June 23, 2021

Understanding Podcast Attribution with Podsights

Understanding Podcast Attribution with Podsights

"In our world of attribution, it has really shifted from being a nice to have to a need to have. We see certain agencies and brands who will not buy podcast advertising if they cannot get attribution." Sarah Cotenoff, Co-Founder and Head of...

"In our world of attribution, it has really shifted from being a nice to have to a need to have. We see certain agencies and brands who will not buy podcast advertising if they cannot get attribution." Sarah Cotenoff, Co-Founder and Head of Partnership at Podsights, joins me today to discuss how podcast attribution is changing and impacting the way advertisers are buying podcast ads. 

We talk about the changes that she sees in the podcast industry, how Podsights is reacting to the new needs of brands, and why data has become so important in podcast advertising. 

To learn more, visit Podsights, or connect with Sarah on LinkedIn.



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EP 65 - Raw Video



[00:00:29] Hello, and welcome to the Podcast Advertising Playbook. I'm your host, Heather Osgood. And today, I have someone on the show that I'm so thrilled to have Heather Osgood: [00:00:38] because we have been friends in the industry for quite some time. Sarah Cotenoff is the Co-Founder and Head of Partnership at Podsights. And I am thrilled to have her on the show today.

[00:00:50] Welcome to the program. 

[00:00:52] Sarah Cotenoff: [00:00:52] Thanks for having me.

[00:00:53] Heather Osgood: [00:00:53] Sarah, we had known each other since, before you started at Podsights. So that's been a couple of years. I [00:01:00] can't even believe it's been that long, but how long has Podsights actually even been around? 

[00:01:04] Sarah Cotenoff: [00:01:04] Um, so we started in the middle of 2018, and yeah, I've known you for longer than that.

[00:01:09] I don't know how we met, but I have known you for a very long time. 

[00:01:12] Heather Osgood: [00:01:12] Yeah, it's awesome. I love that about podcasting because it's such kind of a tight little ecosphere, and everybody is, is growing and developing and challenging one another. And it's just an entertaining space to be in. And I'm glad that you're in it with me.

[00:01:26] So thanks for being on the show today. Thanks. I'm excited. So I'm really curious. What have you seen change, right? So we've been doing this for several years now, and the industry has changed so much. What do you see as being some of the big changes that have happened in the industry? 

[00:01:45] Sarah Cotenoff: [00:01:45] Um, some of the big changes, I think consolidation, right?

[00:01:49] You're seeing like the publishers buy ad servers. That's been pretty interesting to watch. In our world, attribution, I always say this; it has [00:02:00] really shifted from being a nice to have to a need to have. You see certain agencies and brands that will not buy podcast advertising if they cannot get attribution.

[00:02:11] Um, the last thing I think there's been a shift. We're getting a lot of requests about, um, programmatic. So that's been something interesting and something that we're exploring. 

[00:02:20] Heather Osgood: [00:02:20] Yeah, absolutely. Um, why do you think that the attribution element is so important? And I would agree with you a hundred percent.

[00:02:29] So we are recording this kind of in the middle of, um, 2021. And I would say at the beginning of the year, it was like, yeah, yeah, if you can go ahead and throw in like, you know, attribution, that'd be great. And now, all of a sudden, in the last, I don't know, three or four months, it's like, no, if you don't have attribution, we're not even going to look at that show.

[00:02:50] Why do you think that is? And why is attribution such an important component in podcast advertising? 

[00:02:56] Sarah Cotenoff: [00:02:56] Well, there's definitely been a shift in the type of advertisers that are [00:03:00] getting into space. It's still primarily led by your typical DR advertisers, but you see more of these big brands enter the space and these traditional, traditionally digital brands.

[00:03:11] Um, yeah. You know, their media buys are placed by digital marketers who are used to data, and they're not going to buy a medium if they can't get data that they're used to. So smart marketers want to see numbers, especially when they're coming from these more traditional brands. 

[00:03:27] Heather Osgood: [00:03:27] And when I think back to the first time I heard about Podsights, I remember, like saying, this is what we need. We need this data, and this could make a huge shift and could essentially change what is happening in the podcast space. Because before attribution tracking, we had nothing, right. So little information and I really believe that Podsights, in particular, has done an extremely good job of paving the way and providing that [00:04:00] data.

[00:04:00] Uh, do you see the contribution that Podsights is making to the industry as being one that really has kind of helped maybe turn the table? 

[00:04:11] Sarah Cotenoff: [00:04:11] I like to think so, um, otherwise why would I be doing what I'm doing? But, you know, our goal is to bring more money into podcasting and bring more dollars to everyone in the industry.

[00:04:23] And I really hope that. You know, we've been making that contribution by allowing publishers to attract these bigger brands and these more traditional marketers and really proving out that their product works. So that advertisers come back time and time again. Additionally, you know, I think we're making these brands more comfortable with podcasting and making it a more accessible medium to these traditional marketers.

[00:04:49] Heather Osgood: [00:04:49] Yeah, absolutely. I totally agree. I know you mentioned programmatic. I'm interested in that because I know at true native media, we do so much, uh, the host read, you know, host right. Is still [00:05:00] a super important feature. And I don't foresee that going away, but I do see programmatic definitely. On the rise, and there there are so many reasons why programmatic is an important piece of the overall podcasting ad landscape.

[00:05:15] Does attribution work any differently with programmatic than it does with host read, or is it the same basic concept? 

[00:05:20] Sarah Cotenoff: [00:05:20] It's the same basic concept; we just have to test the integrations with each provider. So that is something that we're slowly starting to do and starting to explore more of as the requests come up.

[00:05:33] Um, but yeah, it's interesting because I do think programmatic is coming up, but I don't think your traditional baked are ever going to go away completely. I know advertisers who will solely be baked in and publishers who are really hesitant to go to dynamic. And I think it's great to have the option.

[00:05:50] Heather Osgood: [00:05:50] Yeah. Yeah, I totally agree. One of the things that I have really liked about Podsights is that you offer many different features. [00:06:00] I know at True Native Media that we've been using attribution tools for several years. And we like it. But oftentimes, I think, gosh, there's probably way more to Podsights than I actually know or that I'm actually even using.

[00:06:14] I know I was talking to somebody the other day, and they said, well, you know, you can do X, Y, and Z on Podsights. I was like, oh, you can. I didn't realize that. For us running lift studies have been really pretty cool. Um, and a great tool to experiment with. When you look at all of the offerings and all of the features that, that are available on Podsights, what would you say currently is the most used feature of the plan?

[00:06:38] Sarah Cotenoff: [00:06:38] Most of the most used feature is definitely still our basic attribution. I think that is why people come to us. They come to us to measure the success of their campaigns. Um, we are rolling out a couple of new features that I think, I hope, are going to grow in popularity.  Right now, we kind of come in after the fact in the [00:07:00] optimization phase.

[00:07:01] So after you place your media and you'd know what you want to buy, you layer Podsights on, and then we help you measure. We're starting to build tools that are going to help with the planning phase. So really being able to help a brand throughout the whole process of podcast buying. 

[00:07:17] Heather Osgood: [00:07:17] So why don't you walk us through that just a little bit. One of the big conversations we have a lot is the difference between an embedded ad and a dynamically inserted ad. And what I hear over and over and over again is that dynamically inserted ads don't work as well as embedded ads. And a part of me thinks like, of course, it doesn't work as well, right.

[00:07:41] Because if you've got an ad, that's just going to hang out there forever. Like it's going to end up pulling, and you're paying for this 30-day window, but you're going to get more downloads than you're actually paying for. But then, on the flip side, I always think that the dynamic insertion has got to be a great tool because of reach [00:08:00] and frequency.

[00:08:01] And when I think about the frequency piece of embedded ads, that's where podcasts kind of fall short. And I think oftentimes that's why podcast ads are very slow-moving because if I hear an ad for an advertiser today and then maybe two to three to four weeks from now, I hear another ad. Two to three weeks from then, I hear another ad, right? It will take a really long time for me, the consumer, to get aware of your product, have an interest, and then make a buying decision.

[00:08:33] With dynamically inserted ads, we have the ability to create great frequency. One of the issues that falls is the reach piece because I don't want to reach somebody 12 times with the same message in a week. But I also want to make sure that I am reaching someone often enough to make a buying decision. I'm curious about your, [00:09:00] you know, a potential addition of this reach feature that Podsights has, um, working. Can you explain that to us? Is that, uh, something that could help with that reach and frequency piece?

[00:09:10] Sarah Cotenoff: [00:09:10] Yeah. So the reach analysis tool is out now for brands and agencies. Um, really data-driven marketers love it. Basically, it allows them to make sure that they are hitting new audiences because, yes, the frequency component is important. You want to hit people multiple times, but you also don't want to fatigue them.

[00:09:32] And what we found is this is really helpful for brands that are always on. You want to keep changing your strategy, trying new shows, and finding a new audience to hit. And you know, what we suggest is going cross-publisher, right? You know, if you stay within the publisher, you're most likely going to hit the same people.

[00:09:53] Um, so yeah, we really encourage people to branch out and try multiple publishers. 

[00:09:58] Heather Osgood: [00:09:58] Do you find with, um, the [00:10:00] publishers that you work with or the advertisers, I suppose, that it's very common for an advertiser to focus on one publisher? 

[00:10:07] Sarah Cotenoff: [00:10:07] Yes. In the beginning, what we find is people do start with one publisher, and they'll buy a few shows. You know, that's the right mindset. You do want to buy a few shows because you do; with podcasting, you need to test things before you figure out what works; that's the nature of the beast. So yeah, we find that people typically start within one publisher, especially these new brands, but we encourage them to look at that. Get a sense of what shows work. Go to other publishers and try to find some shows that might work for you and run across publishers. 

[00:10:39] Heather Osgood: [00:10:39] Yeah, I know the most recent Edison research that came out said that people listen on average to eight podcasts per week. I think that's so important. And for me, when I look at the brands that have succeeded in this space, I talk about it as being like a shallow and wide approach.

[00:10:57] It seems that many [00:11:00] advertisers who spend a lot of money in this space will buy lots and lots of podcasts, especially when they're in the test phase. So they might buy hundreds of different shows, and yeah, maybe they don't buy a ton of ads on all of those different shows, but to your point, they're reaching another audience.

[00:11:16] And I know I had some friends I was visiting with this weekend that mentioned that every time I listened to podcasts, I hear the same advertisers, even though I'm listening to different shows. And when we're talking about creating advertising results, it doesn't matter if I heard the ad on the Joe Rogan show and then I heard it on Super Soul Sunday, right?

[00:11:39] Like if I'm being hit in both places, I'm getting that impression. And I think that's so important is to say, okay, this average listener will be listening to multiple episodes across multiple shows. You don't have to hit the person multiple times on the same podcast. You can hit the same person on multiple podcasts [00:12:00] or, to your point, new people  on new podcasts. Is that kind of the idea behind it? 

[00:12:05] Sarah Cotenoff: [00:12:05] That's exactly the idea. And we looked at this, and we found that listeners who heard the ad across multiple podcasts converted 2.4 times more. 

[00:12:16] Heather Osgood: [00:12:16] Wow. Yeah, that's crazy. 

[00:12:20] Sarah Cotenoff: [00:12:20] Yeah. That's kind of; one of the things that we're encouraging brands and advertisers to do is branch out and really, you know, expand their buys and get creative with it and try different partners at the same time. 

[00:12:34] Heather Osgood: [00:12:34] Right. Right. The other thing I find so fascinating is that not all shows work. You know, one podcast might work great for one advertiser and not work well for another. And you don't always know why right? 

[00:12:49] Sarah Cotenoff: [00:12:49] Yeah. And I mean, that was one of the hard things introducing Podsights into the market. You had publishers who were a little nervous because it was like, well, what if my shows don't convert? [00:13:00] And the messaging that we try to go out with is that's okay. You know, because it's better than the advertiser knows, and then they can pick another show within your network and find something that works for them. And especially when we get new brands coming in and they're very new to podcasting. We try to set the expectation. Listen, you're going to need to try a few things, and it's going to take some time before you figure out what works. Don't give up, don't pull the plug on podcasting, just wait it out and keep trying new things. Eventually, they'll find something that works. 

[00:13:30] Heather Osgood: [00:13:30] Right. Right. Exactly.  We know podcast advertising works. It's finding the right combination that works for your unique brand, your unique messaging, making sure you're hitting the right audience, right. All of those pieces are so important. 

[00:13:44] Sarah Cotenoff: [00:13:44] Exactly. 

[00:13:46] Heather Osgood: [00:13:46] I often get frustrated too, because I look at social media ads and I always think no one ever says, does Facebook ad, you know, does Facebook work? Do Facebook ads actually produce results? People just say like, [00:14:00] oh, well, I must not be doing it right. I just need another headline.

[00:14:03] I just need a different picture. I know things are changing rapidly in the social media ad space with the changes to iOS. But, I still think that people don't typically question whether social media is working. They think that their approach needs to change. So I always encourage advertisers to think of podcasting in the same way. We know podcast advertising works. And if it's not working for you, it means your approach probably needs to be altered more than deciding whether or not podcasts work. 

[00:14:31] Sarah Cotenoff: [00:14:31] Yeah, that's great. I'm going to steal that from you. 

[00:14:33] Heather Osgood: [00:14:33] Yeah. Yeah. You're welcome to; yes, it sounds like you have a couple of other features in the works or have just been launched. Do you have any other features you'd like to share? 

[00:14:44]Sarah Cotenoff: [00:14:44] So really, our main focus is audience Intel. So that's the tool for publishers. We are partnering with Nielsen and Experian to get audience data.  So publishers will update their marketing materials [00:15:00] and really tell their advertisers who their audience is.

[00:15:03] And then following that, we're going to be rolling out a planning tool. That's going to be for the brands and agencies so they can see, okay, my ads were performing really well on these shows. These shows have this audience; here are some other shows I should be looking at with that audience. 

[00:15:24] Heather Osgood: [00:15:24] That would be a phenomenal tool because I know even, you know, for myself when I've had an advertiser, that's like, we really want, like, somebody approached me the other day and they're like, we want to advertise on doctor shows. And I was like, oh my gosh. Like without a tool, it's so much work to go out and find those types of shows. And I love the idea that you could say, Hey, we know that this works well. Right? So this podcast has this profile, and it's working well; how do we find other like shows without spending hours and hours, essentially [00:16:00] guessing? 

[00:16:00] Sarah Cotenoff: [00:16:00] Exactly. It's just another thing we're doing to make podcasting more accessible to other brands and advertisers who maybe aren't in this space yet. 

[00:16:09] Heather Osgood: [00:16:09] Yeah. Podsights has done an exceptional job of creating features and really getting the industry to participate in using Podsights. Of course, when you started, I know it was a little bit of an uphill journey, but everything is at the beginning.

[00:16:24] It seems like the adoption rate with Podsights has been really high. And it, I feel like I hear Podsights being mentioned often, more than some of the other attribution companies. Why do you think that Podsights has been able to, um, gain a larger presence in the industry? 

[00:16:42] Sarah Cotenoff: [00:16:42] I think it's a few things. Number one,  we are constantly evolving based on customer feedback.

[00:16:47] We take that really seriously. So the features that we're making are features people want and are asking for. The second I think our customer service is outstanding. We have great support [00:17:00] team, and we're really there to help brands and agencies understand the data they're seeing. We don't just give them the data and let them run free.

[00:17:09] Like we're really walking them through their reports, their dashboard, and ensuring they understand what they're looking at. So those are the two things that I think set us apart and really make us really attractive to both publishers and brands and agencies in the industry. 

[00:17:25] Heather Osgood: [00:17:25] I think even just the things we've talked about today to me are really exciting. You've done a good job of listening to the industry, listening to what your customers are saying they need, and then creating that. And as an industry that is continually evolving, we really need these features to be part of the equation. And it's great that you guys can be that responsive. 

[00:17:48] Sarah Cotenoff: [00:17:48] Yeah, thanks. I mean, you know, it's funny, you always hear about this, but it's funny to do it, but you know, there's been a few features that, you know, we were thinking about building, and then people were like, no, no, we don't want this. We hate this. And we just killed it and went onto [00:18:00] something else. So yeah, we really, we really take that seriously.

[00:18:03] We want to be building things that people need and want. 

[00:18:05] Heather Osgood: [00:18:05] Yeah. Yeah, for sure. One of the things that I have also loved about Podsights is the reports that you generate. I think they're super helpful. Um, and you've got a great team on board that really go through, and they look at all of the campaigns that you're running across the whole platform and then come up with some standards.

[00:18:24] One of the questions I get constantly is what kind of conversion rate I can expect to, you know, get with podcast advertising? And we have leaned very heavily on the Podsights data. Um, can anyone access those reports? 

[00:18:37] Sarah Cotenoff: [00:18:37] Yeah, the benchmark reports. If you go to our website, Podsights.com, you can get the benchmark reports.

[00:18:43] We release them quarterly. So the most recent one is for Q2. Um, and then, we released them quarterly and looked back at the previous data. So, you know, every time we put one out, we get more and more data to include. So they're pretty nice, and we do hear that they're [00:19:00] pretty helpful. 

[00:19:01] Heather Osgood: [00:19:01] Yeah, I think they're extremely helpful because there isn't a centralized place in the industry besides the reports that you're putting together where you can get that information.

[00:19:11] And certainly, there are agencies out there that collect their own data. And if you were working with that agency, they could provide that for you. But if you are maybe a brand that's thinking about entering this space, or if you're, maybe even a podcast or, and you're like, Hey, what kind of conversion rates are good? Or, you know, what can I expect? All of there's so much data and those reports. And obviously, we don't have time to go into all of the data, but I find so many things extremely helpful. And if you haven't checked out the reports, I would highly recommend that you download them. And I also think.

[00:19:49] And maybe correct me if I'm wrong here, Sarah. But if people have questions, I'm sure they can reach out to Podsights and be like, Hey, I don't really understand where this number came from or what this means. 

[00:19:59] Sarah Cotenoff: [00:19:59] Oh yeah. [00:20:00] Um, we have a data analyst, Havilland. She's wonderful. She's been on your show, and she loves to talk about the benchmark reports. So if anyone has questions, she'd be more than happy to talk to you. That's yeah. That's what she, uh, is here for and loves to do. 

[00:20:13] Heather Osgood: [00:20:13] Awesome. And she's great at explaining things. So, yeah, I highly recommend chatting with her if you have questions, but, um, yeah. Well, it's been great having you on this show, Sarah; if people haven't, you know, maybe experienced Podsights or interested in using Podsights in an upcoming campaign, what should they do to get it integrated into their campaign? 

[00:20:36] Yeah. So, um, just reach out to the sales team sales@podsights.com, and we will get you set up with an account and get you started. It's pretty easy to set up. So. 

[00:20:47] Yeah, I would second that it's very easy and super insightful.

[00:20:51] So yeah, I, I just am really thankful for all the work you guys are doing in this space. I'm sure you're just going to continue to do great things [00:21:00] and really excited to see what the next few years bring us. 

[00:21:04] Sarah Cotenoff: [00:21:04] Oh my God. Thanks, Heather. You're so nice compliments coming. 

[00:21:09] Heather Osgood: [00:21:09] It's just so fun. I think, to innovate in a space and see what the needs are and then to respond to those.

[00:21:18] And what's so exciting about, you know, what is happening is that we're, and I, you know, hesitate to say this because we're not at the very beginning, but we're; still, there's a lot of runways ahead of us and a lot of opportunities. And I'm sure that Podsights will play a big role in that growth and development in the industry.

[00:21:39] Sarah Cotenoff: [00:21:39] I hope so. 

[00:21:41] Heather Osgood: [00:21:41] Awesome. Well, if people want to connect with you, where's a good place for them to find. 

[00:21:45] Sarah Cotenoff: [00:21:45] Shoot me an email, sarah@podsights.com. 

[00:21:48] Heather Osgood: [00:21:48] The other thing I always like to mention is its sites. Yes. Not S I T E but S I G H T. Yes. So yeah. I feel like a lot of times [00:22:00] I'll talk to people. They'll be like, I can't find it.

[00:22:01] I'm like, you're splitting sites wrong, so, yeah. Awesome. Thanks for being on the show. Sarah, take care. We'll talk to you again soon. 

[00:22:08] Sarah Cotenoff: [00:22:08] Thanks for having me.

Sarah CotenoffProfile Photo

Sarah Cotenoff

Sarah is the Co-Founder and Head of Partnerships at Podsights. Her team works with publishers, brands, and agencies to help them measure the performance of their campaigns. Formerly, she was a seller at HowStuffWorks (now owned by iHeart) and had her own agency.