Inside Radio News

Talk Of ‘Tipping Points’ For Podcasting At NAB Show New York.

Podcast revenues hit $479 million last year and are forecast to surpass $1 billion by 2021. While the medium is on a steady growth curve, a pair of inflection points potentially looming on the horizon could dramatically accelerate its growth. “We are a medium still sitting at a couple of tipping points that can revise those projections and suddenly you’re a 2-3-5 billion dollar industry before you know it,” Conal Byrne, President of the iHeartPodcast Network said Thursday at NAB Show New York.

Byrne said one major growth catalyst would be if Facebook, one of the biggest content distribution platforms in the world, makes it possible for users to post and share audio content.  “Once Facebook creates an audio product and makes that part of your news feed, you could really have a multiple on top of the number of people that consume podcast content,” Byrne said during the session “Cultivating and Sustaining Successful Podcast Brands.” Another potential inflection point would be Android embracing the medium. About 60% of podcasts are consumed on Apple devices, yet half the country uses an Android-powered device, which requires users to jump through more hoops to listen. 

The appearance of Byrne and other movers and shakers capped off a momentous week for podcasting in New York. A sold out Podcast Upfront put on by the Interactive Advertising Bureau attracted many of the industry’s biggest players. And for the first time, the NAB Show New York devoted a track of sessions to the platform. The HeartPodcast Network used the week to announce a string of major content deals, including an expanded partnership with Will Ferrell, and an alliance with Shondaland, the production house from acclaimed TV producer and writer Shonda Rhimes.

After years of living on the media fringe, podcasting is now attracting A-list actors, Hollywood movie studios and TV production houses, drawn by its ability to quickly and inexpensively develop new content and test it on large audiences. “It’s cheap and fast to make a podcast, you have total creative freedom and you can put your ideas in front of audiences at scale,” Byrne said. After launching new concepts in podcast form, content creators can then expand their ideas into derivative works such as TV shows, films, live tours, books and merchandising. “That is why you’re seeing Hollywood turn its sights toward podcast as the new goldmine of intellectual property,” Byrne explained.

Last week, iHeart cut a deal with filmmaker Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions to produce a series of fictional podcasts for potential future film and television development. Blum is known for weaving social commentary into horror films such as “Get Out,” and that sensibility will be part of the podcasts he creates for iHeart, said Holly Frey, host of “Stuff You Missed in History Class,” which came to iHeart as part of its October 2018 acquisition of Stuff Media. “Because of the intimacy of podcasting, it gives you that sense of what can I do, how can I make a positive impact and shift things,” Frey said. “That's one of the beautiful things about this medium. It has that extra impetus to really move us all forward to do better and to think more carefully about the way we go about our world.”  

Frey and Byrne first worked together at Stuff Media, where “Stuff You Missed in History Class” became one of its biggest shows. It has since expanded into books, TV and live events. Frey regularly takes her show on the road, recording it in front of a live audience at events that frequently sell out.

As a relatively new medium, podcasting is also providing an outlet for “marginalized voices,” said Media Village Head of Content Strategy E.B. Moss, who moderated the session. Said Frey, “You have all the technology you need in your pocket to start a podcast. Everyone has that opportunity, to bring their voice to the forefront and get attention they wouldn’t get in other mediums.”

As the NAB and the IAB shone a bright light on the shows, companies and hosts helping move the medium into the mainstream, Byrne said the best is still yet to come. “Audio has come roaring back into all of our lives,” he said, thanks in part to voice-activated digital assistants and smart speakers. Google is making audio a bigger component of search, not just through its Hey Google voice assistant, but also with plans to weave audio into the assets it delivers from a user’s search activity. “Search drives our lives every day,” Byrne said. “That would be a sea change in how audio yet again dominates our lifestyles even more than it does today.”

Inside Radio News

Cumulus Spinoff Trust Sells A Pair Of ‘Nash’ Branded FMs.

Mainstay Station Trust has found buyers for two of the stations that have been held in a spinoff trust by Cumulus Media since March 2018. Educational Media Foundation is purchasing country “Nash FM” WPCK (104.9) in the Green Bay, WI market for $512,000. And Pretoria Fields Collective Media is picking up country “Nash Icon” WNUQ (102.1) in the Albany, GA market for  $90,000.

When it filed for chapter 11 restructuring in November 2017, Cumulus had no choice but to let go of four stations. Cumulus announced in March 2018 that it intended to transfer the FMs to the newly created Mainstay Station Trust since it had grandfathered clusters that were oversized. MVP Capital Managing Director Elliot Evers, who has been overseeing the trust, was given two years to find buyers for the stations. He has also been required to provide the FCC with “detailed explanations” of his efforts to sell the FMs in confidential reports every six months.

WPCK, licensed to Denmark, WI, is a 10,000-watt Class C.  It will give EMF its first station in the Green Bay market. WNUQ, licensed to Sylvester, GA, is a 6,000-watt Class A. Its future owner is Pretoria Fields Collective Media, a sister company to Albany, GA-based Pretoria Fields Collective, a family-owned farm brewery.

Urban One Honors Awards To Celebrate Radio One History And Founder Cathy Hughes.

The second annual Urban One Honors Awards show is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 5 at MGM National Harbor, just outside of Washington. The awards show will herald the accomplishments of individuals in entertainment, media, music, fashion, sports, education and the community. The event will also pay tribute to the 40-year history of Radio One and founder Cathy Hughes. 

In 2016, Radio One made a $40 million investment in MGM National Harbor.

“I always say that Radio One is my second baby next to my son and business partner, [CEO] Alfred Liggins,” Hughes said in a release. “I am immensely grateful for the men and women who have worked to help make Radio One a success. It started as a single radio station and is now a media family with two cable television networks and various digital media platforms. I look forward to celebrating this milestone and recognizing others who are doing phenomenal work in their industries."

The awards show is presented by Radio One Washington radio stations urban AC “Majic 102.3” WMMJ; urban contemporary “93.9 Kiss FM” WKYS; urban gospel “Praise 104.1” WPRS-FM; “NewsTalk 1450” WOL; urban gospel “Spirit 1340” WYCB; and sports “The Team 980” WTEM. TV One serves as co-presenter and will air the awards show on Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 20, 2020.

“Our team at Radio One DC is profoundly humbled to be a part of this historic presentation of Urban One Honors,” Radio One Senior VP Jeff Wilson added. “It's not only a celebration of 40 years of broadcast history but also a tribute to some of the most luminary figures in our American culture.”

Urban One says the program will feature a star-studded line-up of presenters and honorees as well as special musical performances. It will serve as an annual commemoration of the achievements of African Americans and broadcast their contributions to our culture and global society.

“African Americans have had a tremendous impact on society and culture, a fact that we're excited to celebrate with the telecast of the annual Urban One Honors on TV One,” General Manager Michelle Rice said. “As we honor the 40th-anniversary milestone of Radio One, Ms. Hughes' outstanding contributions as a media pioneer, and the impact of the honorees, we're proud to continue the network's mission to represent the richness of the black experience.” Expands Distribution Footprint With New Strategic Partnerships.

Entercom is expanding its strategic partnerships for as Autonomic Controls, DTS Play-Fi and the BluOS hi-res wireless multi-room systems are each integrated into the streaming audio platform and its on-demand and live digital audio content.  “We are committed to our position as a premiere destination for live and on-demand audio news, entertainment, music and sports content in the U.S.,” David Rosenbloom, Vice President, Corporate Business Development at Entercom said in a release. “The partnerships with Autonomic Controls, DTS Play-Fi and BluOS mark yet another expansion to the distribution footprint for, ensuring that we are delivering the audio content our listeners want wherever and however they want it.”

As part of the partnership, Autonomic Controls and BluOS will integrate and its audio content throughout the entire home via Autonomic’s Tune Bridge application and any speakers or amplifiers from NAD Electronics, Bluesound and DALI Loudspeakers that contain the BluOS platform. DTS Play-Fi users will be able to enjoy on more than 200 products across 30 brands in the DTS Play-Fi ecosystem, including Onkyo, Pioneer, Klipsch, and Dish TV, among others.

The companies join a roster of home and auto-connected devices that carry, including Amazon Echo, Amazon FireTV, Sonos, Roku, Google Home, Google Chromecast, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

New Podcast Listeners: Gen Z, Female And Diverse.

As the podcast space continues to expand, the new listeners it is attracting are younger, more diverse, and more likely to be female. More than three in 10 new podcast listeners (31%) are 13-24 compared to 18% for people who have been consuming podcasts for one year or more. Nearly two thirds (65%) are female, versus 49% for 1 year+ podcast audiences. And 30% are non-white, and nearly double that (17%) among those who have been tuning in for at least a year.

This is according to new data presented Thursday by Stitcher at NAB Show New York. The podcast company, part of E.W. Scripps, surveyed 11,826 respondents from its database who have been listening to podcasts for less than a year and 66,097 who have been listening for one year or more. The survey was conducted January-August 2019. 

“If you look back even just a few years ago, podcasting was basically a white guy in his 30s kind of a platform. That’s no longer the case,” Sarah van Mosel, Chief Revenue Officer of Stitcher said during the session “Audio Insights for your Podcast Strategy.”  “We’re seeing a real diversification of the space and that means it’s starting to look a lot more like what mainstream America looks like.”

The influx of young, female and diverse audiences has Stitcher working on new shows to appeal to this growing audience faction. Stitcher also uses data from its surveys to help guide partners looking to expand their portfolio of shows. Working with digital media publisher Vox Media, the two companies collaborated on a daily news podcast, “Today Explained,” taking an approach that differentiated it from the leader in the space, The New York Times-produced “The Daily.”   “It has a very different feel than ‘The Daily,’” Nishat Kurwa Executive Producer of Audio for Vox Media Studios said. “The host is really driven by delving into a diversity of stories representing the diversity of American society. There’s a lot of brevity and lightness even as they’re addressing serious topics.”

Data isn’t only being used to help steer new shows. It’s also become a critical ingredient in how podcasts are monetized. While Stitcher, which entered the podcast space six years ago, has long been using “baked in” host-read ads, it is now shifting to ads dynamically inserted into shows, using ad targeting technology from parent company Scripps’ acquisition of Triton Digital. “We’re pivoting away from show-by-show selling,” van Mosel said, to audience-based selling, where it can deliver the advertiser’s target across as many as 20 shows. Even with an ad unit menu that includes host-read, announcer-read and fully produced ads, van Mosel stressed the importance of using ads that are “appropriate for the show.” And there is still a learning curve.  “We’re just at the beginning of knowing everything that our predecessors f*cked up,” van Mosel offered. Podcast audiences are known for their deep engagement with their favorite shows and hosts. So when they hear an ad that doesn’t fit the show, “you’ll hear from them,” Kurwa said.

And with podcast listeners having built an “ad bubble” around them – many use ad blockers and avoid ads in broadcast media – van Mosel said there’s “a lot of pressure” on podcasters to get the ads right. Citing surveys it conducts with listeners who tune into podcasts on its platform, she said 90% of the time they take an action after hearing an ad on a podcast.  

Country Radio Veteran Bob Kingsley Dies At Age 80.

Country radio veteran Bob Kingsley, host of “Bob Kingsley’s Country Top 40” has passed away at the age of 80. Kingsley’s death comes a week after the longtime countdown host revealed that he was suffering from bladder cancer and was stepping away from his Westwood One-distributed weekend program to receive treatment.

When making the announcement about his diagnosis earlier this month, Kingsley posted to his website: “I have always prided myself in delivering the truth to you—my friends in the country music industry, my fellow radio broadcasters, and all of the loyal listeners around the world—and today, well, today the truth does not come in the form of a story behind the song, or anything else, but in the reality of what is going on with yours truly,” Kingsley wrote. “While there is no doubt that the immediate road ahead will push me and challenge my resolve, I want you to know I am blessed to be working with the very best in the medical profession, and they have a plan to deal with this awful disease.”

Kingsley was inducted into the Country Radio Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1998 and the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2016. He was at his home in Weatherly, TX when he died.

A celebration of the life of Bob Kingsley will be held in Nashville on Nov. 14 at the CMA Theater in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. In lieu of flowers, the Kingsley family asks that donations be made in Bob Kingsley’s name to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and the Grand Ole Opry Trust Fund.

Beasley Names Todd Handy To Newly Created Chief Digital Officer Role.

Todd Handy joins Beasley Media Group as Chief Digital Officer, effective Nov. 1. He will report directly to CEO Caroline Beasley in this newly created role.

“Todd’s strategic thinking and clear understanding of our long-term goals, combined with his extensive digital media advertising experience and passion for innovation, made him the perfect choice to help us achieve success well into the future,” Beasley said in a release.

Handy has worked in the digital media space for more than a decade, having spent six years in local media, responsible for sales, advertising strategy and products, ad operations and analytics, programmatic sales and native advertising. He has also led publisher development, implementation and customer success for an ad tech video startup, and worked with digital pureplays in display, audio, video, mobile, performance marketing and retargeting and affiliate sales.

Handy most recently held executive positions with several companies, including serving as Vice President of Digital Media & Ad Tech at MarketStar, VP- Publisher Development at Tout and VP- Advertising Strategy & Products at Deseret Digital Media.

“I'm grateful for the opportunity to join Beasley Media Group in this role,” Handy added. “I've been impressed by the alignment and focus of the executive team and know of Caroline's commitment to diversifying revenue and growing the company overall. I look forward to bringing my prior experience together with Beasley's people, culture and properties to develop solutions that will benefit our listeners, advertisers and employees.”

Gary Berkowitz: Best Practices To Prep For ‘The Most Wonderful Time Of Year.’

Forget Halloween, skip Thanksgiving. For retailers, it’s almost “the most wonderful time of the year.” Writes consultant Gary Berkowitz, “Many retail locations are already decorated for the season and soon, hundreds of radio stations across the U.S. will switch to all Christmas programming.” With this in mind, he presents a handful of programming ideas to foster “monster ratings.”

Sometimes when stations go to all Christmas music, jocks tend to "soften" or bring the presentation down, notes the President of Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting. “This is not a time to get soft and melancholy. If anything, the on-air delivery should be fun and exciting. Your on-air presentation should remain up and contemporary,” he says.

And when opening the mic, personalities should begin with the likes of: “B106.1 The Christmas Music Station.” Other effective positioners: 100% Christmas Music; All Christmas Music, All the Time; Non-Stop Christmas Music; or All Your Christmas Favorites all season. He insists, this is not a time to be politically correct: Say “Christmas,” not “holiday.”

“Reinforce these lines every time. It's critical to drive home the ‘All Christmas’ message,” Berkowitz writes on his website newsletter. “It will not get tired. Listeners love this time of year. Take advantage of that.”

In addition, he suggests dressing up the station website, social media and apps for the season. It’s essential that listeners “see” the same that they are hearing over the air. Add to that holiday jingles, with bells, chimes and ho-ho-hos.

Berkowitz also advises that it’s advantageous to get involved with Christmas promotions: local shows that are coming to town (Radio City Music Hall Christmas); while exploring contests like "Christmas Song of the Day."

All of this matters, but the consultant stresses that what is most important is a tight Christmas library. “For some reason, many programmers feel that Christmas libraries should be large. Check out the highest rated all Christmas stations and you’ll see. Playing the hits (and there are less than 200 of them) works,” he says. And this: “Radio geek alert: The first and last song of the season should be Andy Williams, ‘It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.’ No particular reason. It’s just the greatest Christmas/Holiday song of all time.”

For Louisiana Gubernatorial Race, The Winner Is Radio & TV.

An Ad Age Datacenter analysis of campaign spending data, in partnership with Kantar/CMAG, reveals that of the $193.5 million spent on radio and TV to date for the 2019-20 presidential, U.S. Senate, U.S. House and gubernatorial elections, a staggering $32 million has been spent by both parties on the Louisiana governorship alone.

The only race considered close in ad spend is the Kentucky gubernatorial race, in which incumbent Republican Matt Bevin is running against Democrat Attorney General Andy Beshear. There, a combined $24.6 million has been spent by both parties in that 2019 race, Ad Age reports.

Adding to the obvious fiercely competitive battles taking place nationwide, when Inside Radio covered Ad Age Datacenter spending just a month ago, federal-level and gubernatorial races had reached $148 million at radio and television—a $45 million increase in a mere three weeks. The ongoing tally reflects spending on broadcast TV, local/regional cable and satellite TV, radio and Spanish-language local TV beginning Jan. 1, 2019, through Election Day.

Back in Louisiana, the election is being watched nationwide. Ad Age explains, “Because Louisiana’s jungle primary for governor is seen as a bellwether given that the incumbent is John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, and his challengers—Congressman Ralph Abraham and businessman Eddie Rispone—are both Republicans who have the support of President Trump.”

In its story, Ad Age explains for background: “It’s early days, but Ad Age is already calling a winner by a landslide: Louisiana, for its so-called ‘jungle primary,’ in the Best Metaphorical Flourish race. The oddball system means that in Louisiana elections, instead of standard party-centric primary races, all candidates for a given office are lumped onto a single ballot regardless of political affiliation. If one candidate snags more than 50% of the vote, he or she can avoid a runoff election—if not, the two candidates (regardless of party) with the most votes face off.”

College Radio WLFR At Stockton U Atlantic City Celebrates 35 Years On The Air.

As beloved college radio stations falter amid universities selling off their licenses, there’s reason to rally in Atlantic City. Variety WLFR (91.7) is celebrating 35 years of serving both the community and students of its base at Stockton University. Named for “Lake Fred Radio,” a campus body of water, the outlet came on the air in 1984 and joined the web in 2004.

 “Legend has it that 35 years ago this month, the lively melody of ‘People Get Ready’ by The Impressions blared across as radio station 91.7 FM went live on the air for the first time.

Over the years, WLFR has broadcast a variety of musical formats as well as community and sporting events,” writes Joe Molineaux, an on-air personality there, in the local Press of Atlantic City.

The university will celebrate the station’s “35 years of noncommercial, alternative programming” on its anniversary, Oct. 25, at the Campus Center Event Room from 6-10pm, featuring live bands, speakers and past and present DJs. According to the station website, WLFT is now part of the college's School of Arts and Humanities, and is staffed by a student manager Colby Culbertson, and community managers (Bill Grohls, Paul Glaser), under the leadership of fulltime GM Chad Roberts.

In his piece, Molineaux notes, “The DJs and those who have directed the station over the years have been encouraged to play artists who are not played on commercial radio… like R.E.M., Dropkick Murphys, Vampire Weekend and so many more have gotten their start and owe some of their success to college radio.”

Molineaux started working at the outlet in 2005, and now hosts “M4 Biz Radio.” He reflects that the station was then located in a small area in upper G wing on Stockton’s Galloway Township Campus. “With the growth of the campus, a new state-of-the-art studio was built in Stockton’s Campus Center,” he writes. Two years ago it moved from a "faculty adviser" model of station management and hired the full time general manager.

The station maintains the same mission now that it did back in the 1980s. According to its website: “We take pride in our diversity of music and shows and strive to bring you programming not found on commercial stations.”

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.


        Kendall Taylor, APD/midday host at Beasley Media Group hot AC WDVD Detroit (96.3), adds Music Director duties.

        Gregory “G Moniy” Johnson is upped to afternoons at Beasley Media Group urban contemporary “Foxy 99” WZFX Fayetteville. Johnson had been part of the station’s part-time air staff.

        Curtis Media Group appoints Brandon Fanney General Sales Manager of CHR “Pulse FM” WWPL/WPLW (96.9/102.5) and hot AC “Star 92.9” WQDR-HD3, which airs on the Raleigh-licensed translator W225DF at 92.9.

        • Updated

        John Hannon is named President and General Manager for Univision Houston. Hannon will oversee all aspects of station operations of Spanish CHR KAMA-FM (104.9), Spanish news/talk KLAT (1010), regional Mexican KLTN (102.9) and Spanish hits “Amor 106.5” KOVE-FM as well as the company’s TV outlets and digital properties.

        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.