Inside Slate’s podcast strategy
While WBEZ’s “Serial” elbowed its way into the national conversation last fall, Slate was quietly making some podcast news of its own.
While other media companies cut back their podcasts to focus on video, Slate added two new ones, “The Gist” and “Money,” for a total of 10. Last October, the online magazine had a record 6 million downloads, up from 1 million a month two years ago. Last fall, Slate attracted Acura as a sponsor, a coup for a medium that has long been dominated by direct-response advertisers.
“It’s nice to see a marquee brand, not a direct-response brand, taking the lead in podcasting,” Slate publisher Anthony DeMaio said of Acura.
Now, Slate is hoping to build on that growth with more live events around podcasts like its popular “Political Gabfest” with host David Plotz and “Hang Up And Listen,” its sports podcast. It also plans to leverage its 10 years of experience with the medium by creating a network with other, like-minded publishers.
Podcast listeners have some attractive characteristics. Those who do listen are heavy users of the medium: Podcasts account for 30 percent of their listening, more than all other audio sources, according to Edison Research. Slate contends its podcast audience, while smaller than its overall audience, over-indexes in a lot of the characteristics that are coveted by advertisers — they’re wealthier, more educated and more tech savvy than its average website visitor. For its live events, Slate has attracted 500 people paying $30 a ticket.
And at a time when advertisers are battling for consumer attention, podcasts are an intimate medium that require active listening with little room for distractions or interruptions, which is why DeMaio said Slate can charge $25 to $50 CPMs for podcasts, making them more comparable to TV rates than the couple of bucks that online banner rates go for. As the sponsor of five of Slate’s live events, Acura let attendees take a spin in its cars while waiting for the show to start. Jessica Fini, spokeswoman for Acura, said the podcasts’ audience match up with Acura’s target customer.
“For us, podcasting is not just another form of audio, but a means for advertisers to break through clutter and for people to give just a few
minutes of their day or week to connect on a more personal, meaningful level with media personalities and outlets they trust and are interested in,” she said.
The medium is still catching up in terms of measurement and scale, though. Podcasts’ share of all listening grew 18 percent in the past year and is poised to expand more with the rise of smartphone listening and connected cars. But podcasting still accounts for just 2 percent of all time spent audio listening, according to Edison Research. And measuring that audience requires counting a patchwork of downloads, plays and subscribers, often across a multitude of third-party apps.
“It’s a fragmented market,” said Jake Shapiro, CEO of PRX, which operates the Radiotopia podcast network. “There isn’t really the industry standard protocol for that kind of measurement and an authoritative entity that everyone would agree to use for a measurement. So there’s an imprecision, having everyone gather them for themselves.”
Slate has begun surveying its users to quantify their demographic and behavioral data for advertisers. And in pursuing a network, Slate is following in the footsteps of PRX and others that have discovered that — as in other media segments like YouTube video and multichannel networks — that approach can help producers manage the sponsorship sales, marketing and promotional aspects of podcasting.
“We’ve been doing podcasts the past decade,” DeMaio said. “We have an infrastructure. There’s the potential for working with more like-minded companies.”
Homepage image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Member ExclusiveManaging during crisis: How to cut costs and communicate tough decisions
During the wide-ranging talk, held virtually exclusively for Digiday+ members, former Comscore CEO Bryan Wiener explained which skills --decisiveness, focus and communication -- will make any leader, regardless of how experienced, ready to adapt their companies and come out of the coronavirus pandemic stronger than ever.
‘It’s important everyone steps up’: BBC Global News Jim Egan on media in a time of crisis
"Traditional rules and restrictions about getting processes underway are being put to one side."
How The Financial Times is adapting its events business
During a time where it’s broadly illegal for people in the U.S. and Europe to gather, The Financial Times is adapting its in-person event business. Wasting little time, the business and finance publisher hosted the first in a series of online events, called “Digital Dialogues,” on Wednesday, April 1. “The Global Economic Emergency” session featured […]
SponsoredBridging the TV-digital divide from an engineer’s perspective
TV supports a complex ecosystem of planning, negotiation, reporting and measurement. As digital content merges with television, leading engineers and experts are tackling the significant challenge of bringing those same skill sets to the video landscape.
Mel Magazine co-founder Josh Schollmeyer on how the site’s ‘never been there to push razors’
Mel Magazine is growing in name recognition, but how the men's lifestyle site could best serve its parent company, Dollar Shave Club, is still a bit unknown. "It's never been there just to push razors," founding editor Josh Schollmeyer said on the Digiday Podcast.
‘There’s a tremendous amount of uncertainty’: Confessions of a chief media officer
As companies reign in costs, senior marketers are having to become experts in cash flow management, according to the latest Confessions.