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How To Make A Podcast Worth Paying For

Oct 23, 2019

This week, I’m talking about cozying up to various places and players to make your next podcast better this week. I’ve already covered why it’s smart to get closer to the big dogs in podcast distribution and how big data will drive podcast creation in the future (like it is already).

Today, want to talk about a different group of people who are responsible for the biggest money flow for podcasters. 

There are lots of ways podcasts and podcasters make money, but podcast advertising is the one that gets most of the attention. Not that you have to run ads. I don't run ads on this show. Most of my clients don't run ads in their show, and only a handful have sponsors to help cover some of their costs. So please don’t skim this article and think I’m telling you to start running ads on your show, OK?

Instead, this is about making a new show, but with the input of the people who could one day be responsible for bringing money to your podcast in the form of advertising dollars.

Not that I think you should start calling possible sponsors asking them what they want you to talk about so they start sponsoring your show. That’s crossing the line between editorial and advertising, and we know that's a bad thing.

Why all these disclaimers when I haven’t even got to the meat? Mostly concurrent with my podcasting life, I’ve acquired around 15 years of experience running digital advertising agencies. So if you’re sensing some trepidation from me, it’s warranted. I’m trying to do different things with my remaining time on this rock. But enough about my flashbacks.

Podcast advertising revenue is somewhere north of half a billion dollars annually. And most of that is funneled through advertising agencies and sales representation firms. These companies work with lots of advertisers who want to spend lots of money on podcast advertising. These advertisers typically don’t have a single show in mind, but instead are looking for a very specific audience to advertise to. Advertisers with significant budgets (ranging from several tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars on a single campaign) will approach podcast ad sales representation agencies for help not only in identifying which shows to run ads on, but also to facilitate the entire relationship between podcaster and advertiser. 

These ad representation firms then are on the hunt for podcasts to spend that advertiser’s money on. They usually pull from a stable of shows that they, the ad rep firm, already have a relationship with, as they are familiar with the content those shows produce, the size of the audience for those shows, and the demographic makeup of the audiences that listen to those shows.

But here's the thing:  These advertising sales agencies often don’t have enough inventory to meet the demand. Lest there be any confusion: 

Podcast ad revenue in 2019 isn’t limited by advertisers willing to spend money. It’s limited because there aren’t enough podcast episodes to run ads on.

These sales reps need more places to place their cash-flush clients’ ads. These sales reps need working podcasters like you making really good shows so they can keep the money flowing.

But there’s a catch. They’re looking to reach very specific audiences. Which means they need you to make a great podcast that appeals to that very specific audience. 

And that's why you should be cozying up to these agencies and sales reps as you’re thinking about starting your next show. It’s in their best interest to tell you exactly what audience you should target so they can bring you revenue. (Because they make money when they do that.) 

True Native Media, Cabana, Authentic, AdvertiseCast... There are lots of companies providing this service that get approached every single day by companies with money to spend on podcast ads. (I’m choosing not to link to any as I don’t want to imply my endorsement for any particular firm.)

But there’s a catch to that catch: Podcast advertising doesn’t get interesting until a show reaches least 5,000 downloads per episode. And even then, that’s a low-volume show. It takes an order of magnitude more downloads per episode before things get financially rewarding for all three parties - advertiser, rep, and podcaster. 

Clearly, this new show you’re making that targets the audience podcast sales reps love probably isn’t going to make money out of the gate. It takes time to build a show’s audience, and in an ad sales relationship, you’re compensated based on the number of downloads episodes of your shows can provide to those advertisers. And that takes time to build.

Yes, you can approach these companies. Many of them will take your call or read your email. Your message to them should be about your prior podcasting experience and your desire to make a show designed for monetization from the start. Once they know you’re a serious player with the ability to make an amazing show, they’ll more than likely be quite happy to tell you what sorts of shows they are looking for.

If this feels smarmy to you, I understand. But at the same time, it’s exceedingly important to focus on the audience of your show. You know it’s best practice to identify the target audience of your show from the start. So why not pick an audience that’s ripe for monetization? You need data and insight to make sure your show is appealing to your audience. It’s not a stretch to also think about the audience who wants to reach your audience, right? 

Cozying up to a podcast advertising agency or sales rep firm can remove a lot of uncertainty when planning a new show. They’ll give you real numbers that you can then apply to your efforts to maximize your chance for success, Yes, you’ll still have to execute. There is no guarantee that those same advertisers will be around when your show finally reaches the numbers it needs to play. But at least you know what current companies are looking for today.

I'm curious what you think about this idea. You can leave me a comment. I'll see it. Or you can download the Flick app, a private and free group just for listeners of Podcast Pontifications: Go here on your mobile device: Flick.group/podcastpontifications 

Speaking of advertising, I don't run ads and have no intention of running ads on this show. You can support me by going to BuyMeACoffee.com/EvoTerra

And if you need some help with your podcast, my agency, Simpler Media Productions, provides strategic podcasting services for business clients all over the globe. Give me an email: evo@podcastlaunch.pro and check out PodcastLaunch.pro to see some of what we do. 

I’ll be back tomorrow with another Podcast Pontifications.

Cheers!