How Can Podcasters Make Podcast Advertising Better?
The podcast advertising business is once again taking it on the chin, blasted from inside the industry and out. What can podcasters and podcast listeners do about it?
Fucking advertising. There. I said it. Fucking advertising, some will say, is completely ruining podcasting. On both sides of the equation.
From ad buyers paying for podcast plays that ran inside of mobile video games to listeners like me having to skip through five ads for a total of 4 minutes and 15 seconds to get to listen to less than 17 minutes of content-that’s a 20% ad load-it bears repeating: Fucking advertising.
Only… this isn’t a rant against podcast advertising. Now, don’t get me wrong-I’m no fan of advertising. Long-time listeners know that I had a decades-spanning career in digital advertising until I quit the industry-on purpose!-in 2014. Well, “quit” may be too strong of a word, as I’ve dabbled in/advised on advertising in the podcasting space for the better part of two years now.
This isn’t a rant against advertising. Because as much as we hate to admit it, advertising is what powers a lot of the podcasts we listen to. This shouldn’t be surprising, as advertising is what powers most of the content we consume on our TVs, mobile devices, and more.
So no, I’m not complaining about podcast advertising on this episode of Podcast Pontifications. Instead, I’m asking you, the podcast creator, to accept the responsibility that comes with advertising.
Just take a look at many of the negative comments left in reviews of podcasts. If the show runs ads, I can almost guarantee one of the top complaints will be too many ads. That’s a valid complaint in some cases. A valid complaint that consumers have about a lot of the content they consume where they don’t have any choice but to suffer through the advertising that gets in the way of their content.
But that’s not true for podcast listeners. Unlike other media consumers, podcast listeners aren’t without choices, because podcast creators can (and often do) offer ad-free options to their listeners.
It’s easier today than ever before to create an ad-free option for just about any podcast. Subscription services built directly into Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Ad-free feeds are easily assembled using Patreon, Supercast, or Buy Me A Coffee. Large networks are building listening apps just for their content, like we see with Wondery+ and Realm.
Chances are, if a podcast you listen to is running ads, there’s probably an ad-free option for you. (And if not, then go right ahead and pressure that podcaster to create one, because it really is easier than ever.)
Creating an ad-free option for listeners isn’t the issue. The issues that I see-and have encountered recently-that inhibit the adoption of ad-free listening are two-fold: friction and awareness.
Friction means that the travel from listening to the freely-available-on-any-podcast-app podcast and the ad-free podcast is… burdensome. If the app used by the listener has both the ad-supported and the ad-free feed available, this friction is lessened. But, with the possible exception of Apple Podcasts, that friction is still there. For every other app-at least the ones I’m aware of-it means re-subscribing to a new feed, which probably isn’t even in the podcast listening app’s directory. Or it means downloading a brand new app to the listener’s mobile device. An app that has no idea where a listener was in the episode flow when the user decided to spring for the ad-free experience.
Like I said. Friction. And there isn’t much we podcasters can do about that. It sucks.
But we podcasters can do something about the second inhibiting factor-awareness. We can make people aware that yeah, they are listening to an ad-supported feed, so expect ads. But also make them aware that there is an option (or options, I guess) to get an ad-free listening experience. And podcasters need to do this not just once in an episode, but maybe a few times in an episode. Maybe-and I’m sure advertisers will hate this-at the start of a three-run ad block in the middle of the episode? Maybe an impassioned plea that says, yeah, I know you hate all these ads, but it costs us around $150,000 to make this show (or way more than that if you’re making high-quality fiction podcasts) each year, so yeah, we run ads that you can totally opt out of by going HERE. And be very specific when you get to the HERE part.
And there’s one other thing we podcasters can do: We can stop complaining about ads in podcasting. Production costs-like all costs-continue to rise. The quality bar continues to be raised higher and higher, causing podcast creators who rise to that new level to again incur more costs.
Podcasting may still be a fun hobby to most, and I truly hope it stays that way. But the industry is driven forward by those who treat podcasting like a business. And for many, ads (and an ad-free option) is a very big part of the business.
Let’s at least accept that fact, shall we?
With that, I shall be back next week with yet another Podcast Pontifications.
Podcast Pontifications is written and narrated by Evo Terra. He’s on a mission to make podcasting better. Allie Press proofed the copy, corrected the transcript, and edited the video. Podcast Pontifications is a production of Simpler Media
Originally published at https://podcastpontifications.com.