Podcasting Metrics Debate moves to War of Words with Public Radio

Some podcasting platform players are getting all upset with many large Public Radio groups putting out Podcasting Measurement Specs that give the impression to some that they are declaring war on the long established podcasting space.

“I don’t entirely agree they are “Declaring War on Podcasting Space“.

We just need to agreed on podcasting metric standard fast via IAB Podcast Working Group or this type of stuff will keep happening out of frustration.

“No one can own this podcasting standard.”

They did put it out public and, whether right or wrong, it is a reality that many in the podcasting space do not see consistency in metrics in the podcasting space.

“This public radio doc is a symptom of the problem and not the problem.”

We all know what needs to happen (RadioInk) to avoid this and keep it out of the press. Declaring it a war just brings more negative attention to the problem that does exists that is being referred to as the “Wild West”.

Here are my thoughts on the above topic with the help of Elsie and Jessica of ShePodcasts.com

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Spreaker Live Show #39: Podcasting Down Under w/Joel Zammit, Host SansPantsRadio.com

Here is another episode of the Spreaker Live Show #39 for Dec 30th, 2015.  My guest this week is Joel Zammit, Business Manager and Host at SansPantsRadio.com in Australia.  Joel is co-host of the “”Plumbing The Death Star” podcast from SansPants and is also an Media Lecturer/Tutor at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia.

He has been operating SansPants Radio since 2011 and is part of Spreaker’s Adore.fm Podcast Network. SansPants produces 5 podcasts out of a studio in Austraila called “Plumbing the Death Star”, which is a flagship show from the group, others are “Shut up a Second”, “D&D is For Nerds”, “Movie Maintenance” and a new show called “It’s Just Good Business”.

Show Discussion Topics:
– Joel talks about his background, how SansPants start creating shows?
– Discussion about their Melbourne studios and the team of great co-hosts in shows
– We run through each show and give a run down on what is interesting about each show?
– iTunes selected “Plumbing The Death Star” and “D&D is For Nerds” as a Top podcast in 2015
– What is SansPants approach to podcasting on the content side, what are you trying to do?
– What is “Cool” now about podcasting as younger people are not typically interested in podcasting?

Show Links:
Video Demo of “Spreaker Podcast Radio” App for Android

Send Questions and Comments to:
@Spreaker on Twitter using #SpreakerLive
Tech Support: support at spreaker.com
Rob Greenlee: Rob at Spreaker.com and http://twitter.com/robgreenlee

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2016 Podcasting and Radio Predictions

I see that 2016 will bring continued and steady growth in the on demand audio and podcast markets though with some consolidation of larger players.

I do see a danger of expectations outpacing the realities around the adoption of on demand audio and podcasting by radio groups and stations.

Radio and Podcasting/On Demand audio will converging more in 2016, but the pace of this convergence between radio and podcasting is a 5+ year evolving direction as radio continues its slow decline and on demand / podcasts grows in listeners and content producers.  So, don’t expect huge progress this coming year.

Content will continue to rule this era in the podcasting and on demand audio market.  I do fear the buzz in the media about podcasting is creating a level of unrealistic expectations for the podcasting market.  The very few are benefiting from this heightened attention to our disruptive medium called “Podcasting”.

We are still early in having one or many major distribution and listening platforms that really are offering the compete solution that will take this medium to the next level.  This will happen as more investment comes into the medium and innovative companies can innovate more.  We are seeing the beginnings of this with a few companies, but we are still a few years away and many millions of dollars short.

I still think that podcast listening and download measurement is still too fragmented in the market.  This is holding back the market as many companies are trying to own measurement as a competitive feature.  This must change and we all get on the same measurement standard for the advertising revenue scale into the billions.

Watch me talk about 2016 predictions below in this past Saturday’s New Media Show episode.

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Spreaker Live Show #35: Podcast as Radio, Mat Kaplan, Host Planetary Radio

I get behind the mic with Mat Kaplan, Planetary Radio Producer/Host is an official show from “The Planetary Society” led by CEO Bill Nye.  The show visits with a scientist, engineer, project manager, astronaut, advocate or writer who provides a unique and exciting perspective on the exploration of our solar system and beyond.

Topics on the Live Show:
– Hear a clip from show with Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye and StarTalk Radio’s Neil Degrasse Tyson
– He tells us about the Planetary Radio Show on broadcast and online radio
– When did he start podcasting the show?
– When did it start as a podcast and then become a radio show?
– How has the show production changed over the years?
– What is the purpose and mission of the Planetary Society?
– Recorded a screen capture video demo of new Spreaker Podcast Radio app for Android
– New updated Spreaker Studio app for Windows/Mac with microphone volume boost and audio limiting
– Show Promo clip from Alex Z aka theZim host of “Word On the Street” podcast

Spreaker Links:
Spreaker Podcast Radio App Demo

Send Questions and Comments to:
@Spreaker on Twitter using #SpreakerLive
Tech Support: support (at) spreaker.com
Rob Greenlee: Rob at Spreaker.com

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Video Demo: Spreaker Podcast Radio App for Android

Here is a 12 minute YouTube video demo that I recorded of the new “Spreaker Podcast Radio” app for android that offers a lean-back radio like experiences with podcasts. Give it a watch and then give it a try if you are an android device user. It would be great to get your feedback on the app to rob (at) spreaker (dotcom).

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New Media Show #109: Todd Cochrane and Rob Greenlee Chat Podcasting

Todd Cochrane (@GeekNews) and Rob Greenlee (@RobGreenlee) discuss the challenges of some of the new podcasting platforms when it comes to live integration for the show. The new Triton announcement by Blubrry. They also discuss a recent Westwood One “State of American Podcasting” webinar and some of the shared data points.

Catch a new Live episode this coming Saturday, November 28th at 9am PST at New Media Show Live.

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Spreaker Live Show #34: Podcasts vs Radio Content with Steven Goldstein

In episode 34, I get behind the mic together with Steven Goldstein as his guest, discussing the relationship between podcasts and radio content.  Steven is CEO of AmplifiMedia.com, is recognized as a thought leader in audio programming, marketing, and management. He has developed numerous successful radio brands and nurtured and advanced local and national talent at NBC Radio, CBS Radio, and Sega Communications.  

We discuss the following topics:

– Most audio today is still consumed in real-time on the radio, but how rapidly is that changing with on-demand content? 

– How is podcasting, or on-demand audio, altering the big business of broadcast radio? 

– How are podcasts different than radio? 

– How can audio content creators better understand the space and develop strategies to optimize it?

– How should a new or existing content creator and radio folks think about the podcasting medium? 

– Listen in to Adore.fm‘s Podcast Network Promo: Aaron Roden of the Air-Raid Podcast drops bombs of awesome music in your earholes.

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New Media Show #108 Todd & Rob talk on Blab

Todd Cochrane @geeknews and I @robgreenlee do the the NewMediaShow.com last Saturday, Nov 15th on Blab.im due to Todd’s travel. We talk about the podcasting space and have a number of podcasters join us. We discuss doing podcasts on Blab.im and we discuss various new products from Spreaker.com and RawVoice PowerPress Plugin.

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Are Podcasts and Music A Perfect Match?

By Rob Greenlee

The match between podcasts and music has been around since the early days of podcasting at small places like Apple iTunes and Microsoft Zune, the two major distribution platforms for podcasting in its embryonic stage of the mediums development. I worked on the Zune Music and Podcasts team from 2007 till 2014 and saw first-hand the synergies between the two mediums. Then when Apple launched the app store for the iPhone, the craze around apps drove music, video, radio and podcasts into separate apps on mobile. The other historical reference here is the many decades long experience that broadcast radio listeners have had around music, news and talk programming being right next to each other in millions of cars on the radio dial.

“This movement towards separating music from podcasts built for years as each medium felt like they needed to have a unique experience for each area without really thinking about the successful history of music and spoken word riding on the same platform or experience.”

I have been puzzled by the growing separation for years now and saw it happen at Microsoft when Zune was folded into Xbox brand and service. They separated music out from podcasts area because everyone else was doing it, not because it was really better for users to keep them combined like in iTunes and Zune. Over 3 years ago, I pitched the then GM for Xbox Music and told him that users wanted podcasts in the Xbox music app. I never even got a response or a reply.

Competitors in online music services like Pandora, Spotify, Rdio, Slacker, Xbox Music, Deezer, Google Play Music and the new Apple Music streaming music service have and will spent many years battling with music labels and royalties rates making most of those companies teeter on the edge of insolvency.

The market for online radio streaming services like iHeartRadio, TuneIn, Live365 is crowded and some have been struggling with the same type financial issues as the streaming music services. TuneIn and Live365 are making it, but I am sure it is not easy in such a competitive market. The other major players in the market for online audio are offering 360 degree services for content providers at all levels from hosting, live streaming, recording, aggregator and podcasting to the growing on demand audio like AudioBoom, Spreaker and BlogTalkRadio.

Another level of services is just plain content aggregator’s like Stitcher, iTunes, Overcast, BeyondPod and the online radio streaming services Then another level of platform is the basic hosting platforms and streaming platforms like SoundCloud, Libsyn, Blubrry, BuzzSprout and PodBean.

The answer now is that online streaming music services are finally coming around to adding on demand spoken word audio and podcasts to their services? This is now a significant trend line with Google Play and Spotify adding Podcasts.

The question is how will podcasts be integrated into streaming music services and I think the answer is simple. Music and podcasts are like tracks or episodes the only big difference is duration and frequency of plays. Some podcasts are the same duration as music, but most are much longer. You will just create your own personalized playlists or more lean-back radio-like experience in app like Spreaker Podcast Radio. These services offer music and podcast episodes from the artists/podcaster of listeners choosing.

“Personalization is the key to making this all work as we are living in an on demand and take charge of your media culture now. Listeners need to be given more control, but yet enable the platform to help present programs that based on your interests, social graph and history to deliver those options.”

We are living in an exciting and scary time as our devices are going to be taking over more control of our day to day lives and podcasting will be impacted by it in very natural interfaces with yours and recommended content via voice and gesture. The future is interesting and will be full of surprises in our car, homes and devices.

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Podcasting business models that work and do not

By Rob Greenlee

The podcasting aggregator model has been flawed since the earliest days of podcasting and cannot be easily monetized; it means that podcast only distribution aggregator platforms or so called “Podcatchers” have had a difficult time generating revenue and profit to support ongoing development investment. Today, most if not all the revenue in the podcasting space today comes from media file hosting and host read advertising in podcast content that is paid directly to the content creators and advertising sales groups.

“Podcast only distribution aggregrator platforms or so called “Podcatchers” have had a difficult time generating revenue and profit to support ongoing development investment.”

Redistribution and aggregator only platforms like Stitcher try to generate revenue from running banner ad type advertising and audio spot advertising around shows they do not generally have the rights to do without sharing some of that revenue with the podcast content creators. The problem is that the content creator is not getting a cut of that revenue in most cases. Because of this many of those content creators are starting to objecting to it and pulling content down off of places like Stitcher. Stitcher has had very flawed business model and had to sell to a large streaming music service based in Europe called Deezer for much less than the amount of cash invested in it by venture capitalists.

“This redistribution model is coming to Google Play, Spotify in the present and future, but many content providers have pushed back on that practice.”

The other issue with Stitcher has been the cache and redistribution of audio files that caused many issues in the past. This downloading of podcast audio files, re-encoding and hosting of the media was done to optimize the playback experience on mobile devices. This redistribution model is coming to Google Play, Spotify in the present and future, but many content providers have pushed back on that practice as it degraded the audio quality and caused fragmented or incomplete audience metrics.

I think that podcast business models with multiple revenue sources are the key to long term success. This might be obvious to many, but as we look into the future this is going to become very important for new entrepreneur’s to understand about the podcasting industry. I believe that gone are the days of opening a very narrowly focused podcasting business and expect it to thrive and survive. The exception to some of this are the hosting only platform businesses like Libsyn, Blubrry, Spreaker and Podbean and advertising sales agencies like PodTrac, Midroll Media and PodcastOne. The companies that focus on media file hosting with metrics services have had a strong history of thriving and the advertising sales focused companies have more recently seen increasing viability and success as the medium grows.

We are seeing content focused companies like Slate, PodcastOne, Earwolf, ESPN, TWiT.TV and many others experiencing increasing revenue growth. The future of content focused media companies is strong. The business models for these companies are starting to be built on multiple revenue streams. These streams are rooted in advertising; live events and television show development.

The other important area of growth is with full spectrum on demand audio and podcasting platforms like Spreaker.com, AudioBoom and Blog Talk Radio. Many will disagree with Blog Talk Radio being an example of the future of profitable podcasting platforms, but think that ease of listening; advertising sales in combination with revenue generating audio creation tools is a future business model that works.

I have been hearing for years that many platforms have been working on adding easier content creation to the cloud using apps functionality, but many of those have never seen a release. I think that was a mistake and leaves open the door to the development of a leading platform supporting all aspects of listening, live streaming, media file hosting. RSS feed creation, advertising sales, audience engagement tools and detailed distribution metrics.

Many have thought that SoundCloud could be that leading platform for podcasters, but I am wondering about their commitment to content creation and open syndication. Spreaker.com might just be that future platform with all the potential to be the YouTube of the podcasting space that has multiple revenue streams that span media hosting, app development, advertising sales and other creative services. Spreaker will also share ad revenue. They recently released a new app for iOS that is targeted at content creators to do live shows and record on demand shows. I believe that to succeed a company must live in all parts of the industry and find many services to offer its listeners and content creators who often times are the same users.

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Any Truth to Podcasting Renaissance?

By Rob Greenlee

It seems like podcasting or on-demand audio is in the middle of a burst of media and entrepreneurial interest.  This increased interest in podcasting is occurring because of a convergence of events that have been building for a few years now.

Many newer people to the podcasting community, listeners and media all sense sudden fast track growth and profitability.  This recent perception has been fueled by many major articles on large media sites like Washington Post and Fast Company.  These articles often reference the “Serial” podcast and exuded the renewed birth of podcasting and its profitability stemming from the growth and success of podcast networks.  Big podcast shows are getting plenty of advertisers and making lots of money, but smaller shows are still struggling to make solid revenue. Revenue to smaller podcast shows is coming as the overall audience for podcasts or on demand audio grows.

“I hate to pop the bubble here, but podcasting has been on a steady rise in usage, content, content quality and ease of distribution for many years now.  Successful and profitable podcast programs and networks have been around for many years.” 

What we have been seeing is just a steady increase in all areas around podcasting and on-demand audio as the 10 year old medium matures.  We did not get here overnight and the media interest and content we are seeing talked about now has been around for many years.  The Adam Carolla Podcast started in 2009 and many of the popular public radio programs started 4 or 5 years ago now as well.

It is easy to be a little cynical about the hype and media coverage of today as we have seen it all before, many times.  Even going back to 2004 and 2005, when “Wired” magazine ran a front page cover story proclaiming how podcasting was going to “Kill Radio” and showed a bullet crashing through a table top radio receiver.  Like I have said, we have been here and seen this all before.  The difference is that back then podcasting was a bunch of smoke and mirrors.  It was an upstart medium that no one really understood. Much of that has changed now and we are finally starting to see the broadcast radio industry start to recognize that on-demand audio may actually be the threat that they did not concern themselves with back in 2005.

The suggested renaissance of podcasting is being driven by an explosion of new quality podcast content from every potential source you can imagine.  Comedy podcasts are booming as well as every other genre of content, from religious podcasts to shows from reality stars like Snooki and Brandi Glanville.  Former Pro Wrestlers are also building a strong new genre in the sports category.  YouTube stars are starting to build successful audio podcasts with the launch of the Tyler Oakly’s “Psycho Babble” podcast.

We have also been seeing a steady shift of nationally syndicated talk radio talkers moving to becoming more cross-media brands with TV shows and podcasts. This recognition of the big broadcast radio networks and stations is a huge trend coming for 2015 and beyond.

Podcasting conference events like The New Media Expo (NMX) in Las Vegas next April 13-15, which is going to be co-presented with the huge National Association of Broadcasters annual conference, Podcast Movement in Texas and the recent Los Angeles Podcast Festival that focused on live comedy podcast shows.  LA PodFest was a show fan event with educational podcasting sessions.

“Podcasting or on-demand audio is growing fast since the hype of YouTube video and Social Media has subsided somewhat and smartphones have exploded in adoption.  This is the opening for a renaissance of spoken-word audio as the medium shifts to become an on-demand medium like video and music has become.  It has just taken spoken-word audio and podcasting a little bit longer to develop than broadcast radio.”

The future is bright again for audio with the coming smart car dashboards and head units.  Apple is rolling out “CarPlay” and Google’s Android operating system is getting installed more and more into cars of the future.  This means that the growth of spoken-word audio apps on your phone and installed into your car smart dashboards will bring a new audio experience to our cars via our smartphones or directly to the car dash via very fast data plans.

Look for podcasting and on-demand spoken-word audio to continue its march up the mountain called “Renaissance”.

Originally distributed in Podertainment Magazine.

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Coming Contextualized Podcast Listening

By Rob Greenlee

Many have said, over the past 10 years that podcasts were just too difficult to find and know how to listen to them.  I would agree that was the past and that past perceptions like this create a delay in the realization that something new is about to be born that will revolutionize the podcasting or on-demand spoken-word audio market we know today.

“I believe that 2015 and 2016, will bring the most profound improvements to on-demand spoken-word podcast market since iTunes added a podcasts area.”

This next year or so will show us a synergy of some very important areas that in combination will be explosive to the podcasts market.

The opportunity areas are smartphone personal agent technology that we have been seeing slowly develop like Siri, Cortana and Google’s agent technology this is currently nameless.  The other areas of important improvement are around in-car dash listening and most importantly the focus on content and the businesses that support at a very high level.

This smart agent technology is deriving out of what is called “machine learning” and is a growing focus in the tech sector that is driving the convergence of inputs from mobile device sensors, location beacons, artificial intelligence and big database stores of personal data. These technology evolutions are driving a more contextualized experience on all of our mobile devices.

You are asking at this point, “What is contextualized mobile experiences and how is this going to impact my podcast listening?” 

The answer is fairly simple and when you hear it, that light bulb in your brain will go on and you will say that makes sense.

The answer is that our mobile devices will become more and more aware of what you are doing, where you are and what you like to do and when you like to do it.  Then based on all the sensor and personal data these smart agents have access to about you, then they will start to predict and suggest what, when and how we will live our daily lives.

In many ways we are already living this contextual world, but the difference is the predictive nature of the next generation of 8 processor cores and then 12 and 16 core mobile devices that are coming in the next few years.  I believe that we will see cloud connected devices with huge processor power that are connected to huge server farms being built by Google, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook.  These server farms and future devices will know you like you have never known yourself.

To give a little perspective and real world example of this trend, the recent Apple purchase of mobile app podcast playback platform called Swell had as much to do with machine learning and context as podcasting.  Swell was laser focused on obtaining data signals from app usage, social media and device location to help personalize the audio playback experience.

This contextual future in combination with the growing embrace of the broadcast radio side and the increasing quality and variety of content is setting the stage for a huge growth pattern for podcasting and on-demand audio.  We have the pending battle between generations of spoken-word audio listeners who mostly span local and national content. We are seeing a significant trend around in-car streaming audio versus broadcast radio listening.

“I believe that car in-dash streaming audio playback is going to be a major inflection point for podcasts with the coming deployment of Apple’s “CarPlay” with 3G and 4G internet connected app experience that will be driven by mobile device and direct to the car wireless data plans.”

Young people today don’t listen to much radio and mostly digital music platforms, but older people tend to listen to more spoken-word radio and on-demand podcasts. The good thing about the younger generation is that they become older and that will help drive the future in-car streaming audio platforms that will increasingly be connected with our devices smart contextual driven user agents like Siri and Cortana.

This means that your mobile device, car, home and office will be places that your device knows the spoken-word podcast content you like and delivers content listening and advertising suggestions that are relevant to your calendar, location, activity and most of all interests that have all been obtained though the world around you and the personal data you have put into your cloud enabled devices. This may or may not be a good development, but it will make listening to spoken-word podcast content much easier then today.

Originally distributed in Podertainment Magazine.

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Podcast Content vs. Distribution: Is the battle just beginning?

By Rob Greenlee

Content and distribution have had a long-running relationship with each other over many decades, going back to the earliest days of print, TV and radio. Yet, this relationship has been growing more and more unstable since the beginning of the digital age. Think Napster, as the internet has taken over more and more of the distribution of content that can go directly from the creator to its audience.

The growth of the internet has meant that in general traditional aggregator distribution middlemen are, more and more, getting cut out of making shares of revenue from content that can cover costs associated with creating and maintaining distributing pathways for getting content to audiences. This audience pathway has often been expensive to create and operate. Think newspapers, radio, and television in an analog content delivery world.

Fast forward to 2004, the iPod was dominating portable audio and thus sparked the birth of a little on-demand radio medium called Podcasting that we thought of as the utopia of unbridled and open content creation and distribution. We all thought that this symbiotic relationship between podcasting content and distribution at places like iTunes would continue forever. Well, folks, those days may be coming to an end in the new age of podcast content monetization we are seeing develop today.

I believe that we are seeing the beginnings of a battle starting to happen between creators of high quality podcast content and on-demand audio distribution platforms.

This is happening now because the content in this relatively new medium is finally able to be monetized effectively.

Yes, it is a new day for podcasting and it only took 10 years of struggle for the medium to be taken seriously by the radio and advertising buying markets to get here. The old saying comes to mind: be careful what you wish for as many in the podcasting industry have wanted effective monetization of the medium for a long time now. The battle between content and distribution has arrived and so have a few other things that we all should have known were coming.

It is well known that many more podcasts these days are making serious money.

With that come new people and platforms that want to jump in on the opportunity. The other trend that is happening is increased attention and larger audiences are coming to the podcast medium. It has long been the dream of many early entrepreneurs to seek angel and venture capital to build on-demand radio / podcasting platforms on the promise of obtaining large user bases that would potentially lead to revenue in the future.

The brewing battle is centered on who has the contractual rights to sell advertising in the podcasting content and who has the rights to distribute the said podcast content.

The dirty little secret in the podcasting space is that some of the newer open aggregator distribution platforms are running advertising in front of podcasting content without always sharing revenue and or giving play count credit to the true owners of the podcast content.

The fallout from this battle is going to shape the future of on-demand audio and podcasting. The key issue is that podcast aggregator platforms that do not own or represent the advertising sales and license podcast content will have a difficult time surviving in this new on-demand radio/audio market. It is hard to see how these open content aggregator distribution platforms will make enough revenue to justify the continued investment in software infrastructure, let alone bring a strong return to investors.

These platforms will struggle to support operations without some source of revenue besides venture capital and ad revenue coming from running ads against content that they have not paid for rights or share advertising revenue. They will face legal challenges from the true rights holders that will put them in legal and financial troubles. We will see new aggregator app platforms struggle to find a foothold as the best content will not be available on those platforms.

I believe that serious content creators and content distribution platforms need to operate in ways that are more cooperative with each other.

The only alternative is that content owners will take more control and own the distribution and audience relationships.

It is very possible that open aggregator platforms may be in the process of fading from the on-demand and podcasting market.

Podcast content networks will create distribution platforms for reaching directly to audiences. In the future, larger content networks will be the ones to do the needed content distribution rights and revenue sharing deals.

Originally distributed in Podertainment Magazine and watch videos about the eMagazine here.

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How On-Demand Audio will Make Money in the Future

Since the early days of podcasting, many have wished for and aspired to make a good living from producing and distributing podcasts. Many a podcaster has failed to achieve that goal and has hung up the towel on trying to earn a good living or build a small company around the fun and exciting podcasting space. I have seen many people and companies come and go since before podcasting really even started. Expectations for the scale and advertiser support just did not match reality. Podcasting certainly did not “Kill the Radio Star” like Wired Magazine proclaimed on its cover back in 2005.

The podcasting/on-demand audio industry will make hundreds of millions or even one day billions in revenue once advertisers and distribution platforms have a consistent third-party standard for understanding and reporting download’s, play duration, specific playback devices and geo-targeting abilities to do what is called in radio “copy splitting”. These are the elements that drove broadcast radio to the 16 billion dollar industry it still is today. This usage and audience measurement metric data needs to be verified by detailed user studies by trusted research firms like Arbitron and Nielsen Research, as the large media buying agencies still operate on those principles.

The specific parts of the industry positioned to generate the most revenue and profit the most are generally the same as now: content providers and networks providing high quality content with top talent with a strong existing audience following offline and online. We are also seeing a few top publishing, hosting and metrics tools providers that are trusted by content providers and advertisers getting solid and growing revenue streams. I think that those that can create a content network with talented hosts, who can build authentic audience trust, deep “friendship level” engagement and entertain, will make hundreds of millions of dollars from major Fortune 500 brand advertisers and sponsors. Many major brand advertisers are beginning to give on-demand audio podcasting a shot, as a radio advertising replacement strategy.

Monetization will happen from a variety of revenue streams, as outlined above, but mostly it will be the larger major content provider networks and shows will make the most revenue. The aggregator distribution (iTunes, Stitcher and others) will continue to struggle, but will grow revenue from getting into partnerships with content providers at a deeper level to get connected to advertiser revenue. The other ways these aggregator platforms can grow revenue is via offering in-app purchases, audience donation/fan loyalty shares and selling merchandise and/or offering live event ticket transactions. This part is the real weakness in the industry today and will be the key to creating the most user-friendly software experiences on mobile devices and in-cars. This is going to be the last place that is able to monetize in a way that will be healthy and really propel the industry to higher levels of revenue in the future.

I believe that Apple has been the company to profit most from Podcasting. Apple did not invent podcasting, but did make it what it is today with millions of daily users accessing podcasts through very expensive and highly profitable devices. Apple can make or break this industry right now and for the foreseeable future. It is rumored that Apple Podcasting could be moving to Android and, with a move like that; it could give the podcasting industry a big audience boost. It is true that Google has not put any effort into the podcasting market, because Google considers YouTube their podcast play. Android is clearly the biggest potential growth opportunity. It has lagged without a first-party podcast experience. Although Stitcher and others have made some in-roads into Android, it has remained a missed opportunity.

I believe that in the next 12 months, the on-demand and podcasting market will be quite different than today. The shift around consumption of audio content to mobile devices and beyond the desktop computer is a significant development. The entry of players that have big budgets will create a big impact and other dominant streaming internet audio players will jump into the on-demand talk audio market soon to drive the audience and revenue even higher.

We all need to start getting used to the phrases “on-demand audio” and “on-demand talk”, and the term “Podcasts” as important industry terms, as I am hearing them more and more. The term “Podcast” and “Podcasting” are not going away and never will, but these other terms will help this industry become the financial success we all want it to become.

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2014 and Beyond for Podcasting

Since the earliest days of podcasting in 2004, the key points of change over the years have been around monetization, content quality, devices used for listening or watching and software distribution platforms.

Podcasting has seen a heavy amount of churn on the content and distribution platform sides for many years.  Tools platforms have enabled content providers and apps to be more usable and stable in recent years.  Most of the current companies have proven to be steadily improving and economically viable.

Although many of the podcasting tools providers have been successful, many of the early providers struggled to stay viable.  Companies that endured and found acceptance among content providers were those that worked hard to adapt their tools and platforms into what content providers needed. The common thread is they all had and continue to have a single point of contact that was reachable and respectful of podcaster community.

The podcast content community is very sensitive to platforms that are looking to take advantage of the community. In the past, podcasters have been burned by many early companies.  For this reason, it is very important for new companies coming into the podcasting space to build trust with the podcast content community and engage with them as deeply as one can to learn the pitfalls to avoid and opportunities to move towards.

Key Trends and Challenges:

The podcasting market growth continues to center on mobile device adoption that includes smartphones, phablets and tablets.  The market is dominated by audio content, with the vast majority of revenue for all major players in the market coming from host-read sponsor and inserted advertising in downloaded or progressively download play streams.  Pre-roll advertising in podcast content can be effective, if kept in the 30 to 60 second range or less.  Much longer host read sponsor messages can also have a significant value as well.

CPM revenue for podcasts and on-demand audio can vary wildly and range from just a few dollars to as high as forty to fifty dollars per thousand of reported downloads.  The reason for this wide range is because the advertising market for podcasting and on-demand audio shows is immature and advertising buyers are mainly funding direct response campaigns today. The ROI results of properly matched advertisers and shows can be very high.

The podcasting space is still in the process of establishing audience reporting standards around the exact method for how to count downloads; play duration and advertising message impressions are tracked and reported.   The other big issue is around having a credible third-party advertising agency recognize an audience research entity to verify reported metrics.

We are seeing advertisers tending to work with podcast brands and networks that have a strong awareness and reputation for delivering compelling content and advertiser ROI results.

Radio listeners are steadily increasing ownership of smartphones and tablets, thus will have the mobile data connection and device to get access to podcast and on-demand spoken-word audio content.  The podcast hosting platforms are showing strong growth in podcast usage across smartphones, but tablets are growing in usage as well.  Most of these devices have access to mobile wireless and Wi-Fi, thus making many tablets mobile devices as well.  All tablets and smartphones have integrated Bluetooth radios that can connect to car head units.

Over the next few years, this same tablet/smartphone technology and mobile wireless data connections are going to be integrated into the dashboards of higher end new cars that are purchased by the same age group and education level as current and future on-demand audio/ podcast users.  The other major impact on the podcast market is wearable mobile devices.  The next generation of mobile device processors will be able to predict our needs and desires, based on sensed usage and activities.

Mobile devices and software are headed towards more hands-free usage and thus access to wireless on-demand radio-like experiences via the wireless carrier data networks.  Every mobile device will be a radio replacement device that is with the user all day long versus just when in the car.  This has the potential to grow the consumption of audio and video content.  Smartphones are evolving to become PC replacements and, with phones getting larger screens, they also become tablet replacements or phablet devices.  These larger screen smartphones and phablets will help grow media consumption for both audio and video.

The other major enhancement to the on-demand radio and podcast market will be more content coming from the broadcast radio side.  I believe that more local radio stations will begin to utilize digital on-demand distribution of online only and some broadcasted content targeted at local, regional, national and global markets.  The radio stations and broadcast radio groups will need to do a much better job of selling a combination of local, regional, national and global sponsorship packages to advertisers or better utilize savvy digitally focused advertising agencies that truly understand the on-demand radio and podcast advertising market.

The advertising messages in podcasts will need to be uniquely targeted to the specific podcast listener.  Actual Ad placements will need to be heavy on the mid-roll side, but well integrated pre-rolls, mid-rolls and post-rolls can be 30 or 60 second spots or shorter.  Like always host story telling about his or her experiences with the product or service is always good to have after or before the spots.

The other opportunity is that show donations will require a different approach than has been done in the past. Individual show donations will need to be a very easy and convenient donation process that would be visible with every episode of an on-demand radio/podcast series.

Looking to the future, we will see more premium paid ad-free on-demand radio and podcast content enabled via in-app purchase wrapped by free content in a freemium model.  Podcasts or on-demand radio shows are a very personal medium and success is often measured on engagement that often leads to revenue coming from live events and selling related products like books, t-shirts, tickets, wine, hard alcohol and consulting services.

All mobile app distribution and ad sales platforms for podcasts will need to focus on generating revenue from offering services that meet the market needs to help generate revenue for the content providers.  The opportunity for technology tools, client app development, ad sales and metrics providers is to tap into the $17 billion radio advertising market to fuel the on-demand radio and podcasting market.

This all means that revenue in the future of on-demand radio and podcasts will come from a variety of cash flow streams and each show will need to be able to custom tailor their show or network platform to a combination of all or some of the outlined revenue strategies.

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