Justine Moore is a enterprise investor at CRV and co-founded Cardinal Ventures alongside her sister, Olivia.
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What VidCon means for the way forward for social media platforms
More posts by this contributor
What VidCon means for the way forward for social media platforms
2019 has been a breakout yr for podcasting. According to Edison Research’s Infinite Dial report, greater than half of Americans have now listened to a podcast, and an estimated 32% pay attention month-to-month (up from 26% final yr). This is the most important yearly enhance since this knowledge began being tracked in 2008. Podcast creation additionally continues to develop, with greater than 700,000 podcasts and 29 million podcast episodes, up 27% from final yr.
Thanks to this rising listener base, massive corporations are lastly beginning to concentrate to the area — Spotify plans to spend $500M on acquisitions this yr, and already acquired content material studio Gimlet, tech platform Anchor, and true crime community Parcast for a mixed $400M. In the previous week, Google added playable podcasts to go looking outcomes, Spotify launched an analytics dashboard for podcasters, and Pandora launched a device for podcasters to submit their reveals.
We’ve been going to Podcast Movement, the most important annual business convention, for 3 years, and have watched the convention develop together with the business — reaching 3,000 attendees in 2019. Given the elevated buzz across the area, we have been anticipating this yr’s convention to have a brand new degree of vitality and professionalism, and we weren’t disillusioned. We’ve summarized 5 prime takeaways from the convention, from why podcast advertisements are exhausting to scale to why so many celebrities are launching their very own reveals.
Rise of superstar podcasters boosts listenership
We’ve formally entered the age of superstar podcasters. After early successes like WTF with Marc Maron (2009), Alec Baldwin’s Here’s The Thing (2011), and Anna Faris’ Unqualified (2015), prime expertise is flooding into the area. In 2017, 15% of Apple’s href=””https://www.allaccess.com/net-news/archive/story/172268/apple-podcasts-charts-top-20-most-downloaded-podca”> prime 20 most-downloaded podcasts of the yr have been hosted by celebrities or influencers — this jumped to 32% of the prime 25 in 2018. And of all the brand new reveals that launched in 2018, 48% of the highest 25 have been celebrity-hosted.
Though podcasts are undermonetized in comparison with different types of media, expertise brokers now think about them to be an essential a part of a well-rounded content material technique. Dan Ferris from CAA tells his shoppers to consider podcasting as a approach of connecting with followers that’s “much more intimate than social media.” Podcasts additionally assist celebrities discover a new viewers. Ben Davis from WME mentioned that whereas his consumer David Dobrik has a smaller viewers on his podcast than on YouTube (1.5M downloads per episode versus 6M views per video), the podcast helps him attain a brand new group of listeners who encounter his present on the Apple Podcast charts.
While some podcast veterans grumble in regards to the rise of superstar discuss reveals, well-known podcasters are good for the business as a complete. Advertisers are drawn to the area by the chance to get to entry A-list expertise at decrease costs. One latest instance is Endeavor Audio’s fiction present Blackout, which starred Rami Malek, who was recent off an Oscar win. Endeavor’s head of gross sales Charlie Emerson mentioned manufacturers may need to signal a “seven or eight figure deal” to promote alongside Malek’s content material in different types of media. Other podcasters additionally profit from new listeners introduced into the medium by their favourite stars — a Westwood One survey in fall 2018 discovered that 60% of podcast listeners report discovering reveals through social media, the place celebrities and influencers have enormous present audiences to push content material to.
Creator backlash towards “walled garden” apps
Paid listening apps signify a reasonably small proportion of podcast listenership, with manufacturing platform Anchor estimating that Apple Podcasts and Spotify management greater than 70% of listenership. A venture-backed firm known as Luminary is making an attempt to vary this — it raised $100M to launch a “Netflix for podcasts” this spring. Consumers pay $7.99/month to entry Luminary-exclusive reveals alongside podcasts which are free on different apps. Because podcasts have RSS feeds, distributors like Luminary can simply seize free content material and put it behind a paywall. The platform, not the creator, advantages from this monetization.
Within days of Luminary’s launch, outstanding podcasters and media corporations (The New York Times, Gimlet, and extra) requested their reveals be faraway from the app. It’s fascinating to notice that YouTube has an identical premium plan — for $11.99/month, customers can entry and obtain ad-free movies. Unlike Luminary, nevertheless, YouTube, pays creators a lower of the income from these subscriptions primarily based on how regularly their content material is considered.
Unsurprisingly, creator sentiment is extra optimistic towards platforms like Spotify and Pandora . Though these corporations do generate profits from premium subscribers who hearken to podcasts, creators can select whether or not or to not submit their reveals. And podcasters profit from making their reveals discoverable to the prevailing person base of those platforms, which already dominate “earshare.” Spotify alone has 232 million MAUs, which dwarfs the 90 million individuals within the U.S. who hearken to a podcast month-to-month.
Industry nervousness round sustaining high quality at scale
Podcast advert income has been scaling rapidly, with $480M in spend final yr and a projected $680M this yr. Over the previous 4 years, advert income has scaled at a 65% CAGR, and this development is anticipated to proceed. In its early days, the podcast advert market was largely been pushed by D2C manufacturers — you’ve in all probability heard lots of of Casper, Blue Apron, and Madison Reed advertisements. However, larger manufacturers are additionally beginning to enter podcasting (Geico, Capital One, and Progressive made the prime 10 record for June 2019) because of the rising viewers scale and elevated precision round concentrating on and attribution.
While many attendees have been excited by the large development in advert income, others nervous that it could kill what makes podcasting particular. They’re significantly involved that podcasts could go the way in which of on-line video, with annoying, generic, low CPM advertisements. Podcast hosts usually learn their very own advertisements, and are sometimes true followers of the product — they share private tales as a substitute of reciting model speaking factors. This leads to premium CPMs in comparison with most digital media — AdvertiseCast’s 2019 survey discovered a mean CPM of $18 for a 30-second podcast advert and $25 for a 60-second advert, greater than 2x the typical CPM on different digital platforms.
While these advertisements are efficient, they’re time-consuming and costly to supply. Big manufacturers all for podcast advertisements typically anticipate to reuse radio spots — they aren’t used to the method of crafting and approving a host-read advert which will solely attain 10,000 listeners. Podcasters, in the meantime, worth their belief with listeners and don’t wish to spam them with loud, unoriginal radio advertisements. The pressure between sustaining the standard of advertisements whereas scaling amount was an underlying theme of most monetization discussions, and business veterans disagree on the way it will play out.
Despite the expansion in advert income and comparatively excessive CPMs, the business is considerably undermonetized. Using knowledge from Nielsen, IAB, and Edison, we calculated that podcasts monetize by means of ads at solely $0.01 per listener hour — lower than ten instances the speed of radio. Podcast monetization per listener hour has elevated over the previous yr, up 25% by our calculations, however nonetheless considerably lags all different types of media.
Why are podcasts so undermonetized? Unlike many different types of media, the dominant distribution platform (Apple Podcasts) has no advert market. Creators have traditionally needed to method manufacturers themselves or signal with podcast networks to assemble customized advert offers, and the “long tail” of podcasters have been unable to monetize. This is lastly altering. Anchor, which reported in January that it powers 40% of recent podcasts, has an advert market that has doubled the variety of podcasts which are operating advertisements. Other common platforms like Radio Public have launched packages for small podcasters to opt-in to advert placements.
The second main hurdle in monetization is attribution. Podcasts have traditionally monetized by means of direct response campaigns — a podcaster supplies a particular URL or promo code for listeners to make use of when making a purchase order. However, many individuals hearken to podcasts when exercising or driving, and may’t write down the promo code or go to the URL instantly. These listeners may bear in mind the product and make a purchase order later, however the podcaster received’t get the attribution. Thomas Mancusi of Audioboom estimated that this occurs in 50–60% of purchases pushed by podcast advertisements.
Startups are attempting to deliver higher adtech into podcasting to repair this challenge.Chartable is one instance — the corporate installs trackers to match a listener’s IP handle with a purchaser’s IP handle, permitting podcasters to assert attribution for listeners who don’t use their URL or promo code. Chartable presently runs on 10,000 reveals, and the early outcomes are so promising that advert companies anticipate to see larger CPMs and considerably extra spend within the area.
Podcast followers of the longer term ≠ podcast followers in the present day
As podcasting grows, the listener base is diversifying. Edison Research regarded into knowledge on “rookie” listeners (listening for six months or much less) and “veteran” listeners (listening for 3+ years), and located important demographic variations. Only 37% of veterans are feminine, in comparison with 53% of rookies. While the plurality of veterans (43%) are age 35–54, 54% of rookies are age 12–34. Rookies are additionally 1.6x extra prone to say they most frequently hearken to podcasts on Spotify, Pandora, or SoundCloud (43% versus 27% of veterans). And social media is a crucial approach that rookies uncover podcasts — 52% have discovered a podcast from video and 46% from audio on social media, in comparison with 41% and 37% for veterans.
These new listeners may have a profound affect on the way forward for podcasting, in each the kind of content material produced and the way in which it’s distributed. Industry consultants are already noting important new demand for female-hosted podcasts, in addition to audio dramas that attraction to younger individuals searching for a fast-paced, suspenseful story. They’re advising podcasters to share clips of their content material on social media, and to leverage broader listening platforms like YouTube and Soundcloud for distribution.
International markets additionally signify an unlimited alternative for development. Most podcast listeners in the present day dwell within the U.S. or China, however content material producers are beginning to see important demand elsewhere. Castbox’s Valentina Kaledina mentioned that many followers overseas have resorted to listening of their non-native language, with the highest 100 reveals in every nation comprising a mixture of English and native language. Adonde Media’s Martina Castro, who lately performed the first listener survey on Spanish-language podcast followers, mentioned that 53% of the survey’s 2100 respondents reported listening to podcasts in English — and solely 20% of them use Apple Podcasts.
Larger podcast producers are starting to translate reveals for non-English-speaking markets. Wondery CEO Hernan Lopez introduced on the convention that the corporate’s hit present Dr. Death is now out there in seven languages. Lopez famous that it was an costly course of, and he doesn’t anticipate the reveals to generate revenue within the close to future. However, he believes that Wondery will finally see a big return from investing within the improvement of recent podcast markets — and in the event that they do, different podcast corporations will probably comply with of their footsteps.