Measuring the Effectiveness of Podcasts
In a very meta edition of the 5 Tool Productions video podcast, we dive into the world of podcasting! While we’re usually focused on the video side of creation when it comes to content marketing, audio, and specifically podcasting, is an increasingly important piece of the puzzle. And a recent debate about metrics sparked us to discuss the overall effectiveness of podcasts in a content marketing strategy.
While the numbers of listeners for podcasts might not compare to more traditional media like radio and TV, advertisers are finding out why that might not matter as much. Podcast listeners are extremely engaged in the topics on which they choose to listen. It’s why advertising on podcasts is growing so rapidly, and why there’s such urgency to clarify exactly what the numbers look like. The effectiveness of podcasts isn’t necessarily defined by the raw number of listeners. Rather, it’s important to focus on the quality of listeners, and how long they choose to stick around.
Podcasts are also a potential boon for your brand to establish trust. By using the medium to show off your VIP’s expertise on topics relevant to your offerings, you’re showing that you know what you’re talking about. It’s a great way to engage with your audience on a deeper level earlier in the sales process.
We cover all of this and more on our latest podcast – hope you enjoy it!
Measuring the Effectiveness of Podcasts – Full Transcript
Phil DiMartino: What’s going on everybody? I’m Phil DiMartino here with Tyler Pyburn for another edition of the Five Tool Productions video podcast and to who are we’re talking about on this podcast?
Tyler Pyburn: This is the most meta-podcast in the history of the universe. We’re having a podcast about podcasts.
Phil DiMartino: Yes, we are.
Tyler Pyburn: It’s amazing. No, but I think we’re talking about podcasts because of some interesting articles of some things that are going on in the industry and obviously the growth of podcasts as a whole. That’s really what’s kind of forcing the issue today.
Phil DiMartino: For sure, and we focus on … we produce these as video podcasts first because we’re a video company and we like getting stuff out on YouTube and then kind of putting our faces out there that way, but obviously when you think of podcasts, usually where you go first is audio podcast and that’s kind of where the boom has been and that’s what we’re going to talk about today. One of the interesting things that I hadn’t really thought of that much is the way that podcast downloads and listener numbers are actually measured.
Tyler Pyburn: Statistical information kind of all … exactly. They’re the measurement tool of it. There’s not one way of kind of going about it because one of the issues that we were just talking about didn’t really know too much about us. Say you’re listening to it on your phone, which most people do, from a podcast perspective. Those are on I-Tunes, especially if it’s a longer podcast, you know, Serial, some of those longer ones, right, the hour-long podcast. It’s not downloaded all in one chunk. It’s kind of downloaded in chunks, basically, so say it’s an hour and 20, an hour and a half, you might have that downloaded in four chunks. That is actually technically registering as four downloads for that podcast itself. So, it’s kind of skewing the numbers and some of the advertisers are out there saying and kind of calling foul and saying, “Well, you’re really not getting four million, you’re getting 4,000 downloads.” So, well, what’s the actual number and there are some things going on to try to regulate this and try to say, “Okay, what’s the actual number and how are we going by going forward, as well.
Phil DiMartino: Right, and there’s a lot of really interesting kind of like inside baseball stuff that’s going on in this industry that I had no idea about, but reading about it is super-interesting.
Tyler Pyburn: Definitely. Well, especially for us because we’re kind of going down that avenue and it’s something we do all the time, too.
Phil DiMartino: But it’s super-interesting to read about the standards they’re trying to put in place and IP addresses and time limits and how you’re going to actually measure it and then the different factions. You know, the people who are selling the ads obviously want the numbers to look as high as possible and the people buying the ads want the numbers to look as low as possible to get the best deal. But the bottom line is that this podcast industry is still growing. There’s still a ton of room for growth. We’ve talked about it before and there’s a couple things I want to cover. I think, first of all, why are they appealing for listeners, then why are they appealing for brands and why the raw numbers of listeners compared to other medium might not matter as much. So, first of all, you’ve talked about this a lot before. Why do you believe that audio podcasts are such an appealing way for people to consume data?
Tyler Pyburn: Passive. I think this is one of the things … and it’s funny to say this as a video company first. We talk about us and we focus on video first, more than anything else, but it’s almost like audio first for us with the video attached to it, right? But, the reason why I say that is because it’s passive. You can do multiple things at once. Where everybody right now, I feel, are pulled in a hundred different directions at once, a podcast allows them to do two things at once. It allows them to have their commute, whether on the train or in the car, plug into a podcast and listen while you’re doing that as well. Before it was, I’m listening to the radio. I’m listening to mindless talk about the Patriots and the Red Sox and that’s it on my car ride home. Now, it’s actually changing a little bit.
Tyler Pyburn: Now, you know what? I can actually learn a little bit at the exact same time. I can hear something [inaudible 00:03:56], so it’s that kind of passive listening that allows it to be successful, I feel like, because I can consume it in my own … whatever way I want. I don’t have to sit in front of a computer. I don’t have to hold up my phone. I don’t have to be watching television. I can just put my headphones in. I was actually having this conversation at my son’s birthday party yesterday. No lie. And a friend of mine was saying how much he hates his morning drive in, because there’s no one that talks about the things they want. I told him, “Why don’t you plug in and why don’t you put up a podcast of a certain group of guys and ladies?” “I never thought about just putting that into my car.” And I’m thinking, “Yeah.” I mean, he has an older car. Use your aux cable in your car, right?
Phil DiMartino: Yeah.
Tyler Pyburn: That passive listening is huge.
Phil DiMartino: Yeah, and I think we’ve talked about before, the need to kind of meet people where they are, right? And sometimes you want to sit down and you want to watch an in-depth tutorial. You want to watch a product video if you’re on a company’s website. If you’re on social, you want to watch a quick 30-second video that’s going to be about something you’re interested in and ideally, you’re following a page that’s going to meet that need for you. Podcasts really are that in the car, on the train, passive doing something else medium, and I think for me the biggest things that’s changed is I have an unlimited data plan now on my phone and I have Bluetooth in my car and I have Bluetooth headphones. All of the barriers to entry to be able to stream audio have kind of disappeared. It used to be like, oh, I don’t want to chew up so much of my data. Maybe my car isn’t as equipped for tech as necessary.
Tyler Pyburn: Or because before, you might not have a full 4G coverage plan.
Phil DiMartino: Yup, service wasn’t as good.
Tyler Pyburn: Service wasn’t as good. It’s a different mindset now.
Phil DiMartino: So now it is totally like, if there’s not a specific radio show on that I want to listen to or if my drive is going to be more than 10 or 15 minutes, I don’t have to listen to the radio and I don’t always want to have to stream music. Sometimes I just want to say, for the next 20, 30, 40, hour, for the next certain amount of minutes or an hour or whatever it is, I want someone to decide what I’m going to listen to and I don’t have to change it. I know it’s going to be something I’m interested in. For brands, why is it so good? Why is it such an appealing thing for brands to be thinking about podcasting?
Tyler Pyburn: It’s interesting, because I think podcasting allows you to connect on a different level. It’s content marketing in its truest form. Really, it’s just a conversation and you’re not pushing your product. And so many brands, we talk about this all the time. They get it wrong, that they’re just pushing their products so hard. This is so much different, where it’s a conversation about something totally off topic and it’s produced by New Balance shoes. It’s produced by Nike. You know what I mean? It’s not about … I’m just saying New Balance shoes because we were literally talking about the stuff going on with Colin Kaepernick a couple minutes ago and talking about Nike and all that.
Tyler Pyburn: This isn’t an advertisement. This is you talking about football and this just happened to be produced by Nike. It’s not an advertisement where you’re selling something and it also allows you to become … you know, I hate saying like, “Oh, you’re branded as an expert,” but you’re building that trust with people. They’re hearing, “Oh,” especially if it’s a B2B type podcast. You’re hearing that person that you’re hearing over and over and over again. Who does that … Dave Gerhardt does it really well from Drift, a local company here in Boston and getting his face out there. But you’re putting a face with the brand. You’re putting a voice with the brand. So, when he picks up and calls you or you talk with him on the phone, you say, “I’ve been listening to that voice for the last six months while I snow-blow my driveway.” Right? Like that’s the funny thing about it. You say you actually have that kind of interpersonal relationship with them before you actually even ever talk to them, too.
Phil DiMartino: Right, and it’s not being branded as an expert, it’s really being an expert, right?
Tyler Pyburn: Yeah, absolutely.
Phil DiMartino: It’s a long form enough medium that if you don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re probably going to get exposed, so it is all about building trust. I think the interesting … there’s companies that produce podcasts about like what we’re doing right now about topics that we work in, but it’s content marketing in its purest form, as you said.
Tyler Pyburn: And we do this on a day-to-day basis, right.
Phil DiMartino: But then there’s other ones. One of my favorite podcasts is C.C. Sabathia from the Yankees does a podcast where he does it with one of the … basically the sideline reporter for the YES Network and they go on together and they’ll host a podcast and it goes throughout the course of the season and then they’ll bring in guests from, you know, other guys from the Yankees. They had Aaron Boone on. They had Brett Gardner on. They have random guys on the team. Sometimes when they go on the road and he has friends on other teams, he’ll bring him on and it’s these behind the scenes looks at just what a pro baseball player’s life is like and basketball players were some of the first. Some pro ball players. I forget who did it on the Cavs, somebody that-
Tyler Pyburn: J.J. Redick has a great podcast right now.
Phil DiMartino: J.J. Redick has one, yup. So, these guys do it and it’s like, if I’m a big … you mentioned New Balance, Nike, all these big athletic brands. If I’m a big athletic brand, I’m like, C.C. Sabathia, how much do you want from me to just say your podcast presented by me. You don’t even have to run ads, anything, just like, put my name on it, right? It’s like-
Tyler Pyburn: I think from a brand using … we were at a conference recently and one of the directors of digital there was from Puma and they talk about, you know, we have all our influencers. Interview every single one of your influencers.
Phil DiMartino: That’s right, yeah.
Tyler Pyburn: The people that you pay to sponsor. These big brands and even smaller brands. You’re paying to get these sponsored people. Bring them on and interview them. And to your point about the baseball players. They’re talking about when they were in the minor leagues.
Phil DiMartino: Yeah.
Tyler Pyburn: It’s just interesting, engaging content. It’s kind of behind the curtain, which is more and more … we see it ourself. Anytime we put out a behind-the-scenes video, that’s one of our most watched videos. People just want to see how the donut is made in the morning, right? And it’s going back to Dunkin’ Donuts when they put, “Time to make the donuts,” right? That was their initial thing. Showing behind the scenes how things are done and how the process is that people want to see that. They want to hear that and it helps build that kind of trust along the way.
Phil DiMartino: And I want to get to the last part of this, but eal quick, the thing I was going to say is it’s a reminder about content marketing and it’s what we always talk about, but if you’re a company that makes shoes, you have to think about the funnel and understand that people only want to hear about your shoes once they’ve already decided to buy shoes.
Tyler Pyburn: And is that the spot to target them? No.
Phil DiMartino: Well, that’s the thing and along the rest of the journey, it’s about showing we know about this sport. We’re experts in this sport. Athletes trust us. We have these great relationships with athletes, with these experts. All of these different things along the journey, that’s what your customer wants along the way. It’s only when they get to the very end that they want the product video about your shoes or the case study about your shoes. That’s for you. That’s an advertisement. The marketing stuff along the way is what’s going to build the trust and get people primed.
Tyler Pyburn: You’re building your foundation, right?
Phil DiMartino: Right.
Tyler Pyburn: Your foundation is strong and then how many … using shoes as an example, people aren’t going to go buy a pair of shoes every single day.
Phil DiMartino: Right.
Tyler Pyburn: But, they might listen to you talk about something in baseball and basketball and soccer, hockey, whatever it may be.
Phil DiMartino: If I need to buy baseball cleats, chances are I care about baseball and if you put out good content related to baseball, I’m going to consume it.
Tyler Pyburn: Yeah, exactly.
Phil DiMartino: So, those are two parts of it. The last part is the listener numbers or the viewer numbers.
Tyler Pyburn: It’s always an interesting conversation.
Phil DiMartino: And this goes back to the standard part of it. A lot of the people who provide ads for podcasts are worried that once they adopt a universal standard, maybe the numbers will get deflated a little bit.
Tyler Pyburn: Come down to earth a little bit more.
Phil DiMartino: Because they’re astronomical numbers when you look at them.
Tyler Pyburn: Some of them were crazy.
Phil DiMartino: And I think one of the things that I would say to that is advertisers need to understand that these topics are so specific for a lot of these podcasts that if the numbers are lower, that doesn’t necessarily matter.
Tyler Pyburn: No, not at all. I forget who the person was … I was reading a great post and he said, you know, 5,000 downloads kind of an episode is an incredible number to get to and that’s where you can actually bring in a lot of money as a podcaster, itself, because you’re saying that I have 5,000 people listening to a specific topic in an area so he used the example of food in Boston and we’re talking just about food in Boston and he said if you can get 5,000 people who listen to food in Boston, that’s a phenomenal audience and I’ll take it down even further. I helped produce a podcast about vacation rental homeowners on Cape Cod. Think about how niche of an audience that is.
Phil DiMartino: Right.
Tyler Pyburn: They get about … they average right around 300, 320 downloads per episode and that’s phenomenal, the fact that you’re engaging that many people on a consistent basis. Some of the episodes have kind of gone a little crazy with the number of … some of them have kind of fallen flat, but that’s based on the different topics that people are interested in. But, 300 people … call 325 people, just about every single week hearing your voice, talk about vacation rentals as a homeowner on Cape Cod, is incredible.
Phil DiMartino: Right, and the thing is, it’s a passive listening experience, but it’s a really active buy-in for me to go into Google Play or Apple Podcasts or whatever and say, I want to listen to this podcast about this really specific topic and then sit through it and listen to it. If you were to tell someone like, “Oh, you’re going to buy a TV spot. This TV shows has 10 million viewers.” Okay, well, how many of them are actually your audience? You can go through the demographic numbers and you can do all the studies you want but, ultimately, how many of them are actually the right people? When you’ve got a couple hundred or a couple thousand people who raise their hand and say, “Yes, I care about this specific topic,” and then they go in and listen to it, you know that you have them. Those are the right people.
Tyler Pyburn: And this is kind of a great example of it. If you were to take Serial and put it next to a vacation rental homeowner podcast, side-by-side, and you say, “Okay, who am I targeting with Serial?” You’re going to target a lot of people-
Phil DiMartino: To widen that [crosstalk 00:13:50]
Tyler Pyburn: -but it’s a very wide net. Whereas, if you target, if you say, okay, will who should advertise them? Maybe it’s a landscaping company on the Cape.
Phil DiMartino: Right. Good point.
Tyler Pyburn: Yes, they’re small in numbers, but guess what? You’re hitting the people that these are homeowners on Cape Cod that have vacation rentals. They have … you know who you’re getting.
Phil DiMartino: Your spend is going to be used a lot more effectively and a lot more efficiently.
Tyler Pyburn: Exactly and it kind of goes into when we talk about Facebook marketing and targeting, right? We want, as advertisers and as marketers, to spend our dollars so wisely that we know who we’re targeting at the end of the day. Don’t get me wrong. I still think there’s value in targeting the Super Bowl. But I don’t have a two million dollar budget-
Phil DiMartino: You don’t have the money for that anyway, right.
Tyler Pyburn: -for 15 seconds, right? So that’s the different part that you have to think about, too. So make your money last and I think podcasts are awesome and they’re only going to keep growing right now, too, because I’ve seen more networks of podcasts pop up, not just individual ones, right? So that’s kind of cool.
Phil DiMartino: Yeah, and I think just to wrap it up, I think it’s all about making it a part of your suite, right? Don’t pool all in on any one medium. Maybe produce a video and an audio version. Maybe make that just part of your tools, right? Make it part of your tool belt. Don’t go all in on it, but it’s definitely going to be something that you should be paying attention to and thinking about whether or not it should be part of your tool kit.
Tyler Pyburn: Awesome. Very cool.
Phil DiMartino: I’m Phil, that’s Tyler. Thanks so much for watching and we’ll see you guys next time.