It's RAINing Podcasts

At Thursday's RAIN Podcast Business Summit in New York, the remarkable and quick maturation of the business of podcasting was on display.  A packed room of 400, even after a Nor'easter, was loaded with podcast, broadcast and advertising executives.  Here are a just a few takeaways as told by tweets, pix and comments:

Ma'ayan Plaut  @ maayanplaut

Ma'ayan Plaut @maayanplaut

Podcasting jumps ahead of satellite in the car according to Meg Lazovick, ably pinch-hitting for Tom Webster and presenting Edison/Triton Infinite Dial data.  In car listening is up 20%, outpacing the overall growth of podcasting. The increased connectivity suggests the start of a migration from a medium that today is primarily in-home. It's early, in terms of impact with Smart Speakers according to many.



Gimlet founder Alex Blumberg told the audience that while his rapidly growing start-up is moving to new devices like smart speakers and new platforms like TV, they will always think audio first.  Blumberg lamented to Adlandia hosts Laura Correnti and Alexa Christon that "things want to be bad" which is why its so important to work hard to craft great stories.  

Branded podcasts are tricky he says; "You can't betray the relationship with the audience."

Regarding the quick growth in voice devices he says "speakers that don't talk back are done."

With so many podcast choices, all three warned that a good podcast needs to solve a need.

"Things want to be bad" - Alex Blumberg

Ma'ayan Plaut  @ maayanplaut

Ma'ayan Plaut @maayanplaut


Several sessions focused on advertising and revenue. Jack Meyers told the crowd that digital, which includes streaming, is now at 20% of all dollars spent on audio.

More advertisers are coming into podcasting following early advocates like Squarespace which has grown from a few hundred thousand to millions, leveraging their own internal metrics. 

While fraud in digital advertising is a hot topic, Brian Tomasette of Camelot Strategic Marketing and Media said that "fraudsters can't make money in podcasting" having to do with native ads, key words and URL's. A great calling card for the medium.

Developing a common set of metrics, especially counting downloads is important said Market Enginuity's Sarah Van Mosel who moderated a panel on Ad Tech. 

Moving from 5 minute pings to 60 minutes or more is critical for apples-to-apples measurement between shows and aggregators.

Pandora's Director of Product Management and Listener Ad Experience, Jonathan Eccles believes real dollars in the sector will come when stream-like metrics are available for podcasts. The hope is for deeper Netflix type data and robust recommendation - "You liked that, you might like this." Midroll's Lex Friedman said their Stitcher platform is garnering significant data to help profile listening patterns. NPR's Joel Sucherman talked about learnings from the NPR One app which has had impact on how stories are presented.  

Frequency capping (same ad over and over) is an issue on the minds of the panel, as is the need for publishers to have first-party data.

Apple served 13 billion podcasts last year ... and that's just Apple.  Cool.

"Fraudsters can't make money in podcasting"

Ma'ayan Plaut  @ maayanplaut

Ma'ayan Plaut @maayanplaut


Peter Kafka of ReCode interviewed Samantha Henig, Editorial Director of Audio at the New York Times podcast unit.  The Daily was introduced at the same moment people were looking for insights into Trump's first months as President which accounts for much of the rapid growth.

The Daily provides a "quick way to feel informed" but the mission was never to tell you "everything you need to know." Nor was the initial mission to provide a daily news podcast.

The podcast delivers younger demos and introduces The Times journalism to a new audience. 

Today, the show is at a remarkable 1 million listens per day.  

  • iHeart's podcast guru Chris Peterson, with E.B. Moss of MediaVillage, reminded the audience of the importance and power of radio's megaphone to cross-promote podcasts.  iHeart reaches 250,000 million people monthly. (updated) 










Those are just a couple of headlines. 

While "things want to be bad," this conference was good. The result of great planning by RAIN's Brad Hill and staff.    

Thanks to Ma'ayan Plaut, who works at RadioPublic and provided the excellent and fun sketch notes.  She does them to process her thoughts,  and they make far more sense than mine.  Thanks for letting me share them.  

Steven GoldsteinComment