the voice behind Sounds Profitable. He started in the adtech industry so long ago that they used to ask, “Mobile advertising? Like on taxis?” (2008) before shifting into podcasting in 2015. His goal is to make in-depth adtech more accessible for readers and listeners. And, yes, it is sunny and warm in Austin today.

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