Oct. 22, 2020

The Nuances And Peculiarities Of Podcast Advertising with Krystina Rubino

The Nuances And Peculiarities Of Podcast Advertising with Krystina Rubino

"It's a great channel for brands to start in who are moving towards more demand-based marketing. But, at the same time, I like to call it baby's first offline channel. People like investing in it because the production costs are low, but it's still an...

"It's a great channel for brands to start in who are moving towards more demand-based marketing. But, at the same time, I like to call it baby's first offline channel. People like investing in it because the production costs are low, but it's still an offline channel, and you still have to have the pipes on the backend ready for it." Krystina Rubino, Right Side Up.

I enjoyed talking about my favorite subject with Krystina, a veteran digital marketer who pioneered podcast advertising at Right Side Up. We covered all the nuances and peculiarities that podcast advertising has to offer. 

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This transcript has not been edited.

[00:00:28] Heather Osgood: [00:00:28] Hello and welcome to the Podcast Advertising Playbook. I am thrilled today to have Krystina Rubino from Right Side Up with us. Krystina has been in the podcast industry for quite a while now, and I'm really excited to dig into some of her knowledge. Welcome to the show, Krystina.

[00:00:45] Krystina Rubino: [00:00:45] Thanks for having me, Heather. It's a pleasure.

[00:00:48]Heather Osgood: [00:00:48] So, I wanted to start by having you just tell us a little bit, just maybe a brief summary of your history and what has gotten you here to this podcast space?

[00:00:57] Krystina Rubino: [00:00:57] Sure. I've actually been in media and [00:01:00] marketing for, gosh, the last 15 years, which is kinda crazy.

[00:01:04]And so my career started in digital media and I about four or five years ago I had turned into more of an integrated marketing professional, was doing a lot of prints and a lot of more brand tactics. I became disillusioned, with being, an advertising agency professional working in paid search and paid social.

[00:01:25]Candidly, a lot of my colleagues were starting to go in house at clients and advertisers, and I saw that writing on the wall. About four years ago, I moved out to the bay area, excited to start working in technology, fell in with an agency and later went in house on the advertiser side, working to help marketers understand how offline channels can be used for customer acquisition.

[00:01:45] And then eventually I found my way to Right Side Up where I am today. I started the offline growth marketing practice about two and a half years ago. Right Side Up is actually a little over four years old and it was founded by a marketer, who was just challenged in house, wanted to [00:02:00] find the marketing services company that he needed.

[00:02:03]As opposed to working with a one off freelancer or working with an agency, he wanted to found a services company that, was a little more plug and play and was a little more adapted to the realities of tech and the way that we market and growth marketing. So, when I met him and I learned that we're all about an in house ethos, we work in house, and that the goal is really to help advertisers just do growth marketing better. I knew I had to come here and start the practice.

[00:02:29] And a couple of years later, we're actually one of the largest podcast advertising practices or buying forces, or however you want to call us. I know we're not an agency and people are like, wait, but I don't understand.

[00:02:41]But we power the in house programs of marketers and advertisers like, Dash and Stitch Fix, Calms, Sun Basket and others. So I'm just really lucky to work with their in house teams and help them make sense of this amazing, slightly weird, but wonderful space that, we are lucky enough to work in. [00:03:00] So that's how I got here.

[00:03:01] Heather Osgood: [00:03:01] It's very cool.

[00:03:02] Were you attracted to Right Side Up before they were interested in podcasting or was it the podcasting piece that attracted you?

[00:03:09] Krystina Rubino: [00:03:09] No, actually, I started the practice here for podcasting and offline practice, offline advertising period, Right Side Up historically, if you've ever seen a lot of the, high growth tech company is a lot of the ones that are based in the Bay area, even some in New York, Denver, Seattle.

[00:03:24]A lot of them are focused on customer acquisition and tend to use tactics like paid search and paid social. These are like the bread and butter tactics that a lot of direct to consumer marketers in particular use. And so Right Side Up was very much built around these like bread and butter growth marketing tactics, but I take a digitally minded, growth oriented approach to offline marketing.

[00:03:47] And so when I met Tyler, the founder here, I have that digital experience. So we were like, if the offline thing and podcast thing doesn't work out, at least I can still consult digitally and be Head of Growth or Head of Marketing. And lucky for [00:04:00] us, it wound up working out really well.

[00:04:01] Within two months, my plate was actually full. I was booked for 50 hours of consulting work. And we were like, Oh my God, I got to hire somebody. And then, we have a full time team of seven. We have a collective of consultants that we've vetted and know have the right experience to help marketers do this. Cause you know, Heather, I mean, you've worked in other media types to podcasting is because of the delayed consumption because of the way ads are embedded.

[00:04:24] There's just so many nuances and peculiarities. It's a great channel for brands to start in who are like moving towards more demand based marketing. But at the same time, it is I like to call it baby's first offline channel. So people like investing in it because they're like, Oh, the production costs are low a hundred percent, but it's still an offline channel and you still have to have the pipes on the backend ready for it, so.

[00:04:49] Heather Osgood: [00:04:49] Well, okay. So you just brought up a very good point that I talked to people about all the time is. Is podcasting an online or an offline channel?

[00:04:59][00:05:00] Krystina Rubino: [00:04:59] For me, it's an offline channel, but it's transmitted digitally. And this reminds me of back in the day when I was agency side, I'm like, I'm talking like 10 years ago when digital video was coming up and we were duking it out with traditional l agencies were like, is it TV? Is it digital? It's on abc.com. It is digital audio in the sense of yes, it is factually digital audio. It is delivered via RSS, but we know that the way people consume the medium is actually more in line with how like people consume streaming, audio and radio, at least in terms of how they listen and engage.

[00:05:37]But with the caveat that it's on demand digital audio. And that's why is it offline? Is it online? It's like a smush of the two, but digital marketers who are really used to like working in it and working in digital advertising are going to find hiccups and challenges that they wouldn't if they had offline [00:06:00] experience. So for that reason, for me, it's more offline, but I understand th arguments for it being digital audio as well.

[00:06:07] Heather Osgood: [00:06:07] Yeah. I usually tell people I'm like, if you've got digital and you've got offline, it's really somewhere in the middle because it is a digital product. But then for me, I feel like when we think about digital, we think about all of them metrics that are provided with digital and podcasts just don't provide that. And so I think that's what makes people, really, they think, gosh, why don't you have this information? Why can't you provide me with exactly who listened to my ad? And it's just not possible.

[00:06:35]Krystina Rubino: [00:06:35] No, and it's actually part of that is because of the way the medium is designed and because of the literally the engine of how the medium functions. It's a democratic medium, that's published via RSS and it's syndicated.

[00:06:52] It's not owned by any one platform. It's not a closed platform system. So it's not like something, where it's like Facebook or Google, where you're essentially [00:07:00] operating in a closed system where you have access to metrics. There's so many different entities with a, with a hand in the pie and podcast and like a foot in the door, weird, like analogy you wanna use.

[00:07:13] But, if there's just so many different entities who are stakeholders in the channel, who like the very nature of the medium means that it will probably never quite be. In terms of measurement and metrics, what it could be, even from a technology enablement perspective because of the fragmentation of the media landscape and Spotify and Apple can duke it out and have the platform wars and whatever else might come.

[00:07:41] But it's still the way that people actually publish their content in the medium, is through RSS. And until, or if that ever changes, then it's a different discussion, but it's the things that make it a popular channel for listeners in syndication, make it challenging for marketers. But that's just, you've just got to [00:08:00] know what signals to look for and how to operate it as a, as an offline channel, essentially.

[00:08:04]Heather Osgood: [00:08:04] Exactly, and I think what you said is totally spot on the reality is what we love about podcasting. What makes it challenging for marketers, but it wouldn't be what it is if it didn't have that independent voice kind of space, but, as you mentioned, all of these different platforms are so fragmented that it's not like there's one umbrella. and I think. I'm speaking for myself here, but I think we don't really want that as an industry.

[00:08:29] I think we like the fact that there is so much diversity and so many kind of different perspectives. So, tell us, obviously you were very attracted to podcast advertising and it is a difficult, medium. What kind of approach do you like to take with clients? So, if I were to come to you and say, Krystina, I've got this company, I really want to succeed in podcast advertising. Where's the first place you would start with someone?

[00:08:57]Krystina Rubino: [00:08:57] That's actually most of what we do a [00:09:00] lot of the time we do help brands who are established in the channel, take their campaigns in house.

[00:09:05]Maybe brands will use a third party agency or somebody for a time to validate the channel. But a lot of brands are moving towards taking more and more of their media spend and the way they operate channels in house. So, it's a common conversation for us to have convo, but a lot of the time we just talked to brands and advertisers who've never touched the channel before don't know where to start.

[00:09:25] The same problem you have on the consumer side for discovery is the same problem that advertisers have for like where the heck do I even get started? How do I find shows that are relevant? There's also all sorts of like pitfalls and challenges in terms of like contextual advertising doesn't work as well in podcast advertising I've found,compaired to some of the other mediums I've worked in, I've run food advertisers on food podcasts, time and time again. And they just don't pull the way you think they would.

[00:09:54]Some of the things that you think are the best practices from other marketing channels and would want to bring here are the ones that you [00:10:00] need to leave behind. And then on the flip, you have to modify your approach and the way you measure media and marketing and paid spend in order to accommodate the way that podcast advertising is consumed and then acted upon.

[00:10:13] So a lot of the time I just start with people by understanding their overall marketing mix. What their goals are, what channels they're currently seeing success with, what kind of customer acquisition cost, or CPA or return on ad spend, ROI.

[00:10:29] Whatever they're trying to get out of the campaign. I always start goal first. And then really it's just a matter of working through it. Is this the right time for the test? Is seasonality at our back or are we heading into headwinds? What are we trying to accomplish? Is it truly all goal-based or are we trying to also impact the upper funnel metrics?

[00:10:48]Is the size of spend that we're considering, in line with other channels? Because, if you're spending a few, a hundred thousand dollars a month on Facebook advertising and you come in and you want to spend [00:11:00] $10,000 a month or $25,000 a month in podcast advertising, we might not be able to see a measurable lift.

[00:11:07] But then on the flip side of that, I've heard some partners telling advertisers that you need to test a quarter of a million dollars, a quarter, in order to test the channel. And I'm just like, that is not true. That might be the reality of how some parties have to work because, it's kinda like a pretty well established range for brands to start in with agencies.

[00:11:27]Part of that is just by virtue of the fact that agencies are working on gross media commission. And so in order for them to staff projects there, they need to achieve a certain level media spend. It's not right or wrong. It's just the way things are. So I think that's where, when I work with clients, it's like I try to couch the spend and the way we invest in the program in their other channels and tactics cause a great problem, slash opportunity, is coming up in Black Friday, Cyber Monday.

[00:11:57] I have no idea what it's going to be like this year. I [00:12:00] have no idea what 2020 is going to be like this year. So I think it's just, it's my friend and I like to say it's like a Jumanji game, but Robin Williams has gone. So we're not quite sure what to do.

[00:12:13] Like I know that Cyber Monday and Black Friday are going to affect. the way that we attribute podcast advertising. So if you know that you have a board and a C suite who are really, incredulous at new channels, and you know that we need to measure direct response and halo and attribution from the survey. And you know that you're going to be running a better promotion on your home page, than you're going to be running in podcasts maybe now is not the time to flight your first test of the medium.

[00:12:45] So these are the kinds of like things that I try to guide advertisers through When should we start? How should we start? And then there's just best practices because of the way the media is consumed. So just, we like to say always seven to 10 weeks for a live [00:13:00] media campaign to start, always a minimum of three integrations per show, spaced, so that you're capturing the, the tail and the delayed consumption that occurs. And then always, just always being patient.

[00:13:14] I can't tell you how many times I have conversations with marketers who are like, no, I totally understand all of this. And then we get into the medium and into the launch and it's I actually need this to payback within two weeks.

[00:13:24] And you're like, most of the people who like are going to hear this ad haven't even downloaded the episode yet. So I don't know you want to put the cart before the horse. But it's, if you're like in desperate need of another channel to work tomorrow, podcast is not the answer for you. But if you're trying to figure out a way to lessen your over-reliance on paid search and paid social and some of I just, I know as a business owner, I wouldn't want my monthly conversion volume to be completely predicated on Facebook and their whims of their, of their algorithm.

[00:13:57] Heather Osgood: [00:13:57] Right. The flavor of [00:14:00] today at Facebook.

[00:14:00]Krystina Rubino: [00:14:00] Whatever it might be, and that's And I'm from a paid social perspective. I'm a big believer in Facebook marketing and frankly have been a paid search professional for most of my career. Podcasts wouldn't perform as well as they do without Google being able to capture the brand interest , making and connecting those dots.

[00:14:18] So there's a place for all these platforms, but they've spoiled marketers. We love being able to be like, Oh, I'm going to place this ad. We're going to run it for 48 hours and I'm going to be able to get like a statistically sound, A/B test done in that time period, because everybody in their mother's on Facebook, it's just, it's spoiled us.

[00:14:36] So a very long answer to your question, because honestly, I feel like some of the time I must drive people crazy because I try to get all of this out at them. And I'm like, there's so many weird things about podcasts that I need to tell you.

[00:14:49] Heather Osgood: [00:14:49] Yeah. And I think to unpack that, one of the things that is so important is that people understand the real value of podcast advertising. [00:15:00] And I think we have to go into the conversation, knowing that podcast advertising really does work in a very powerful way.

[00:15:07] It just works in a very different way than other medias that, you know, and mediums that people are used to using. So I think that's important. to start at the beginning.

[00:15:17] If somebody wants to create a test, I know you said that you are typically looking at a seven to ten week window and that you want at least, three impressions, three ads within that seven to ten week window. Is that where people need to start and also looking at that budgetary number, what does make sense?

[00:15:38] Because I agree with you. You don't need to spend a quarter of a million to see if podcast advertising works. But I also think to your point, you have to invest enough to really see its power, right? You can't throw, a couple thousand dollars and say, did this work, did it not work? That's really not a good strategy, but what is a dollar amount and what is a timeframe that makes sense [00:16:00] for people?

[00:16:01]Krystina Rubino: [00:16:01] I very rarely, we very rarely will cancel those first three episodes. I'm sure you've noticed that in working with our team, we just, we will let these campaigns bake for a bit.

[00:16:12]They tend to be a little jiggly and underbaked in the middle, if anybody's a baker. Even when you think they're done, they're not. So we totally understand. We've actually seen that, episodes, shows that eventually hit their goal. A lot of the time, averaged only about 10% of the way to their goal after the first episode dropped, and was consumed.

[00:16:32]When we think about frequency and ad impressions we're not able to tell if people consume it. We're not there yet as a channel, we can spend an entire hour talking about just the idea of like consumption and what that really means.

[00:16:43] But what we can do is at least make sure that we're integrating with three different episodes over the course of a timeframe, in which we're able to make multiple impressions on a consumer. So understanding that. The other thing is you don't want to accrue [00:17:00] too much spend.

[00:17:01] So we tend to flight episodes, between one week on, one week off, and one week on three weeks off. I would say most of the time we're flighting one week on, two weeks off, because we tend to see, 50% or more occurred within the first 48 hours or so after an episode's published it tails out over a week, but it's still very much the 80/20 rule for downloads. Maybe 80 - 85% of the downloads come in the first week, depending on the show. Then you've got that tail of downloads. 

[00:17:28] Now you've just started the clock ticking on consumption. And if your podcast queue looks anything like mine, a little bit of a graveyard, and sometimes I go in and binge stuff. Something like this is evergreen content, that's going to be relevant three months from now.

[00:17:43]So if a marketer is searching for this episode, it's September 22nd but you might be hearing this episode on December 3rd. Is this less relevant to conversation for hearing it on that day? No. because that's when the media is going to be consumed. That is very much the long tail of [00:18:00] consumption. We tend to see that most episodes, after download are consumed within 19 to 21 days with a lot of the consumption happening in the first seven days after an episode is downloaded. But this is when we talk about the way being on demand, affects how we work in the channel.

[00:18:18] That's why we insist on a minimum of three episodes per show. There are some times where we'll do two, if it's a very large show and we'll space them like one week on three weeks off, like you're talking now, like those shows that are $30K, $40K, $50K a spot, they're just big trains and they're hard to move.

[00:18:35] So sometimes it advantages you to give them a little more breathing room in between spots. Cause it's all about not accruing too much spend. So where you can't turn the corner on profitability.  That's part of the challenge for a lot of growth marketers who get in the camp in the channel and they're like, somebody told me I should fight this every week.

[00:18:51] We're like, Oh God, no, like that is just way too much frequency. You're going to wind up wasting spend, unfortunately.

[00:18:58]And yeah, so part of it is [00:19:00] that seven to ten week period, we'll get you just allowing for some, so you're not gonna be able to launch every show off the bat. Every show is not going to have the same availability.

[00:19:09]And we very much tend to let inventory availability and pricing dictate the shows that we select. So even if we know that a show performed well for a similar advertiser in the past. We know that the audience is inline with the target that we're trying to reach psychographically, maybe a little bit demographically, but we don't have those across the medium yet.

[00:19:28]Really just the goal is really to, just to the point also, to tie it all back to budget. The worst thing you can have when you're doing a test is a false negative or a false positive. And when I think about all of these considerations that I'm listing out here, you start to understand that podcast advertising is a little special different. Weird, but in a good way.

[00:19:57] It gives you an opportunity to reach [00:20:00] people on demand in a way that, there are not many other on demand services that offer advertising like this or on demand platforms. So a lot of, I keep saying a lot of what we do is to flight media and to like shape the way we do campaigns around the way the media is consumed, the mediums consumed.

[00:20:18]And then just in order to make sure you can do three episodes per show test across a decent variety of genres. I like to tell people, but the minimum that I would personally, I'm not a podcast campaign is somewhere in the range of $50,000 for the first test.

[00:20:33] Again, that's for like more scaled brands. There have been exceptions where we've worked with a brand during their seed or series A, and they don't have a lot of, In terms of fundraising, they don't have a lot of funds in order to spend on media. But they also are not spending that much on paid media. So we can determine the baseline lift. Most of the time brands considering podcasts, they usually tend to say $50,000 to $150,000.

[00:20:57]Heather Osgood: [00:20:57] And I tell people that, there are huge [00:21:00] ranges in shows,right? If you want to get on the Joe Rogan experience, it's going to cost a whole lot more than if you want to get on Sally's, Soup Dinner Podcast or whatever, there's a huge range. And that doesn't mean that Sally's podcast doesn't work, but you're going to pay a lot less for Sally's than you're going to pay for the Joe Rogan Experience. I think a lot of times because, those bigger shows do tend to capture more of our attention, people automatically gravitate to, I have to advertise there. When in fact there's a lot of really good midsize shows that can perform well and don't cost the same amount.

[00:21:35] Have you found that mid kind of sector of shows can perform really well?

[00:21:39]Krystina Rubino: [00:21:39] You're right on. So there are times like Rogan's an absolute slam dunk. If he's into the product and he's endorsing it and giving a personal endorsement, there are times where he's worked really well.

[00:21:52] But to your point, not every advertiser has tens of thousands of dollars to spend on a spot. The challenge is like when we think about going and [00:22:00] buying smaller shows, There is part of a challenge for advertisers, where if you buy a show, that's, a couple of hundred bucks an episode, like a hundred dollars, $200, there's a challenge where you can wind up with a false positive in a genre, because let's just say your customer acquisition cost is a hundred dollars.

[00:22:16] If you've acquired two customers from that podcast, then it's quote unquote, and you might make a decision to invest more heavily in the genre based on that. But my friend, do you have a false positive? So I personally love if you want to test small, I usually tell people, 20K to 25K downloads good minimum.

[00:22:35]There are, it shows that punch way above their weight and are performaning at 10k or 15k downloads, but they are the exception. And also they tend to be like almost super performers. In as much as buying media can be cheating, buying some of those. So shows is like cheating in a good way.

[00:22:50]You want to buy them? Absolutely. But be realistic about how much you're going to be able to scale your campaign buying, $25, $50, $75 shows. I think the sweet spot [00:23:00] is somewhere in the range of $500 a show all the way up to $10K, $15K a show.

[00:23:05] But a lot of the performers, like the ones that are just day in and day out, small to medium level influencers and hosts. I talk about podcasting being grownup influencer marketing, The hosts are influential and we're essentially as advertisers borrowing on their influence.

[00:23:23] So that's where I tend to also look at podcast advertising yes, as paid advertising, but there's a partnerships side of it that is part just because of the way that the ads work, and then part of it is because there's just not a lot of technology or technological enablement of the medium yet from a buying perspective to where, everything is cut and dry and transaction-based more like a Facebook or an Ad Words.

[00:23:47] And you do still have to have relationships and talk to people. It can be challenging for brands who don't know where to start. And that's why they'll work with like consultants like us or sometimes with an agency or, if they're lucky enough to have in house marketers with [00:24:00] experience. Because it's, it's a fragmented marketplace, so it can be really challenging for people to find purchase.

[00:24:05] Heather Osgood: [00:24:05] Yeah, absolutely. And I think to your point too, I know we've had experience where we reach out to podcasts and place ads with them and we're like, Hey, what happened to that ad? Oh yeah, I got busy last weekend and publish an episode and you're like, you just want to lose your mind. But, so I feel like it's so valuable to work with, with companies that can help you with that because working one on one with podcasts can be pretty challenging, from time to time.

[00:24:31] Krystina Rubino: [00:24:31] Yeah. I love working with independent shows. There are definitely like some independents that we work with and, I'm thinking actually of one recent, I won't mention who it is, but, I would say he's a fairly well known podcast or he's decided to take on his own sales himself. He's a comedian. And I was just like, wow, great guy. Absolute sweetheart, and just really understands it. Those are the exceptions.

[00:24:56] Yes. And like we work with a lot of independent [00:25:00] shows. that's one of the things that I'm really proud of, but we also work with a lot of independent publishers and a lot of the time, like whether it's a publisher, like somebody like True Native Media, whether it's somebody like I'm more of a multitude, that's like a collective, there were all these really interesting independent approaches to.

[00:25:17] Like the consolidation of the channel or the way people work in the channel. And that's part of what makes podcasting special. But to your point, definitely been burned by independence and small publishers who were like, yeah, we decided to publish three episodes this week. So I just put all of your ads in there and we're good.

[00:25:33] I'm like, Oh no, God, no, that's not trying to do here.

[00:25:37] Heather Osgood: [00:25:37] That wasn't the plan. Yeah, for sure. I know that the speed of the medium is super important. And I think that you and I are both on the same page when we see that. It isn't the same podcast advertising. Isn't the same as other mediums.

[00:25:53] And what I always tell people is it's okay, you've got these, 20K, 50K downloads that are going to be [00:26:00] happening in a 30-day period. But that doesn't mean, 20K or 50K people are listening to it today just because your ad went live today. And we were chatting before we hit record. And you and I both have had experiences where the ad goes live. Somebody calls, that day or a couple of days later and says, you gotta stop these ads. They're not working. And you're like, whoa. They just started, everybody hasn't even listened to your ad.

[00:26:24] So knowing that it's a slower moving medium. how, as if you're brand new to the space, if you're an in house marketing team, or even if you're an agency that's maybe never done any podcast ad buying before, what kind of time period should people really look at before they can say was this actually successful?

[00:26:45] Krystina Rubino: [00:26:45] Weeks or months .We have actually had this conversation with new advertisers so many times that we actually, just as a practice, Right Side Up look back, Matt McNeese from our team, looked back at some of our campaigns that we've run over the [00:27:00] years. And what we actually found is that the first three months of all of these campaigns look very similar as they get to CPA goal or campaign goal.

[00:27:08]You could see performance improve after the second drop. After we started to get a little bit of frequency, right? We could see performance start to mature by the third drop. We could see CPA be lower for the second test than the first test. All of these are performance indicators that we look back at most, our most successful campaigns.

[00:27:27] If we had pulled the plug two weeks in. We would have never had any of this success. And we're powering some of the largest podcast advertising campaigns in the country right now. Like we, if we would have pulled the plug, they would have never known if the medium works. So we tend to coach brands like be patient, wait until at least the second integration to start judging at any given show.

[00:27:49]In terms of judging the medium. It really depends. I like to say that you can get a sense for whether or not it's going to work about six weeks in. Cause at that point, somewhere between five to [00:28:00] six weeks in, cause what you really want is to get enough shows who have dropped their second episode and the flight.

[00:28:05] So if you're flighting everything for three episodes, you really want to get like ahead of your second episode, or just have that performance in back of you because to your point, I can't tell you how many times I've had advertisers call me or text me even, and be like, it's Wednesday, we went live on Monday and one podcast launched Sunday and I have no activity.

[00:28:25] And I'm like, yeah, nobody's heard your ad yet. Nobody's heard the episode. It maybe nobody downloaded the episode. We know the people download it because it happens within the first 48 hours. But a lot of that is subscription activity waiting for the episodes of publish it's on demand audio. I also like to tell marketers, a lot of marketers tend to listen to podcasts.

[00:28:43] I've noticed, demographically. It makes sense. Media is, based in New York, California, Chicago, like these are, some of the bigger podcasts, listening cities and States. If you tend to consume the media at a delayed [00:29:00] pace, you have to take that consumption into account.

[00:29:03] And so I, I always tell people, if I have somebody who's really not quite getting the concept, I'll ask them to open their phone and pull up their podcast listening app. And let's talk about how many unlistened episodes you have of Excellent. What are your favorite shows some of your favorite shows and you're going to go and listen to it, to them.

[00:29:19] And like when we were all flying, like maybe you were on a delay and you were laid over and you started just like crushing episodes of Armchair Expert. I have totally been there and I've gone back and gone back to late episodes that I downloaded four months ago. So , it doesn't mean that the impression or the exposure is any less valuable.

[00:29:38] It's an intended benefit of the ad. No other channel drives tail like this, the way that I have seen TV radio, satellite radio, because of the way that the channel is consumed, because it is on demand audio. It is really the only channel I know that drives tail this way over time, that can actually [00:30:00] push the cost per acquisition and the medium lower. And just by virtue of the continuous exposure, it gives you a good solid foundation on which to continue iterative testing in the channel. So if you're able to stay patient up front, you can actually achieve a lot of the longterm success.

[00:30:20] It starts to happen pretty quickly. And you start to get a sense for whether or not it will work. I would say somewhere between the sixth week of the campaign, or, fifth, fourth or fifth week of the campaign all the way through to like the sixth or seventh week of the campaign, you'll know.

[00:30:32] You'll feel it. and then there are instances where you're pleasantly surprised, but just know that's, not the way that things always are. Maybe it just happened to be, an episode of a podcast from Crooked Media and, there was like something political happening in the country.

[00:30:49] So downloads were really hot and heavy that week. And it just so happened that like you were overexposed, so congratulate yourself because you were in the right content at the right [00:31:00] time and, luck advantages the bold. But on the flip side of that, don't be surprised when not every episode performs that way, because that's not. It's not the norm. We know about the normal consumption patterns of the medium and that's not quite it. It's super exciting to be part of those lightning in a bottle times where it does happen, but know that it's very much the exception, not the rule, like not the norm.

[00:31:21]Heather Osgood: [00:31:21] Now how would you recommend people track results from an ad campaign? Cause I feel like that's certainly a question I get frequently.

[00:31:29] Krystina Rubino: [00:31:29] Yeah. So I think part of the reason that I view it as an offline medium is because the measurement and tracking in the channel is remedial compared to its digital counterparts. So a lot of the time advertisers will use some sort of post checkout post-purchase post KPI survey. Usually asking the consumer how they heard about them. That helps advertisers triangulate, an indirect response. They're usually measuring a direct response with a promo code or a [00:32:00] vanity URL, save 20% on ABC widgets go to ABCwidgets.com/playbook, or, whatever the actual vanity URL or the preferred promo code.

[00:32:11]The challenge with it, this is that you do lose attribution. So you need to make sure that you're creating some sort of an offer, some sort of reason for people to visit the link or use the promo code, not just like your default web offer, because you will lose people who go directly to the site or to the app and then see that offer, know it's the same and not bother to enter the code or the URL. so that's really like for direct response advertisers that has historically been the best practice in the medium.

[00:32:38] There are pixel based measurement solutions that are starting to come out like Podsights and Chartable, Barometrics and possibly others. I think there's one other one that I'm forgetting to mention right now. I feel bad. But the pixel based solutions in the channel, there are some challenges with them as well. Like the idea of measuring things on a pixel basis is interesting and it would be compelling if this were more of a closed [00:33:00] platform.

[00:33:00] So the reason that pixel based measurement is so ubiquitous in digital, for example, is partially because the pixels that you're placing are from Facebook and Google and the exposure that those pixels have, the, just the size and the breadth of Facebooks and Googles audiences mean that these pixels provide highly qualified signals for performance, where, when we think about podcast exposure and pixeling podcasts and different hosts and the way that the medium is consumed, it becomes more challenging because a lot of the time, not all shows will accept third party measurement in this way yet. It's not really like the gold standard of the channel.

[00:33:37] And also there is not one clear cut winner. Who's going to be the quote unquote winner for attribution in the channel. The other part is candidly, looking at attribution for one platform or one channel or one medium is all well and good, but you really want to understand results in the context of your overall media mix.

[00:33:58] And so that's why, like we [00:34:00] use, how do you hear about us survey based attribution as our default whenever possible. So base measurement is great and it's something that we can implement if it makes sense. If enough shows are, on board for the plan that we're going to do, then we might actually decide to implement it.

[00:34:15]The challenges that all of these are like, it's attribution modeling. It's not true attribution. we're all modeling based on either survey data or pixel data. And so essentially it's a little bit of a different mix for every single brand. There are also entities is who will fund like, awareness and exposure study is, again, that's, that is a little more challenging.

[00:34:36] It's not as cut and dry as digital because you can't control for exposure and podcasting across the medium. So you really, you can't quite establish a control the way that you can and other channels where you can, control ad serving to a greater extent. So really the way to measure results is, we usually like to say, through some sort of direct call to action. Some way to measure indirect activity in [00:35:00] halo, whether it's, checkout survey, or pixel based measurement. Whatever the methodology might be or enabling multiple methodologies to see what works.

[00:35:08] In terms of just maybe the tool that you're using to optimize the campaign is different than the tool that you're using or the methodology you're using to equate podcast performance to other channels. So this is the part about it we actually do so much work digging in with brands because everyone's in house attribution methodology is different.

[00:35:27] And I really think that like the only way to establish a medium as performance and core to a brands mix is to use their internal attribution and analytics, and make sure that podcast is a part of that. Because if you try to prove it out as like this kind of weird channel off on its own and the silo, it's vulnerable.

[00:35:48]You really want to try and prove it out as a tactic that you should be continuously using in your marketing mix. And that's why you have to hold it to the same performance standards, as other channels, even if it's just [00:36:00] exposure you still want to make sure that you're, that you're seeing and a return on your investment, whatever that investment might be that's commensurate .

[00:36:08] Heather Osgood: [00:36:08] Yeah. Awesome. I think that, yeah, I'm right on par with you with all your responses. I think attribution is an interesting space right now and some of these attribution companies certainly do provide a level of information. And that's usually something that I will tell advertisers is we have three bits of information. We have your own internal tracking. We could have a Podsights or an attribution tracking, and then we have the downloads, right? So let's look at all of those pieces together and not just have one view be the end all be all, because I think that they're having a mix of information is good.

[00:36:45] So, I know we need to start wrapping it up here, but before we end, I did want to talk about one of my favorite topics, which is dynamic ad insertion. So I know according to the most recent IAB, study that came out about podcast advertising, about [00:37:00] 50% of the podcasts in the space are doing dynamic ad insertion while about 50% are doing embedded ad reads.

[00:37:07] I know that you've spoken a lot about embedded ad reads and the value that they bring with a long tail. Can you talk to us just a little bit about your take on dynamic insertion and the role that it plays in the space?

[00:37:20]Krystina Rubino: [00:37:20] There's a couple of things when we talk about dynamic insertion.

[00:37:22] So if we're talking about it as an ad serving technology and as a technology that is allowing for ads to be served. That makes sense to me. I think when we talk about it as an ad cost basis, when we're talking about the delivery of ads and the transacting of ads via dynamic insertion, the challenge that I just have personally, is that the way that media is embedded in the channel, historically, means that brands are, in some ways making a speculative investment.

[00:37:51] But making an investment in the show and in that future exposure to where there's going to be a tale and listenership that is actually [00:38:00] continuing on long after the episode airs and the ads embedded.

[00:38:04] So that is why podcasts, historically, have been able, part of the reason why I should say, besides like premium publishing implications and other considerations, that is one of the big reasons why podcasts have been able to command such a high CPM related to other channels. Even related to streaming audio where most of the time your CPMs are in like the like low to mid single digits.

[00:38:27]That is really the challenge in podcast advertising is that if your CPM is $25 for a baked-in embedded ad, and you want to charge $22 or $20 CPMs for a dynamic insertion that Delta of 20% it's not going to make up for the difference in performance that you will get, by virtue, of embedding the ad.

[00:38:51] And so I would love for dynamic insertion to be more of a, it would give us opportunities like seasonal campaigns that are not as relevant right [00:39:00] now because we can't control exposure. The other challenge of it, candidly, is that I don't think anybody has a bulletproof answer on how to consistently flight dynamic advertising because of the delayed nature of consumption of the channel.

[00:39:13]Dynamic advertising is super helpful in that we can start to target. We can start, we can start to access the benefits of, behavioral targeting and demographic targeting and some of the, to your, to our discussion earlier. Some of the things that make it a digital medium. On the flip side, the way we've monetized the medium to date has been very, offline adjacent. So the way that we like convert essentially to, to thinking about like the value and the, whatever it is of the download, essentially, that is really, that's the crux of it. Are we charging appropriately or discounting our pricing appropriately based on the exposure and the way that it happens over time.

[00:39:59] And then [00:40:00] how do we flight knowing that consumption is delayed in addition to downloads. So that is an answer that like, I don't think anybody has like a, we should always do it this way answer yet. I look forward to knowing that because dynamic insertion has just been hit or miss for us with direct response as a result.

[00:40:19]It's a little more successful on a show by show basis, a little less successful for us in terms of the high growth tech that we work with when it comes to like broader network buys that are, run of network dynamically inserted. And then the last part of it is you lose the host endorsement, which is the reason that advertisers are coming to the medium in the first place. It's the power of that endorsement.

[00:40:41] Heather Osgood: [00:40:41] So one of the things that I get so confused about is why, when we mentioned dynamic insertion, everyone feels like it has to be prerecorded because I agree with you. I think that the host red endorsement is what this medium provides that so many other channels don't, when we go back to looking at these.

[00:41:00] [00:40:59] Podcast host is being influencers. That's so important in that. So valuable. So I know from my perspective, having a host read ad is imperative and that host read ad can be inserted dynamically just as easily as it edit into an ad read. And so I feel like that's one of the, the soap boxes that I stand on a lot is that right?

[00:41:19] Hey, this ad can be dynamically inserted and it can be a host read ad. I think that while we do see some encroachment of the programmatic ad buying and those prerecorded ads I see two sides of the coin because I feel like, sometimes those are like, Hey, just bring the ad dollars on. I don't care where they come from. I don't care if it's a prerecorded ad or who's advertising on my show, but then you also have a lot of podcast hosts who are very protective of their audiences because they've. I spend a lot of time and energy cultivating the relationships and building their audience and the value of this host read ad is.

[00:41:52] And one of the things I love about podcasting so much is how many hosts will turn down an advertiser? They'll say I don't like this [00:42:00] product. I'm not going to endorse it. Yeah. I feel like that's all the richness and. I really do believe that one of the big issues right now, as you mentioned, is flighting.

[00:42:10] So we've had advertisers come to us and say we want to book this show for the whole year. And I'm like, they're doing dynamic insertion. So that means every single episode that this person'sgoing to listen to for a year is going to have your ad in it.

[00:42:23] Krystina Rubino: [00:42:23] No, that's not good for anybody, right? It's not good. No one wants to hear that. And no. And if you're listening to the host, but also this is why show specific dynamic insertion tends to work a little better because you're still inserting the host read ad, right? Is that the magic of podcasting is in the host read ad.

[00:42:42] We even see some challenges when we do like stuff that's like super public radio and like it's a journalist and they need their producer to do the read for them. We still see some detrimental impact on performance. The host endorse nature of a medium is why people come, right.

[00:42:58] To your point I don't want to hear [00:43:00] anybody say the same thing to me for 52 weeks in a row when I'm listening to something, I think that's the definition of insanity.

[00:43:05]Heather Osgood: [00:43:05] Absolutely. So I really do feel like it's a code that has to be cracked. and I do agree with you wholeheartedly that a lot of it has to do with flighting and probably with CPMs, Like adjusting that appropriately. but I'm really interested to see how it unfolds because my, one of the things that I really always lean back on is it doesn't necessarily matter when content is created it matters when it's consumed.

[00:43:30] And if I'm consuming it today and I'm listening to a host read ad, I think there is a lot of power in it. It's just figuring out the pieces to really perfect it. And I don't think that I've heard from anybody in the space yet about this is how you do dynamic insertion successfully. We'll just have to keep playing with it. Like we do with all things in podcasting.

[00:43:51]Krystina Rubino: [00:43:51] We test it continuously all the time and we ourselves are trying to tinker with and figure out the right way. A lot of the time, what we'll do is like work with [00:44:00] publishers on a remnant basis for dynamic insertion.

[00:44:02] So we can understand how people reply to exposure. In the context of that one ad. And so sometimes what we'll do is test it in a remnant capacity and then be able to flight a more consistent spend at a higher CPM threshold. But then we also tend sometimes to then get in trouble with flighting, even in those instances.

[00:44:22] So like you said, I think this is just something that we're going to have to answer as an industry. And I think a lot of it's going to be as the technical for it is standardized as well. The same way that IAB 2.0 downloads basically standardize the industry. We've got some ways to go with dynamic insertion technology, so

[00:44:41] Heather Osgood: [00:44:41] Yeah, for sure. One of the most fun things about podcasts and the podcasting space in general is we are part of this evolution of it growing. And for people listening who maybe haven't experienced podcast advertising, there is a lot of power behind it.

[00:44:56] And I think, one of the things that you have said [00:45:00] is that it's so valuable to diversify your ads. If you're just putting everything into paid search and social, there's a real space for you with podcast advertising. Well, Krystina, how can people get in touch with you?

[00:45:15] Krystina Rubino: [00:45:15] Oh, you can, you can find me on LinkedIn. And if you're interested and you want to reach out directly, you can reach out to me at krystina@rightsideup.co, and also, rightsideup.com.

[00:45:26] If you want to work with us or work, as a member of the collective. Yeah, those are pretty much so we used to find me.

[00:45:32] Heather Osgood: [00:45:32] Terrific. Thank you so much. I appreciate all your knowledge and expertise that you have brought to the show today. Thanks for being on. And I'll talk to you again real soon.

[00:45:40] Krystina Rubino: [00:45:40] Thanks so much, Heather.


Krystina Rubino

Head of Offline Marketing at Right Side Up