What Fresh Hell: Laughing In The Face Of Motherhood took their income and tripled it in one year by switching their show to dynamic ad insertion. By doing so, they were able to access their back catalog of evergreen content and monetize...
What Fresh Hell: Laughing In The Face Of Motherhood took their income and tripled it in one year by switching their show to dynamic ad insertion.
By doing so, they were able to access their back catalog of evergreen content and monetize it.
Amy Wilson joins me on the podcast to talk about her experience and what it takes to set up a podcast for dynamic insertion.
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This transcript is not edited.
[00:00:29]Heather Osgood: [00:00:29] Hello and welcome to the podcast advertising playbook. I'm your host, Heather Osgood. And I'm so thankful to be joined by Amy Wilson of What Fresh Hell: Laughing in the face of motherhood today. Amy is one of the podcasts that we feel very honored to represent at True Native Media. Welcome to the show, Amy.
[00:00:48] Amy Wilson: [00:00:48] Thanks. Thanks for having me.
[00:00:49] Heather Osgood: [00:00:49] Yeah. It's great to talk to you in this capacity. I know we have lots of conversations, but it's fun to actually be on a podcast together. And the reason that I wanted to bring Amy on the show today is [00:01:00] that they have done a really successful job of transitioning from being embedded ad reads into dynamically inserted ad reads.
[00:01:08] And I wanted to just share with you what the process has been for her, what the ups and downs have been maybe where, the successes lie dynamic insertion really is something that I believe is on the forefront of podcast advertising and where I think the whole industry is headed.
[00:01:25] And so I just want to share a little bit of insights with everyone on what they can expect and understand about dynamic ad insertion. So Amy, if you don't mind, could you just introduce yourself, tell everyone who you are and how long you've been in podcasting. And give us just a little backstory on who you are.
[00:01:39] Amy Wilson: [00:01:39] So I'm Amy Wilson. My co-host is Margaret Abels and we launched the parenting podcast. What Fresh Hell? Laughing in the face of motherhood in the fall of 2016. And so now it's like it's four years old. I can't believe it. We have we've done almost 200 regular episodes and as our audience has grown and our [00:02:00] opportunities to advertise have grown, we've also added Interviews with experts two or three times a month as separate episodes.
[00:02:06] And then also we take parenting questions from our listeners and we do mini episodes once a week. So I think we were I think we're making as many episodes as we can make right now, but it's been a wonderful thing to have our show grow and the advertising grow with it and feel like we're really getting somewhere. It's exciting.
[00:02:27] Heather Osgood: [00:02:27] It's been so much fun to watch you guys grow because we've been in business at True Native Media for five years. And you guys started, like you said, just a year after we did. And just to watch your progress going from beginning to where you are now has been really impressive.
[00:02:42] And one of the moves you've made obviously is this move to dynamic ad insertion. So I'm curious when you sat down yourself and Margaret and talked about transitioning to dynamic ad insertion, what were, maybe some of the questions you asked yourselves and what made you make the decision that [00:03:00] dynamic ad insertion was going to be a good move for you.
[00:03:02] Amy Wilson: [00:03:02] We first started talking about it at She Podcasts in Atlanta. We actually sat down with you and I was at the fall of 2019, I think. So October, 2019, the land of normal time, we sat together and had a beverage
[00:03:19]And you had guided us along the way on how to, establish ourselves as a podcast that had advertising.
[00:03:27] And I, you said to us, I think dynamic insertion is the way things are going. And I think you guys should consider this and in our back of napkin calculations what tipped it for us very quickly is so we're a parenting podcast. We try very hard to have evergreen content by which I mean content.
[00:03:47] We're not a news podcast. We're not a sports podcast. A podcast that we did six months ago on when you shouldn't rescue your kids is just as relevant to the person who wants to listen to it now, as it was, when it was released. [00:04:00] We discovered that we were getting about 45% of our monthly downloads are of episodes that are more than 30 days old.
[00:04:08] So that, knowing that was true for us, you said Whoa, then you could be monetizing that in a whole other way, if you had dynamically inserted ads. And so we did a back of napkin calculation and realized we could triple our income, or who knows. We could even triple our income. And as things have turned out, we in 2020, we'll have tripled our income from 2019 and 2021 looks to be even bigger than that.
[00:04:35] And it's because we have this back catalog that we can quite nimbly use to insert new ads. Yeah, and it was a two-part process for us. So the first thing we had to do is we had to take our old catalog of baked in ads. Some of which got crusty as Margaret likes to say.
[00:04:54] And that's an issue, right? With the baked in ads that stay in there forever they're codes that are dead they're [00:05:00] URLs that are 404'd and don't point anywhere. Like they don't necessarily reflect well on you anyway . The brand is totally pivoted and how they wouldn't use that ad language.
[00:05:08] Now there's reasons that you want to clear them out anyway. So the first thing we did is cleared out those ads. And I can talk about that, cause that is a sort of short term pain in the rear. But worth it. The first thing we did is we transitioned at the beginning of 2019, we started using Megaphone.
[00:05:25] We moved our hosting on to Megaphone, which meant that we could do dynamic insertion, but we were still running. We were running ads that we were selling as baked in, but we were using a platform that could dynamically insert them if that made sense. So we were still doing ads, the old fashioned way, but on a platform that could allow for that to change.
[00:05:47] And then it was probably in the beginning of 2020, we said, okay, now let's try to do dynamic insertion. Let's do a hybrid. We don't know how this is going to go. Let's see. And it was you know, we rolled it out in March and April. [00:06:00] And now this is December, 2020. We're recording this. I think we have one baked in ad for the entire month.
[00:06:07] The rest of it is all dynamically inserted and we've already said 2021 is all dynamic and it went smoothly very smoothly for us.
[00:06:16] Heather Osgood: [00:06:16] I think you guys did a really good job. It's not, if you're transitioning from baked in to dynamically inserted ads, it's not necessarily a cut and dry process.
[00:06:27] You do have to go through this timeline because you have promised these advertisers that the ads will be embedded. And typically with embedded ad reads, depending on the agreements that you have with a podcast or with an advertiser, it's going to be somewhere between 90 and 120 days is really what constitutes a baked in ad.
[00:06:49] And so you did have to go through that process of letting those baked in ads remain in the episodes long enough so that they could, really validate the contracts that you signed for them. [00:07:00] And then you were able to transition to dynamic ad insertion. Yeah. It's a process. And it's interesting to hear you say that, it's taken you really a full year to get from being embedded to dynamic.
[00:07:11] Amy Wilson: [00:07:11] So yeah, and about that actually you're right. That we probably let ads that were baked in run for at least a year. And then once they, once the year came up, then we could pull them out. And so that's why it took a while for us to have enough of a catalog. And of course our new episodes were also available for identity dynamic insertion.
[00:07:28]But yes, it took a while to build up the catalog. And now that it's been a year, everything is available. So you're ready to, it's a process. And of course, it's the process of actually having to go through each episode. This is something that might, my partner did that the actual work of going through each episode, we did some of it with a virtual assistant to okay.
[00:07:46] Episode 42, the ad break is at 14:01 and it's again, 28:06 or whatever. And here are the two ads. So that made it easier for Margaret to edit them, download them, pull up the ads and re upload them one at a [00:08:00] time. And it was a hassle, it's all, I don't know. It probably was about. 20 to 30 hours of work.
[00:08:07]But it has certainly, reach rewards since then. And it was something you only had to do once now we've gotten smart too. We keep, as we go, we have a spreadsheet that has, it must have 40 columns at this point, but we keep track as we go of where the ad breaks and what the ads were.
[00:08:22] And if, when they did have expiration dates, when they would roll off that kind of thing. So we're not, we don't have to go back and figure it out later. We're doing it as we go.
[00:08:30] Heather Osgood: [00:08:30] And I try to tell people that if you're a podcaster and you're doing embedded ad reads right now, just keep track, just do it because it will really serve you in the future when you're at a place where you're ready to move to dynamic ad insertion.
[00:08:43]Yeah. Keep track. I think that helps. So initially you did have to choose a hosting provider because not all hosting providers have the capability of doing dynamic ad insertion. I know that there are several great companies out there. What made you choose Megaphone?
[00:08:59][00:09:00] Amy Wilson: [00:08:59] Megaphone was extremely easy to work with.
[00:09:03] Their platform is very robust, so it's a little, it's intimidating Whoa, it's driving a sports car kind of thing, but they have live chat. And now they've been bought by Spotify. So I think it's going to become even more robust in terms of what they offer. And there was a pretty new company also when we came in not brand new, but it was new enough that we would say, Hey, could we ever get something like this and then sometimes it would show up like the next month it would be there.
[00:09:27] They're listening to us. It felt and I forget why we chose them ove the other ones, I think it was, they had a pretty attractive ad package and they also have something we're actually not using it right now, but it's called the MTM platform. I'm not sure what exactly that stands for, but if you have dynamic insertion, you have your inventory that can be sold.
[00:09:47] If some of it's unsold. It will never replace an ad that you've sold to a sponsor, but it's there and it you can make it available. And then, some ad for a sprint or something we'll drop in. [00:10:00] We got to the point where we were selling enough ads that we didn't really need it. And we could make a little money around the edges, but we felt okay, for us, we have enough ads and their host read, and we want to give a certain category of product where you're not getting the ads are read by a random person, and us it's always going to be us. We figured that was a stronger selling point, but that is there. And one good thing about that when we were using it before we started getting dynamic insertion ramped up, we were just using it on our back catalog. And it was it was paying for the costs of megaphone, which is not cheap.
[00:10:33] It's $99. It was $99 a month when we started it, as opposed to, I think, $10 a month for the hosting we were using before. And now it's gone up. As our downloads have gone up, our monthly costs have gone up, but in the months that we were using the MTM insertable platform, we were getting a couple hundred dollars in passive income, which so it more than paid for a megaphone.
[00:10:53] So that's something to consider. .
[00:10:56] Heather Osgood: [00:10:56] Yeah. Yeah. And just to expand on that a little bit, though, the concept [00:11:00] behind like a marketplace platform like megaphone has is that you, the host are able to insert the ads that are host read. But then as you mentioned, a prerecorded kind of almost programmatically sold ads can come back and fill in the cracks.
[00:11:16] And fill in any inventory that's not sold. And I really respect that you guys have decided to only go with host read ads. I think that your listening experience certainly is really elevated by having your audience know that they can expect to hear ad reads from you. And I do think that they tend to perform better on the backend, if you're an advertiser and you're thinking, Hey, gosh, I'd love to buy on a programmatic level.
[00:11:41] Podcasts with dynamic ad insertion, give you that capability. And on the flip side, if you're a podcaster, having that programmatic element, depending on your hosting provider can help fill in some of the cracks, which is nice. And I don't think it's a whole, a lot of money, but even if it covers the cost of the hosting provider, that can certainly be [00:12:00] helpful.
[00:12:00]Amy Wilson: [00:12:00] If you only have say, 15,000 downloads to sell in a month sprint, doesn't want to buy 15,000 downloads from you, but they'll buy half a million downloads from megaphone, making, send them here. So it's your way into to advertisers, but yes, it costs more than using, I don't know, anchor or something like that.
[00:12:18] That's a very, all of us start our podcast with much smaller, lighter, mainframe.
[00:12:23]Heather Osgood: [00:12:23] Yeah. Great. So the first step really was identifying the hosting provider. Then you had to go through, you had to strip out and did you guys actually, you removed old ads and then you put the insertion points in because you could do it either way.
[00:12:38] You could put an insertion point where the ad already is. So the listener would hear the bass and ad that had been there. And then they would also get served a dynamically inserted ad, but that of course would really, increase your ad load for listeners. So what you did is you stripped the old ads out and the nice part is if like you said, you had record of some of them, but if you know where those old [00:13:00] ads are then it really just replaces it.
[00:13:02] And so the conversation flow still works very well and people don't feel like you're ads are cutting off their, your know, your sentences as you're interviewing someone. So the flow of the show is still really powerful.
[00:13:17]Amy Wilson: [00:13:17] That's part of it too. If you knew your ads were 30 seconds, 60 seconds, I think you could leave them in and they would, they could be inserted additionally, or they could just play over them. But for us, yeah, like again, we try to our 60 second ads are usually closer to 90 seconds because we try to make them funny and conversational and improvisational enough that you'll keep listening. And that's, it's hard to do that and hit all the talking points in 60 seconds. And so we never.
[00:13:44] We pay a little attention to that, but that would have been a problem for us. You would have had weird like beginnings and ends of ads and cutting off interviews, as you said. So we decided to actually pull them all out.
[00:13:54] Heather Osgood: [00:13:54] Yeah. Yeah. Cool. Now, since you've been doing dynamic ad insertion, I'm really curious, have you [00:14:00] gotten any feedback from your audience?
[00:14:01]Do you think your audience knows that you're dynamically inserting ads?
[00:14:05] Amy Wilson: [00:14:05] No, I don't think they do. And, like I said, in 2019 we were using. The dynamic insertion platform and selling baked in ads. It was the same, it's the same thing. And we try harder. Editor goes back and listens and we do try to make sure that our ads sound the same, that one's not a little bit louder, a little quieter because that's when you notice, when you're listening to a podcast and Oh, you have to turn it down and turn it up.
[00:14:29] You're annoyed by that you're irked by that you might start skipping or stop listening. So we try to make sure that they're very consistent their lofts and loudness and all that stuff that I don't handle. I sell the ads, but I don't edit for loudness. And I'll also, so you know that there's not too much dead air at the beginning or the end.
[00:14:45] Our hosting platform makes it easy for you to listen to the episode with the ads inserted in before it launches. So you can hear exactly what it is going to sound like and make sure there's no hiccups. And we'll go back and say, there's a little dead air here. There's a little bit of [00:15:00] this, but because it's all host read I don't think it does sound different. And so sometimes I do think that there's some in the industry from advertisers, some what is dynamic insertion? We don't really do it that way. And then what we do and it's working really well. It's being the, what we're using to deliver it is the same as baked in. It's just different expiration dates and we can give you, more downloads and it's yes. I think our listeners would say it's the. It's the same difference to them.
[00:15:30] Heather Osgood: [00:15:30] Yeah. I feel like you guys are just executing dynamic insertion really well. And there is a thought process within the industry right now that is I think a hill and a hump that we have to get over that baked in or embedded ad reads are better than dynamically inserted ads.
[00:15:49] And my thought is that part of the reason as an industry that we think that baked in or embedded ads are better than dynamically inserted ads is [00:16:00] because the buying process and the planning process has been very proven for embedded ad reads. We know how they work. The agencies that do a lot of the buying know how they work, but we as an industry really do need to transition to figuring out exactly how we can make dynamic ad insertion as effective for advertisers.
[00:16:20] But, I feel like your story is such a success story, because from our perspective at True Native Media, we've had a decent number of renewals on your show. We have agencies that come back to the show time and time again. And I don't know that I have heard one complaint about, what fresh hell, moving to dynamic insertion, the advertisers have been happy.
[00:16:43] They're getting good responses. I'm curious. I know that you do work with advertisers directly as well. Have you gotten any feedback from advertisers that maybe they were advertising before when you were doing embedded and now they're doing dynamic and they don't feel like it's effective? Yeah. Any feedback you've gotten from [00:17:00] advertisers?
[00:17:00] Amy Wilson: [00:17:00] Not that it's not effective. I can think of two advertisers we work with that in 2020 did baked in ads, including this one we have in December and now for 2021, we started okay, we're dynamic insertion now. And the sponsors said, okay. And we actually got bigger ad buys, bigger, a download buys from them because we were able, we're also able to offer, it's very easy for us to say to a sponsor we can give you 15,000 downloads in a month across our entire catalog. That's easy for us to say, we could give you 15,000 in one episode, after 30 days, we weren't quite there. And they're getting more downloads from us. Great. No, we haven't had any pushback. Sometimes when we have people come to us individually and we're selling not through an agency, they don't know what dynamic insertion is.
[00:17:44]And once you explain, they don't care. It's more the advertisers are like, this is how we do it. We don't do dynamic insertion. We've had one or two like that, where we say. This is what we decided to do for 2021 and they, they don't buy, but I think some of it might be this idea [00:18:00] that dynamic insertion doesn't work because it's not host read.
[00:18:03]I think that there's a little bit of a residual idea, like when you're listening to the daily, and you hear an ad for sprint, and I hear an ad for Kmart, cause we're in different parts of the country. We're different demographics and it's not Michael Barbaro and and it's not personal.
[00:18:14] And I think they think dynamic insertion and they think that. But this is skillfully, like Mark Marin talking to you about At&t it's just, it's going to be there in May and it's not going to be there in June.
[00:18:27]Heather Osgood: [00:18:27] Exactly. And the power of host read dynamic insertion is so important. And to your point, I think oftentimes people hear dynamic insertion and they automatically make this assumption that it's a prerecorded Geico ad or something, and really host read it can be, but it doesn't have to be in host read dynamically inserted ads are really valuable.
[00:18:48] It's great to hear that. Now. I know you already said that your sales are up all in all, given the investment you're making in the hosting platform, given the time that it took for you to edit the show are [00:19:00] you still at the end of the year, will you say yes, this was a profitable venture for you to switch to dynamic insertion?
[00:19:05] Amy Wilson: [00:19:05] Definitely. Definitely it would be, we are delighted with it and we weren't sure in the first quarter of 2020, how it was going to go, but we did have a shot and that it just all transitioned very seamlessly by the end. And now, yes, now we are at the point where we're willing to say, we're only doing dynamic insertion and if somebody wants baked in and they don't move them, we don't have to have them advertise on our show.
[00:19:26] So yes, it's working very well, something else. That's good about it. We don't like to mess up, but when you have to do a make good or you have to, can we change the URL on that or oops, can we, the, you can turn on a dime. We had a, long story, we had a sponsored that bought several different flights, dynamically inserted, and they wanted this URL for November, but this URL is starting December 1st.
[00:19:50] And it wasn't clear to, at least to us, it was clear, but it wasn't clear to me. And so we had an ad running with the wrong URL and we caught it and like 30 seconds later, I have it [00:20:00] turned off. And then, 30 seconds after that, I put the right URL in that spot and start running it. And that's the end. It's so easy to fix.
[00:20:09]Heather Osgood: [00:20:09] And I think you bring up such a good point. And one of the things that I like to talk about is brand safety as well. I think this year has shown us that, companies might not always, you might not always want to align with them.
[00:20:21]And maybe you go into a contract thinking that you're happy with the company and you're pleased to promote them. And then two months later they say, or do something that you aren't happy to align yourself with any more. And that there's that ability to, like you said, like in an instant turn, an ad off or get rid of an advertiser, which would not be the case for embedded ad reads, for sure.
[00:20:44] Amy Wilson: [00:20:44] Yeah or in the case of the pandemic, like I think at first there was No, please don't mention the pandemic. And then including for our content. We were like I was saying before, we're a totally evergreen show. We try very [00:21:00] hard not to talk about this week is Halloween, we didn't do special episodes like that. And then once we moved into the pandemic, it just became very clear that we could not ignore. Most of our episodes were like, Okay now, how are we doing? Okay. How about now is extremely current and specific to our moment. And so we know we might turn those episodes off later, but we pivoted to, to really okay, this is a shared experience and we are going to talk about it. And the, I felt like the ads quickly pivoted to, from let's not talk about pandemic. Okay. Actually, yes. Let's talk about pandemic, right? Can you give it a new spin now? Can you talk about this? And that's another thing that, that dynamic insertion really helps with.
[00:21:39] Heather Osgood: [00:21:39] Yeah. It really allows you just to be agile. Which you can't do it with an embedded.
[00:21:43] Yeah, it was. I think it's so funny. We all thought, Oh yeah, this is going to be over in a couple of months. And now here we are almost a year later. Let's just hope that next year, by this time we're not talking about the pandemic and not working it into our ad reads. Yeah. Yeah, for sure. One last question I have for you is with dynamic [00:22:00] ad insertion, you can insert ads, but you can also do creative things with your episodes and I, you and I haven't talked about whether or not you guys are doing any of that. I'm curious. Have you ever used dynamic insertion for your own number one, either for promoting your own products or your own services, or have you switched out intros of old episodes or done anything creative with that insertion capability?
[00:22:26]Amy Wilson: [00:22:26] I saw an audiogram from this show on LinkedIn talking about that. So know, because we didn't, we don't it never occurred to me that you could do that, but what we do, and this is another thing, instead of that on the sides, the downloads that aren't being used, instead of selling those to third-party advertisers, what we do is we record promos and they're just there.
[00:22:48] And. Hey, check out our YouTube channel. Hey, we'd love rating and reviews. Hey, did you know that those kinds of things are sponsors and you can get the promo codes here. We have a couple of those loaded in our host [00:23:00] and they run whenever there isn't an ad. And that has been very useful. I actually, I can think of one example, one example where we did record a special intro. It was During the whole George Floyd black lives matter sort of thing, it happened on a Monday and on a Wednesday, we had an episode coming out that was like summer crazy. Just some like that in no way, address the moment at all. And so we quickly recorded an intro that said this episode was recorded before the events of this week.
[00:23:32] And we are next week, we already have a guest and we're going to talk about how to talk to our kids about racism and, we hope you'll tune in next week and, don't think that we're not thinking about it. Cause we are. And then went on and had the episode and we could turn that off.
[00:23:43] We had that, I think it was, a 30 day thing. So it just shut off after 30 days the end. And we, otherwise, I don't know what we would've done. We would've tried to scramble to record a different episode or skip an episode. We didn't have to do that because we could nimbly, drop something in that made it. [00:24:00] If you could explain that we weren't purposefully being insensitive.
[00:24:04] Heather Osgood: [00:24:04] And I feel like that is such a great explanation of how to use dynamic insertion, that isn't just for ads. So really you guys have done it because that is like the perfect opportunity because you. Yeah. And I think one of the things that is so fascinating about podcasting is before 2020, so many people were like, Oh, batch record, record 20 episodes at once.
[00:24:27] And then all of a sudden this year, we're like, Oh, maybe that's not such a good plan. You don't know what's going to happen. And then all of a sudden you don't want to sound like you're totally tone deaf. But what a great use of dynamic insertion, because it allows you to share that message that you actually are plugged in to what's happening this moment.
[00:24:45] And I think that's one of the challenges with content that has been pre recorded, or listen, recorded many years ago and now is being listened to today. Is that it's nice to have some context of your audience feeling like you're talking to them today, where [00:25:00] they're at today. So that's great.
[00:25:02]Very cool. Just in closing comments what are your thoughts, if you could speak to an advertiser or a podcast or about dynamic ad insertion any words of advice or recommendations?
[00:25:13] Amy Wilson: [00:25:13] I think it's it's worth it. And I think that what you should consider is your content. Evergreen is your back catalog. Something that you can monetize. It definitely was for us. So if you haven't run that calculation for yourself. Look at your monthly downloads and then look at your, most recent 30 days. And yeah, it's time and it's money. Like I said, they to run, I don't, I think more hosts are doing it this way then when we joined Megaphone a couple of years ago, but it's still, it's still going to be about a hundred dollars a month entry level to do it this way.
[00:25:46]So you have to figure out, how many ads you could sell and that kind of thing. Sometimes also, I think advertisers want to have a lower CPM for dynamic insertion than for baked in. Although in our case we've been able to, because we're [00:26:00] selling enough ads, now we can say this is our CPM and this is how we do it.
[00:26:02]So I think that's changing too, but. At least for us, we ran the numbers. We took the short term inconvenience of turning it around and now, we would never go back. We have to, we got an advertiser today that wants ads to start running three days from now. And on an episode that's already locked and loaded in the system.
[00:26:23] No problem. I can say new problem. And if they don't like it, I can switch it. We got it. We got a gift in the mail from a sponsor, cause when you have sponsors you get the products, you can try it. It's a really fun part of doing podcast ads. I got some books in the mail for my daughter, the ads already running.
[00:26:39] I really liked the books that they sent so I can update the copy and keep it running. And like I'll turn it off and turn it back on. And, you will be, the listener will never know, and it will give better service to the sponsor. So I love it. I love it. It's great. Yeah.
[00:26:55] Heather Osgood: [00:26:55] Awesome. Thank you so much, Amy.
[00:26:56] I really appreciate you coming on the show. I appreciate your words of [00:27:00] advice to anyone listening and just want to encourage people to take the dive and really investigate what dynamic ad insertion can do for you, because it's very powerful. My suspicion is as the industry grows, it's just going to become more and more powerful, which is terrific because it will really allow the listener to have the experience that they need to have. And it also really serves the advertiser because they have the ability to gain far more impressions and they can with embedded ad reads and also to really, look at that message and see where that message is being delivered and how it's being delivered.
[00:27:32] So I think it's a, win-win all the way around and I'm excited to see how the industry grows. So thank you for being with us today.
[00:27:38] Amy Wilson: [00:27:38] Thanks Heather.