The final part of the Ampel-produced trilogy on the power of audio sees Darren talking to Lauren Deighton, Ampel’s Director of Media and Partnerships, about podcast performance measurement and the all-important conversations with clients. On-Demand Audio is still a new medium, at least commercially, and framing the conversation correctly is vital to having everyone viewing audio from the same perspective.
Podcast audiences aren’t “digital” or radio – they’re communities. Audio creates intimate connections and has the highest consideration and actions of any channel due to the trusted nature of the medium. So if its advantage is in impact, Why are we still measuring against reach and impressions?
They’ll talk to the Head of Podcasting at one of Australia’s largest podcast networks to discuss how clients are, and should, evaluating audio success.
Lauren Joyce is Chief Strategy and Connections Officer at ARN. Lauren is a Cannes Young Lion Gold Award winner. With years of experience in strategic and client partnership roles with companies like Mamamia, UM and Ensemble, she is perfectly placed to advise on the best way to converse with clients about the strengths of audio.
Bryan Barletta at Sounds Profitable is one of the audio industry’s most prolific thought leaders with his regular Podcasts and Newsletter about the best in audio tech and research. We were lucky enough to grab Bryan for a chat about where we are with podcast ad tech, and, more importantly, what is coming next.
You can listen to the podcast here:
Another piece of the puzzle that can’t be overlooked is the value of the communities that are created around podcasts. So, I think many podcasters are excellent at building a social community that sits as a support to the podcast and then is used as a way to amplify new content or to mine for different discussion topics.
Hi, I’m Darren Woolley, CEO of Global Marketing Management Consultancy, TrinityP3 and welcome to Managing Marketing, a weekly podcast where we discuss the issues and opportunities facing marketing, media, and advertising with industry thought leaders and practitioners.
This is the final part of our three-part series produced by Ampel, the audio experience agency. Part one had Josh Butt, Ampel’s Executive Producer and Founder, talk to us about the power of getting your audio branding right.
Part two had Ampel’s General Manager in Chief Strategist, Michelle Lomas, talking about why audio is such a great option for brands who want to grow their profile.
Please go back and listen to these if you haven’t already. But today, we have Lauren Deighton, Ampel Director of Media and Partnerships, and we are talking measurement and talking to advertisers. I’m going to let Lauren tell you more about it, so please welcome Lauren.
Hi Darren. Thanks for having me today. Nice to be here.
Well, thank you. Look, this is really important because obviously, we talked to Michelle about getting the strategy right. Obviously, all the effort that goes into building the strategy and getting the podcast recorded is pointless if you don’t find a way of actually getting it out there.
Yes, definitely. My role here at Ampel is to work with prospective brand and agency partners. So, a lot of what I do is take our properties once they’ve been produced and put together packages, integrated packages that brands and agencies can tap into and sponsor, particularly if they’re looking to reach a really niche dedicated audience.
And within this episode, we’ve really focused on what agencies and brands should be looking at when they do invest in podcasting, particularly around measurement. So, what are the metrics that prove that a podcast campaign has or has not been successful? And we want to make sure that we’re reporting on the right thing so that moving forward, we can work with those brand partners again.
It’s basically a two-way relationship. So, the podcast that has this niche, following this niche audience, helps the brand reach the people they’re looking to speak to. But the brand can also help elevate the podcast.
Either that or just being able to produce the most amazing piece of content that everyone wants to find and spread. I think it’s called a viral. Everyone wants to go viral, but it’s so hard to do.
It is really hard to do. And I feel like … I mean that’s something I still get asked from brands and agencies when I get briefed. I used to get asked at six years ago when I was at Vice or News Corp — they’d be like, “One of the objectives of this campaign is that it goes viral.” And it’s like, well, it’s not really an objective you can tick off.
Like we’ll try as hard as we can to make amazing content that gets picked up, but we can’t guarantee virality. And it’s kind of the same in podcasting, they’re like, “But what if we just make a show that’s so different and out there that it just takes off?” And yes, that can be one-way shows get famous and that’s great, but it’s probably the 0.2% that happens to.
Well, I think in some ways, that the more someone tries to go viral, the less likely they are to actually go viral. It’s amazing how much of organic content that does go viral is stuff that you would go, “I’m not really sure why that’s gone viral, but it has.”
But to the point about clients asking for that, we actually had a client who asked us to look at their agency costs and they were going to a creative agency to produce a viral video a month. And they were paying a significant amount of money.
And the question I asked the agency was, “How long have you been doing it?” They said, two and a half years. And in that, what’s that? 30 odd videos, how many have gone viral? And everyone went quiet.
So, the client had been paying for this and I said, well, look, it was an agency initiative. I said, from now on, we’ll pay you 10 times as much, but we’ll only pay for the ones that do go viral. You can make the rest of them and as soon as you’ve got a viral one, we’ll pay you for it.
Still a needle in a haystack, isn’t it?
Well, it puts the responsibility back on the creators.
Yeah. I think there’s a lot of platforms that are helping drive discoverability of podcasts. So, TikTok recently released a report about music and the effect of audio when it accompanies video, and how much more it drives engagement if you’re playing a video with the sound on, which makes sense.
But for years on Facebook and news sites and display, it’s always been autoplay off, and TikTok have now implemented basically this thing where all videos play with audio on.
And so, platforms like that are also helping drive discoverability of podcasting because people are finding podcasts in different ways and they’re engaging with audio via social media or channels where they maybe wouldn’t have engaged with them previously when you’re listening with sound off. So, yeah, it’s a big ecosystem out there.
And this whole idea of viral, of virality, it goes right to the point that you want to talk about, which is measurements because you could get a million listeners, but are they the right million? So, measurement’s so important and yet, it’s very early days, isn’t it, for podcast measurement?
Yeah, it is. And we talk a lot with brands. They’ll come to us and say, “We want to reach …” let’s say nurses for example, because we’ve got a podcast that talks directly to nurses, so a niche audience. But if you’re looking to reach nurses, that’s the perfect podcast for you.
We’ll often get briefs that are around, we want to reach the most amount of people. We want 1 million plus impressions with this level of frequency. And I guess, that’s not really the way that we believe you should be looking at measurement of podcasts.
It should be focused on the community that’s being built, the niche audience and the role that it has to play in the marketing funnel. So, podcasting, it sits at the top, it’s an awareness tactic, it’s a brand affinity tactic. It’s not a direct sales conversion tactic like search or anything like that.
But a lot of the time when we’re speaking to brands and agencies, they’re wanting to see the same metrics that they might get from search. So, they’re saying to us, “How much traffic to my site will I get from sponsoring this podcast? How many sales and conversions will I get?”
And it’s like, well, that’s not the role for it here. So, how can we look at it differently? And what you said about tech, the tech also makes it difficult because it is, I suppose, in its infancy in comparison to mediums like digital where planners and buyers can have access to that really deep dive analytics that they can see everything that’s come about from a campaign.
Podcasting’s still very much measured on listens, downloads, geography. The tech is getting better and there’s definitely a role for improvement in tech to drive ROI and prove that campaigns are being effective. But I think we need to be looking at how we develop that text so that we’re ensuring people still understand the right role for the medium, if that makes sense.
So, Lauren, there’s two parts here I’m hearing. One is, there’s podcasting as part of inbound marketing. That is where you’re creating a podcast for your brand as a way of attracting listeners to become part of a community and engaging with that content on a regular basis.
Then there’s the other part which is sponsoring or inserting advertising into a podcast that perhaps already exists. And so, there’ll be very two very different approaches to measurement because one, you could argue where you’re paying for advertising to support a podcast, you would want to be able to measure some sort of return on investment for that, wouldn’t you?
So, there’s things that you can do to measure it more accurately. And I had a conversation with Lauren Joyce from ARN around this.
So, looking at different metrics. So, things like increase in brand affinity, increase in trust, increase in brand awareness, and they’re more qualitative measures. So, when we work with brands, we would recommend let’s do a pre-campaign evaluation and a post-campaign evaluation, and look at the uplift of those metrics, which are the things that you are trying to achieve more so than traffic to site.
I mean, a lot of people that listen to podcasts, they’re in their car, they’re hands-free, they’re not going to click the show link notes. Some of them do, but it’s not the main objective of the podcast campaign.
And so, we definitely can demonstrate ROI to brands, but they’re just different metrics than a lot of these agencies and brands that are so focused on measurement are used to. So, it’s just about having conversations with agencies and continuing to educate them about the role of podcasting in audio and in the wider landscape.
So, what you’re saying is it’s not really a performance media as in getting a direct response in real time. It’s more about perhaps what’s called brand medium of building that brand awareness, building the brand affinity.
I imagine making decisions about which podcast would be interesting because how available is there for data around who that community is, who the audience is that you’re reaching in there? Are you still relying on trying to match the audience to the type of content that that podcast represents?
The data is varied. You can use a number of different platforms to measure it, and we do. So, I mean we distribute all our podcast via Omny. So, we have access to the Omny data, which I mean it’s fairly basic. It’s listens, downloads, geography, device, those types of things. Chartable, Spotify, they offer some more in-depth data like gender, things like that.
Podsights, we use as well, which is one of the best for actually tracking acquisition off a podcast. So, you can do that, whether that’s metric we should be looking at is what I would argue. And we do, do this with brands where basically say they’ve got an ad in our show, we’ll give them a pixel to put down on the site that they’re trying to drive people to.
And we can actually measure once those people get to site, did they click contact us, download a form, what have you, and we can report back on those things. We use all of these things in combination to try and build out the most robust reports possible.
A lot of it is contextual, like contextual alignment. So, obviously, audience is key for most brief responses. But you want to know who the audience are and as I said, we use a number of different measurement platforms so that we can deliver on who that audience is and back that up.
But then the other part that is very important is contextual alignment. And a lot of brands are still very interested in playing in that space. And it’s a space that’s going to get more important, again, with the deterioration of the third-party cookie where we start to see display advertising and video advertising online grouped into sort of interest segments and things like that.
And going back to that contextual alignment more so than the retargeting strategies and things that that we’ve used. So, I think that in itself, might actually help podcasting. But it’s really a mix. It’s the contextual alignment; does the content that you are speaking about in that ad relate to the content in the show, relate to what the audience has come to the podcast for, and then your audience measurements and metrics as to who those people are that are listening.
And you mentioned the third-party cookie just being put off for another year. So, it’s going to be very stale by the time they get rid of it, isn’t it?
Super stale, I know. Like 2024 now or is it … yeah, because I was working agency side last year again, and third-party cookie was the hot topic of conversation. It’s just kind of everyone was scrambling to get a solution before it all happened and we’ve been given a few more years. So, we will see what happens.
I will find it interesting to see whether people sort of reverting back to contextual targeting with the loss of some of that data, the new segments that Google and Meta and the new segments they build out in that regard — if that does sort of change the way people look at podcasting measurement, because they’ll have less data to evaluate, I guess, in regards to the display and that sort of stuff.
So, will it have a run-on effect to people being more accepting of contextual alignment in audio.
Now, the podcast measurement I mentioned earlier is in its early days. I wouldn’t say infancy because there’s been a number of iterations, especially driven by the iab, around what’s an acceptable measure. Where do you think it needs to get to?
I think as an industry, audio still everyone kind of talks about it slightly differently. So, some people are still using the download metric, others use the listener metric, like how many listens did it get, which is obviously different to download. Some people using impressions now, which is more of a digital metric in my mind.
I think there just needs to be a consensus on how we talk about it as an audio industry to make it easier to assess for planners and buyers rather than them having to pull all these different metrics out and try and compare apples with oranges.
In terms of where it needs to get to and when we get there, I don’t really know. I feel like there’s still so many different platforms that we’re measuring on as well. So, it’s not like you’ve got a Google analytics for podcasting where you can pull everything into the one spot. You’ve got people measuring on Spotify, people measuring on Omny, Chartable.
I think if we had sort of one tech platform that the industry used, that might make things a bit clearer as well.
Or at least one standard that everyone is stuck to, so that you could compare like for like. But like most AdTech-MarTech, podcasting has become victim to this sort of exponential expansion of players. There’s so many different platforms, measurement tools, things like that, that it must be like herding the proverbial cats to get everyone to agree to it.
I think with the different players, that is at the moment where podcasting is (a good and a bad thing) because 40% of Aussies listen to a podcast each month. So, we’re still not saturated in that regard. We can continue to grow. The way that people consume at the moment is so different. So, you’ll have your younger Gen Z, millennials consuming on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.
And then as you skew older, you have people actually consuming on YouTube. So, your Boomers kind of, a lot of them consume podcasts on YouTube at 30%. You know, there’s other people that use-
Damn Boomers. My dad always says to me, “I’m watching a podcast on YouTube” and I’m like, “Okay, yeah, listening.” Yeah, interchangeable, I guess. But I think moving forward as more people become aware of podcasting, it might be better to consolidate and keep it a little less confusing. I don’t really know the answer exactly,
Well, if you did, you’d be leading the industry because I don’t think anyone does.
Yes, that’s true, yep.
So, let’s get into the tech chat. First up, let’s talk pod tech. Podcast technology is incredibly consolidated. The same infrastructure that hosts and distributes your podcast is also your direct ad server, and sometimes even your SSP.
It gives the power to any podcaster to manage monetization like YouTube or TikTok. So, indies and massive companies can run ads at similar levels.
Bryan Barletta is the rockstar of podcast tech and is the founder of Sounds Profitable, the go-to podcast for industry tech news.
Recently, as we heard last time, Tom Webster, the doyen of podcasting data has joined Bryan and they’re generally the smartest and most knowledgeable people in the room when it comes to podcasting.
Bryan has worked at Megaphone, Claritas and is a podcast industry consultant.
Thank you for joining us, Bryan. We are very excited to talk to you today. I’m actually big fan of Sounds Profitable. Josh, our Founder, and EP told me about it when I started at Ampel and I listen pretty much every week. So, big fan of what you’re doing there.
I really appreciate that, thank you.
Yeah, it keeps me up to date with everything. I like the little news snippets.
You’re doing a great job. So, when it comes to podcasting technology, from a reporting perspective, what’s available now? Where do you think that’s going to be in five years’ time and where do you think we need to go from a reporting perspective? What do you think we need that we don’t have yet?
Oh, I’m going to start with the last one. I think we need standards that we all adhere to and kind of draw the line because we have more than enough metrics. We have the listeners IP, user agent and the episode that they want to listen to.
So, if it’s a cellular IP address or a business IP address, maybe that’s a little less valuable. But if it’s household, we can learn a lot from there. We can learn the difference between the person in the household who listens on the Spotify app versus the Apple podcast app.
We can learn the behaviors of each of them, the different shows that they listen to. We can learn about the content that they’re listening to. We know that most of these apps aren’t auto downloading anymore, and the ones that do auto download, have safeguards to prevent it.
And besides, in a world where we’re evolving from radio and billboards and mailers and things like that, and not podcasting, thinking about podcasting as an evolution of streaming, because it’s the other way around. Streaming was the evolution of on demand like podcasting — we have every metric we need to be successful.
And the infighting and the comparing, what you can get with streaming to podcasting is really just something that runs the prices down. Because a smart buyer will use everything in their opportunity (and they should) to convince you that you should sell at a lower price.
So, podcasting metrics are honestly about as good as they’re going to get on the raw data side that we get in. But what we can do with them is going to be even better when we start focusing on that and start apologizing for not having true listens. Because the only people who will have true listens are the apps, the aggregators; Apple, Spotify, Amazon, and Google.
And they own that listener relationship, and they are in app audio advertising. So, to me, podcast advertising is what the publishers can control. It’s what we do through RSS feeds and dynamic ad insertion or baked-in ads. It’s what we do through download metrics and ad delivery, which is knowing when the portion of the episode or the ad was downloaded to the device. And we can do so much great stuff there.
What’s coming next is these aggregators splitting it up and saying, “Hey, I can do a live listen. I can fire your pixel in real time to let you know when that ad was exactly played to that person.” But that is unique to that app and that’s going to fragment the space because then, a publisher is going to have to decide, do I run ad ops in five different places? One for dynamic ad insertion on the open RSS feed, and then one in Apple and Spotify and Amazon and Google.
And the answer might be no. The answer might be that they do all dynamic ad insertion or they pick one partner and they exclude their podcast from the other app. So, the evolution of the argument of do we have enough measurement is either we hold our ground and we say, “Yeah, we do, and we have” and there’s so much great data you can get from it already.
Or we let buyers rightfully push and then Spotify comes in and says things like, “We’re ready to let you track ads live. By the way, the way we’re going to take 50% of the gross revenue of your direct sold campaigns.”
I think that the metrics that we have are enough. I think that I often get frustrated because I get quite a lot of pushback from agencies and brands saying we don’t have enough metrics because they’re trying to look at the wrong metrics.
Obviously, the metrics that we’ve got, they’re very helpful. But also, looking at metrics that are more qualitative when it comes to podcasting. So, things around measuring pre and post-awareness and affinity, and concentrating on branding for a lot of our campaigns. Whereas, a lot of agencies ask me, “Well, how many conversions am I going to get from running this host-read ad?”
Do you find that you often get questions like that where people are trying to compare podcasting more to bottom of funnel tactics? And if so, how do you respond to those?
Well, yeah, I think podcasting was immediately treated as a digital medium. So, the same person who buys Facebook ads is the same person who buys podcast ads, and they’re looking for a different experience.
We’re not getting people who used to buy radio ads, we’re barely getting people who buy YouTube ads. And so, when we think of our medium closer truly to radio than to digital display or video, unfortunately, those people are trying to fit it into their marketing funnel, their entire purview. And it doesn’t always fit that way.
So, I think the attribution solutions we have right now that are pixel-based and can work off of IP and augmenting it, depending on the territory you’re in, can provide good analysis for lift reports. So, comparing a control group against how the campaign did, whether or not you augment it, who cares? You’re still able to create two different groups and say, “Did one perform better than the other?”
If you can augment it, you can do some really interesting things. You can do promo codes, you can do vanity or else you can do pre and post-surveys, like you said. I think all of those are really powerful.
But you’re right, the bottom of the funnel people are looking for those clear return on investment metrics that show exactly what they spent and exactly what they got in a return, and that’s really hard in podcasting, even in what Spotify can do within app audio advertising, not true podcast advertising.
That stuff is kind of difficult and I think that that’s the disadvantage. We’ve been inherited by digital teams, not audio teams.
Yes, we definitely have a lot of those conversations. I want to go back to something you said previously; do you think that if we did have standardized metrics as an industry or more standardized metrics that we were reporting on — so everyone was kind of having the same discussions with these agencies and planners and buyers that that would help alleviate some of those questions or help educate?
Yeah, we’re at a minimum empower everybody to say no in the same way. Like I got two young kids and when my wife says no different than how I say no, it can be kind of jarring and my kid can find a way to weasel their way around it.
But if we’re both using the exact same language and the exact same words, basically stating downloads are enough, this is how we use downloads, this is how you vet a show, this is why it’s valuable, this is why we’re not going to entertain further conversation about listens — I think if everybody says that same message, absolutely.
The problem comes is when one sales person gets to that point really and they just need to make a sale and they say, “Oh, I understand what you’re saying. Yeah, I get it. We’re not Spotify, so why don’t we knock $2 off the CPM?”
I can’t imagine trying to sell podcast inventory. It is a buyer’s market right now. And so, it is very difficult and that’s what I’m really trying to do, is to remind people of these standards and do it at all levels.
I’m part of the United States version of the iab for their audio committee and a bunch of the subcommittees and tech labs and podcasting, and really trying to work with these major companies in the space to just reinforce, “Hey, download’s enough and if anybody pushes you on it, push back.” And so, hopefully, we’re going to see that change.
Good. You’re doing good work on behalf of us all out there. Thank you.
Where do you predict that podcasting tech is going to go next? Like are there any weird and wonderful, interesting new tech innovations that you’ve heard about or you’ve heard companies researching or looking to develop?
I think contextual is really going to be where we explore next because it’s the only thing we own. Every publisher should want to transcribe fully their episode and make it available because the text version of their episode is really no different than the audio version of their episode.
So, if Spotify, Apple, Amazon, Google decide to translate their episode or transcribe their episode and it’s not right, there’s not going to be a lot of recourse for that. And if there is, could you imagine correcting it in four different places plus hosting it on your own? It’s better to own that.
And with contextual, you can do so much. We can learn not only the content of the show and say this is a Dungeons and Dragons podcast, but we can also say all sorts of really interesting things around, I don’t know, like you can learn about the brand safety and suitability, the risks related to gam and the 12 categories of risk of the content there.
You can use it to match to the guest profiles and social media. And there’s so many things that we can use podcasting as a base of and from there, stretch out to other data sets.
So, I think we have a lot of the core data, but we’ve been able to excuse ourselves forward. And so, I think the evolution really for the open podcasting marketplace is going to be around better usage and faster usage of what we have today for a longer tail.
Not just the daily and trying to figure out what the content is in that episode and if it’s a good fit for the advertiser, but for Sounds Profitable with 350 downloads per episode, how do they quickly as fast as possible, identify my show, transcribe it, or get my transcription — process it with all this contextual information and make a decision on it; not on the listener, but on the show.
And how do they save that so that they can process it faster and faster each time so that the shows with 350 or 500 or even a hundred downloads are all able to generate revenue in a YouTube style. That’s how I think the open marketplace is really going to evolve.
I think we’re going to see some pretty scary things on the aggregator side. Like if we look at it, all of the major streaming services have podcasts. I don’t know about you, but I would be a huge sucker for Netflix putting an entire season of the Witcher in podcast format on there to hold me over for the next season.
I think the Mandalorian, I would listen to that in a second, and that keeps me active in their app, which is really important to them. And it allows them to bundle a price, which is hard right now in podcasting.
We don’t even have audible style prices where you pay a flat rate per month and use like tokens for subscription. It’s each individual and I subscribe to a bunch of them. So, my Apple subscriptions looks like 15 different items that I have to cancel individually.
And even platforms, I guess, like TikTok as well, who are looking to do more within the podcasting space, what’s that going to look like? Is that going to be hosted on the TikTok platform? How is it going to work?
And I’m excited for that. I think I am obsessed with podcasts and I think that audio is such a cool medium and it doesn’t have to just be in the format that I really like right now. Whatever gets people excited and catches on is cool.
I mean, the amount of specific things I like to listen to that I can only find on YouTube, and I really couldn’t care about what’s on the video. I just put my phone to sleep because I pay for the YouTube version that lets me do that. And now, I’m listening to someone talk about a board game I’m really interested in, and I really didn’t need to see more pictures of it or them play it. I just need to hear them talk about it. And for whatever reason, they chose not to list it as a podcast.
TikTok, that could be the same thing — Instagram, all of these different sources that have content. Audio is a great way to engage with a listener, with the user when the phone is in their pocket.
There are a lot of things you shouldn’t be doing while watching a TikTok video, but there are plenty of things you can multitask with while listening to a podcast.
Yes, definitely, like driving. I think like you say, it’s all going to change quite rapidly I think over the next few years. And I think as an industry, we’ll need to continue to learn as things change and we’ll need to continue to tweak how we sell and how we speak about podcasting.
I did want to get your thoughts on one other thing; how do you feel about the reach and frequency conversation that I know I have with a lot of brands when it comes to buying across podcasts? So, I want to hit mass reach for people 25 to 54 who like gardening, for example; versus that conversation around tapping into niche-dedicated communities.
Because I think the way that we speak about podcasting is the ability to tap into a community rather than just sort of buying across 500,000 impressions and hoping that some of them stick.
Well, I like to combine the two, really. I think that the attractive way to think about it is, let’s say that you’re really interested in men, 18 to 24 in Texas looking to buy trucks. And there is a podcast out there with 52% of the audience that resonates with that, but that 52% is 520 downloads out of a thousand downloads.
So, that might seem super small and you’re like “Now, I have to get half of that and they’re not going to do a host read. So, it’s an announce read and that’s like splitting hairs,” but let’s think about the other half. What does it say that a show can resonate so well, can over index with people that you’re specifically trying to target? And then there’s still plenty of other people on there.
Well, wouldn’t those people also associate well with the same thoughts? Maybe that’s a new pool to get in front of. So, if a big portion of the audience you’re looking for is there. and that’s how you find a new show, then maybe you dig into the contextual aspect about what about that show resonates with your audience. What are the other audiences that listen to that show and why aren’t they converting for you? Or are they, and you just didn’t know about it?
So, I like the hybrid of both. I like looking at demographic and behavioral data in a general sense to identify new places to buy podcasts. I think survey data is fantastic. I think even using things like Nielsen or Experian or any of the other data sets out there at a big enough view can give you directional data.
But I think at the end of the day, buying shows and the content of the shows that resonate is going to be far more powerful.
Amazing. Thank you, Bryan. And thank you so much for agreeing to chat to us today and for coming on the show. So, thank you very much.
Thanks for having me.
I recently sat down with Lauren Joyce, Chief Strategy and Connections Officer at ARN to chat about the marketing and business objectives podcasting can fulfill, the metrics we should be considering when measuring success, and the conversations we should be having with agencies, brands, and as an audio industry at large.
Well, we are here today with Lauren Joyce, Chief Strategy and Connections Officer at ARN. Welcome, Lauren.
Thank you, I’m glad to be here.
Yeah, we’re really glad to have you. Today, we really wanted to chat around measurement within the audio industry as a whole, and I think there’s been a lot of different audio studies that have come out this year. Basically, I guess following on from the end of the pandemic or sort of the end, I guess — seems to keep going.
But I think we’ve seen a rise in audio during the pandemic and sustained and healthy consumption of radio as well. What are your thoughts on the future of audio? Do you think we’ll continue to see these increases now that the pandemic has come to an end?
Yeah, I think that we will continue to see increased levels of consumption. So, I think that the total amount of time that people spend listening to audio will continue to increase. Currently, 7 in 10 Australians are listening to online audio every week. So, that’s a pretty significant number in itself.
And then if you drill down a little bit further to what they’re listening to over the last 12 months, we’ve seen an increase in podcast consumption by around two hours per week. So, that’s a pretty significant amount. I think that the acceleration of increase will actually slow a little bit. So, I think you’ll continue to see it increase, but it won’t increase at the same sort of rate.
I think that one of the reasons that audio is so popular is because overall media consumption is huge, and I think that people are overwhelmed with the volume of content that is out there. But one of the reasons people connect with audio so well is because the relationship that you have with the medium is a really high value one. And what I mean by that is that audio can only really add to your life’s experiences. So, it doesn’t ask for anything back.
You don’t have to lend your eyes, you don’t have to lend your hands. You can continue to do whatever you are doing. It’s really high value exchange for the consumer. So, as a medium that allows you to consume content and add to your experience of doing the housework or driving to work or exercising, it only makes sense that with the breadth of different types of content that are available that the amount of listening that people do will continue to increase.
And I think people, when they are listening to audio, they’re paying a lot of attention even while they’re doing these other tasks, whether it’s running or driving or whatever.
Why do you think it is that audio captures so much of our attention as opposed to, I don’t know, something like TV where we’re often multi-screening or we’re chatting to someone that’s sitting beside us. Why is audio so intimate?
Yeah, I think a lot of it is now consumed with your headphones on or your earbuds in. And so, it is a really intimate kind of experience, particularly when it comes to podcasting.
Interestingly, we have a neuro lab at ARN, so we have an in-house neuroscientist, and we’ve done a lot of research in this space to understand the levels of attention that audio delivers, particularly relative to visual mediums. And what we know is that audio generates about 13% more attention than audio visual mediums.
And actually, when you test people’s levels of attention when they’re consuming something visual, it’s often the audio and the way that that audio bed is matched with the visuals that will increase the volume of attention that people are experiencing.
Now, I’m sure that Dr. Shannon who is our neuroscientist would give you a much better answer than me on this. But my understanding is that the reason that audio attracts attention is because it’s an always on medium. So, you can’t close your ears.
You can shut your eyes, you can kind of zone out to a visual medium, but when audio exists, attention is being paid. And it demonstrates the power of audio in both just a pure audio sense, but also when it is combined with visuals and the importance of getting the nuance right in how you match your mediums and for advertisers, how you plan your channels holistically.
Of course. And I guess, how are some of the clients that you are working with at the moment seeing audio? Do you think that they’re aware of the level of attention that people pay to audio? Do you think that channel planners and buyers are kind of taking that into account or are they focusing more on sort of other metrics like measurable ROI or digital?
I think sometimes audio takes a backseat because planners or buyers find it more difficult to measure. Do you think that the conversations you’re having, they’re realizing that the importance of audio and the attention it generates?
Yes, I do. I think that the iab did a study last year that spoke to marketers and agencies around the way that they’re buying audio. And there’s certainly a real intent across clients to be thinking about audio holistically and to take more of an integrated approach as to how they’re planning audio.
But I do agree that overall, with marketers having more pressure on ROI, there’s a real trend or behavior towards performance marketing over brand marketing. And I do think that audio suffers as a result of that. Audio is an excellent medium for driving awareness at the top of the funnel, and that’s traditionally where radio has played.
So, it’s a very quick medium to be able to get into and to drive action through. But then I guess some of the newer forms of digital audio sit further down the funnel. So, podcasting is excellent for driving consideration and advocacy given the intimacy of the listening relationship that the consumer has with the medium.
Again, referencing our neuro work, we know that each different type of audio channel actually plays a different role in driving the overall results. So, podcasting, really, elicits a strong positive attitude towards the brand and you can see that the result is 10 to 20% higher than if the brand surfaces in another medium. Whilst radio really encourages the highest levels of attention with attention being around over 50% higher than other audio channels.
So, I think it’s important for brands to be considering the specific role that you want the specific audio channel to be playing, and then planning it out accordingly.
Yeah, a hundred percent. I completely agree with that. So, measurement is still kind of, I guess in its infancy in comparison to other channels, but measurement is starting to improve. We’re seeing new companies coming in that can help with looking at acquisitions, driven from podcasts, looking at conversions, things like that.
When looking at the conversations you had about the medium five years ago and measurement versus what you’re having today, are you seeing some differences there? What are the things that you’re seeing have changed in people’s perspectives of the medium?
Yeah, absolutely. I think five years ago, everybody was talking about downloads. Now, we’re talking about listens. Five years ago, everybody was delivering publisher claim, I suppose, as to the volume of audience that they had. Whereas now, we do have an industry based ranker that makes the volume of downloads and listens available.
I mean, not every single podcast is part of that, but the major publishers are all part of that, which does bring some science to the way that people can plan and buy in the medium.
Podsights, obviously, are an amazing company that we work with, and they do deliver this service around attribution, and we deliver that as standard as part of our relationships with clients because we see the value in demonstrating the value of the podcast channel. So, that really does help clients to understand how well the medium is impacting their objectives.
In terms of other changes that I’ve seen in the industry, I think that the channel is becoming more commoditized. I think five years ago, clients and buyers really saw the medium as they understood the value in the intimacy of the relationship between the listener and the content itself.
Whereas, now, there is a shift to be leveraging the larger mass audiences that podcasts are now delivering. So, I personally would still describe the podcast channel as delivering niche on mass.
So, yes, there is a scalable audience there now, but you’re still connecting with audiences in a more niche environment with content that is less, I guess, broad appeal than some of your other channels that are out there.
So, I think that in itself, brings a real benefit and certainly, we see in the brand uplift studies that we do post-campaign that that rub off onto brands is really positive. So, the love that an audience member has for the podcast content and the niche content that they might be consuming certainly rubs off on the brand that is surfacing within that podcast.
Yeah, absolutely, I agree with that. And we try and focus a lot on sort of catering to those more niche audiences and those passion points when we are creating content as well.
I want to go back to something you said a moment ago about the increasing consideration for brands with podcasting versus other mediums. Do you think that that has something to do with the nature of podcasting and sort of, well, majority of podcast ads are still at host-read, more native style of ad versus like a radio spot.
Do you think that that has something to do with it and also, the environment that the ad’s in, so it’s kind of less cluttered I suppose, than many other mediums?
Yeah, definitely. I think within the podcasting space, you still only have maybe two to three ads per podcast, which is significantly different to what we have in the radio space or even in the music streaming space.
So, yes, much less cluttered, which goes to the ability of a brand to cut through. And then obviously, leveraging the trust that the audience member has with the podcast host through a podcast read does play into the affinity that their listener will feel for the brand.
I think that another piece of the puzzle that can’t be underlooked is the value of the communities that are created around podcasts. So, I think a lot of podcasters are really excellent at building, whether it’s a social community that sits as a support to the podcast and then is used as a way to amplify new content or to mine for different discussion topics.
So, I worked at Mamamia, and You Beauty is the Daily Beauty podcast that they publish, and a huge amount of the content that goes into the podcast is generated as a result of the discussion that’s going on in the You Beauty Facebook group. And that group, I mean, not that I’ve checked recently, but last I heard was sitting at around 60,000 members now.
So, I think that the value of that community that can be created in another platform, but then transfer across to the audio medium really does give the sense of … for the listener, that they’ve got friends in their ears.
Yeah, a hundred percent. I think we really try and focus on that ourselves, that sort of integrated sponsorship model.
At ARN, how are you guys selling your podcasting? Is it more so predominantly like a CPM-based kind of spot buy, or do you do a lot more sort of integrate — like do integrated campaigns where you are tapping into those social communities and leveraging that wider kind of ecosystem that sits around the podcast itself? Or is it a bit of a mix?
Yeah, it is a bit of a mix. The vast majority of ads that you’ll hear within the podcast are host-read. We think that is a really important differentiator for the podcast environment as compared to radio or even music streaming. And so, we’ve tried to remain true to that.
I think that more agencies and clients now, as they’re becoming familiar with holistic audio buying, are becoming comfortable with buying podcasting for the mass audiences that they deliver. So, we tend to see a blend of awareness driving activity, which tend to be clients buying into our podcast bundles, which might be a bundled group of podcasts around a particular genre.
So, it might be entertainment or sport or business-
Contextual, yeah, that’s right. And that’s them buying into a particular environment and then they might top it up with a couple of hero podcasts where they’re getting a much deeper level of integration with the host.
So, a mixed approach, it works well. And tell us a little bit about what ARN are doing to help make marketers realize the true potential of audio and demonstrating that through measurements.
So, you did obviously mention the neuroscience studies that you guys have done, which are amazing and also, Podsights. But do you have any examples of a case study in podcasting where there were just really amazing results that helped you take that measurement conversation to the next level?
Yeah, there’s a couple of examples that, I guess, the first thing we do is we practice what we preach. So, for example, Life Uncut is part of the iHeart Podcast Network here in Australia. And we have worked with them to take their podcast from a purely podcast and social space into a radio space.
Now, Life Uncut is ranked number four on the Australian podcast ranker, and it experiences one point, I want to say -375 million downloads per month. So, it’s huge reach. And Brit and Laura are amazing talent, and their audience responds really well to everything that they do because they’re so genuine.
But when we integrated that podcast into our radio network, they experienced a 43% increase in listening just in the first month of them being integrated. So, that in itself, really shows the power of getting the two mediums working well together.
Then how that translates into commercial results for a client, we really look at, we’ll lean into how we can create products that are going to lend themselves well to being able to leverage the multiple touchpoints that a client could use across the audio sphere.
So, for example, we have a product called Dynamic Audio. We worked with A Million Ads to create that as a global first that can be used across digital audio, but then also, used on broadcast radio. So, effectively what it does is bring the personalization of digital into the medium of audio, and it is what it says on the tin.
You basically create your script and then you’re able to create, in the example, I’m about to give you, 3,875 different versions of one ad.
So, in this case study that we did for Coles Express, we worked with them to develop a number of variables within the ad that could then be tailored unique to however the audience member was listening to the content.
So, for instance, if they were listening on a cold day, then the ad would say something like, “Pop into a Coles Express for a coffee to warm you up.” If they were listening on a warmer day, it might be “Pop into a Coles Express to pick up a cool drink to cool you down.”
So, it adapted to the content, the ad based on whatever the conditions were on the day. So, as a result of that, we were able to measure a 70% increase in the clarity with which the audience heard that ad and understood the message.
They were 88% more trusted than the standard radio ad, and the result was a 91% increase in brand likeability for Coles Express. So, we were able to generate those results and determine those results through pre and post-campaign testing as you would a lot of brand tracking.
So, when it comes to measurement, it’s a combination of demonstrating campaign delivery and that the client got what they paid for, but also, demonstrating the impact on the brand and the business through an attribution tracking model like Podsights.
And I completely agree with what you said there about I think those brand uplift studies in podcasting are so important because it is a medium that we use a lot of the time to drive awareness and consideration and also, brand affinity.
So, being able to measure things like an increase in trust or like you said, how people saw the brand, or if that improved. Those things give us such a better understanding of a campaign’s delivery than just like a metric, like a CPM achieved or a reach or a frequency and things like that.
That’s right, and I think that a lot of brands out there have their own media mix models or econometric models in place. So, they already know the link between driving brand outcomes to driving a business outcome.
So, it’s important for us to take both types of metrics into account because the best marketers won’t just be relying on performance metrics to be able to drive their brand. They’ll understand that it’s the long-term benefit that you get with driving those brand metrics combined with the performance which gives you that immediate sugar hit of being able to see your product shift off shelves, that is going to give you a more sustainable outcome.
Completely agree there. Just lastly, I wanted to ask you, if you could leave marketers with one thing to consider when planning in audio, what would it be? It’s a hard question.
It is a hard one. It’s tough. I actually think that it probably comes back to what I said earlier; that audio as a channel is something that can only add value to the audience you’re speaking to. People are making, in some cases, an active choice to consume a particular channel at a particular moment in time.
We know that people tend to choose radio to connect to their community and know what’s going on and stay up to date. They tend to choose podcasting as a way to enrich their lives, learn something, or dive deep into a subject matter. And they tend to choose music as a way to transform their mood.
So, we know that they all play a different role. And so, I think overall, it is important that marketers are thinking about how each channel can be applied for a specific reason and to match the intent of the listener. And therefore, it is about agnostic audio planning, not just lumping it all together.
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for coming in and chatting to us today, Lauren. Some amazing insights in there.
So, there you have it, Darren; tech measurement and how to frame conversations with clients.
That’s great. Well, that’s the last in this series, celebrating the role of audio in marketing. A big thank you to Josh Butt, Founder and Executive Producer; Michelle Lomas, General Manager and Chief Strategist; and of course, today, my guest is Lauren Deighton, Director of Media and Partnerships at Ampel, the audio experience agency.
Now, Lauren, one final question, and I ask everyone this-
Yeah, for sure.
What’s your favorite go-to podcast?