Aug. 3, 2022

What 17 Years of Podcast Advertising Taught Me With Todd Cochrane

What 17 Years of Podcast Advertising Taught Me With Todd Cochrane

"In late 2005, we were really off the bat doing advertising with a variety of vendors. We were putting 500 shows on ad buys because there were no big shows. Everything was small at that point." - Todd Cochrane, Founder of Blubrry


I feel like I have been in podcast advertising forever (6 years). But then I talked to Todd Cochrane, a friend, and fellow podcast enthusiast, who has been selling ads on his show and many others for 17 years, and I realized there is always so much to learn.

 

"Smaller shows have much higher engagement than bigger shows. The audiences are much more loyal. They're much more willing to try a product or service because they support the podcast."

 

He shares his secret sauce for keeping his advertisers and audience happy while maintaining his podcast income.

 

I find Todd's relationships with advertisers fascinating, especially his partnership with GoDaddy since 2005. He talks us through that relationship and how it evolved over the years. He shares how he has managed to keep them and what he does for other podcast advertisers to build stronger, long-lasting relationships. He also discusses how he uses his website and blogs as a traffic source to bring new monthly listeners to the podcast.

 

We also cover the topic of diversity and how Todd has seen and helped the podcasting industry move towards being more inclusive. "Underrepresented groups are now using podcasting to get their voice out, whereas they could never do that via mainstream media because whatever reason that was geopolitical wise."

 

To connect with Todd, email him at todd@blubrry.com or DM him on Twitter.

 

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Transcript

This transcript is edited.

[00:00:14] Heather Osgood: Hello, and welcome to the Podcast Advertising Playbook. I am your host, Heather Osgood. And joining me in today's program is Todd Cochrane, CEO of Blubrry and Podcast Hall Of Famer. He's been in the industry for over 17 years. Definitely one of the OGs in the industry. So I'm excited to have Todd on the program today. Todd, welcome to the show. 

 

[00:00:37] Todd Cochrane: Heather, thanks for having me. And yes, OG may be better described as an old curmudgeon, but yes, I'm definitely one of the older ones in podcasting. 

 

[00:00:48] Heather Osgood: You're also the host of the weekly podcast, The New Media Show, with Rob Greenlee; you have been doing that for quite a while now. 

 

[00:00:56] Todd Cochrane: Over 10 years, and we just hit over 500 episodes on that recently. 

 

[00:01:01] Heather Osgood: Congratulations. That's awesome. So one of the things I didn't realize about you, Todd, is that you have been podcasting for 17 years. And you've been in the Navy for over 34 years. 

 

[00:01:23] Todd Cochrane: Yeah, it was 25 years of active service. I retired in 2007, but then I did a variety of work along with building Blubrry for about 10 years. I guess, totaling 35, but some sort of alignment one way or the other with the Navy.

[00:01:39] Heather Osgood: Wow. And did you end up podcasting because of what you were doing in the Navy?

  

[00:01:44] Todd Cochrane: Well, it was interesting; in 2004, I was hurt in a non-combat accident, which grounded me. When you're broke in the military, they scrutinize you, "What are you gonna do for me now?" And I had a broken back and was living in a clam shell. I heard from one of my team members they were looking for people to manage contracts on aircraft rebuilds in Waco, Texas. And I was like, "I can do that." And I was sent out to Waco during my recovery. And October of 2004, hanging out in my hotel room because it was too hot to go outside wearing one of those clamshells to keep your back straight. And I heard about podcasting. My actual podcast was born in Waco, Texas, off I 35. It's kind of crazy. 

 

[00:02:35] Heather Osgood: Wow. Yeah. What a trip. So you were looking for something to do and came across podcasting. 

 

[00:02:41] Todd Cochrane: Yeah, I was stuck in a room on my laptop, consuming content. I'd been online for several years before that doing other things. Still, it resonated with me, and I have the gift of the gab, so I thought this would be a perfect opportunity. I was a horrible blogger. So the audio space seemed to work for me very well. 

 

[00:03:04] Heather Osgood: Very cool. So tell us a little about Blubrry; if someone's listening, who is unaware of the company?

 

[00:03:10] Todd Cochrane: Yeah, Blubrry's a full-service podcasting company. We have just about everything for a podcaster that one would need. We are most known for our power press plugin for WordPress. It allows people to power their podcast on their own dot com and use us for hosting or potentially someone else.

 

[00:03:29] Todd Cochrane: But we hope they use us. We were one of the first companies in podcasting to launch podcast statistics back in 2006. A long, long time ago. We've also done the advertising piece quite a bit. We don't do that as much anymore. Still, we're ready to launch programmatic advertising for all our podcasters in the next couple of weeks.

 

[00:03:52] Heather Osgood: That's great. So in 2006, where did you start with statistics? 

 

[00:04:06] Todd Cochrane: In the early days of 2005, I signed a deal with GoDaddy. It was one of the early, I don't know if it was the first, but it was one of the early advertising deals. And we needed a way to measure. I had formed a tech network in early '05, and one of the guys was able to write a parser for log files. And we all were excited because we all thought we had 40,000 or 50,000 downloads, ended up being more like 10,000 because there was a lot of junk in there.

 

[00:04:43] Todd Cochrane: And so ultimately, when we started the company in late '05, and we were really off the bat doing advertising stuff with a variety of vendors, even those early days, putting four or five hundred shows on ad buys because there were no big shows. Everything was small at that point. You really needed a way to measure because, you know, the argument today is it really isn't about accuracy, but back it really was.

 

[00:05:08] Todd Cochrane: So my CIO, I said, I don't care what the number is long as we know what the number is, so let's build something to measure. And that was the goal. We came up with the platform and the algorithm to eliminate the junk. Even in those days, many people were trying to commit fraud. So there was a lot of work that went into that. And we launched that in 2006, and it was a huge hit.

 

[00:05:35] Heather Osgood: Yeah, I bet. I bet. Looking back at the growth in the industry and things that have changed, can you think of one or two things that surprised you that maybe you didn't see it coming, or you wouldn't have predicted it would happen the way it did?

 

[00:06:28] Todd Cochrane: So I think the first surprise was, and we barely survived it as a company was, well, I don't say barely. We reacted quickly, but what happened was, in the early days, again, we were doing buys on shows really wide. And then, from 2006 - 2009, many big shows started coming on the market like Adam Carolla and some others. And the advertising money spent on those smaller shows gradually folds right back. It came out of the small podcasts and went into the big podcasts, and that money never returned for the small shows. Even today, in the volume, that we were running. Back then, we were doing $4 million a quarter in small shows. And now shows under 10,000 downloads or 10,000 plays per episode find it challenging to secure advertising. So the surprise is number one; it rolled up and never rolled back. 

 

[00:07:33] Todd Cochrane: And number two, you had to be pretty geeky to even put a podcast out because tools were just not at all sophisticated in the early days. And now, we're at a great point where we have the most diverse set of creators I could ever have hoped for. Women are leading, creating new content. They are creating more new shows than men. Women of color are definitely on the rise. 

 

[00:08:08] Heather Osgood: I didn't realize that.

 

[00:08:09] Todd Cochrane: Oh yeah. Right now, women are leading the pack in new content creation. At least according to my internal data from the scope of stuff we get to see. So for me, we've known for many years that content creators had no diversity. If we go back 10 years, it was not at all diverse. Five years ago, it got better.

 

[00:08:34] Todd Cochrane: And now, I'm pretty excited about where the space is. Everyone can have a voice; regardless of who you host with, there are opportunities now to create content and have your voice heard. So underrepresented groups are using podcasting as a way to get their voice out. Whereas they could never do that via mainstream media for geopolitical reasons.

 

[00:09:07] Todd Cochrane: So I think that from my personal stance, I'm most proud that this space has remained open, and anyone can create content. To me, it's remarkable that we're one of the last free-standing platforms where anyone can create content. And you don't have to ask anybody to do it. 

 

[00:09:31] Heather Osgood: Yeah, I totally agree. So what you're saying then is some of the things that have surprised you most, and we have talked about this before: all of this ad revenue went to the top and hasn't come back. Truthfully, I don't see that changing at any time. I have conversations on a very regular basis with networks about aggregating shows. So it seems that smaller shows feel like maybe that's the solution.

 

[00:10:05] Todd Cochrane: Well, you know, I've tried to be hardcore with media buyers saying, "Here's a list of fifty podcasts." And they still want to cherry-pick the top three. And I say, "No, you have to take all fifty." And they say, "No, we don't want 'em." And it blows my mind. No amount of head banging against the wall has made media buyers understand that smaller shows have much higher engagement than bigger shows. The audiences are much more loyal and willing to try a product or service because they support the podcast. In the early days, no one got a different promo code for an ad deal from a direct response advertiser. So we put the same promo code in five hundred shows for the same quarter, renewed it quarter after quarter, and did well with various shows.

 

[00:11:00] Todd Cochrane: The mindset has changed; they don't wanna go to their boss and say, "Here are forty-seven shows," and they're like, "Who is that?" They want the top three out of that list with little name recognition. And here's the crazy part, they have a non-duplicate audience. So they're missing millions of potential new listeners to a product or service they probably would get some movement on.

 

[00:11:32] Heather Osgood: Yeah, it's so interesting for you to say that because we have done the same thing. Networks come to us and say, "Hey, we're smaller; can't you just aggregate our shows? Can't you just put 'em all together and sell 'em as a package?" And I want to say yes, but it hasn't worked for us. I always hate to say this, but in terms of my own personal prediction, smaller shows will continue to struggle with monetization from host read ads. You mentioned that Blubrry was going to be launching your programmatic side. I predict that those smaller shows will be monetized through programmatic ads. Because at that point, there isn't that discernment of the buyer going through the list saying, "I want this one, I don't want that one." They're just buying the demographics of a person. So I think that's the solution. You also mentioned the diversity, which has been so nice. Did you predict that we would have more diversity? 

 

[00:12:40] Todd Cochrane: I think we worked at it to make it easier to try to attract people. As the medium grew up and different events happened, there were sets of milestones. The introduction of podcasting on iTunes in 2005 was a significant inflection point. The introduction of the iPhone and then the podcast app on the iPhone was an inflection point. So there was a series of inflection points where we built this awareness about the space where tech, business, and comedy shows gave way to education, culture, and arts. A variety of categories didn't require you to be a geek.

 

[00:13:30] Todd Cochrane: We've made it easier for people to create content. But I think part of it was in the beginning really was really awareness. And then there were lots of groups out there that had been advocating. Companies like She Podcasts work hard to get women to put their own shows out and build their voices. So many things have happened that women, like you, in the space have led the way and helped other women come in to create content and say, "I can do it too." So three or four years ago, I was at Dragon con in Atlanta, and Rob was with me. We were sitting in the back of the room with a diversity panel happening. This group was largely from the Atlanta area, and they had done a protest locally about some cause. But when the news crew showed up, they didn't talk to the organizers. They went and spoke to somebody on the side of the street. The group was so furious that the media wouldn't cover them directly that they said, "We have to find a way to get our message out." So they turned to podcasting as a way to control their message, get their voice heard, and build their own social platform around their cause. So when I heard this, I was like, "We have arrived. This is what, at the core, podcasting is all about. Giving voices to those that may not have one and telling their story.

 

[00:15:18] Heather Osgood: I couldn't agree more, and that's why it's such a great medium. I started a podcast that didn't last for very long in 2015, and it wasn't difficult o start it. Still, I think that it's just gotten easier every year. Just go on YouTube, and watch a video, then you could have a podcast in a few minutes. There are definitely some options out there. So, what did you predict would happen that actually came true? And I know we've been talking about diversity, but is there anything else that you said, "I really think this is gonna happen," and it did?

 

[00:16:05] Todd Cochrane: Well, I think we've known that the big corporates would jump in at some point. But we didn't know when, and Spotify and others kicked off a lot of those big corporate acquisitions and spending, you know, big, big money to the space. And I think that's helped. And at the same time maybe made some independents kind of concerned. But I think when this type of activity happens, then all ships rise together, and the space grows.

 

[00:16:34] Todd Cochrane: So I think we knew big money would arrive at some point. We always used to laugh, though, because podcasting is dead one year, then it's on the rise the next. So it was a roller coaster up and down with press coverage. But we've been running consistently for a number of years now where no one in the press is saying podcast is waning. So I think we predicted that there would be a continued, steady climb. Now, the pandemic definitely caused a ping upward. People had nothing else to do, because they weren't doing soccer, gymnastics, or all those other things in life. And they added podcasts or started creating shows.

 

[00:17:13] Todd Cochrane: But I think we've seen that since people are starting to get back to everyday life again, we've seen that ping kind of come down. So there was definitely a blip during the pandemic. No one could have predicted that. An upward blip, by the way. 

 

[00:17:24] Heather Osgood: And would you say that was like an upward blip from a creator's perspective? For people creating shows or from listenership or both? 

 

[00:17:32] Todd Cochrane: Creating and listening have continued to climb steadily. I could just take a ruler and draw a straight line showing growth. And obviously, it's not exactly that, but listener growth has grown, especially overseas. Outside of English-speaking countries, like Canada and the UK, has always been big. France has been in there quite a bit, but now we see a rise in Brazil, huge Portuguese podcasts, and stuff coming out of Asia. So podcasting is now taking on its own life outside the United States. So even in India, we're seeing significant growth of, believe it or not, English-speaking podcasts that are kicking off over there. They're doing well. And some in Hindi, too. 

 

[00:18:17] Heather Osgood: Yeah, that's really fascinating. I know that at events, I have heard you talk about a long-time advertiser that you have had, and I just think that it's a fascinating story. So I was hoping you could share a little bit about some of the things you have done with this particular advertiser and where the successes have been. 

 

[00:18:40] Todd Cochrane: Godaddy approached me in 2005. Chris Relinger was her name. She's now retired from GoDaddy, but she sent me an email saying, "Hey, we're interested in advertising in your podcast." And I had talked some smack on my tech show about them a few months earlier. So I said, you better go review this before you, you decide you wanna advertise. And they said, yeah, we still do. And we really didn't know how much to charge or anything. And so that first would go around, I set a number. It was basically what I was paying to keep my show online. And, after the end of that month, they returned, wanted to renew for a year, and told me how the performance was. It was incredible. I went back and did the math and then returned with a counterproposal for a new rate. And there's a whole story there, how that evolved.

 

[00:19:23] Todd Cochrane: But the relationship I have had with GoDaddy to this day, they are still this primary sponsor of my tech show, and it's purely performance-based. I have to meet X number of downloads every month. If we don't, and it's a couple of months in a row, we don't hit those numbers. We have a conversation, and we change things up.

 

[00:19:43] Todd Cochrane: But that advertiser in the early days, their founder did some things that really made it difficult. If you go back and search the history of GoDaddy's founder. There were things that he did and maybe 10 years ago that would've put the company under today, the way things are exploded when people do stupid things. So it was kind of tough. And finally, they figured it out, and Danica raced for them for a number of years, but their GoDaddy ads were kind of, well, a lot of women thought they were pretty sexist. And GoDaddy had to change its style or change its corporate structure.

 

[00:20:26] Todd Cochrane: And I watched that happen and having had discussions with them, "Hey, you're making the women who listen to my show uncomfortable." So they had seen what they were getting back from their own demographics and information. And they transformed the company. I watched that transformation happen over maybe 12 to 18 months. And they completely revamped the platform and got rid of the things that were, frankly, pissing off women. And now the relationship is such that while I've changed reps a few times, it's purely performance facing. So I have to make my numbers. But that relationship's been good because I've learned a few things about a long-time sponsor. First, we have a dedicated landing page for them. I try to vary the ads a little bit, but the key is I have to keep new listeners coming into the show to convert. So that has built a whole mechanism and where I have an active blogging team on my tech show. So that blog feeds the Google search engine to drive traffic to the website, which drives a small number of new listeners every month.

 

[00:21:37] Todd Cochrane: The website gets between 20,000 and 200,000 hits daily based on Google search traffic because there are 15,000 articles on the website. The content is what drives people in. And so, I've used my website purely as a listener acquisition funnel, and enough people that come to the website and subscribe to the show. New people are hearing the ad and responding, so 16-plus years later, they are still writing me a check.

 

[00:22:14] Heather Osgood: I think that's a fascinating story because there can be diminishing returns with an advertiser. And one of the things you said that I think is really key is that you need to get new listeners, right? Every listener that's interested in the product is gonna buy it. And then once your audience has purchased the product, then who is gonna buy it? So if you don't have new listeners coming in, they won't be able to purchase. And I would say that it's not uncommon for advertisers to do really well for a year, sometimes two, but then get to a place where they are not getting the same results they used to get. My thought is they have saturated that audience. They've all bought that health insurance you were selling, so now you need to move on to someone else. So, one of your most important statements is to keep the advertiser happy with those conversions. And they're gonna get those conversions by adding to the audience count. That piece can be the missing link for a lot of hosts. Would you agree? 

 

[00:23:36] Todd Cochrane: Oh, absolutely. I only get credit for new customers. When an existing customer returns, renews and uses my promo code, I don't get paid for that. My performance is purely based on new customers. So I look at the report, I know what it is, you know, and I say, "Ugh, we're a little under this month, a little over next month."

 

[00:24:01] Todd Cochrane: June, July, or August are tough months. So it's like I have to put in extra effort and tell those new listeners, Hey, go use that promo code, share with your friends, share with your family member. It's worked. How long is it gonna continue to work? I can only knock on wood because they could call me any day and say, "Okay, Todd, thank you. We've loved the relationship, but we are done." The key is performance, and many podcasters often take advertisers for granted. "Oh, they're gonna advertise on my show." I'm like, you've suddenly become my best friend because you're putting money in my pocket that allows me to pay for food, dinner, and rent. And I take those relationships very seriously. And I think sometimes podcasters take those advertising relationships for granted. I believe I owe them the best performance I can give them to ensure that the ad performs well. 

 

[00:25:03] Heather Osgood: Yeah, I love that. I often see hosts take advertisers for granted. And I also think that hosts aren't always super aware of how to take care of an advertiser. So at True Native Media, we try to spend time educating our hosts on what it looks like to create a good campaign. I think about it if you're passionate about a topic, like you had discussed, that organization that felt like they were being overlooked by the media. So they turned to podcasting. That's an organization that's really passionate about its cause. They're passionate about getting their message out there and don't know the first thing about advertising. They don't know the first thing about marketing. And then I think the downside of host read ads is we hand them talking points and say, "Hey, create a great ad." They don't know how to create a great ad. And they don't know how to take care of their advertisers.

 

[00:26:02] Heather Osgood: And so, at the end of the day, it comes down to the partnership you're building with the organization. And even being able, to be honest with GoDaddy when they were going through a rough patch. You were getting negative feedback, being able to go to that advertiser and share it. And ultimately, it's gonna serve you. If you aren't, as a host, if you're not all in on your sponsor, you've got the wrong sponsor. You really should be able to get behind the company you're promoting. And you also really have to believe that your ad is of value to your audience. That's an issue that I see happen a lot. It's like the hosts want to apologize for having advertisers, or they're bothered by them. 

 

[00:27:04] Todd Cochrane: And I think you can smell that as a listen.

 

[00:27:06] Heather Osgood: You can smell it. Yep. 

 

[00:27:07] Todd Cochrane: You can. And that's a weird word to use, smell, but it really is. I've gotten ad deals that have come in, and the hair stands out in the back of your neck. I don't think I want to work with you because, number one, I don't want to put this in front of my podcasters because they'll say, "Todd, that is icky." So I have to put my audience first. I think you have to, again, truly be behind the advertiser. And going back to the feedback, you're going through a media buyer; you don't have direct access to the company. I was lucky enough that I had a direct link to the president's office. So when I had issues, they didn't go to my rep. They went straight to the head of the office and got the full brunt of the customer's or the listener's issue.

 

[00:28:19] Heather Osgood: And what great feedback, I mean, that in and of itself seems like great value. 

 

[00:28:23] Todd Cochrane: Yeah. And I think that was why the relationship worked well, and I'd held no punches. One of the things the founder did at one time involved an elephant. Now I'll just believe it at that. I did not mince words. I did not mince words about what he had done, which could have cost me the sponsorship, but that was the type of relationship we had. So I could be frank and talk to my audience about it. 

 

[00:28:55] Heather Osgood: Yeah, for sure. Okay, so you've been in the industry for 17 years and had this sponsor for 10 years. You've got a direct connection to the president's office. These aren't things that the average host really is going to have.

 

[00:29:10] Todd Cochrane: No, that's true. 

 

[00:29:11] Heather Osgood: So tell me, do you think those sorts of advertiser relationships still exist? 

 

[00:29:18] Todd Cochrane: How those happen is, usually, if somebody's listening to your show that's with that organization and they say, "Oh my goodness, I love this show. We need to be on this. We need to advertise it." I think that's where you get that type of sponsor relationship. If someone's listening from company X. And they go to the marketing and say, I've heard this podcast, we need to be advertising on that. That's where I think direct that's where direct contact happens. Sometimes you get passed over to an agency, but usually, those types of discoveries lead to great relationships.

 

[00:29:56] Todd Cochrane: Not always, but we had a sponsorship that went sideways. We had Citrix Go-To-Meeting, and we had a direct relationship with the company. It got to a certain point. They handed it over to the media company. The first media company was great. Our performance continued to be good.

 

[00:30:12] Todd Cochrane: They weren't happy with the media company. They hired a new one, and things went south. I mean went south in a hurry. So I think sometimes, the media companies can get in the way and actually cause more problems than if you had a direct relationship with the company. But it just, in this day and age, a lot of companies don't wanna deal with a hassle. So they hire someone to do that for them. 

 

[00:30:37] Heather Osgood: I think that happens all the time and especially when you get to that level of organization, right? If you're dealing with more of a mid-level organization, it's not uncommon for us to deal directly with maybe the CMO. And sometimes we even will deal with the business owner. Although, I would say that's fairly rare. Most of the time, we're dealing with someone in the marketing department. But, the bigger the company, the more [00:31:00] chances you're gonna have that there is gonna be an agency or someone that's in the middle.

 

[00:31:04] Heather Osgood: And it is harder to understand when you've got layers of people. Sometimes there can be several layers between the advertiser and the podcaster. Yep. It's harder, I think, to create that bond. And so, as a host, I just think it's really important for you to go out of your way to talk about the impact a product has had on your personal life.

 

[00:31:29] Heather Osgood: Really pulling in that piece, I think, is the difference between a successful campaign and one that may not resonate with your audience. People wanna buy products that they think you, the host, like, and if you really talk about it in a genuine way, they're more likely, I think, to purchase it. 

 

[00:31:47] Todd Cochrane: And even though you may not have a relationship with the company, they're listening; someone from that company is going through that ad and doing spot checking. And if you knock one out of the ballpark, they're gonna go, "Wow, listen to this show," and you may make it on a list that will make it to somewhere higher in the hierarchy.

 

[00:32:06] Todd Cochrane: Here's a success. On the opposite token, you don't want to be the person that gets the phone call from me, or you say, "Hey, we got a problem, and you're causing a problem. And this is why you're causing a problem. And you're canceled." You don't want to get that call. I've done those calls. And when someone gets, when a podcaster gets that call, they're off the list.

 

[00:32:31] Todd Cochrane: I don't care how good they are. If they've caused me an issue with an advertiser, it's gonna take a long time for them to get back on my trust to be back on deals. So for the podcasters who listen to this, take care of your advertisers. Yeah. Because you're gonna take care of Heather and you're gonna take care of her relationships and not cause problems. And when they call and ask for a make good, guess what I do, I give 'em a make good, because I want them to sign another contract next quarter. 

 

[00:33:01] Heather Osgood: Right? Right. Absolutely. So tell us, what is your definition of taking care of an advertiser? What do you think that we really need to do?

 

[00:33:09] Todd Cochrane: Be honest. If you love the product, you can promote the product. If you don't like the product, don't take the ad deal. You have to like the product. You have to like to use it. If you're just promoting a product and you're not using it, the audience can smell that you, and you don't have stories to tell. And how are you using the product or service? You can't come up with real-life stories to help that copy to help those talking points. Make that listener understand this is the true value. And now, granted, we've all gotten an ad deal before. So that's kind of cool. I can promote that. And maybe don't a hundred percent use it. But you better have at least tried it. If you're trying to sell a car, that's a whole different deal, but if you're making a direct response ad, usually, you can try that product. If you're trying to sell Ford well, that's a different type of an ad deal. That's a brand deal. Which is totally different, totally different. 

 

[00:34:13] Heather Osgood: I have always sold 60-second ad reads, and the reason that I have sold 60-second ad reads is that we are selling host-read ads. And 99% of the time, there needs to be a personal experience component. My feeling has always been that it's pretty difficult to create a really good ad with personal experience that's less than 60-seconds. But I'm reading that there are more and more 30 and 15-second ads out there. I have a hard time wrapping my brain around that. I'm not opposed to 30-seconds, but man, that ad better be tight. And pretty succinct.

 

[00:34:52] Heather Osgood: What is your opinion about shorter ad reads? 

 

[00:34:55] Todd Cochrane: 60-seconds. That's all. 

 

[00:34:58] Heather Osgood: Yeah, exactly. Cause most of 'em aren't [00:35:00] even 60, right? Most of them like 120. 

 

[00:35:02] Todd Cochrane: Well, no, I think if you're, if you're doing a good host-read, and again, if you are really promoting that product, it's at least 60 seconds. I don't know how you can do it for 15.

 

[00:35:14] Todd Cochrane: If you're doing it for 15, it's a read. It's not a host endorsement. It's a read. Yeah. And I know some folks only wanna take the thirties. Podcasters aren't gonna like this. Let's say it's a 30-second deal, but I do 60-seconds. Nothing says you can't, but my thing is, I want that advertiser to say, "Wow, they really cared."

 

[00:35:42] Todd Cochrane: And they will come back and renew. I think you have to go the extra mile, and many podcasters don't hear that now. Depends on your ad load. So if you're running five ads, then maybe you gotta keep it to 30-seconds. 

 

[00:35:56] Heather Osgood: But you shouldn't be running that many ads. That's another issue we're having in the industry; people are overloading their podcasts. I talked to a show the other day, they are about a 40-minute show, and they legit wanted 12 ads. That's crazy. I was, that's what I said. I'm like, you guys don't even understand, that's a really bad idea. 

 

[00:36:16] Todd Cochrane: It's bad. I have a 60 to 70-minute show on my tech show, and I do two. If I do three, I start to see the numbers go down. Audience numbers begin to bail out, but I give 'em a full minute on each ad. So, you know, 30-second pre-roll and a 60-second mid-roll. If you work it well, maybe a second 60-second mid-roll when you're at least an hour. But Ooh, for each show's different, each show can handle a different amount. So you look at Grammar Girl and Quick and Dirty Tips. They got five minutes. They can only do one, right? Yeah. I think podcast listeners will say, Uh, I'm out." 

 

[00:36:59] Heather Osgood: Well, there are a couple of considerations when talking about the number of ads in a podcast. So you have, you know, the audience to consider, right? And like you said, if you overload your podcast, you might think, "Well, gosh, I'm maximizing my revenue, right? I'm gonna get way more revenue in, but the reality is that when you lose listenership, you lose revenue. It doesn't help your audience. It doesn't build trust with them because nobody wants that many ads.

 

[00:37:27] Heather Osgood: And secondly, the advertisers don't get the results they want. And even when we're partnering programmatic, and host read, the reality is that you would have to go entirely to programmatic because none of your host-read ads will succeed. And then, when none of them succeed, none will renew. So you're just really shooting yourself in the foot. But it's hard sometimes, I think, especially when shows have experienced some success, they're like, well, gosh, You know, if three is good, then six is better. If six is good, then 12 is better. And it's like, gosh, no, no, no, no. We don't wanna be radio, right?

 

[00:38:01] Heather Osgood: I mean, how many of us are like, gosh, no. 

 

[00:38:03] Todd Cochrane: Well, that's, that's the reason why podcasting didn't want to be radio. It was like, and we didn't want to have ad loads like TV. So the first time I watched commercial TV, literally, in like a year was this past weekend, I was astounded with how many ads there were. I paid $17.95 to YouTube to have no ads or whatever each month, but this commercial TV set, I'm like, they're hurting. If they're running like five minutes of television ads before our show starts, this is insane. So you don't want to be, you at 30-seconds for me on a pre-roll I drop a mid, about 10 minutes in, and then if there's another mid at the three-quarter mark, that's it. 

 

[00:38:53] Heather Osgood: Todd, I know that we need to start wrapping it up. I have a couple last questions for you. So one of the things I see is new people will enter the space, and they often act like they are doing the podcast industry this big favor. They're coming to the industry, they're gonna save us because we obviously just do not know what we're doing, and they're gonna come in and save us. And one thing you've told me before is the industry's done this, the industry's done that.

 

[00:39:33] Heather Osgood: And so do you see anything happening right now where you're like, oh yeah, we tried that five years ago, and it didn't work, or we tried that 10 years ago and it didn't work. I find that really fascinating that it does seem to happen again and again. So are there any trends you see where you're like, oh, I just think that's probably destined to fail based on history?

 

[00:39:56] Todd Cochrane: I had a hard conversation with an app developer yesterday. They said, "Well, we've got a patent pending." I said, "This has been done before." And they're like, "Who?" and I gave the name, and they were astounded. I'm, "That might be trouble for your patent, number one. And number two, you have to build volume. If Amazon can't get to 1%, are you gonna be able to get to 1% with what you're doing?" So it's like, I don't like to, you know, tell someone their baby's ugly, and I wish everyone the best of luck, but sometimes I see stuff come through, and I'm just like, oh yeah, here we go again. But I think right now, a huge number of folks were not successful in producing their own podcast. So they become podcast producers. So I would say if you align yourself with a podcast producer, make sure you align one with somebody that's done or is managing successful shows.

 

[00:40:55] Todd Cochrane: And look at that, that, you know, look at their CV or list of shows they're working with and pick the right partner, as a new podcaster. At least we're not in the phase right now where this huge influx of new consultants that kind of goes on a wave. So I think we're at the bottom of that swoop right now.

 

[00:41:13] Todd Cochrane: Because we've seen several of that where people are all of a sudden, you got this whole influx of new consultants, and then they figure out, yeah, my show didn't succeed, and I'm not gonna see it as a consultant, and they go make some other career. So just pick your partners wisely and look at that background.

 

[00:41:31] Heather Osgood: Yeah, I think that's sage advice. And I see that again and again. I also think. I always recommend that podcasters feel about what their end goals are. Oh yeah. And what they're trying to create, because if you're finding a partner that is really good at creating a very well-produced show, but that's where it ends, that's fine. And if that's the case, that's fine. But you need to also just realize that you're gonna have one piece of the pie. What about all the other pieces? Right? What about monetization? What about audience growth? What about strategy and content? I mean, there are so many different elements, and you might pick one partner that's good at one thing, but if they're not good at all the things, that isn't going to be helpful. And I think it's very common, in my opinion, for people to act like they can make everything, especially ad sales, when actually they can't.

 

[00:42:30] Heather Osgood: Maybe they're good at creating a great podcast, but they're not good at selling ads. So it's just, I think it's really important for individuals to know, like you said, like check somebody's background, their experience, and see what they are getting into. 

 

[00:42:45] Todd Cochrane: And I think one thing that you said, and I don't wanna make us run long, but if a podcaster has a goal for their show if the goal is to build authority, monetize, the goal is to use it a funnel for your business. If your [00:43:00] goal is just to hang out and have fun with your friends, know what that goal is.

 

[00:43:04] Todd Cochrane: And if you know what that goal is, then, as long as you realize that who you're talking to as actual humans, and personalize that by imagining who is sitting in front of you as you're, you know, basically if you, if you have a thousand listeners and you can visualize a thousand people and sitting in front of you, you take that a much, you take that as a much more serious approach to creating your content.

[00:43:27] Todd Cochrane: Because it's one thing to see a number on a page that says, "I have a thousand viewers or listeners." It's been a whole different thing to visualize a thousand people sitting in front of you, and you will respect their time a lot more and give them more value. If you can visualize that group of people sitting in front of you.

.

[00:43:45] Heather Osgood: I think Rob Walsh is the first person who I ever heard say that. And I thought that was a great way of looking at it because we get fixated on the audience size. Realistically, audience size is important, especially when we're talking about monetization. We covered that earlier, but it does go back to your goals. In most cases, I would say 99% of people, if they had 200 people sitting in front of them, or even a hundred, like that would be a significant number of people.

 

[00:44:17] Heather Osgood: It's a considerable number. Why do we act like it isn't something big now? Does that mean we can sell a ton of ads on your show? No, but you can still accomplish other things. 

 

[00:44:26] Todd Cochrane: So unless you're a neurosurgeon. And a hundred people sitting in front of you are the hundred cop neurosurgeon in the United States. So like that's right. It's, it's all about perspective. 

 

[00:44:34] Heather Osgood: Yes, it is for sure. Todd, it's been great having you on this show today. Thanks for coming on. And if folks wanna connect with you, where is a good place for them to do that?

 

[00:44:43] Todd Cochrane: It's real easy, todd@blubrry.com. Blubrry without the "e's" cuz we couldn't afford the "e's" or at Blubrry on Twitter. Our Instagram is Blubrry_podcasting. I'm personally at Geeknews, but todd@blubrry.com is the best way to reach out. But Heather, thanks for having me on. 

 

[00:45:00] Heather Osgood: Yeah. Thanks for being here. And thank you for listening to the podcast. I appreciate you logging on with us today. Suppose you're interested in learning more about podcast advertising. In that case, you can head on over to truenativemedia.com, we have a guide, the podcast to advertising that you can download there, and we will catch you next time. Take care.

 

Todd Cochrane Profile Photo

Todd Cochrane

CEO

Todd is the CEO of RawVoice / Blubrry - a podcast media company that represents 105,000 Audio and Video podcasters in which his company provides advertising opportunities, media distribution/hosting, podcast media statistics, and other services.

He is a podcast advertising specialist. Executing podcast advertising deals with various national vendors for the past 13 years. Todd was responsible for bringing GoDaddy into the Podcast Advertising Space as one of the first podcast advertisers in 2005.