Inside Radio News

Podcast’s Share Of Ear Hits Double-Digits With The Demo Ad Buyers Like Most.

Podcasting is in the final weeks of what is forecast to be its first billion-dollar revenue year, and one reason marketers are flocking to the medium is listening trends. The just-released third quarter Share of Ear report from Edison Research shows that podcasting has captured a 14% share of ad-supported audio listening among Adults 25-54, the age group that advertisers focus on more than any other. That is more than twice podcasting’s 6% share among ad-supported audio four years go.

The Share of Ear data was released by Cumulus Media. It shows AM/FM remains the dominant ad-supported audio medium. And while Cumulus Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard said there has been “some erosion” for broadcast radio listening, it is not going to the streaming services but rather to podcasting.

“Podcast audiences over the last four years have more than doubled from 6% to 14%,” said Bouvard in a video detailing the findings. As attention turns to the coming year, he said that history is often the best predictor of the future. “Podcasting is going to continue to explode,” Bouvard said, noting Edison Research showed in 2021 that 41% of U.S. adults listen to podcasting each month. He predicted podcasting’s monthly reach could bump up against the 50% mark in 2022.

In terms of revenue, the Interactive Advertising Bureau/PwC outlook for next year forecasts a 31% growth rate.

Edison’s latest Share of Ear report shows the reach of AM/FM radio webcasts has nearly doubled during the past four years, and its 11% share now totals that of the combined reach of the ad-supported versions of Spotify and Pandora.

“There has been a little bit of erosion (as) Pandora has gone down two points and they’re in a state of constant collapse. SiriusXM has added two share points, and Spotify has not really grown,” said Bouvard. “Most of the growth of Spotify has come from their commercial-free, subscription service but that doesn’t do an advertiser any good.”

Bouvard also pointed out that the combined reach of the ad-supported offerings of SiriusXM, Spotify and Pandora have the same 15% share of the ad-supported market among Adults 25-54 that they did four years ago with satellite radio a “tiny factor” in the ad side of the business.

“Looking ahead, no doubt AM/FM will continue to be a dominant platform for ad-supported,” said Bouvard. “We predict AM/FM streaming will surpass the combination of Pandora and Spotify --mostly because Pandora has been continually collapsing.”

Inside Radio News

Jessica Rosenworcel’s FCC Nomination Up For Key Vote On Dec. 1.

The Senate is moving quickly to advance the pending nomination of Jessica Rosenworcel to Chair of the Federal Communications Commission. Just two weeks after her confirmation hearing, the Senate Commerce Committee has scheduled a Dec. 1 vote on whether to give Rosenworcel a new five-year term on the FCC. If approved, her nomination would then be sent to the full Senate for approval.

Democrats are racing to get Rosenworcel’s confirmation finalized because her term expired in June 2020. Under federal law she is allowed to remain on the job only until year-end. After that, Commissioner Geoffrey Starks would become the lone Democrat at the FCC. While he would hold the gavel, Republican Commissioners Brendan Carr and Nathan Simington would have the voting power.

Even if Rosenworcel is seated, the FCC will continue to have a 2-2 deadlock until another Democratic seat is filled. The Senate Commerce Committee is taking steps to advance President Biden’s nomination of Gigi Sohn. Her nomination will also be reviewed during the Committee’s Dec. 1 hearing. 

A vote on Sohn's nomination has not been set, but some Senators have said they would like it prior to their holiday recess.The delay was said to be in order to allow lawmakers to gather more information on Sohn. But by splitting her more controversial pick, Democrats hope to ensure a vote on Rosenworcel’s nomination occurs by year-end. She was previously approved on a bipartisan basis in 2017, and was unanimously approved by the Senate in 2012. If confirmed again, Rosenworcel, 50, would break ground by becoming the first woman to lead the FCC.

Radio Serves The Community With Fundraisers, Food Drives And Free Turkeys.

Radio’s charitable season continues with stations across the country stepping up to help the communities they serve.  

Hubbard news WTOP-FM Washington (103.5) recently concluded its inaugural Week of Giving holiday charity campaign to raise money and awareness for local charities. The campaign ran from Monday, Nov. 8 through Friday, Nov. 12 during which time $9,054 was raised for local charities.

WTOP matched donations made by listeners as part of an internal employee match program encouraging staff, as well as their friends and family, to donate during the Week of Giving.

“We’re so honored to be able to give back to our community in this way and thankful for the giving spirit of our loyal audience,” GM Joel Oxley said in a release. “We couldn’t help these charities and the people they support without them.” 

WTOP’s Week of Giving Campaign was launched as an extension of its Live Local charity marketplace, which went live in May 2021. The WTOP Live Local website serves as a portal where members of the community can donate directly to charities supported by WTOP during the Week of Giving or anytime throughout the year.

In other charitable station events, Cumulus Media country “K-Bull 93” KUBL Salt Lake City more than doubled the total of its 2020 food drive, with listeners donating enough money and non-perishable food items to the Utah Food Bank for 118,000 meals. 

“This year’s jaw-dropping total was a 162% increase from last year and more than what was raised in 2019 and 2020 combined,” PD Travis Moon said.

Morning hosts Lexi Papadopoulos and Jared Banks spent 12 hours a day for five days motivating listeners to give. “Lexi and Banks’ passion for this cause was certainly felt by listeners,” Moon continued.

Meanwhile, Vanguard Media classic hip-hop “The Hustle 101.3” KRKE Albuquerque afternoon host LB Johnson handed out 100 turkeys on Wednesday, Nov. 24. It’s a personal mission for Johnson, who started the now-annual tradition began when he purchased 10 turkeys himself, telling KOB-TV, “Again, this is coming out of my pocket and every year I've just tried to grow that number."

Johnson credits his charitable volunteerism to his mother, who he lost around Thanksgiving in 2007. 

"Anytime I got in trouble, I had to go volunteer at shelters and help the homeless so I always want to give back," Johnson explained. His mother was admitted to the hospital on Thanksgiving night 2007 due to an autoimmune disease. “Unfortunately, it probably got the best of her and she later passed away Nov. 30,” he said. “My mom always raised us to give back."

Also on Wednesday, “Matty’s Turkey Toss” returned to iHeartMedia CHR “Kiss 108” WXKS Boston.  After skipping 2020, the tradition returned to the airwaves during a live “Matty In The Morning Show” broadcast which could also be watched live on the station’s Facebook page and website. Twelve area schools took the field, but Everett High School defended their 2019 title and won the 2021 Turkey Toss. The event raised $2,600 for the Greater Boston Food Bank.

Meet America’s Fastest Growing, Wealthiest Population Segment.

Demographic pop quiz: What’s the fastest growing population segment in the U.S.? Answer: 70+. Now 40 million strong, this generation that came of age in the post-World World II era of economic expansion is projected to reach 55 million by 2031—growing by 1.5 million annually.

In addition to their sheer size, consumers aged 70+ boast the highest net worth of all age groups, clocking in at just under half a million dollars, per MRI-Simmons.

“The 70+ audience has a significant impact in the marketplace,” Mark Bradbury, Senior Director, Insights & Integrated Marketing, AARP Media Solutions, writes in an op-ed piece for AdAge. They spend $1.1 trillion annually on consumer goods and services and are behind one-fourth of all expenditures made by 50+ consumers on apparel, entertainment, household furnishings, personal care, food at home, AV equipment, pharmaceuticals, health insurance and medical supplies.

In addition to having the highest net worth and spending more, the 70+ crowd consumes media content across channels. “This generation has welcomed every new media platform since radio, driving the cultural relevance of broadcast TV and the rise of cable networks,” says Bradbury. Raised on radio and print, this demo more recently accelerated their use of the internet, social media and smartphones due to the pandemic. “Today, 70+ adults are highly engaged in media, with 98% using magazines and/or the internet, and 78% using both, making them an essential audience for integrated advertising campaigns,” notes Bradbury.

The main point of the piece is that marketers shouldn’t overlook 70+ consumers, a message that no doubt resonates for those radio stations with a high concentration of this segment in their audience composition. “Their liberated lifestyle makes 70+ consumers game-changers for a wide variety of brands and, considering their growing size, their spending influence is primed to expand,” Bradbury writes. “Brands can build strong relationships by demonstrating how they can help this important consumer segment pursue its passions and purpose.”

Radio Continues to Nail It for Home Improvement Projects.

Despite the chaos of the pandemic, home improvement DIY projects remain a strong consumer vertical. The Farnsworth Group and the Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI) reported in its DIY Home Improvement Monthly Tracker for November 2021 that 32.2% of surveyed consumers said they “will definitely start some DIY project” during the next few weeks, which is consistent with August, September and October’s results.

Radio dovetails almost perfectly with the Millennials and Gen Xers who are the prime consumers planning any home improvement project during the next 12 months, according to the data from five representative 2021 consumer/market surveys conducted by The Media Audit.

In each of these markets, almost 50% of all adults are planning those projects: Orlando 49.6%, Columbus 48.7%, Chicago 48.1%, Phoenix 46.5% and Monterey-Salinas, CA 46.2%. Collectively, Millennials and Gen Xers account for 53.9% to 61.9% of all adults planning any home improvement project.

A comparison of heavy exposure to radio (180+ minutes during an average day) by generation shows Millennials and Gen Xers with the largest indices, with positive indices for Gen Zers in some markets. The table below clearly shows the efficiency of radio as the indices for the older generations are all less than the market average.

“With many people working from home since the beginning of the pandemic, a new niche of home improvement consumer has emerged,” said Nick Miller, Vice President, The Media Audit. “Not only do they want to upgrade the room or area where they are working, but also they are more likely to notice needed or desired projects.”

The second table shows the indices of heavy exposure to radio daily of adults 18+ by their work-at-home status, including those who are employed full-time, but don’t work at home for comparison purposes. Almost all exceed the market average and some substantially.

Home-improvement retailers and contractors have an opportunity to appeal to the large work-at-home audience with special offers or a discounted home office product with a qualifying purchase.

Cox Fires Back At SBS Efforts To Force Sale Of Orlando’s WPYO.

Cox Media Group is defending its petition to extend by one year the looming deadline it has to sell alternative “97X” WSUN Tampa and CHR “Power 95.3” WPYO Orlando. It tells the Federal Communications Commission that efforts by Spanish Broadcasting System to hold Cox to the Dec. 17 deadline, which was set two years ago, are part of a strategy to force Cox to accept its low-ball offer to buy WPYO.

“SBS believes it can obtain an artificially below-market price if it can force a sale now under an impending regulatory deadline,” said Cox in a filing with the FCC on Tuesday.

As Inside Radio first reported last week, SBS has made three separate offers to Cox since August to buy WPYO. But each was rejected, and Cox’s counteroffer was several million dollars above the highest appraised value of $6 million that SBS said it received for WPYO. That led SBS to tell the FCC that it believed Cox “had no serious intention” of selling the stations before the FCC-mandated Dec. 17, 2021 deadline.

But Cox said the economic impacts of the pandemic have been far reaching, with a significant disruption that led to a “basically non-existent” radio deal market with several potential bidders remaining on the sidelines. It notes that even SBS did not approach with a bid for WYPO until three months before the divestiture deadline was already in sight. Cox said if it’s forced to quickly find a buyer, it would amount to the FCC requiring it to accept an artificially low price.

“Even today, as the radio revenues slowly claw their way back to pre-pandemic levels, the market is fragile,” said Cox in the filing. “Nonetheless, Cox is committed to actively marketing the stations in the coming weeks.”

As for the SBS bids, Cox said they were based on a single appraisal and the firm that came up with the estimate did not have access to the financial records of WPYO. “Thanks to an emerging, if still slow, recovery in radio revenues and recent publicity, Cox has recently received numerous inquiries about the stations,” it added. But if the deadline is held fast, Cox said it would be akin to the FCC picking SBS as the winner despite a clear FCC policy of not allowing programming preferences to dictate who can buy a broadcast station.

Political Pressure, Not Precedent

In support of its position that next month’s deadline should not be pushed back, SBS filed with the Commission more than 200 letters of support. But Cox accuses SBS of trying to sway the FCC with “the blunt instrument of political pressure” rather than facts and legal precedent. It also said many of the comments come from individuals and groups with direct ties to SBS while others are from groups and people from outside the Orlando area.

“Many of these comments do not even mention the Cox request, the stations, or even the matter at issue; rather, they simply express some generally favorable impression of SBS,” said Cox. It also calls the campaign “unnecessary” because Cox is “perfectly willing to sell WPYO to SBS, but only if SBS is the winning bidder in a properly conducted sale process that leads to a market driven determination of fair value.” Cox has said that it hopes to find buyers for the two stations early next year. And despite their differences, Cox said the two companies’ positions are “not far apart,” noting SBS itself said it would support a “more limited extension” that would allow it to complete negotiations and finalize an agreement to buy WPYO.

NIA Broadcasting President Neal Ardman says his company has been trying to negotiate with Cox for the Tampa station. “We are happy to pay a legitimate market value but Cox won’t return calls,” Ardman told Inside Radio. “We are planning to file an objection with the FCC also.” 

WSUN and WPYO have been in the Elliot Evers-run trust since 2019 after Cox Media Group was swallowed by private equity funds managed by affiliates of Apollo Global Management as part of a pair of deals totaling $3.6 million, giving the firm 56 radio stations across 11 markets. As part of its approval of the deals, the FCC gave Evers two years to sell the FMs.

Privately-held Cox offered a glimpse of how the two stations have been battered by the pandemic. It told the FCC this month that WPYO’s revenue in 2021 expected to come in at 38% less than what it had in 2019. For WSUN, the 2021 revenue total is pacing to be off more than 65% from 2019.

Using Bankruptcy Maneuver, Ed Stolz Tells Court He Should Be Back In Control Of His FMs.

A month after Ed Stolz sought chapter 11 protection to block the sale of his three FMs, the Royce International Broadcasting founder is asking a federal bankruptcy court in Nevada to force receiver Larry Patrick to turn control of the stations back over to him. Citing federal law, Stolz says any custodian with knowledge of the case cannot take any action – including selling the stations – and must transfer the property back to the debtholder’s control.

“The property of the debtor in a receiver’s possession is considered property of the state under [federal law] and is to be turned over by any custodian,” Stolz argues in a motion filed in Reno. “A receiver who continues to exercise post-petition control over property of the estate without the bankruptcy court’s authority does so unlawfully,” the filing added.

Judge August Landis has not yet ruled on the request and Patrick’s attorney has made it clear they have no immediate plans to turn the stations back over to Stolz. Attorney Rory Miller told Stolz’s legal team that doing so would violate their obligation to act in the best fiduciary responsibilities.

“We will not do so absent a direct court order,” Miller said in an email to Stolz’s attorneys. In a separate email, Miller purportedly said that Stolz is “singularly unfit to have anything to do with the properties, whether within or without the bankruptcy protection process.” He goes on to say that there is “no clearer example” of where the interests of the creditors would be best served by keeping Patrick in place as the custodian of the stations. The emails were shared with the Federal Communications Commission.

The near-term impact may be at the FCC, where Stolz has alerted the agency of his bankruptcy filing and questions about whether Patrick has the legal authority to go forward with the pending $6 million acquisition by VCY America of the former CHRs “92.7 The Revolution” KREV San Francisco, “104.3 Now” KFRH Las Vegas, and “Hot Hits 97.7” KRCK-FM Palm Springs, CA.

Stolz’s legal team tells the FCC that Patrick “no longer has the authority to sell the radio stations” and that he must turn the keys back over to their owner. “In defiance of federal law, Patrick has refused to turn over the radio station assets or even to initiate the process of seeking FCC consent to the return of the station licenses to the bankruptcy estates,” they added.

The FCC is likely to leave the decision on whether Patrick can remain the receiver to the federal courts. But any approval of VCY America’s nearly year-old deal to buy the FMs is not expected until there is a resolution. While it waits, VCY America has already put its religious format on the FMs under a local marketing agreement.

Stolz has been fighting the potential sale of his stations for months and his maneuver in bankruptcy court came on the heels of an update provided by Patrick to Judge Jesus Bernal who has been overseeing the case that stemmed out of a copyright infringement suit brought by several music companies against the Stolz-owned stations. Stolz has paid the $1.3 million that was due to the copyright holders whose case trigger the two-year battle. But Patrick told the court in October that since Bernal ordered Stolz on Aug. 26 to pay $642,190 in fees and costs to cover the receivership and $340,040 to the Bellaire Towers Homeowners Association, nothing had been paid.

Alliance for Women in Media Launches Virtual Mentoring Event.

A new virtual mentoring program from the Alliance for Women in Media will connect young and new professionals with senior level executives in television, radio and digital media. AWM Connects, presented by the Ford Motor Company Fund and Ziploc Accessory Bags, is set for Dec. 15 from noon-1pm ET. In addition to providing an opportunity for mentees and mentors to interact, organizers say the online event will also connect mentees with mentors for a one-on-one conversation following the conclusion of the session.

“The Alliance for Women in Media has been connecting, educating and recognizing women in all forms of media for 70 years and this is the next opportunity to fulfill our important mission,” AWM President Becky Brooks said in the announcement. “We strongly encourage up and coming women in radio, television and digital media to apply for an opportunity to experience this unique mentoring program and stay engaged with AWM as we move into the next 70 years.”

Mentors will be members of the AWM and AWM Foundation Board of Directors as well as high-level executives specifically selected to match up with the mentees that apply for the program.

Mentees interested in participating in the inaugural program should apply by Dec. 1.

Thanks to support from presenting sponsors, Ford Motor Company and Ziploc Accessory Bags, AWM is hosting the event at no cost for all selected applicants.

AWM is continuing its 70th anniversary celebrations and invites individuals to share a story of who inspires them on the digital tapestry and by donating to the AWM Foundation on Giving Tuesday to continue adding more programming and scholarships.

Established in 1951 as American Women in Radio & Television (AWRT), AWM is the longest-established professional association dedicated to advancing women in media and entertainment.

Inflation Spikes Will Raise Annual Rate Adjustments For Some Music Licensing Deals.

Inflation is showing up in all sorts of ways. The Copyright Royalty Board has announced a cost of living adjustment to the royalty rate that noncommercial radio stations at many colleges, universities, and other educational institutions will need to pay for their use of music from the SESAC repertory in the coming year. The adjustment is pegged to the government’s Consumer Price Index which has skyrocketed with inflation this year. The result is CRB says its annual cost adjustment clocks in with a 6.2% increase. That compares to a 1.2% increase implemented a year ago when inflation was less of a factor.

But these noncommercial operators may not feel the squeeze as one might imagine. That is because under the CRB agreement, colleges and universities currently only pay an annual SESAC rate of $164 per station. The 6.2% increase will mean the annual rate will increase by ten dollars. In other words each station will need to pay $174 for using the SESAC catalog throughout 2022.

The rate is only applicable to stations that are tied to a college or educational institution that is not affiliated with National Public Radio.

But the CRB decision also foretells what may be coming to commercial radio. The CRB announced its long-awaited decision in the so-called Web V proceeding in June, which set the rates most commercial stations will pay. It hiked what radio has paid under the previous guidelines by 17% from the current $0.18 for every 100 songs streamed on non-subscription, advertising-supported webcasts to $0.21. But a key part of the order was that rate was for only the first year – 2021 – and it called for the per play rate to be “adjusted annually upward or downward to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index over the preceding year.” That would mean the commercial radio rate would likely also be increased by 6.2% in the coming year.

It is still not a certainty that the CRB ruling will hold. Now that the final order has been published in the Federal Register, the National Association of Broadcasters and SoundExchange both have until Nov. 27 to decide whether to challenge the CRB decision in federal court. If the CRB’s decision does stick, the new rates will be retroactive to Jan. 1 and extend through the end of 2025 with built-in cost of living adjustments each year.

Deloitte: Holiday Weekend Sales To Increase 12%.

Supply-chain problems and inflation won’t take the wind out of the sails when it comes to Thanksgiving weekend sales. That’s according to Deloitte’s 2021 Pre-Thanksgiving Pulse Survey, which forecast that consumers will spend an average of $448 during the Thanksgiving period (Thursday through Monday, Nov. 29), up 12% from last year. Half (51%) of consumers’ holiday budgets will be spent during the period.

In other findings, Black Friday is regaining lost ground, with 56% of consumers planning to shop in-store, up from 41% in 2020. Black Friday shoppers are expected to spend $135 on average in-store, up from $124 in 2020. The share of online sales for the day is holding steady at 18%.

The report examined how supply-chain challenges and inflation are affecting holiday shopping. Sixty-three percent of shoppers have already experienced stockouts, 54% are reporting higher prices, and 37% say there are fewer discounts year-over-year.

In addition, 73% of consumers started holiday shopping before the end of October (vs. 66% last year and 61% in 2019) to avoid stockouts (70% vs. 55% last year).

“Stockouts and inflation have caused consumers to start buying earlier to ensure they can get the best price for what they want, while it’s available,” said Rod Sides, vice chair, Deloitte. “Retailers should be prepared to welcome shoppers throughout the holiday weekend as they prioritize items they can purchase and take home that day. In situations where supply chain and inventory are a challenge this season, retailers will need to have a strong substitution strategy in place to keep shoppers in the store or online.”

Deloitte’s 2021 Pre-Thanksgiving Pulse Survey examines what retailers can expect between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday.

In September, Deloitte forecast that total holiday retail sales are likely to increase 7% to 9% in 2021. E-commerce sales are projected to grow 11% to 15%.

Other findings:

  • The top reasons to shop in-store on Black Friday are to take advantage of the best deals (70%) and to experience the excitement of the day (35%). In addition, consumers expect to get an early start, with 42% planning to shop between midnight and 6 AM.
  • More than one-third (35%) of holiday shoppers plan to increase their holiday spending vs. just two months ago; 41% of those planning to spend more will do so as a result of higher prices this year.
  • Of the shoppers who plan to increase their holiday spending vs. two months ago, 55% will spend more on experiences and entertainment, up from 49% last year.

What Will Impact Radio In Washington This Year

By Frank Saxe

    The clock is ticking on the 115th Congress and if its first half accomplishments are any indication, legislation that would impact radio may struggle to gain traction in the coming months. No issue looms larger for radio than a performance royalty and music copyright reform. But unlike in years past, today the radio and record industries are talking.

      There’s more than just a potential performance royalty keeping radio’s lobbyists busy. Washington insiders say that although conventional wisdom says not much gets done in an election year, the best chance of a legislative action impacting radio is passage of a bill that would allow stations to tap into the fund paying for the TV spectrum repack.

        The elevation of Ajit Pai to chairman of the Federal Communications Commission a year ago has delivered a number of regulatory changes that have long been sought by broadcasters as he’s followed through with his pledge to “take a weed whacker” to FCC regulations. Washington insiders think it’s a course Pai will continue down in 2018.


        Sarah Quinn is named Marketing Director for iHeartMedia Greensboro and midday host at CHR “Hits 100.3” WMKS. Quinn joins the station from Alpha Media Canton, OH, where she most recently served as on-air talent for hot AC “Mix 94.1” WHBC as well as the Marketing and Promotions Director.

        Tiffany Workman exits Townsquare Media CHR WPST Trenton, NJ (94.5), where she co-hosts mornings and host middays. Workman has been with the station since joining as an intern in 2008.

        • Updated

        Veteran Detroit radio personality John O’Leary has died at the age of 68. According to numerous reports, O’Leary was stabbed to death by a roommate last weekend. O’Leary worked at Detroit stations including WWWW, WABX, WLLZ and WCSX.

        Jennifer Horn has signed a contract extension that will keep her on Salem Media's Group L.A.'s radio stations through 2024. The agreement is struck after the group recently named Grant Stinchfield as Jennifer’s Co-Host. ‘The Morning Answer with Jennifer Horn and Grant Stinchfield’ is heard weekdays 6am-9am PT on AM 870 the Answer (KRLA) and AM 590 the Answer (KTIE).

        The Inside Story On Nielsen’s New Podcast Listener Buying Service.

        Nielsen last month unveiled its Podcast Listener Buying Power Service, a qualitative measurement service that shows insights into podcast listeners’ buying habits. Nielsen says the new service will leverage Nielsen Scarborough’s nearly 30,000-person database to connect specific types of listeners with particular advertisers and specific program-level insights. It also matches podcast listeners with their buying behavior.

        Six months after the project was hatched inside Nielsen, five podcast companies that have signed on as charter clients—iHeartMedia, Cadence13, Stitcher, Westwood One and cabana—are just weeks away from getting their hands on the first data. Podcast News Daily caught up with Bruce Supovitz, Nielsen’s Senior VP of National Audio Services, to get an inside look at the Podcast Listener Buying Power Service and what may be next for Nielsen in the podcast business. An edited transcript follows.

        A good place to start is probably a description of how the Podcast Listener Buying Power Service works?

        We start with Scarborough USA, the very well-known and accepted qualitative database that’s been used to plan and buy various media for years. People have used it to buy and sell radio, television, cable, newspapers, internet, and sports. The challenge was there wasn’t a lot about podcasting in there. So from that large database we do ask a question about whether someone was a podcast listener in the past 30 days. So we use that pool of people, which is rather robust, to re-contact and complete an online survey that we have developed that focuses strictly on podcast listening habits and preferences.

        The Scarborough sample is quite large.

        Scarborough USA is a 200,000-person sample and we know from that there is a pool of people, probably 15-20%, that we know have said they listened to at least one podcast in the last 30 days. So that’s our starting pool and from that we can re-contact those people who have already filled out a rather in depth booklet that talks about whether they are planning to buy a car, change insurance, do home improvement. And even deeper than that, it asks about some specific brands and categories, for instance, which big box home improvement store they shop in or which insurance company they use. So it’s not just intent to purchase, which is very valuable, it does drill down to brand-specific names. Planners and buyers have been using this for radio, television and cable for a long time but there was never anything specific tying back to podcasts. So that’s what this service is going to do.

        What sort of questions will you ask people who listen to podcasts?

        We created a questionnaire of about a dozen questions of things that you would normally think about, such as do you listen to podcasts? How often do you listen? How much time do you listen? How many podcasts do you listen to in an average week? What’s the typical length of a podcast? What devices do you listen to podcasts on? How did you hear about or discover podcasts? What kind of apps do you use to listen? We ask a question in there as a nod to radio stations, asking if they listen to a podcast from a local radio station. We even ask a question if they’ve purchased something after they’ve listened to an ad in a podcast. We ask a lot of questions that paint a very good picture about the type of person, whether they’re a light, medium or heavy user of podcasting. And then we top it off using the 18 Apple Podcast categories and ask them to identify their favorite formats and genres.

        So what does that get you?

        If a planner is given instructions to make a buy for a large brand, the brand has told them what the demographic target is and other qualitative criteria. And then they’re presented with 700,000 podcasts to choose from. Now they can go into this and say they want to reach Women 18-49 who listen to five or more podcasts a month, use the following apps and are fans of true crime and then tie that exactly back to a brand and a competitor’s brand to see what the indexes are and the coverage composition. From a pre-buy attribution point of view, that’s really very powerful stuff.

        Will you get to program-level data?

        We are going to allow subscribers to have the ability to submit a limited number of program titles to us for inclusion in the survey. That way, when the data comes out, they will see their own programs—they won’t see the other program titles—and walk in to the buyer and show their downloads and a direct profile of their program and the people who say they listen to the show and the places they shop. That’s very powerful.

        The Podcast Listener Buying Power Service is a twice a year product, correct?

        The first release will be coming out later this month for the very first time. It’s going to be available to clients through our Prime Lingo, a very user-friendly web-based piece of software. We will probably be targeting our next release in December and then in 2020 we’ll look to have a two times-a-year release schedule.

        How did this service come together?

        We’ve been in this space for a couple of years talking to podcasters about what they need and solutions. We are doing a very large business with media analytics for our podcast clients, which are the brand lift and ad effectiveness studies. We’re engaged with a large number of podcast sellers, where we do these studies focused on an advertiser and what their ad recall, resonance and reaction was from listeners to that spot on the podcast. Those are very campaign-focused. What we like about that is it helps people on both sides. The agencies and the advertiser get to see how their campaign resonated. The podcaster can use it to generate revenue and ad sales. We see the Podcast Listener Buying Power Service as the next step. What else can we do to help podcasters drive sales, specifically brand dollars? We heard from podcasters and agencies that they need analytics about podcast listeners. And here we are sitting with this fantastic database that’s been used for years and is widely accepted. So we linked that to podcasting.

        How will this compare to some of the other research that we see on podcasting?

        Anyone can do a questionnaire or a study on podcast listening, but how many can link that data back to the same people who said that they bought or planned to buy the following products. That’s what we feel is the Nielsen advantage of having a big dataset and why some very large podcasters have signed-up for this service before the first data even came out.

        You’re launching with some big names. Have you heard from any other podcasters considering it?

        We are definitely going to add clients. Some were talking a wait-and-see and weren’t as familiar with Scarborough as others that have taken comfort in the big companies supporting this. But we’ve been getting inbound inquiries from as far away as the U.K. and Australia from podcasters who want us to offer the service in their countries. As well as podcast divisions within larger media companies that are just beginning to explore podcasting and, when they saw this announcement, they’ve been reaching out to Nielsen to find out more.

        What do you make of that?

        I think it’s the natural evolution that people want data and they want it tied to the brands and they want attribution. This once again gets them closer to that. If you’re an average CMO or an ad agency and you’ve been presented with the challenge to purchase “new ears” and podcasting is red-hot. So how do they begin? It’s a pretty big universe out there. This helps them.

        So this is part of the bigger effort to bring more ad dollars to podcasting?

        Yes, and surround podcasting with tried-and-true data analytics that have been acceptable and advertisers know that works.

        What feedback have you had from the ad community?

        They’re excited. There’s a lot of interest and they say there’s a ton of podcasts out there and they need help to narrow that down to the type of listener and that this is going to be a big help for them.

        Can you give us a sense of how big a focus podcasting is within Nielsen?

        In the Nielsen Audio division, it’s one of the fastest-growing segments for us in terms of year-over-year work with clients. It’s also a natural extension of working with our audio clients because not only are podcasters big in this space, but radio groups have taken positions in podcasting companies, have created podcast divisions, and it’s important to them to reach as many ears in as many distribution points as possible. So it’s a strategically important thing for Nielsen Audio and the work we’re doing is growing rapidly.

        So is this new service a step toward eventually having Nielsen podcast ratings?

        The two are distinct and definitely different. We have a technology that could measure podcasting and we tested it years ago. That approach requires that each mobile app put our code on it and then you collect the consumption through that code. In order for that to be successful, you need all the apps to participate to have a good collection of data. And if you don’t have all the apps, and specifically if you don’t have some of the major podcast apps, then you have an incomplete picture. You don’t get the whole environment and I think people want to get everything they can, that’s what they’re used to in the digital world. The habits and behaviors of people using two different apps aren’t the same so we can’t just model this out. So we decided that while the industry was deciding amongst itself what measurement means, instead we’ve turned our focus and resources to helping people generate dollars from advertising campaigns using our insights. But just because we’re not doing it today doesn’t mean we’re not going to do it tomorrow.

        Editor’s Note: Bruce Supovitz will be among the panelists on the Evolution of Podcast Advertising panel at the Podcast Movement conference in Orlando today (Aug. 1) at 9am.