RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC, August 20, 2019 – Coleman Insights will offer a webinar for the broadcast and podcast industry that introduces a breakthrough strategy called “Outside Thinking,” and details specific ways to apply the strategy to podcasting to build stronger brands.
In this webinar, attendees will learn to view podcasts from the perspective of the listener and understand what behavioral factors influence their decision to consume it. In addition, presenters Warren Kurtzman and John Boyne of Coleman Insights will share headlines from a recent Coleman Insights podcast research study.
Coleman Insights President Warren Kurtzman says, “While at Podcast Movement, we couldn’t help but sense podcasting approaching a tipping point. We’re excited to offer this content to those who couldn’t make the conference presentation, and hope everyone interested in building podcasts into strong, memorable brands joins us for this webinar.”
Kurtzman and Boyne will present “Outside Thinking for Podcasts” Thursday, September 12 from 2 PM-3 PM EDT.
If you read the last two installments of Tuesdays With Coleman, you are aware of the brand-building challenges that exist in the podcasting space. Two weeks ago, I wrote about how Joe Rogan is the biggest brand in podcasting, but that only 14% of monthly podcast listeners are aware of him on an unaided basis. Last week, we revealed new podcast research that indicated none of the top 20 most-listened-to podcasts are familiar to at least half of all monthly podcast listeners.
None of this is terribly surprising given the nascent and highly fragmented nature of the medium. Nonetheless, for any podcast that seeks out mass appeal success, building a brand is a necessity.
Fortunately, there is a route to building strong podcast brands, as my colleague John Boyne and I shared in our “Outside Thinking for Podcasts” presentation at last week’s massive Podcast Movement conference in Orlando. The first step on that route is to recognize that if you are engaged in podcasting, you need to go beyond content creation and think like a marketer. If you do, you will take an Outside Thinking approach to the medium and recognize that (a) you must teach people about podcasting, (b) combining great content with strong branding is crucial for success and (c) such success is not measured by download or listener counts but by having satisfied listeners.
John Boyne and Warren Kurtzman presenting “Outside Thinking for Podcasts” at Podcast Movement
This means that you need to go beyond telling listeners, “Download wherever you get your podcasts,” and be more specific about where they can get your content. Your podcast’s website should go beyond that and provide step-by-step instructions for finding, downloading and listening to your podcasts.
Here are seven ways to build your podcasting brand:
Have your elevator pitch down.
If you can’t succinctly articulate what your podcast is about, why people should listen to it and what differentiates it from other podcasts, it will be very difficult to build a brand. Once you do have that pitch, be sure to communicate it frequently, even to your existing listeners.
Another way to think like a marketer is to:
Give your podcast a memorable name.
Your podcast needs to stand out among the more than 700,000 active podcasts competing for listeners’ attention. Does your podcast have a name that is searchable and memorable? If not, change it.
Building a strong brand also necessitates taking advantage of the fact that podcasting is an aural medium; great audio brands have their own unique sound and feel. Some of the best ones:
Use jingles and other mnemonic devices that help consumers remember them.
Beyond jingles and mnemonic devices, there are things you can do with your podcast’s content that help with brand building. One is:
Utilize a consistent structure.
This is important because meeting consumer expectations is crucial to building a brand, a reality for virtually every category of products and services. Examples of such consistency include making sure that your podcast follows a regular release schedule and having the flow of your podcast’s content follow a similar pattern with each episode.
Taking this a step further, your podcast should:
Utilize benchmarks, recurring segments or features.
Think along the lines of David Letterman’s signature “Top Ten” lists or Jimmy Fallon writing “Thank You Notes” every Friday night.
Another content-based practice that helps with the brand building process is to:
Make sure your topics are on target.
The topics you cover on your podcast should be not only of interest to your target audience but also aligned with what they expect from you. This does not mean that you can never deviate from those expectations, but when you do, you better make sure your content execution is outstanding.
Finally, we should not ignore that even if you think like a marketer and have all these things—a strong elevator pitch, a searchable and memorable name, mnemonic devices, consistent structure, benchmarks and on-target topics—your podcast’s ability to build a strong brand will require that you:
Advertise your podcast.
Don’t despair, however, if your budget won’t allow for billboards in Times Square or television spots during the Super Bowl. A good marketer recognizes that there are many ways to get the word out about a product or service beyond traditional media advertising, with social media (paid and organic), being promoted on other podcasts, endorsements, cultivating reviews, your own website, search engine optimization, content marketing and public relations all representing other options for building a brand.
If you weren’t in the audience in Orlando (or you loved our presentation so much you want to see it again!), I’m happy to announce that Coleman Insights will host a free webinar at 2:00 PM EDT on Thursday, September 12th, when John and I will re-present “Outside Thinking for Podcasts,” which will cover many of the suggestions above in more detail. Click here to sign up for the webinar today!
Last week, I wrote about one of our findings from a podcast research study we recently fielded with a nationally-representative sample of 1,000 18- to 64-year-old American monthly podcast listeners. The headline referred to how Joe Rogan is the biggest brand in podcasting, as The Joe Rogan Experience enjoys a level of Unaided Awareness that is more than twice that of any other podcast.
The flip side of that proclamation is that—at 14% Unaided Awareness—Rogan’s brand isn’t that big. This is because of the nascent state of podcasting and the incredible fragmentation of the medium. With current estimates stating that there are more than 700,000 active podcasts available, building a strong brand in this space continues to be a huge challenge.
We share this data not to criticize podcasters, but instead to make sure they open their eyes for the need to build brands. Without well-known strong brands with which many consumers want to affiliate, few podcasts will attract large, loyal audiences. This is a tremendous task given the previously-mentioned fragmentation of the industry—as making a podcast stand out in an incredibly crowded marketplace is very difficult to do—but that doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary to accomplish.
My colleague John Boyne and I will share ideas on how podcasts can build brands when we deliver our “Outside Thinking for Podcasts” presentation this week at Podcast Movement in Orlando. We will talk about how even if content creation is your forte, looking at your podcast from the outside perspective of a good marketer is crucial to building a successful brand. This will include tips about helping listeners find your podcast and things you can do with the content of your podcast that will facilitate brand building.
This latter point is important because brand building does not have to completely depend on marketing activities like advertising and search engine optimization. In fact, as we often cite with our Brand-Content MatrixSM, success is most often derived through the delivery of content that provides a great “in the moment” experience for the listener and reaffirms what they expect from your brand.
In our presentation, John and I will talk about how memorable brand names, structure, mnemonic devices and benchmarks can help to overcome the many obstacles that stand in the way of building great podcasts.
We hope you can join us at Podcast Movement this week…almost as much as we hope the air conditioning in the Rosen Shingle is up to the task of Orlando in August!
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC, August 12, 2019 – New research from Coleman Insights reveals that TED Talks Daily has the highest Aided Awareness of the 20 most-listened-to podcasts as ranked by Podtrac in March 2019. Despite being the most recognized, only 43% of monthly podcast listeners are familiar with the TED Talks Daily podcast.
The study of 1,000 18 to- 64-year-old monthly podcast listeners conducted in May 2019 asked respondents to review a list of the March ranking of the Podtrac Top 20 Podcasts and indicate their familiarity with each. The TED brand occupied two of the top three spots, with The Daily coming in second at 35% and the TED Radio Hour at 32%. There is a significant gap between the most and least familiar of the top 20 Podtrac-ranked shows, as Invisibilia is familiar to only 8% of monthly podcast listeners.
According to Coleman Insights President Warren Kurtzman, “Our findings reaffirm the idea that despite podcasting’s growth, the medium still has a long way to go with brand development. Even with the most-listened-to shows, most active podcast users aren’t familiar with them. The ones they are familiar with are big, cross-platform brands with strong marketing behind them.”
Listeners between the ages and 25 and 44 are more likely to be familiar with the Top 20 shows than are 18- to 24-year-olds or 45- to 64-year-olds. Furthermore, Coleman Insights finds that male podcast listeners are more likely than females to be familiar with the Top 20 Podtrac shows.
These findings are different from those released by Coleman Insights last week, which focused on Unaided Awareness of podcast brands. The top-ranked show in Unaided Awareness, The Joe Rogan Experience, does not participate in the Podtrac rankings and was therefore not included in the Aided Awareness measurement.
Coleman Insights will discuss the implications of its podcast research findings in a presentation at Podcast Movement, to be held at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando. The session, “Outside Thinking for Podcasts”, is set for Wednesday August 14th at 9:00 AM as part of the conference’s Industry Track.
The less sexy, but far more important aspect of our findings pertains to what we’re learning about brand development in the podcasting space. Next week, my colleague John Boyne and I will be sharing more about what we have learned in our “Outside Thinking for Podcasts” session at the Podcast Movement conference in Orlando, but in advance of that, we would like to add to the discussion around podcast brand development here.
At Coleman Insights, we are bullish about podcasting. It represents a great opportunity for the many talented content creators in the radio industry to leverage their expertise and expand it to a new growing platform, while also providing an opportunity for fresh, new voices to enter the audio entertainment space.
The ultimate success of the industry, however, will depend on its ability to build brands. By that, we mean brands that are well-known, that are perceived as providing content that is compelling to large numbers of consumers and that are associated with attributes with which consumers want to affiliate.
To date, such brand building has been awfully slow.
While the sexy headline from the podcast research data we recently reached was about Joe Rogan, the bottom line is that only 14% of monthly podcast users are aware of Joe and his show, even though his podcast has been available for a decade. The more significant finding of our podcast research, however, is that Rogan’s relatively low Unaided Awareness level dwarfs that of any other podcast. In fact, none of the four other podcasts that finished among the five best-known in our podcast research—Serial, The Daily, This American Life or My Favorite Murder—achieve Unaided Awareness levels above 6%.
In fact, our research finds that podcast users are about as likely to mention a platform or a category when asked to name podcasts as they are to mention a “big” podcast brand like Serial or The Daily. For example, 5% of podcast users mention NPR when asked to name a podcast; 4% of them say “music” and 3% say “sports.” A parallel here would be to ask people who use streaming television to name shows and have them answer Netflix or Hulu instead of StrangerThings or Orange Is The New Black.
By contrast, in most research we conduct with radio listeners, it is not unusual for individual station brands to exceed Unaided Awareness levels of 50% or more. One can certainly argue that most of these radio brands have multi-decade head starts on podcasts when it comes to brand building, but such an argument misses the point. No matter how great a podcast’s content is, its ability to attract an audience will depend on people knowing about it and having—at a minimum—the “big idea” of what the podcast stands for in their minds.
How does a podcast build a brand? We hope you can join John and me at Podcast Movement next week when we share how applying Outside Thinking can make that happen.
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC, June 26, 2019 – Podcast Movement, the annual gathering of the podcast industry, has announced the sessions for this year’s Industry Track, presented by media research firm Coleman Insights.
This year’s track will feature sessions that focus on helping podcasts improve in the areas of branding and content. The opening session, “Outside Thinking for Podcasts,” is set to kick off the track at 9am on Wednesday, August 14th, hosted by Warren Kurtzman and John Boyne from Coleman Insights. The session will combine surprising headlines from a recent Coleman Insights podcast study and introduce attendees to a breakthrough strategy called “Outside Thinking”. This strategy will allow podcasters to better understand what behavioral factors influence the decision to consume their shows.
Other sessions include a look at remote audio data with Stacey Goers from NPR, guidance on selling in a platform world with John Fitzgerald of ESPN, a “Celebrities in Podcasting” panel hosted by Perry Michael Simon from All Access and a “State of Podcasting” overview from Podcast Hall of Famer Elsie Escobar.
Coleman Insights President Warren Kurtzman says, “We’re looking forward to hosting the Industry Track again this year and delivering content that can help attendees make their podcasts more successful.”
Podcast Movement is set for August 13-16, 2019 at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando. Registration is now open.
About Coleman Insights
Coleman Insights, headquartered in Research Triangle Park, NC, with offices in Philadelphia and Hamburg, Germany, is a firm that has helped media properties build strong brands and develop great content since 1978. Its clients include hundreds of media properties in North America, South America, Europe and Asia, including those owned by iHeartMedia, Entercom Communications Corporation, Bonneville International Corporation, Hubbard Radio, Educational Media Foundation, Stingray Radio, Emmis Communications, SummitMedia, Salem Communications, Connoisseur Media, Corporación Radial del Perú, Service Broadcasting Corporation, CRISTA Media, and Townsquare Media. Additional information about Coleman Insights is available at www.ColemanInsights.com.
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC, August 28, 2018 – Coleman Insights will offer a webinar for the broadcast and podcast industry detailing the results of an actual mediaEKG® Deep Dive study on two popular iHeartRadio podcasts. The insights will cover “The Ben and Ashley I Almost Famous Podcast,” featuring former stars of ABC’s “The Bachelor” franchise, and “Business Unusual with Barbara Corcoran,” hosted by the real estate mogul, bestselling author and “Shark Tank” star.
By the end of the session, attendees will grasp the “Three Ts of Content Execution” and how each can play a role in content development. You’ll gain an understanding of how audiences feel about the content and why they feel that way. This session is designed to help podcasters and broadcasters create better, more focused content that produces more engagement and increases listening.
Coleman Insights Executive Vice President John Boyne says, “We’re thrilled to offer this presentation to those who didn’t get the chance to see it at Podcast Movement. Podcasters and broadcasters should find the insights useful for understanding in-the-moment podcast listener behavior for two shows with very different content.”
iHeartRadio SVP/Podcasting Chris Peterson said of the original presentation, “Let’s learn what listeners really think rather than a download, which tells you nothing.”
Boyne and fellow Executive Vice President Sam Milkman will present “The Three Ts of Content Execution: A Second-By-Second Look at Podcast Listening Behavior” Wednesday, September 5 from 2p-2:45 PM EDT via webinar.
My colleagues John Boyne, Sam Milkman and Jay Nachlis and I just returned from Philadelphia, where we had the opportunity to deliver a presentation on content testing and sponsor the Industry track at Podcast Movement. To say we are invigorated from our Podcast Movement experience is an understatement; the conference was huge—over 2,200 attendees—and the presence of youth, energy and diversity was striking.
Even more important than the size and make-up of the crowd, however, is the sense we have that podcasting is (finally!) nearing a tipping point. As our friendly competitors at Edison Research have meticulously documented, the podcasting audience continues to grow, yet only 17% of Americans listen to a podcast each week. What is striking about that is the rate of growth for podcasting has been dramatically slower than the rates of adoption we have seen in recent years for a wide array of new technologies and platforms, including mobile phones, streaming, social media and smart speakers.
Podcasting has been on the radars of people in the audio business and media savvy consumers for more than a decade, yet some still question whether it is a real business and whether it will achieve widespread consumer adoption. The size of Podcast Movement and the highly visible presence of radio-centric companies like iHeartMedia, Cumulus, Hubbard and Beasley at the conference, however, suggests that such questions are becoming the exception rather than the norm.
What will it take for podcasting to pass the tipping point we anticipate? We believe it boils down to three key points:
When syndicated iHeartRadio Country morning personality and new VP, Creative Director of iHeartCountry Bobby Bones spoke as part of the “Broadcasters Meet Podcasters” track at Podcast Movement, he explained why listeners choose his show. “I built a brand and the brand is why the listeners come.”
iHeartRadio’s Bobby Bones
He spoke about branding far more than he spoke about content, which left a clear message for podcasters. Your brand is why they come to your show. The content is why they stay.
It’s our experience that media brands that invest in clearly defining their brands build bigger audiences and are built for long-lasting success. Is your radio station the hit music station? Are you the go-to website for sports? Do consumers turn to you first for coverage of politics?
This is how the most successful podcasts will win. Consumers need to be able to easily identify show themes like “The True Crime podcast” or “The Cooking podcast” or “The podcast that talks about the 80s,” for example.
Of course, there are plenty of podcasts that cover those topics. If content quality is equal, the one with the best brand will win.
Invest In Content:
Speaking of content, podcasts will need to follow the lead of other media in taking a disciplined approach towards content execution. At the very least, podcasters need to make investments in research to learn more about what listeners want from podcasts and the specifics of what works and what doesn’t work with the content they offer.
Some podcasts are highly disciplined in their topic choices and execution. Others are handled in a much looser format.
(L-R) John Boyne, Sam Milkman and iHeartMedia SVP/Podcasting Chris Peterson at “The Podcast Content Deep Dive” at Podcast Movement
While we’ll go deeper into our discoveries in next week’s blog and in an upcoming webinar, there are lessons that apply to all audio content, whether delivered via podcast or broadcast.
Reduce Consumer Friction:
Is the process of finding, accessing and listening to podcasts is too complex for the average consumer?
Does the average consumer really know how to download a podcast or where to do it?
Do people even know what to call the purple podcast button on iPhones? Meanwhile, there are multiple apps to choose from on Google Play including RadioPublic, Stitcher and Google Podcasts (which just launched a new app in June). Other podcast sources include iHeartRadio and Spotify.
Would the industry be better off with a strongly-branded, user-friendly platform exclusively devoted to podcasting? Our sense is that the answer to this question is absolutely “yes.” The industry needs the YouTube of the podcast industry. Then, consumers need to know about it and understand how to use it.
One thing is for sure. We’re excited about the future of podcasting and look forward to helping this still-fledgling industry vault past the tipping point. To get there, podcasting needs to become easier for the average consumer to use, while at the same time focusing on building strong brands and developing great content.
Late last year, I wrote about the ads on your radio station fitting its brand. One of the things I touched on is the benefit of having your station’s own hosts and personalities reading your ad copy. At the Worldwide Radio Summit earlier this month, the benefits of host-read copy came up once or twice. I was a bit disappointed that no one got into the subject in depth, but then, there were a lot of topics to cover in only a couple of days. (Please feel free to use this idea for next year, no credit necessary!)
Having a station’s personalities read ad copy meets with mixed responses, to be sure. This is in part because brands have spent so much money on agencies that create slick, well-produced commercials, and those commercials have become the norm. But this is actually how ads began. Radio hosts in the 1920s and 1930s read their own copy (check out show announcer Mike Wallace in this 1947 episode of Sky King, reading a PSA), and as television entered more homes, this method continued as media changed around it. Gertrude Berg, a (now sadly ignored) dynamo of radio drama, took her character Molly Goldberg to television in 1949—and she continued to record advertisements for Sanka.
Gertrude Berg as Molly Goldberg. Berg wrote over 5,000 episodes of the radio version of “The Goldbergs” (no relation to today’s ABC hit)
Note that it’s Molly, not Gertrude Berg, who touts the benefits of the now-iconic instant beverage. The audience saw no discernible break between their favorite show and the ad. A few years later, during her eponymous show on NBC, Dinah Shore took a moment, walked off to one side of the set and urged her viewers to “See the USA in Your Chevrolet.” Again, the transition from content to advertisement was seamless.
Peter Weir made fun of this—and of the blatant product placement in which some shows indulge—in The Truman Show. Remember how Laura Linney’s character was always being zoomed in on while she talked about a product? Same idea.
Laura Linney as Hannah Gill acting as Meryl Burbank
Interestingly, the podcasting world has picked up on the benefits of host-read copy. A recent Nielsen study tells us that when an ad is read by a podcast’s host or hosts, that ad is much more likely to be seen as authentic and less likely to sound forced. This, I imagine, was the same back in Gertrude Berg’s and Dinah Shore’s days. Copy read by a host benefits shows as well as advertisers—listeners are savvy, and they know how long an ad break usually is, whether it’s on their favorite station or during their favorite podcast. Over the years, listeners have trained their brains when to tune out and when to tune back in. But when the host is reading the copy, they’re more engaged. They don’t immediately tell the difference between show and advertisement. As listeners, we trust our hosts, just as viewers in 1953 trusted Dinah Shore. We often talk about making sure your station features authentic, spontaneous content—why not expand that into your ads as well? Live ads—or ads that sound and “feel” live—offer your listeners a seamless experience.
The listener savviness I mentioned before also comes into play when gauging a host’s actual interest in the product he or she is advertising. I, for one, fully believe that Marc Maron, host of the “WTF with Marc Maron” podcast uses stamps.com and wears MeUndies. On the other side of the coin, one of the podcasts I love and listen to faithfully features a host-read ad that I do not believe for one second. I don’t stop listening when she starts talking about the greatest haircare product in the world, but I do roll my eyes a bit—it takes me out of the moment. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. Is that an argument for that podcast to drop the advertiser? Not at all. I see it as an opportunity to coach the host in methods of how to sound more enthusiastic than she is. After all, program directors often coach radio talent during breaks, so why not expand and coach them on spot reads? 1949 television viewers truly believed that Sanka filled Molly Goldberg with joy, and from what I understand, that didn’t come naturally to Gertrude Berg.
It’s important to remember that the hosts on your radio stations are just as much a part of your brand as the music is. Your loyal listeners pay attention to what they say, so why not use them to your advertisers’ advantage? If it sounds old-fashioned to you, remember that well-read copy, like great content, almost always sounds fresh, engaging and spontaneous.
Sometimes, everything old is new again.
BRANDING, CONTENT & RESEARCH STRATEGY
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