The Rundown: Pumping the brakes on the podcast gold rush
At this week’s Digiday Publishing Summit, executives talked about promising new revenue opportunities, from subscriptions to commerce to licensing shows to streaming networks. One area that drew a surprising amount of caution: podcasting.
Podcasting has been on a roll, with media companies rolling out new shows regularly alongside breathless forecasts of a $1 billion market. But for many publishers, the good times might not last — and the benefits are likely to go to only a few. Even The New York Times, home to breakout hit “The Daily,” is pumping the brakes. Sebastian Tomich, global head of advertising at the Times, said ad demand for podcasting is very good now — “eight figures of revenue” — and marks “the first product I’ve sold in advertising where the demand has exceeded the supply.” And yet, Tomich doesn’t see a new gold rush.
“My optimism around ‘The Daily’ doesn’t translate to optimism around podcasting broadly,” he said. “Any pure-play ad business in a platform world will continue to get challenged. If I look at the podcast business, incredible amounts of supply — 300,000-400,000 new podcasts a year — aside from creating massive hits, I don’t think you’re going to have this high-CPM ad revenue sitting there freely to grab it for the next two years.”
Tomich’s expectation: Platforms like Apple will start to take over the ad experience on most podcasts in the same way platforms like Facebook have done with content published there. The inevitable result: audience-targeted ads that commoditize most content outside the best of the best.
It’s a view echoed by another publisher with top podcasts. Charlie Kammerer, president and CRO of Slate, said he expects (unfortunately) podcasting to shift to a programmatic model and see much of the same content commoditization impact the display ad business saw with programmatic. Said another publishing executive who is skeptical of the podcasting opportunity: “Podcasting is a messy business for not much scale.” — Brian Morrissey
The great YouTube verification “scandal”
YouTube has reversed its decision announced last week to rescind some creators’ verification statuses. The controversy riled creators, who understandably felt slighted by the platform on which they have built their businesses. But it also raised the question of how much being verified on YouTube matters to creators’ businesses. The answer appears to be that it doesn’t.
Verification status does not impact how creators’ videos are ranked by YouTube’s recommendation algorithm or which ads YouTube serves against a video, according to a YouTube spokesperson. Verification status also does not impact whether a brand signs a sponsorship deal with a creator or hires them for an influencer marketing campaign, according to talent managers and agency execs.
“I’ve never had a brand or a studio pass on a client due to not having a verification checkmark,” said Christina Jones, vp of talent at talent management firm Digital Brand Architects.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had one conversation with a brand where they a cared about a checkmark on YouTube,” said Adam Wescott, partner at talent management firm Select Media Management.
Verification carries weight among marketers when it comes to working with creators on other platforms, such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, but YouTube is just completely different.
Another agency exec said that until last week’s flap they were not aware that YouTube even verified channels. Their ignorance is understandable — the checkmarks don’t even appear on mobile, where more than 70% of people watch YouTube.
The importance of being verified on YouTube could change now that the de-verification controversy has drawn people’s attention to the matter. Additionally, YouTube plans to add the verification checkmark to its mobile properties. But the fact that YouTube effectively questioned the validity of its existing verification program by initially announcing that it would rescind some creators’ verified statuses could undermine any significance that might be assigned to the checkmark going forward. “It’s all superficial. There’s no difference in functionality,” said Wescott. — Tim Peterson
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