Feb. 11, 2021

How Podcast Advertising Will Influence The Future Of Audio

How Podcast Advertising Will Influence The Future Of Audio

"I'm curious to understand how brands are going to be thinking about voice activation because once they have experimented in podcasting. The next level is thinking about what kind of interactive audio I could offer my audience to add even more value."...

"I'm curious to understand how brands are going to be thinking about voice activation because once they have experimented in podcasting. The next level is thinking about what kind of interactive audio I could offer my audience to add even more value." Caila Litman, Condé Nast. 

I have the pleasure of speaking to one of the strong female voices in podcast advertising, Caila Litman, from Condé Nast. She shares her view of how podcasting and podcast advertising has a huge impact on the future of audio and how massive umbrella brands are utilizing podcast advertising to promote their smaller, indie brands. 

To connect with Caila, connect with her on LinkedIn or email caila_litman@condenast.com


This transcript has not been edited. 


[00:00:29]Heather Osgood: [00:00:29] Hello, and welcome to the podcast advertising playbook. I am your host, Heather Osgood, and I am excited today to be joined by Caila Litman from Conde Nast. Kayla is been in the podcast space for quite a long time. She came from Vox and now she is at Conde and it's so great to interview a female because I have some wonderful men on the program, but I'm so excited to be speaking with Caila today.

[00:00:54] Welcome to the show, Caila.

[00:00:56] Caila Litman: [00:00:56] Hi, Heather, thank you so much for having me here. [00:01:00] And yes, we are. I'm excited because we're in like a girl's club, the cool women of podcasting club. We know them, we love them. There are so many brilliant women in this industry. So I'm excited to be talking to one of them who I've followed so closely, but have never had the pleasure of really having a great conversation with, so here we are.

[00:01:18] Heather Osgood: [00:01:18] Yay. Yeah, I know. It's terrific. And so Caila, you were just telling me a little bit about your journey in the podcast space, and it sounds like you started at Vox Media. You were there for a few years and Conde Nast really as just entered the podcast space in June of 2020. So it hasn't been too terribly long and they hired you to really spearhead the project in terms of the advertising perspective of the podcast space there. And that's why I wanted to have you on the program today is because I know that you understand podcast advertising and I'm excited to dig into some of your expertise when it comes to that.

[00:01:57]I'm curious, can you tell me just a little bit [00:02:00] about the Conde Nast program that you guys have going on within podcasts? And what maybe are some of the highlights of what you're creating.

[00:02:08] Caila Litman: [00:02:08] Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for the really kind introduction as well. I think that when I was at Vox, obviously there's a difference between the portfolio of brands that Vox caters to and creates shows for compared to Conde Nast.

[00:02:23] And one of the reasons that I was really excited to get started here in January of 2020, very interesting time to start a new gig. If I had known what was coming. But I do think that what's really awesome about the portfolio of podcasts that Conde Nast has is it really runs the gamut.

[00:02:43]We represent brands like Wired and the new Yorker that have really large podcast properties. And then we have brands that are starting to really make a name for themselves by offering a unique perspective on audio conversations from Allure and Glamour to Self.  We [00:03:00] really reach a female demographic in a way that is unique.

[00:03:03] I think for a premium publisher that has a large network of shows we're at about 22 shows with plans to launch additional five new shows next year.  We're really ramping up very quickly just to roll the roll, the tape back rewind here. I do know that even before myself when before I started at Conde, they've had podcasts for almost a decade. But I think the big question mark that there was on the revenue side of the house and the production side of the house and operations and all of the different moving pieces over here was okay, how, now that the market is really ripe and really interested in doing more in audio, when it comes to advertising partnerships, how do we make it a product that is easy to understand, easy for our salespeople to go out to market and really talk about in a way that is commiserate with how the market has [00:04:00] evolved over these past few years.

[00:04:01] And so that's where I came in and got my feet wet in figuring out, okay, what are the things that we do well at Conde Nast that maybe you don't get everywhere else? And how do we harness that through the sheen of our brand voices and bring that out to market in a way that's going to be very valuable for some of our larger brand partners.

[00:04:22] Heather Osgood: [00:04:22] Yeah, that's terrific. So it sounds like Conde isn't new to podcasting, but really in June of 2020 is when the official network began. And maybe now, obviously Conde is such a huge media company and has been around for so many years, but in June of 2020 is really when the just the solidification of the vision of what you were trying to create really  culminated and took place.

[00:04:48] Caila Litman: [00:04:48] Exactly. Much more eloquent way of stating it. Yeah. So , we were really at a turning point where the demand was so high when we were having our our conversations and [00:05:00] market where almost every RFP that we were receiving from these major brands were asking us, okay, what are your capabilities for podcasting?

[00:05:07] What are your capabilities for podcasting? And that's a fun place to be when you walk through the door at a new company where everyone and their mom is like, Oh, we've been waiting for you. We've been waiting to understand how we can do this in a smart, strategic way. And. it'shard to start collaborating with a lot of folks too, when you are immediately moved to in a remote environment.

[00:05:27] But I've been very fortunate because I think that there's a lot of downsides of working for a really large company, but there's a lot of upsides in that you have a ton of resources. Like we have an amazing research team that was doing all sorts of market research on what kind of programming made the most sense to go out to market with.

[00:05:45] And then we also have an amazing audience research teams. So we had a lot of vehicles in terms of how we could be successful. If we were going to make a big go of it in terms of what our network would look like. Okay. And how [00:06:00] it would be productized .

[00:06:02] Heather Osgood: [00:06:02] Yeah. Wow. That is very true. I as someone who has founded a bootstrapped company, all of those resources definitely do come into play and can really help you create a lot that you can't, when you don't have those resources.

[00:06:16] So that's exciting. I'm curious, as you're, looking at all these different RFPs and the requests that marketers had to take advantage of podcasting. When I think of Conde, I think of brand advertising and obviously the podcast space has been so dominated by direct response. I'm curious, do you find most of your advertisers are falling within that branded space?

[00:06:42] Caila Litman: [00:06:42] It's, a big question. It's the $64,000 question or whatever we might want to call it, but I think that most of the partners that I'm working with and thinking through how they're going to jump into podcasting are new to it and are more on that brand [00:07:00] side. And it's so funny because the DR bucket of advertisers really figured it out a long time ago. And when you're talking to these larger brands in tech and in finance , even in CPGs, I think that CPGs has been a really interesting nut to crack here at Conde is because, we're not the same sort of direct to consumer type of CPG products as some of the big players in that space are, and they are realizing like they're missing out on this whole audience of people who are becoming brand loyalists really rapidly in this medium that is so engaging. And I think it's about really taking a lot of the learnings that we have from some of these companies that have been doing it so well. And really educating. It's an education gap I think, to get more brands, to understand that this is a place where they should be playing, but as and like one thing I was excited, I was like, Oh, I'm going to talk to Heather [00:08:00] because I feel like you are preaching about the host read a lot. And I think everyone is, I think has been in podcasting for a while. They understand host reads are the most effective way to get a message across. But then when you're working with a large brand who has a lot of corporate oversights, a host read is really scary to them.

[00:08:20] Yes. Oh, a host read. You mean, I'm just going to give them a few bullet points and let them do what they want. And I think where we've succeeded in our year one, or it's not even year one because we launched in June or first six months is that we already have these really amazing relationships with clients.

[00:08:41]So when they come to Michelle Lee editor and chief of Allure, they're, they've worked with Michelle for years and they're like, Oh, it's Michelle. Like I know that she's done videos for us. I know that she's done this for us. We feel very comfortable letting her take the reins and voicing this ad without needing to be so [00:09:00] hands-on.

[00:09:00] So I think that's what been one interesting gift here is because of the brand familiarity. We don't have as many hurdles in making brands feel comfortable trying host reads with us.

[00:09:11]Heather Osgood: [00:09:11] That is actually such a good point because when you talk to larger companies, they have to have ads that are voiced correctly. There are things that can be said, and can't be said, and the average podcast hosts probably struggles with that. Although I would think that it is really helpful because you're not just selling to any podcast out there, you do have this great curated list of shows that, you know the hosts inside and out, and you have confidence in what they're going to provide.

[00:09:44] And also you have this element of control because if they mess up. Then you have a lot of control and saying, Oh no, we're going to have to do this again.  Because I think when you work with independent podcasters, that can be a real struggle. Is the host [00:10:00] actually going to read the ad correctly? Are they going to put the right codes in there or are they going to say,  it cracks me up. So often when hosts will talk about a competitor and I'm like, no, don't talk about the competitor in the ad, but they don't think about it because in their minds it makes total sense.

[00:10:15] So you have a lot of control because you're working with your curated list of shows that, are performing at a certain, quality level. And I'm sure that you have some checks and balances, but that is such an interesting perspective. However, it sounds like you've been able to get around that and that you're really making these brands feel comfortable with the host read and then also allowing them to see the power.

[00:10:40] Caila Litman: [00:10:40] Absolutely. And I, I like that you appreciate that there is some, I think the independent podcaster and the podcast host read is something that's never going to go away. And there's some times where I'm like, Oh man, it would be fun to work with a Bill Burr or a Dax Shepherd or somebody who's just full personality is [00:11:00] infused into the read or even the folks over at Crooked who do whatever they want and it really comes to life in a fun way. But the thing that keeps me, sleeping soundly at night too, is that a lot of the teams here understand brand safety in and out because of that corporate infrastructure. And I don't have to worry that I'll wake up in the morning and be like, Oh no, someone went totally rogue on me and talked about this hair conditioner when they should've been talking about this one. So it is a nice perk of the structure here, but it also like, you miss out on having that intimacy of, not so much intimacy, but the feeling of imperfection that can be very human in this.

[00:11:45] Particular environment, like part of the reason that I love listening to podcasts too, is I love that feeling of getting people when they're stripped down. And that's what I think is the challenge initially, when we were making [00:12:00] these shows here to get them to a point where our hosts were Oh, I can be myself, this isn't a glossy magazine. This is like me at my bare bones, very interpersonal level, talking to my audience as myself. It's not all dressed up. And I think some brands that works for a better than others, for sure. But it's also about the nature. Is it a talk show? Cause then a talk show format that works really well. But if we're doing more narrative style, docu-series where they're more highly produced. It's the opportunity to even go that direction is not really on the table either.

[00:12:35]Heather Osgood: [00:12:35] That makes total sense. I'm curious. One of the things that occurred to me as you were talking about the brands is that we do have so many direct to consumer brands that are succeeding in podcast advertising. But then when you look at the consumer packaged goods and it almost seems like a lot of them are saying, Hey, how do we create this spinoff brand to look really little and  personalized, just so that [00:13:00] we can sell our product almost just in a repackaged way. Do you find that a lot of the brands are relying on maybe some of their spinoff labels just to create that more kind of intimate feel around their products?

[00:13:13]Caila Litman: [00:13:13] I've seen that a little bit in the beauty industry. I think one of the categories that we work with a lot here is the beauty industry just based on our portfolio of brands. And it's interesting to me because I'm learning so much, there are these large companies that have these small indie brands that I didn't even realize laddered into the big umbrella company.

[00:13:34] And they're finding that podcasts are a really cool stomping ground for them to make their name to talk about their product in a way that feels really unique to the listener, because I always think about audio and the way that I came to being a listener as it taps into the novelty receptors in our brain. Ooh, this is new. This is interesting. I've never heard this before. Like one of my favorite shows [00:14:00] early on and still is stuff you missed in history class. And I'm always like, Oh, I totally I studied that air and I didn't even pick up on that.

[00:14:07]And what I think the same rings true for when you're thinking about these indie brands that are within those large corporate infrastructures. And I think you're totally on the money there. Heather, it's like a very good sort of POV and insight on how corporate brands are thinking about where they belong. But I think the biggest takeaway that I've had in my time at Conde and even at Vox was that there is this desire to understand, and to create a place for audio and a modern media mix. Every modern media mix needs it. And so it's like where do we do it? What do we do it for?

[00:14:47]Heather Osgood: [00:14:47] And I just love that. Because audio is becoming such a thing. And I feel like before, when we thought about audio, we really justalways thought about terrestrial radio, right? That was [00:15:00] the place where it lived. And now audio is so integrated into all of our lives between smart speakers and Alexa on our phone.

[00:15:09] And.  All of the different ways that we can just speak what it is. I know for our team being remote, I love this app called Voxer because I can, it's like a walkie-talkie I just walk you talk you back and forth with people on our team. And we, I love it. I'm not sure how much my team loves it, but I love it because it's just it's a quick way to exchange information.

[00:15:29] And I really do see that audio in general is just going to continue to increase because even though I type super fast. I can speak quicker and I can also listen quicker. So a lot of times I listen, I almost always listen to things at 1.5 and sometimes even two, because I can listen so much faster.

[00:15:51] I listen to lots of audio books and sometimes you get the slowest readers I'm like, come on. But it's so great because you can just, I'm like speed it up. You can listen to [00:16:00] something much quicker then you know, maybe even could read it sometimes. I dunno, at least that's the case for me.

[00:16:06]I know that I've heard you on other podcasts talking about the value of audio. So I'm curious, how do you see audio in general? Just playing into the media landscape as we continue to grow and change.

[00:16:19]Caila Litman: [00:16:19] I think that this is something that I've said before, and I really stand by it in terms of the way I'm seeing a lot of social platforms evolve.

[00:16:27]Twitter has a whole entire feature now where you can post micro blogs that are just pure audio. Tic talk the way that so many new songs have evolved or even audio samples, because there's such a trend of just lip sinking or lipping, what somebody is saying on that platform and how those audio samples seep into our subconscious and become part of the zeitgeists very rapidly.

[00:16:52] And so the fact that audio is at the center of that. That's the tipping point. And those are the things about the [00:17:00] videos that are going viral. It's that baseline audio. That's something that I think is going to really impact the evolution of our social platforms moving forward. But I also think that, putting social on the back burner, and just thinking of audio first and voice activation.

[00:17:16] I'm very curious to understand how brands are going to be thinking about voice activation, because once you've experimented in podcasting, the next level is thinking about, okay, what kind of interactive audio could offer my audience to add even more value. And there are brands that you wouldn't even quite think of off the bat that are already doing this, or just as table stakes, have a smart speaker skill that you can tap into.

[00:17:43]The Fidelity's of the world or Quaker Oats. There are a lot of sort of household name brands that are like, Oh, you can start accessing all of my information to learn more about my brand through this voice activation sort of channel that maybe you weren't [00:18:00] thinking of before.

[00:18:01] And one example, I think that is really prime for why voice activation is going to be big in the years to come is because I think gen Z and emerging audiences are a lot more leaned into it than even my old millennialness Right now, like my husband, who's only a year or two younger than I am, everything that he searches for he does with Siri. And I'm like, what? It would never even occur to me, but it sounds like Heather you're already, clearly much hipper than I am, because you're just using your phone as a walkie-talkie you're using that voice activation feature . LIving in New York, I think I'd probably use it less because I'm not driving as much, but I think a lot more Gen Z are in cars. I couldn't point to a specific statistic to prove this, but I don't know how many Gen Z folks are going to be moving into urban areas, especially after sort of 2020 cause it's not, as, it's not as pertinent to have your social [00:19:00] life. And the more folks are just operating in connected cars. The more that voice activation I think is just going to continue to build momentum. And a lot of the foundation of how advertisers can activate on that are going to be built out by a lot of the ad tech advancements that are happening in podcasting. That's my senior thesis.

[00:19:20] That's  my big bet I would make for the next five years. But, it's all the foundation that audio and audio advertising has created.

[00:19:31] Heather Osgood: [00:19:31] No, for sure. I think that makes so much sense. And I think that it would be so amazing and all you tech creators listening out there go ahead and build this for us because we would love it.

[00:19:42]If you were listening to a podcast and you heard an ad for a product that you wanted, wouldn't it be great to be like, Hey, pause podcast, and go to Raycon.com and order those headphones or whatever, right? Like how cool would it be just to cause that's one of the issues that we have in podcasting, right?

[00:19:59] Is that [00:20:00] when you're listening or when you're consuming media, that's on a computer, on a phone you can so easily click through and that's, I'm sure you hear it too, but it's like, Hey, there is this disconnect between I'm listening. Now I have to go. Back in at some point to make a buying decision, but there's gotta be like, it's got to come at some point, where we can just like easily voice activate the things that we want because, and I also, I do really think that it has a lot to do with the way that people are wired. There are some people, I am an audio person. I just like audio. I learn, like I could sit and listen to a lecture and learn far more than if somebody handed me a book and said, Hey, read this.

[00:20:41] And that's why I love audio books and I love reading too. I, that is my method of learning is audio. Whereas other people are like, Oh man, I can't listen. And it always cracks me up when people say I can't listen to something because I get so distracted and I think, how are you distracted?

[00:20:57] Like you're listening to it, it's in your head. It's [00:21:00] just different ways of learning. So I think that as we, progress in technology progresses that there are different tools that are going to really resonate with certain types of people. And there are other tools that are gonna resonate with, different groups. And I feel to me like that's where audio fits. Cause it doesn't seem like everybody loves the audio. And it almost seems black and white. Like some people are like, really anti Oh, I couldn't do that. What are your thoughts?

[00:21:26]Caila Litman: [00:21:26] I love that sort of description of how How enthusiastic you are about it. And then you have these other people that exist on the other side of the spectrum. But I think part of the gap that we'll be able to close there is that there's sort of two gaps happening simultaneously. If we're thinking about it, sociologically, I think that there are the diversity of audio content.

[00:21:49] Like we have audio books. We also have sort of the Autumns and the spoken layers of the world that are taking, really interesting editorial features and turning them into something that you can [00:22:00] listen to as opposed to sit down and read from a magazine publishers perspective. And then when I was really prepping to talk to  Wayne during the podcast for Asia, I was looking into a lot of the different trends that are happening in the Asian market.

[00:22:16] And of course, Asia is not a monolith, like what somebody does and Vietnam is not the same that someone does in China. But I think what was a really interesting trend to see is how that market in particular is so leaned in to the types of audio tools that are about advancement, about knowledge seeking, and like really self improvement,

[00:22:37] Heather Osgood: [00:22:37] I've heard that before, too.

[00:22:38] Caila Litman: [00:22:38] Yeah. Yeah.

[00:22:40]There's the nature of there's this one spectrum of how do we make enough content that sort of resonates with everyone. And as I said, maybe in earlier conversations, I was really excited to work at Conde because they had so much more content that catered to a female audience, to an audience [00:23:00] that might not always be represented everywhere else in the podcast space, which has historically been a lot of tech podcasts, a lot of male dominated listener bases.

[00:23:09] And so I think the more that we churn out these different use cases. Why would I lean into audio in this particular instance, then the more audience acquisition that will happen in the space, but I never want to be limiting either. Like podcasts are one thing, but podcasts could be anything because the name is so it's nebulous.

[00:23:32]So I think audio, I always prefer to think a bit about as an audio ecosystem and there's all these different places that someone could go like a buffet. God, I hope we can return to the buffets. I love them, Heather. As soon as I get the vaccine, I'm heading straight to a buffet. And then there's this other sort of spectrum that I was referring to sociologically it's that we're all suffering from ADHD right now.

[00:23:59]It's just the [00:24:00] nature of how we exists. I'm currently surrounded by four different screens. And then there's also stack of books behind me. And I could I could literally be very involved in so many different types of mediums that were art in like, inches away from where I sit at my desk. And work from home is very hard for me because I just want to sit down and read a book or listen to a podcast or hop on the treadmill and listen to a podcast. And I think when we think about the use cases and the different types of content and then the different ways that we could just be a distracted in general, it's finding out how you can.

[00:24:36] Harness that lean backness of podcasting, of audio, and make it like married to another activity. Because the more that you can unlock productivity, I think the better that the audience is going to just be easily seduced into this medium. Cause I, I do a lot. I can't just [00:25:00] sit and listen. I have to be doing something. I have to be like fiddling with something, knitting, if I ever learn how to knit, but I think that's like the perfect activity to do when it listening to an audio book or cleaning, like I'll just clean my whole apartment and I'll get through every daily episode that I missed that week. Be like, Oh, that was productive. That was great for me.

[00:25:21] Heather Osgood: [00:25:21] I am always shocked when people say that they sit and listen because I am the same way, but I will. So I like to clean. I know that's a little strange, but to me it's a total stress reliever, so I like to clean, but now that I'm so obsessed with podcasts and audio books, I'll be like, Ooh, I think I need to do this deep clean family. Leave me alone for two hours because it's like, to me, it's like the most relaxing time ever or walking. I know in New York, you probably don't walk too much right now, but. In California, man, I just get out there and I just walk and listen. And it's just, it's amazing to me.

[00:25:53] So now I guess I'm curious, just to pivot a little bit when we're talking about these audio [00:26:00] solutions, it sounds to me like what you're doing with brands right now is you're allowing them to enter into this conversation about how they're gonna harness the power of audio. And really what I hear you saying is it almost feels like podcast advertising is a first step toward what is going to become something more. And you're not just having conversations, maybe about podcast advertising, but like a bigger audio solution. Is that kind of the direction you're going?

[00:26:29] Caila Litman: [00:26:29] Again, Heather, much more eloquent than I could have stated it. I feel like my sales style is to be like, Oh let's hang out and chat. And then eventually get to the meat of it. But , I do believe that it's really important to have those holistic conversations and think about a podcast advertising solution or a media plan as that gateway in . And I think it helps in terms of when you're talking to a really large brand about what their future looks like, [00:27:00] they're always thinking big.

[00:27:02] And then, sometimes that's going to get, that's going to fold down into something small to start with. And so I think a lot of the conversations we have are about, okay, what do you want to sound like? What's your sonic identity?

[00:27:21] Almost every brand right now has to start thinking about that. And we recently ran a large podcast campaign where one of the things that we created as part of the campaign was a sonic logo for the brand. So even though it was host dread, every host read had this special sonic logo tacked onto it that was made specifically for the demo that they were also trying to reach. So like the brand as a whole had its own sonic logo, but this one was geared towards the specific adult audience that they were trying to lean into. And that was a really interesting exercise because it also required us on the creative [00:28:00] side to think about, okay, who else is doing this? There are some folks with very recognizable sonic logos, like the McDonald's of the world, Netflix of the world, where you immediately feel a certain emotion. When you hear it and you're like, Oh, I'm excited about this.

[00:28:15] Heather Osgood: [00:28:15] So interesting. I've never really thought about it. I always just presumed that sonic logos would have words in them, but really they can just be a sound. Because we all hear a certain sound. There are sounds around us all the time where we're like, Oh, that's that right? And I'm just trying to think when you said Netflix, because I can't. I'm sure I've heard it a thousand times, but I can't place what th what it is now. I'm going to have to go look it up, but it's just a sound, right? It's not, it doesn't have any words.

[00:28:41] Caila Litman: [00:28:41] It's just the sound. And the one that I'm thinking of, it's the HBO sound that just came to my mind where it's like dumb, or whatever, and interesting.

[00:28:50] I love how I work in audio, but could not sing for the life of me. Please cut that out of the podcast. But yeah, I think that it is [00:29:00] the way that the medium is great for intimacy. Great for getting your audience to really emote and feel close to your brand, to your conversation, whatever it might be. That's what kind of a sonic logo can achieve too. Anytime I hear the McDonald's one, I immediately get hungry. No, I'm always hungry. So I don't know. I don't know if I'm the case study for that.

[00:29:23] Heather Osgood: [00:29:23] I will never forget is when I got really excited about podcasting, I started sting to Alex Bloomberg startup podcast and I'd been an entrepreneur and I was so excited about starting this new company in the podcast space. And it was so fun to me to listen to his whole journey. I don't know if you've ever listened to that podcast. Yes, you have. Okay, cool. So it was just such a great experience for me. And then the very first podcast movement I want to say it was the first podcast movement event I went to, he was the keynote speaker and he sat down or he stood up, I should say, and [00:30:00] said Like, how many of you have listened my podcast?

[00:30:02] And most of the room raised their hand and he's like, how much, how many of you feel like, me? And most of the room raised their hands. And then he's like, how many of you feel like we're old friends? And I was like, yeah I feel like you're like my friend because it's, and to me, that's what gets me so excited about podcasting is feeling someone, right? Because you're listening to them. And like you said, like from that emotional perspective, when you hear this person over and over again, you like them. And truthfully, what I love about podcasts too, is I love that we have so many voices in podcasting and that they are becoming more diverse because the reality is that, yeah, it's fun to listen to famous people in podcasts, but it's also really fun to listen to ordinary people, but just have interesting ideas or are entertainers, or maybe they're just super experts or super knowledgeable in this one area. I just, I think it's so fascinating. And to me it brings this level of intimacy [00:31:00] and that's really where audio comes into play is connecting with you at a deeper emotional level where it feels like in the past media was always out there, right?

[00:31:09] Like we watched TV when we were growing up. You know a lot and it was a TV was out there. It wasn't something that was in here or even in magazines, I think growing up and reading like teen magazine and stuff, it was like, those were different people that were in a magazine that were so far away from me. And now, media feels so much more intimate because it feels like people are creating content that is speaking to you. And you do, even though you don't have that back and forth conversation, you feel like they are your friends and you feel connected to them. And in such a different way, I think, than watching a news reporter, on TV or watching even Oprah, who doesn't love Oprah.

[00:31:53]But, Oprah and I aren't friends and I'm not going to delude myself into thinking that we are right.

[00:31:59] Caila Litman: [00:31:59] But I would [00:32:00] feel like Oprah, if I met Oprah, I would feel like we would hug. Yeah. It's no. Yeah. I know everyone feels like a hug from Oprah. Yes. I love how you're articulating to that feeling of, Oh, this is like an old friend who, you know, and I think for a company that's so big and also been around for so long, like Conde, they need that to break through for the next generation.

[00:32:26] They need to feel more connected to their audience in a way that is accessible is down to earth. And if you want the glossy magazine experience, We have that too. We're not, a Spotify, we're not an iHeart, we're not a big audio publisher. But what we do have is when you work with us, you can have audio as part of these other larger multi-channel offerings.

[00:32:52] And that's how a lot of, I think, big portfolio companies are thinking about audio too. It's like audio can be the cornerstone. [00:33:00] It can be the stripped back version of our brand. Then you can have in book experiences, and then you can have video experiences and social experiences. It's hitting all the different audiences that you want in different voices. It's still the same brand DNA, but it's the different type of voice that you bring to those channels. I'm particularly excited for Vogue. I think Vogue has really unlocked something in house with taking its voices and really talking about and scrutinizing and the first season of its stocky series show, which is all about fashion in the nineties, scrutinizing some of the things that Vogue was like now, 20, 30 years later, we wouldn't have done that. That wouldn't have been the way that we would have approached that topic or that reporting. And I think it's very self-reflective. Prior to working in audio, I worked in K through 12 education. And one of the lesson plans that I worked on at [00:34:00] this curriculum company was all about empathy, teaching emotional literacy.

[00:34:05]And I think that the cool thing about podcasts, the cool thing about audio is that it is helping to bridge that empathy gap. Because you do feel like you are, you can see yourself walking in someone's shoes when you hear their voice in your ear. And I think for our country, like for the future of sort of the way that we're moving forward right now that empathy gap, like any type of needs to be filled and all of the media that's out there. I think podcasts is resonating more now. Because it fills that scratch or that itch that we didn't even know we needed to scratch for so many years. It's just the way that as a culture too, I think my mom would always say this growing up, she was like your guys are like the therapy generation. Like you have Maury and Ricky Lake and Oprah, and that wasn't my generation. Like [00:35:00] we didn't talk about these things. It was really bad to talk about whatever was going on. And I think podcasts are that ability to be okay and start these conversations. Just, augmented to the enth degree, because now there's like over 1,000,002 podcasts out there.

[00:35:17] So it is exciting. It's the outcome of generations of us being able to chip away and feeling more comfortable in our own voices.

[00:35:28]Heather Osgood: [00:35:28] And I totally, I agree with you entirely. And I think that's why podcast advertising is so powerful and why. I just, to me, I'm just like hanging onto the host read ad with dear life, because I know that Spotify and other companies are coming into the market and they're trying to get these mass produced ads in there. But the beauty is the connection that happens. And when you can take a brand and I think that this is especially the case, but big brands, when you can take a brand that [00:36:00] feels very far away and make it feel more intimate to the consumer. That's what people want. That's where we are headed as a society is we want to know that the products and services that we purchase are supporting our values and our lifestyles and our goals. And it's not just always about what is cheapest or what is most popular or even what is most expensive. Like it's about buying things and products that we feel are going to edify our lives. And that's why that connection between the advertiser and the host, and then the listener like that connection between the three and really creating, I hate to say this, but like a win-win-win, across the board, that's, that is the power of podcast advertising. And to me, we cannot lose that. It is vitally important because nobody wants to hear another prerecorded ad. Nobody's [00:37:00] excited about that.  And yes, I'm sure plenty of host read ads that people would like to fast forward through as well. I can't pretend that all host read ads really are that exciting, but if they're done well, which they can be. They can be interesting. Are you finding that the brands that you deal with understand that?

[00:37:21] Caila Litman: [00:37:21] I think I would say 80% of the Conde Nast brands are very much just what you described. They're like, I'm going to make this personable. This is going to feel very much like me, myself as the host and the brand DNA that I'm infusing into the read.

[00:37:39] I think that when we come to a place where we hit a wall internally and it's a wall that I very much respect. I'm like, I get it. I don't want to push, I don't want to break this wall down. Cause I understand why it exists is, you have reporters who have shows at Wired and The New Yorker who are doing like large investigative pieces and [00:38:00] lending their voice. There's a, it's a compromise, it's a very compromising situation for them because they can't involve themselves in advertising. And that's where I think. Okay. If we have to do prerecorded ads or we have to do like custom creative, if they can't be radio ads, they can't be radio ads. Oh, I did a video and I'm just going to strip the audio and then repurpose it here.

[00:38:26] Great. Buda boom bada bing. No, that's not, that's not exactly how it goes. And I think one thing that we actively ideate on here, when we're thinking about, okay, how do we take this and bring it to life? If we can't do a host read is we think about, okay, if we're going to bring in a producer voice or a VO talent how do we cast in a way that it feels organic. It feels natural that they're telling a story, that makes sense. We recently worked on [00:39:00] a large a large project for a pharma advertiser, and pharma is a very interesting nut to crack in the space because they have so many review processes and they really can't do a host read. But I don't want to do, something that they're running on radio either because it doesn't feel organic.

[00:39:20] Doesn't feel like it fits the space and, the particular syndrome that they were trying to draw attention to, we just cast a bunch of people, who've lived with it to tell their personal story. And I think that can work really well if it's feels like a mini podcast within a podcast. But it also has to be real, like the reality. This is a weird metaphor. Take her leave, but. The reality of my life is that my nails are not always perfectly done. They're usually like chipped and that's a real humanity. And so sometimes getting a vulnerable moment and the audio and having it be part of an advertising experience. And it's [00:40:00] not like this super polished perfect thing.

[00:40:02] It is a little bit like a chipped manicure sort of experience. That's going to resonate with the listener because they feel like it's genuine. And when we talk about authenticity, intimacy and being genuine in this medium, when it comes to the power of advertising, that absolutely the host read unlocked that for us, but for brands that want to be part of it and can't do the host read, how do they do it where they're still telling real stories that don't feel, what's the word for it? When it's just, it doesn't feel patronizing, contrived or patronizing and right. I think that's what we're really working on here is if we do these pre produced pieces, how can they be as based in reality, human as possible? Where's the humanity.

[00:40:53] Heather Osgood: [00:40:53] Right? No, for sure. I think that, that makes total sense. Couple more questions. I know we need to get wrapping it up. You and I could probably talk for [00:41:00] another hour or so . I don't know if you had a chance to read Magellan did a wrap up of 2020, and one of the things they said in there that I thought was really interesting, that I agree with is that ads that are kind of storyscaped throughout an episode, perform really well. I know Podsights has also found that in their research that if an ad is or a brand is mentioned more than once throughout an episode, they perform better. I'm curious because you do have maybe a little bit more creative control than others might. Have you ever tried something like that? And if you have, has it been successful?

[00:41:37] Caila Litman: [00:41:37] So I loved the Podsights study as well, which showed that conversion lift when you did multiple spots. I think that bucks the sort of tradition that a lot of direct response advertisers have just run a scatter of mid role, which I think works really well as well. It's just the idea that, Oh, maybe the map is not the territory. Maybe the way that we [00:42:00] were thinking about this isn't the way it actually it's actually being received by the listener.

[00:42:05] And we know that the listener is changing a lot too. So it's figuring out what works for them. And one podcast that I love working with internally here , the editorial team is just fabulous. It's on Conde Nast traveler. It's called women who travel and the travel podcast space isn't huge. So they have a pretty good foothold in it. They've been doing it for about two years, and it's a strong audience. That's also supported through engagement on a larger, a hundred thousand person Facebook group. Every time a new episode comes out, there's a lot of conversations swirling in this community of women who travel.

[00:42:41]And they really found a lot of success in some campaigns that they ran, where it was a hundred percent share of voice. Full sponsorship. We did some brand studies on it too. And we saw that the conversion lift on the full episode sponsorships, versus some of the scattered breeds that we were running across the network, was [00:43:00] a lot higher.

[00:43:01]So just anecdotally, just from that one campaign that we happened to run measurement on, I was like, Oh this is proving itself out. But a lot of our advertisers want, they want to own the episode already. That's the way that brands like to buy. They're like, Oh yeah. Like we can't have any other advertisers in there.

[00:43:21] Just us. It's the me show. From our perspective that's good too, because we're able to sell out the inventory. But. It is, it's interesting to be able to go out into market and speak to some of these white papers as well, and say look, it's not just you, that sees the value here. What I would like to do in 2021. And we have a product that we call the through line. Where it's pre-mid-post, but you're getting like a story arc throughout , is run more of those. I don't think it's new. I think Gimlet has done it. I think that The Cut has also done this.

[00:44:00]Heather Osgood: [00:44:00] [00:44:00] Masters of Scale does it a lot too. Reed Hoffman's show.

[00:44:03] Caila Litman: [00:44:03] Yeah. Yeah. And, I think that it's just one of those things that some shows do it better than others, and the trouble with it is it's not super turnkey. Like you have to actually think about okay, how am I going to do this? How I'm going to execute on this and ensure that these actually run in the right yeah order.

[00:44:23] Heather Osgood: [00:44:23] Yeah. And I could see that. That could be a challenge.

[00:44:26] Caila Litman: [00:44:26] Yeah. But I'm excited to get those sort of data points and our sales team that are, quickly coming up to speed on what podcasting has to offer. They get excited about that because it feels very bespoke even though it's still not, we're not really, it's still editorially led content and they're getting the ads surround on it.

[00:44:49] I love that. Like the three-line too. I think that's great positioning.

[00:44:53] Isn't there a name of a podcast called that? Yeah. I'm sure. Yeah. And my [00:45:00] like marketing decks. I'm like, this is an original, brilliant idea.

[00:45:03] Google it. And you're like, Whoa.

[00:45:05] Heather Osgood: [00:45:05] Okay. I know. So let's see. The last question I have for you is I'm curious, do you guys do dynamic ad insertion are all of your ad reads embedded?

[00:45:13] Caila Litman: [00:45:13] All of our ad rates are dynamically inserted in the U S market. And so I'm slowly learning more and more about our international partners and how they're serving their ads and how they're thinking about podcasting. Specifically in the UK. I know that the way that they're packaging it's typically baked in, just because the sponsorship opportunity for them feels like it has more legs if it's baked in for three or four months. And then stripped out I would be curious to hear your perspective, because from what I understand, we work with some partners over at Cadence 13, and I know that they're, they've told us that about 50% of their ads are still baked in and the other 50% are dynamic.

[00:45:58]I see the value in [00:46:00] both. I just think for a corporation, they're thinking long-term about the back catalog about the active listening.

[00:46:08]Heather Osgood: [00:46:08] Yeah. I think we've talked so much about the host read ad and one of the things that I always want to say when I talk about dynamic insertion is that dynamic insertion does not have to be a pre-produced programmed,  radio ad that's being inserted in.

[00:46:22] So it's so important in my opinion, that you do still do the host read ads, or like you had said if you can't do host read, you do host read esk type ads.  But you'd certainly can use this technology of dynamic insertion. And I really believe that and I'm sure, people who have listened to the show a few times, or for me say this a million times, but it doesn't matter when content is created. It matters when it's consumed and like women who travel. That sounds like a super fun podcast. I've never listened. And if I were to check out the podcast, I personally would not automatically go to the most current episode. I would look through the catalog. I would find [00:47:00] the topic that resonates with me most and listen to it.

[00:47:03] Even though that episode was an episode that was released maybe a year ago or a year and a half ago. So who is the consumer today that is listening to this podcast and how can we best serve that consumer? And I do think that is with a dynamically inserted host read ad.

[00:47:19]And True Native Media, similarly to Cadence 13, about half of our shows do dynamic and about half are embedded and there are certain topics of shows, news shows, maybe some timely sports shows that were dynamic insertion doesn't make sense, but for the vast majority of content out there, it is very evergreen.

[00:47:39] And that's why I think you can't overlook the value of a listen that is happening today. I think one of the big challenges we have though, is that from my perspective, a lot of the buying that happens is happening with the learnings of how embedded ad reads work. So, you know, if you look at the [00:48:00] history of what we have had in podcasting, we've had these embedded ad reads.

[00:48:05] So now we've got, five to 10 years possibly of learning that is going into the planning of our campaigns that are happening today. So we're taking that knowledge of embedded ads. We're inserting it into trying to make dynamic ad reads work in the same way when it's a totally different product.

[00:48:24] And I really think that we overlook frequency in a big way, right? Because what you can do with dynamic ad insertion is you can create a level of frequency that you cannot create with embedded ad reads. So as an industry, if we can figure out a better strategy to capitalize on dynamic ad insertion, everyone will benefit in my opinion, because the advertiser will have that ability to provide multiple impressions within, a two to four week period of time. That should have a better result than one ad [00:49:00] that is just baked in reaching a much smaller listener base. So how can we take learning maybe from. Other industries, instead of just looking at embedded ad reads and podcasts, how could we look at frequency pacing that we use and maybe radio or social, and then apply that to podcasts with dynamic insertion so that we can get better results.

[00:49:21] Caila Litman: [00:49:21] Oh gosh. Can I get that on a bumper sticker? That was great. Yeah. I think that you're absolutely right. That borrowing also from other mediums that work like this. And the fact that somebody is listening to a podcast that came out, three years ago, still the most value, like still very valuable today because they want to engage with the brand.

[00:49:44] They want to engage with the content and that can be capitalized on and leveraged to now for the purposes of getting your message out, if you're an advertiser or a marketer.  Also think that it's just nice to be able to [00:50:00] freshen up the messaging, especially audience space going back and listening to something and then being promoted for a show that's like relevant today from a promotional perspective.

[00:50:12] I think that's also very cool. I also am very curious as to how dynamic ad insertion technology will impact the content side eventually. Cause it's a lot of bitching content together and it seems like a no brainer if you want to create like an audio magazine, to use that type of technology. Do wonder in two or three years after we see the ripple effect of how dynamic has been live and see the different shows that have converted to be, to using it more, what will our sort of prognosis or diagnostics be around how to structure a campaign? Because I've been doing this for I want to say four or five years at this point and I think every three to six months, [00:51:00] we're revamping strategy because of the change in the tech, because of the change in how buyers want to approach the space.

[00:51:10] Heather Osgood: [00:51:10] Yeah, no, I think you're spot on. So can you give listeners maybe just two pieces of advice around podcasts advertising? So if somebody came to today and said, Kayla, I really want to do podcast advertising, but I don't like, I'm nervous.

[00:51:26] I'm afraid it's not going to be effective. What do you think are our two really important considerations for someone looking to get into this space?

[00:51:35] Caila Litman: [00:51:35] I think that it's very much like dating. You have to kiss a few frogs sometimes um, and. It's okay too you don't need to spend a ton of money up front to test out the space.

[00:51:50] I think a lot of folks will tell you that. But even for a large company like Conde, if you come to a seller hearing, you're like, this is the budget that I have. This is [00:52:00] the show that I want to test out. Even if there are minimum thresholds at big companies, usually someone's willing to work with you because they want to prove out the efficacy of this channel. Don't be afraid to reach out and I'd be the second piece of advice is that if you're looking to do this, the best thing about this medium is that everyone you meet is so enthusiastic about it, that they're willing to be like, Oh, you want to talk about podcasts? You want to learn about podcasts? Like it's one of the friendliest professional environments. And everyone is always happy to be like, Oh, let's chat, let's talk about this. Let me give you some insights. And not every professional environment is like that. I think part of the reason why there's so much momentum here is because of the people in the environment, we're constantly bringing more people in. It's a party and we want to invite more people to it. So that enthusiasm can not be under Underrated,

[00:52:57] Heather Osgood: [00:52:57] Right!. I totally agree. It's [00:53:00] been such a fun industry to be part of. And I just, I don't know. I get so excited on a daily basis that I get to work in the industry. And thank you for joining me today. It's been so great chatting with you. I appreciate it.

[00:53:12] Caila Litman: [00:53:12] Thank you again, Heather, this was so nice.

[00:53:14]Heather Osgood: [00:53:14] So if people want to get in touch with you, if maybe somebody is listening and they're like, Hey, I want to buy ads on some of the Conde shows out there. Where could they get in touch with you?

[00:53:23]Caila Litman: [00:53:23] LinkedIn is always a great place. My name is spelled in a funny way. So bear with me. It's Caila  Litman. So reach out on LinkedIn and I'm happy to start the conversation and you can also reach me at my email at Conde which is caila_litman@condenast.com, but always happy to chat. Even, if it's exploratory we're here to help.

[00:53:53] Heather Osgood: [00:53:53] Awesome. Great. Thanks so much.

[00:53:55] Caila Litman: [00:53:55] Thanks Heather.


Caila LitmanProfile Photo

Caila Litman

Director, Podcast Sales & Enterprise Product Innovation