Sounds Profitable - Podcast Adtech & Advertising

The pace of change the podcast adtech industry is undergoing is staggering. The implications for podcasters, hosting providers, podcast listening app developers, and even advertisers and agencies are enormous. And so are the profits. Presented as a companion but stand-alone version of the weekly newsletter of the same name, each episode of Sounds Profitable will be a fluff-free experience for you. Along with industry experts, I'll help you understand how you can take advantage of podcast adtech to stay ahead of the curve and, well... make more money as more money from advertising pours into podcasting. That Sounds Profitable, right? Assumptions and conventional wisdom will be challenged. Easy answers with no proof of efficacy will be exposed. Because the thinking that got podcast advertising close to a billion dollars annually will need to be drastically overhauled to bring in the tens or hundreds of billions of dollars podcast advertising deserves. So join me, Bryan Barletta, as I bring to you Sounds Profitable, the podcast companion series. It's part of the PodNews network, and if you're not already reading my newsletter, then you should be.


episode 21: Up Next: A Podcast Up Front

Building a new way to do an up front for the podcasting world is tough! Bryan and guest Donelle Brown go into what it took to make the Up Next a reality, and how to make it better in the future.Key Links:

  • Donelle Brown of AdLarge
  • Article:
-----How are you educating your team? Are you encouraging innovation?___Credits:
  • Hosted by Bryan Barletta of Sounds Profitable -
  • Audio engineering by Ian Powell
  • Executive produced by Evo Terra of Simpler Media
  • Special thanks to James Cridland of Podnews
  • Podcast hosting and dynamic insertion wizardry by Whooshkaa
  • Sounds Profitable Theme written by Tim Cameron
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SPEp21(Upbeat Acoustic Music)Bryan: Using audio to sell audio and a Podcast Upfront. That's where we're talking about today on Sounds Profitable with me, Bryan Barletta.This episode is sponsored by Claritas. Check out their recent, the marketing insider podcast, and learn how to use current trends such as industry specific lift success and CPM comparisons in podcasting to increase advertisers. You can find out I know that you're listening to sounds profitable because podcast ad tech is important to you, but it's important to me that you are kept up to date on the latest news from the entire podcast industry to help with that.Here's what happened last week. No matter when you're listening from James Cridland at Podnews.Are we selling audio with audio? That was the question we tried to answer with the up next, a podcast upfront. For those of you who don't know what an upfront is, I'll link the article about it in the description. The event went amazing and in no small part, thanks to the help of Donelle Brown. She joined me to talk about what work went into the up next and her thoughts on the value.The Up Next presented.(Transition into Interview) Donelle. Thank you so much for joining me today. I'm excited to talk with you about the article up next, a better way to buy podcast ads and more, uh, because you and your team are the whole reason that this happened. I mean, we started brainstorming on the idea of how we could collaborate together.We like threw out this offhand idea and four weeks we turn this around, we go, we got this live and it was really ad large, kind of like leading the charge saying like, yeah, we're in. And not that helped so many other people get the courage to, to participate. So thank you.Donelle: Absolutely. You're welcome. It's pretty incredible.And we were very excited to be part of the brain trust for lack of a better word than kind of conceptualize this all. So it's very exciting. I have to give a lot of the credit to you though, because you're just like this mastermind, like I think a wheel is always spinning, you know, I worry about you actually.No, I'm just kidding.Bryan: Lots of caffeine. Lots of, I get plenty of exercise. Sleep. Uh, but the brain keeps spinningDonelle: a lot of the time. That's good. I think it's a good thing. That's a good thing. Yeah. So yeah, we're very excited to be a part of it and yeah, it was a good thing.Bryan: Yeah. Yeah. It was awesome. I mean like the at-large team has been so supportive since day one.I mean your social media team. Yeah. Every article and you do it in such a cool way. Like, it means a lot to me because you take the article and you say like, here's an awesome opinion on how something works in this space. And here's how we do it the best. And I love that like, content creation is so hard.I encourage anyone who finds value in the sound's profitable content to do that. And so we've been working on ideas and, you know, the IAB upfronts were just about to come out and it's just, it's so interesting to me when they're just like, We got a 20 minute presentation that requires a PowerPoint and you need to be on a certain list to come listen to it or come see it to buy podcast audio.And so. Granted, my reach is definitely not as big as the IAB, but I thought it was a neat way to get everybody to kind of, to flex and try that. And you actually did the entire pitch for ads.Donelle: I did go. So first things first, I have to give credit to one of the women who works with me. Her name is Annie hot and she does.Yeah. All of our social media on the podcast side and she is so clever, so creative, such a resource. So I have to give her a props. I have to give props to it, perhaps I do. I'm big on that. So, I mean, I think she, like you said, she does do an excellent job at repurposing industry information and all that stuff.And just making sure people stay informed about the beauty of all that is audio. So big props to her on that. Up next goes, yes. I was the voice behind the script, which was also pinned, um, predominantly by Annie. So to do Danny again. That's awesome. Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, it came together. So quickly, but so nicely, you know, it really was almost seamless the way it all just kind of, we, we focus, we decided this is what we want to say, how we wanted to present ourselves to the industry at large, and then it just pen to paper and it just all came to.So it really was prettyBryan: cool. Yeah. Now, had you been on a lot of podcasts before then or had you ever done like recorded audio presentations before? Do you know?Donelle: No. So a little bit years ago, cause I've always been in the audio space and I used to work for a company where we had a studio, one site and every now and again, someone would say, oh, we need a voice for a commercial.And so I maybe let's say in my lifetime, maybe five times I put my voice onto somebody's commercials, sat in the studio behind a microphone. But other than that, no, And so I think I was a little surprised at how well it came together to, you know, I went to, um, a podcasting studio in Brooklyn and did it, and that was like two takes.And he was like, you've really good. And I'm like, yeah,Bryan: that's awesome. It's, it's fun when you realize that it's like organic talking in with, but like, I don't know, like every time I get to listen to my own podcasts and the work that Evo and Ian do to make it sound that much better, I'm just like, I'm just in India talking.You hear it and you get to hear it from the listener side. It's so neat that, you know, I definitely see there's plenty of room and we should continue focusing on high production, amazing quality podcasts, but everybody in the space should be experimenting with it. Right. If you, I don't care if you're an ad ops or account manager all the way up to the CEO of a company, right.If you work in podcasting, get your voice on recording, figure out how it works on a technical side. Just try it. Right. I don't care if you use anchor from your phone, just have fun with it and have hands on experience because it's exciting. And if you, you can relate to it as the content you're, you're selling even more.So.Donelle: That does make a lot of sense. I think most people won't engage in that way, but it makes make sense. ItBryan: doesn't make sense now, you know, the, the main focus here, like I, I didn't think that I would get a ton of people to listen to it. I mean, we have the time of this recording. We're a little over a month since it launched actually a little under, um, we're, we're at about 250 total signups, which is really cool.Right? Sounds profitable. 3,200 people on the list. We have pod news shared it almost 20,000 people and a few other places shared it, but it's like really specific. It's like, Hey, if you're a brand or advertiser would like to hear how people pitch to brands or advertisers. Check this out. So not a huge number, but before it is, and how qualified is it?It was pretty cool. My main focus really was how do we encourage people to sell podcasting through audio? And my question to you is do you think that this will stick? Like, do you think this was a cool way to reinforce the idea that like, Hey, maybe a sales deck could be accompanied with an audio file?Donelle: You know, when we first started had the brainstorming session, we thought it was amazing genius idea. And I still, I still do feel that way, but I do think that there are some challenges. I think that people. You have to just keep reinforcing it to people that it makes sense. And it makes sense in more ways than you can even imagine.Right. But I think people are so used to just opening up their computer and reading something, you know, and unless they're really, because unfortunately, I think you find a lot of times that people are in the business of selling audio, but they might not be. Audio fence themselves. They're just in the business and selling it, you know?So you have those hurdles I think, to go over as well. I definitely think it's something that we should continue doing. I definitely, I think that there's value to it. I think that the more that we continue to put it in people's faces, the more they'll realize, oh, this makes sense. And I can just do this while I'm cooking dinner one night.You know what I'm saying? What you listen to. Is how you can get this information and not have it take up that much of your day orBryan: your time. I mean, that was my focus. I never think that it's going to replace the typical sales sheet or anything like that or the pitch. And I definitely think there's tons of value.I mean, when you're pitching someone, it is audio, right. You're talking to them. Right. You know, um, even a reliance on the, on the visuals, isn't a bad thing. And, and that's the thing like the greater advertising. Ecosystem does these things. They have certain paths that work. They do it in certain ways. You have a sales sheet, you have a sales deck.Uh, it's why programmatic and people buy through trade desk and other things. So while, because there's very clear paths for how things operate and are efficient, and sometimes the people that you're buying or selling from don't have the time to expand. But podcasting, what I've liked about it is. There are hands-on requirements of podcasting.And every time that we bleed into those and highlight how unique they are to the people, I feel like it's easier to get an advertiser excited about podcasts. Right,Donelle: right, right. If you, yes. If you're showing them exactly in the same way, this is the medium I want you to be in and I'm presenting it to you in that medium.So like, it all should click. Right.Bryan: So, yeah, because I mean, I guess you can put together. Sales deck, that's all banner ads or like streaming video. Right? I mean, I guess you could do streaming video. That's what we do anyways or presentations, but yeah, it's, you know, I don't think it's ever going to take over anything, but I love the idea of us exploringDonelle: you really never know because the greatest of things, like at some point podcast movement, let's just use that as a, as an example.At some point, there were 50 people that attended. Now look, you're at thousands. You know, you can't, sometimes you launch it as just explodes at launch. And other times it just has to build up and build up and build. Yeah,Bryan: no, it's neat. And I'm excited to do it again. I mean, we were talking about how we're going to figure out the right time to do it.I do. I got some great feedback that I, there was a lot of fatigue from buyers because they get peppered with the upfronts, not only the podcast ones, but all the other ones. So finding something new and trying that in the same week where they felt they could get similar content, you know, kind of bit me in the butt.I might've been a little bit too big for my britches and hope that I could ride on those coattails a little bit.Donelle: And genius will do it.Bryan: Yeah. Well, we have the advantage now that this stays there and it's live for everyone. And we still see a few people trickling in every day. And I'm excited for the refresh.You touched on something really cool with, with podcast movement. And, and I think that the growth of these things are important, but using audio as ways to present your brand is really interesting. One of the, one of the ideas that I had had, and we talked about a little bit, it was like a world where you go to a conference instead of everybody wasting the first 10 minutes of them.Giving you their value prop. There's a QR code and you can listen to it. Anytime we start things at 200 level, right? There's so many clever things we can do with audio to present who we are. And really like claim our space, right?Donelle: Yeah. That's actually really smart. I liked, I liked that notion whether it can actually come.I think we're a ways off before getting to that point. I like that a lot. And so, you knowBryan: what I liked about working with you guys, as you wanted to try things outside the box, I mean, that. Not easy. Uh, you know, you're, you're a good size company. You have plenty of great representation. You're doing very well.You also, everyone I've interacted with there is, you know, a strong, intelligent woman too, which is super cool. So like, I got to give you tons of props for the fact that you're willing to step outside the box con.Donelle: I think because, you know, we're still probably by a lot of entities considered on the smaller side.I think we're able, or more so willing to take those risks where when you get to these more, for lack of a better word, corporate feeling or corporate settings, that it's just, this is what it is, and this is how it gets done. And because. You know, more tight knit, we're willing to step out a little bit more.And we're also always very eager to position ourselves as leaders in the space and, and as always providing our clients with new ways of consuming information and new ways, and just being thought leaders in the space, that's always our goal to always make sure that they have all the information absolutely available to them, to do their jobs and do their jobs well.So. Whenever we see an opportunity to do something that's different or that's going to help to move those kinds of pillars forward. We're able to. Yeah.Bryan: What would you say to companies in the, like the similar size to you that are, that are struggling with. Carving out the time or the resources to allow people to be thought leaders.Right. Like, I think sounds probable as succeeded a lot in part, because there's not enough companies that say like, Hey yeah, you know, I'm on Fridays. Make sure you're well-educated on the space and write an internal email about what's going on. And that's, I it's been great to thrive like that, but I mean, If you follow your social media, it feels like maybe 10% of what you put out is like buy from ad large.You know what I mean? It's, it's, it's very much thought-leader stuff. Was it difficult to establish that and make that a comfortable culture instead of pulling those people away to other tasks and like, huh? What type of guidance would you give to other companies to encourage them to take that risk?Donelle: Really great question. I don't think it was difficult. I think that's really always been the culture of at-large. You know, we have grown exponentially over the last few years in, um, the podcast space and we every with each group. Opportunity. We embrace it. Like we don't run from it and we make sure that we kind of arm the staff of at-large appropriately.Like, as we grow, we need to make sure that we're continuing to nurture internally the things that we need to get done. For our staff to keep everybody happy and engaged and enthused and not burnt out. Like we, we talk about that all the time and we want to make sure that people are taking their time off on any time more often.And you're not running yourself ragged because it can get crazy like the business, the business is moving, moving, moving all the time. Just all the time. This time. What I would say too. So I can't really answer for advice because I feel like that's always been just who we are. Like, it's always been kind of nimble and, you know, think fast on our feet and, you know, kind of making sure that we're all good at the same time.Um, as far as other companies, I'm not really sure that, uh, That I have any good advice. I, I don't, I don't really know. I think you need to make the part of it is making sure you have the right people in place. You know, one of the things that people say to me all the time, like, even when it's crazy, they're like, you never seen first.And I'm like, it's just, it's not my style. Like, you know, I can have a lot of things going on here, but outwardly I'm good. And I just manage things as they come to me. I'm not, I'm never going to make myself crazy. I had an old boss who said one time, we're not saving. And we're not, we're selling audio. So if you're making yourself crazy, thenBryan: what did you say in your recording?You said something like, and we're available 24 7, just kidding. We're not like you made it. And that was so good. It's such a fun tongue in cheek thing. Like I absolutely remember early in my career. I mean, heck Bryan Moffett from NPR. If you're actually listening to this, you can remember fondly 4:00 AM sending me messages.And I had my laptop under my pillow when I was like in my early twenties ad tech podcasting. And it was, uh, or not pocket just ad tech and mobile in general. And you just, you get wrapped up in it and it's not a bad thing. Especially as things get larger, but like when you set those boundaries as a company, you do lose some clients because some people want that thing, but it's, but you, you can make up for it in the fact that you you're establishes yourself.Right. And, you know, it's, that's awesome that it's so ingrained into the. The DNA of at-large because I've absolutely worked with people who, like, there was an amazing product manager I worked with who was hired specifically for innovation. And I was just like, wow, what a progressive idea of hiring someone to think about the future?And it was, I don't think we hit six months before he was doing menial product management work, just because we needed to get things done. My biggest advice to everybody. Resist the urge to repurpose people to fit 40 plus hours a week. If you are somebody to think I had do thought leadership. You, you can't flood them.You have to give them that time. Right? Because you're going to lose them as an employee or like you're going to lose that value. You brought them forward because that guy was an innovation for product. Fantastic. Super highly paid, because innovation is like a big deal. And when you're paying them for a product manager, it's not like.It's not a great value chain, so it's tough. It's tough, but there's, there's such value in it. You got, do you guys send out internal emails, like weekly or monthly about like updates about the space?Donelle: Absolutely. Absolutely. All the time. And then we have our own newsletter. Do you subscribe to it? I definitely do.So we also have that, but yeah, absolutely. We have an internal emails, but always, and we, if, if it's not an email, it's a. Regularly occurring meeting, just to say, this is what's going on in the space. Let's talk about this, let's talk about this. And, and, you know, if you don't need to be in that meeting, then, you know, come to that meeting.But if you do need to, if you have questions about this particular topic, then you're in the meeting. So yeah, weBryan: definitely do that. I love that. Honestly, like, I love what I'm doing with sounds profitable, but if I woke up tomorrow and every single person that I work with, or everybody who reads it was just like, you know what?We got to hire someone internally to do this ourselves. And then I just became a relevant, I would be sad. I'd have a lot of explaining to, to my wife, but I would, I would like some part of me would be really happy that I affected that change because that's the important part. When you work at a company that the same way we were doing with the up next, we're trying to excite these people about this medium and audio.Like, yeah, maybe you work in podcasting and it's just a job. Maybe you work in advertising and you don't care about it, but if it's not in front of you, if you don't get to celebrate those victories, a sales, when a new publisher joins the platform, some unique award or anything, practice. About it, or just general education about the space.You're not giving your employees the on-ramp to care about it and be passionate about it and make it more than a job, make it a passion,Donelle: right? Yeah.Bryan: Yeah. And that's, that's so exciting to hear that you guys prioritize that. Absolutely. We haveDonelle: to.Bryan: Yeah. Well, it was so awesome having you on here. And I'm really excited.You know, we, I haven't said anything publicly about the wrap-up of, uh, up next, but one thing that's really important to me is that at-large will absolutely be hand in hand with me as we continue to grow what this is. And I'm excited because this was just the first attempt we had 14 seasons. And I think we're going to have even more when we give people more than four weeks submitted, it's an audio file.Donelle: This has been super exciting for us. We are so grateful to be part of this collaboration with you. It was very well done, very well put together. We are excited. So thank you. And thank you so much for having me on.Bryan: Absolutely. And I'm going to do a preemptive shout out to any for all the time. She's definitely going to share this podcast.Well, we'll definitely have you back on soon. Thank you so much.Donelle: Thank you so much.Bryan: And stick around for some special bonus content. At the end of the episode, I've teamed up with Evo Terra to give you a minute long strategic thought that is guaranteed to shift your perspective on the present and future of podcasting. As we all know. To make podcasting better. Thanks to Donnelle Brown for coming on to help expand on my article up next, a podcast upfront.If you liked what you heard and want to connect, you can find me Bryan Barletta on LinkedIn, way less formally on Twitter as high-five RPG. And of course you can email me at Bryan at sounds profitable. Spelled either way. The most important part about sounds profitable is providing you with more resources and making sure that I can answer your questions.So check out the link to Yappaa in the episode description and leave me a message. And with your permission, I'll answer it live on. The sound's profitable podcasts and all the cool ad tech, bells and whistles you've experienced where thanks to our host and sponsor everything you've heard since the conversation ended was uniquely created to target you using their dynamic ad insertion features.If any of the call-outs. Let us know this sounds profitable. Podcasts would not be possible without the help and support of Evo Terra, James Cridland and Ian Powell. Thank you all for your help and support. .


 2021-06-27  21m