Discover Bigeye’s favorite podcasts this week on IN CLEAR FOCUS. We explore non-advertising podcast business models that generate revenues for podcast producers.
In Clear Focus this week: more favorite podcasts from Bigeye team members to wrap up 2019. We also take a look at the state of advertising within podcasts, forecasted to generate over $1 billion annually by 2021. Plus an examination of the roles that non-advertising business models such as subscriptions, crowdfunding, and live events are increasingly playing in generating revenues for podcast producers in the US.
Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, a unique perspective on the business of advertising, produced weekly by Bigeye. Hello, I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, VP of insights at Bigeye. An audience-focused, creative-driven, full-service advertising agency, we’re based in Orlando, Florida, but serve clients across the United States and beyond. Thank you for joining us for our final show of 2019. In case you missed it, in last week’s episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS, four Bigeye team members shared their favorite podcasts. This week we’re going to hear some more podcast recommendations and reflect on the current state of advertising within podcasts. Let’s meet our first guest to this week’s IN CLEAR FOCUS.
Emily Washburn: Hi, I’m Emily Washburn. I’m an Account Specialist here at Bigeye. My role is to support our Account Managers on all the various accounts that we have. So I’m almost like the second line of defense which is really cool because I get to work with my internal team as well as be client-facing. So it’s a very unique role.
Adrian Tennant: And Emily, how long have you been with Bigeye?
Emily Washburn: Funny you asked. I actually interned at Bigeye a couple of years ago. I’m originally from Syracuse, New York and fell in love with the agency and after school I moved down here and I’ve been here for over a year and a half now.
Adrian Tennant: How long have you been listening to podcasts?
Emily Washburn: I kind of have a unique background. When I was in college, a friend of mine and I decided that we wanted to start our own podcast and obviously didn’t take off the ground because nobody knows who I am. But in school, podcasts started to become popular and we thought, “Why not try to add it to our repertoire?” So I started doing them before I started listening to them and then when I moved to Florida, I was traveling a lot going home. So I was trying to find a way to fill my time. And as much as I love music, I’m not a good reader when I travel. So the perfect supplement was podcasts, so I just started to stumble into a whole plethora of different podcasts.
Adrian Tennant: What’s your preferred device for listening to podcasts?
Emily Washburn: So it’s definitely my phone. I constantly have my headphones in. Just because I listen to them so much when I travel. That’s my number one. I listen to them in the car as well through my phone. I have Bluetooth, which is a blessing. I love Bluetooth. But yeah, definitely my, my cell phone.
Adrian Tennant: And which player or app do you use most often to play podcasts?
Emily Washburn: I love Spotify. I’m constantly, whenever I use it on my desktop, I’m looking at what everybody else is listening to because I follow people and that’s also where I find podcasts because I see what other people are listening to.
Adrian Tennant: Now, when do you think you do most of your listening, if you had to guess?
Emily Washburn: So most of my listening is during travel or in the car. I like to try to listen to them when I’m at my desk in the morning, but throughout the day I’m not typically a listener and just because it will distract me. I get so sucked into what they’re talking about. But for example, I’ll listen to The Daily by the New York Times in the morning if I get in early, just to just get caught up on the news.
Adrian Tennant: So Emily, how many shows do you subscribe to?
Emily Washburn: I like to download different ones. I’m not necessarily loyal. The only podcast I’ve been really loyal to is “The Daily,” by the New York Times. I don’t listen to every episode. I try to listen to it as frequently as I can. And then there’s one other one called, “Oysters, Clams, and Cockles,” – it was a Game of Thrones podcast. They’ve kind of adapted it since the show is over. But it was these two gentlemen who just would do a two-hour podcast about every episode and dive into every single line. And I just became absolutely addicted, never, never missed an episode. So that was like the only one I’ve really taken to completely. But otherwise I kind of jump around. The one that’s my favorite that we talked about, “Armchair Expert,” I do listen to a lot depending on who’s on the show.
Adrian Tennant: Well let’s get to that. So you’ve actually chosen a show, as you mentioned, called, “Armchair Expert,” which is hosted by Dax Shepard. And how did you originally find this particular podcast?
Emily Washburn: You know, I actually think it was one of my coworkers, Dana Casell. I don’t remember completely, but I love Kristen Bell. So ultimately I know who Dax Shepard is and I am pretty sure she mentioned to me, “Have you ever listened to this podcast?” Because she’s also a big podcast listener. So I checked it out before one of my flights home and this specific episode – Bill Nye – really caught my eye because growing up I saw science as my favorite, but he was such a huge part of my childhood. I was like, “Oh, this sounds interesting.” And then I just absolutely loved how Dax interacts with the people that he has on a show. I learned so much about Bill as a person. I love comedy as well. So I had really no idea how he had got into it. So it was really fascinating and really unique because I love learning about people, but I’m not necessarily the biggest book reader or autobiography person. So this is just kind of a nice supplement so I can get that information.
Adrian Tennant: Right. And for listeners, we should just explain that Dax Shepard is married to…
Emily Washburn: Kristen Bell. Yes. And if you don’t know who that is, she is Ana from Frozen!
Adrian Tennant: This is really all about Bill Nye, the Science Guy. But during the course of this podcast we learn a lot about Bill’s background and also a lot of about his opinions about science and education. What made this particular podcast a favorite for you?
Emily Washburn: I love the style of Dax’s podcasts, like this piece, and I don’t always listen to the fact checks at the end, but the fact that they are so adamant on making sure that whatever you’re listening to is factual or nobody kind of tweaks it, I just really felt like I got to know Bill Nye and also Dax, there’s a lot of parts of this episode where you learn about when Dax was over in Afghanistan. And the science piece of how the airplanes work and they really dive deep into some random things. But they’re so knowledgeable and never would I have looked it up on my own. So that’s what I loved. All the knowledge that I gained just from that one episode.
Adrian Tennant: Right. Now typically… I think this was like a two-hour episode, is that right?
Emily Washburn: Yeah, it’s just under two hours long.
Adrian Tennant: Is that the typical running time for the show?
Emily Washburn: Yeah, they’re usually pretty long, which is why I listen to them when I’m flying. I’ll download a couple episodes in and listen to them, I don’t always listen all the way through. I get through most of it and then I’ll jump to another person, which I’m very guilty of. But this one, that’s why I can’t listen to it at work. It’s just so long and I would miss so much of it. So that’s why it’s perfect for travel.
Adrian Tennant: Why do you think our listeners should try this show out? What’s your recommendation to them?
Emily Washburn: I think that people should try this specific show out because if you like any type of talk show, he brings in such a wide range of individuals that there’s, I feel like you’re guaranteed to find someone that you either least know or you’re interested in getting to know and that you should just kind of scroll through and give it a listen. And I hope you love it as much as I do and that you find that it fills your travels with more insight.
Adrian Tennant: Very good. Thanks, Emily.
Emily Washburn: Thank you.
Nick Hammond: Hi, I’m Nick Hammond. I am a senior graphic designer here at Bigeye. And I’ve only been here for a little over a month.
Adrian Tennant: Could you tell us a little bit about your role here at Bigeye?
Nick Hammond: Yes. So my role here at Bigeye, while some of the other designers are more focused on specific tasks, I guess in relation to illustration and motion graphics, mine is more so on the side of branding. So I work on pulling across elements throughout different end uses such as digital and print and social and things of the like.
Adrian Tennant: Right. How are you enjoying your time at Bigeye, so far?
Nick Hammond: I love it. It’s great. So I was in-house at a good handful of other brands for a while. And it was just moving too slow for me. And so it’s nice to get into more of the agency setting because it’s a lot more fast paced and I can come in and out of the weeds with different projects and really get more of a broader understanding of how different businesses work. And yeah, just exciting.
Adrian Tennant: So Nick, how long have you been listening to podcasts?
Nick Hammond: I think I’ve been listening to podcasts for a while. It has to have been several years at this point. My intro to podcast was through, “The Joe Rogan Experience,” and kind of splintered into other smaller podcasts, just kind of listening one off here and there. So something would pop up in my feed that would be interesting and I would go look for it and then happen to stumble onto a podcast that was in relation to some topic I was interested in.
Adrian Tennant: I know you’ve also produced podcasts, so which came first – listening to podcasts and then thinking, “Oh, I could do that” – ?
Nick Hammond: Yes, I think that’s definitely how it worked out. I was kind of seeing a couple of other people that I had paid attention to online through my social circle, using it as kind of an excuse to get at people that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to in specific spaces. And so for me, that was in relation to the outdoor industry and how that related to sustainability. So that’s how the idea for the podcast started was I just wanted to learn more about kind of these intersections of different industries and how different, I guess “thought leaders” were thinking about different topics.
Adrian Tennant: Where do you do most of your listening? Is it a home in the car at work?
Nick Hammond: I typically focused more on listening during work while I was doing design stuff and so that was more of a desktop kind of experience. And then I would have like one-off listening episodes when I was on a longer trip or something in the car and now that I’m kind of moving at a faster pace and kind of having to come in and out of these different projects more quickly, I don’t necessarily have the time to do that.
Adrian Tennant: So device-wise, are you talking about a phone now being the main source?
Nick Hammond: Man, I think it almost fractured now because it more so just depends on what tool I have available in front of me. If my computer’s in a different room and have my phone right next to me, I’ll just pull it up and listen to my phone.
Adrian Tennant: What app do you typically use?
Nick Hammond: I started with Stitcher, which is funny because when I’ve talked to the other guests that you’ve had on, they had no idea what Stitcher even was. I think for them, they got into it through Apple. I never enjoyed from a design perspective, the user interface of the Apple Podcasts platform. And it felt like it was getting in the way for me of just trying to listen to a simple episode and it was constantly trying to update and change and all this stuff and I just didn’t want to deal with it.
Adrian Tennant: And is that still the case today or have you migrated to something else?
Nick Hammond: I do prefer, there’s something interesting to me about being able to see, uh, how people are interacting. So like a video aspect. So when I’m listening on a desktop, I like to have, if it’s on YouTube, I like to have a YouTube thing kind of playing because it’s interesting when you hear different aspects of a conversation show up to kind of pull up that window on the browser and look at how they’re interacting with each other because there’s something there that you don’t get when you’re just listening to the audio.
Adrian Tennant: Right. You get the audio, but you don’t always get the visual context of facial expressions.
Nick Hammond: Yeah. That kind of stuff.
Adrian Tennant: So Nick, your selection for this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS is an episode of a show called, “Revisionist History.” Could you tell us a little bit about how you came across that podcast?
Nick Hammond: Yeah, so I had been, not necessarily a fan, but a reader of Malcolm Gladwell in the past and there was some stuff in there that I enjoyed. I’ve always enjoyed reading more psychology or biography type stuff. And so I’d been through a couple of his books and had heard his name a while and had kinda gotten to some other authors like him. And I think there was someone that had posted one of his newer episodes from Revisionist History and I had realized that I had never heard it and I didn’t know that he’d come out with podcasts. So yeah, just dove in.
Adrian Tennant: Okay. So this particular episode – what was it about this one that attracted you?
Nick Hammond: Yeah, this episode in particular I as a designer and as a Gemini, which is funny, I feel like my life has kind of separated into two buckets all the time. And it’s always this push-pull thing. And so it was interesting to me because they dive into the difference between approaching a task or situation with a tortoise or a hare kind of mentality. And this, how are you thinking through tasks either more quickly or more slowly and then does that end up influencing your direction in life? They talk a lot in the episode about education and kind of higher education reform and that wasn’t what was interesting to me. It was more so the different thought processes of how people go into these situations and approach them from completely different perspectives.
Adrian Tennant: Right. And I think if any of the listeners have friends or family in the legal profession, I think some of the results – without wanting to give too much away – might be surprising.
Nick Hammond: Definitely. And I didn’t want to give it away, but yes, listen to the episode.
Adrian Tennant: So Nick, what made this episode of Revisionist History a favorite?
Nick Hammond: So without giving away the ending, that’s kind of all I’ll say is the ending is not something that I think you would see coming. And that was what was interesting to me is because I’ve always pursued different avenues of work and decisions in life of what is the best decision or the better decision to make. And I think what you end up finding at the end of this episode is different than that approach.
Adrian Tennant: Wow. That is such a cliffhanger, you’ve got to go and listen to this episode, everybody. For now, Nick Hammond, thank you very much indeed.
Nick Hammond: Thank you.
Adrian Tennant: Most of the podcasts selected by the Bigeye team included some form of advertising or sponsorship message. In June of this year, the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PriceWaterhouseCoopers released their Annual Study of Podcast Ad Revenue. It reported that podcasts generated 479 million dollars from advertising in 2018, and forecasts that ad revenues will reach slightly more than a billion dollars in 2021.
In 2018, the five most popular genres of podcasts in the US were news and politics, comedy, business, education, and arts and entertainment shows. These five genres together generated 66 percent of total advertising revenues. Generating the remaining third of revenues were the genres True Crime, Technology, Lifestyle, Scripted Fiction, Games & Hobbies, Children’s programming, Sports, and Health & Medicine.
The IAB research also indicated that two-thirds of all podcast ads last year were read by the shows’ hosts themselves, while pre-produced ads, typically read by a separate announcer, made up most of the remaining third.
When surveyed, podcast listeners ranked host-reads as their preferred style of podcast ad. This suggests that maybe other types of ads could alienate a show’s audience.
Turning to the duration of podcast advertisements, about a third run for 60 seconds, which is the most popular spot length. 27 percent of podcast ads run for 90 seconds, and 23 percent are just 15 seconds. In 2018, a majority of ads – 51 percent – were edited into shows or “baked in”; the remaining 49 percent were inserted dynamically.
Of 13 business categories measured, the top five represented nearly three-quarters of advertising revenues. Direct-to-consumer retail brands represented 22 percent of revenues, followed by financial services at 21 percent, business-to-business at 14 percent, arts and entertainment at 10 percent, and telecommunications with 7 percent.
About half of all podcast advertisements are direct response campaigns, while 38 percent are brand awareness, and 10 percent are considered branded content.
38 percent of brands purchase advertising in podcasts on a quarterly basis while about 25 percent make annual buys. Only one percent of podcast advertising is purchased programmatically – that is, via automated bidding systems. That’s in stark contrast to digital display, of which 80 percent is bought programmatically. And 86 percent of all podcasts sell their ad space on a cost-per-thousand or CPM pricing model.
It’s estimated that podcasts collectively represent around 40 percent of the listenership of online audio overall, but attracts a little less than 15% of the ad revenue.
A new entrant to the world of podcast advertising and sponsorship is called Podcorn. It offers a self-service platform to podcast producers that acts like a match-making service. Producers can pitch their podcasts directly to brands and agencies who are looking for niche topics or audiences. There are no contracts, no exclusivities, and producers set their own prices for sponsorships. Podcorn handles payment processing and provides the tools for producers and brands to connect.
Of course, podcasters can monetize their shows in ways other than advertising. Some earn revenue directly from listeners by charging for subscriptions. Companies including Luminary and Stitcher Premium have adopted this model.
Another model is crowdfunding – the collection of contributions from listeners, either via standard online payment systems, or general crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
Patreon is another crowdfunding platform which allows podcast listeners to set up regular monthly contributions or pay-per-podcast-episode. It reports that the number of podcasters using Patreon has quadrupled over the past three years, with an eight-fold increase in revenue.
And according to the online ticket marketplace Vivid Seats, the number of live podcast performances is growing rapidly. While the average ticket price of all shows sold by Vivid Seats was 63 dollars, some of the larger shows averaged more than 100 dollars per ticket sold. Vivid Seats’ data shows that NPR’s popular “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me” show charges an average $113 per ticket, while one of the podcasts we discussed earlier, “Armchair Expert,” charges $108 per ticket, on average. No wonder then, that live podcast events have generated an estimated 55 million dollars this year.
So, in summary: as podcasts become more mainstream, advertising revenues are growing, but so are non-ad based revenues from subscription, crowdfunding, and live events.
IN CLEAR FOCUS will continue to track experimentation and innovation in podcasting in 2020 and beyond. If you have questions about how to advertise in a podcast or need assistance with ad production, please let us know.
Thanks to everyone at Bigeye who shared their favorite podcasts with us over the past couple of weeks. A quick recap:
If folklore interests you or you’re just curious about the origins of Santa Claus, you may like Associate Account Manager Karen Hidalgo’s recommendation – an episode of the podcast “Lore,” called, “A Stranger Among Us.” And yep, it is a bit creepy.
If pop culture, sports, or nerdy stuff is more your thing, then you should definitely give the podcast, “83 Weeks with Eric Bischoff” a try. Bigeye Senior Designer, Rhett Withey, who confessed to being a World Wrestling Championship fan, recommended an episode entitled, “Fall Brawl 1998,” which introduced The Warrior to the franchise.
Lauren Fore, who works with Bigeye’s president and leadership team, recommended National Public Radio’s podcast, “The TED Radio Hour.” The episode we discussed last week focuses on what makes humans uniquely human. With contributions from experts in the fields of neuroscience, genetics, and psychology, the episode is called, “What Makes Us … Us.”
The final recommendation last week came from Bigeye’s Senior Multimedia Designer, Dominic Wilson. The podcast is called, “Greyscale Gorilla,” and, as Dom explained, provides practical advice for getting the most out of leading computer-generated imagery software. The specific episode we discussed last week focuses on the use of a program called Houdini.
This week, Account Coordinator Emily Washburn recommended the podcast, “Armchair Expert,” hosted by Dax Shepard. The guest on the show we discussed was Bill Nye, the Science Guy, whom we learned, briefly had a career as a stand-up comedian. Who knew?
And Senior Designer Nick Hammond recommended Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast, “Revisionist History,” and in particular, an episode called, “The Tortoise and the Hare,” which provides a surprising conclusion about the law profession.
You can find all of the episodes we discussed on a Spotify playlist. You’ll find the link on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at bigeyeagency.com under “Insights.” That’s also where you’ll find links to the podcast advertising data I referenced today.
My thanks to all of our guests in 2019. We’ll be back next week with our first show of the new year. Until then, please consider subscribing to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player. Thank you for listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS produced by Bigeye. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye.
- Bigeye’s Favorite Podcasts: Spotify Playlist
- Armchair Expert: Bill Nye
- Revisionist History: The Tortoise and The Hare
- IAB FY 2018 Podcast Ad Revenue Study
- Inside Radio: Podcasters Are Packing Listeners In At Live Events