Publishers with subscription products have a great opportunity in podcasting
The podcast strategy for online news publishers with a subscription product should be simple.
- Feature the content from your subscription product on the podcasts you produce, and say that the content is from your subscription product.
- Don’t advertise ANYTHING on the podcast/s but the subscription product.
- Measure the number of subscriptions purchased thanks to the podcast.
- Produce additional podcasts that are representative of the subscription content and the audience that will find value in the subscription content.
- Include information about the podcasts in the subscription content to complete the loop.
Simple but not that simple.
This really applies to established media companies who have a subscription product, like a paywall to access content, and an appetite for creating podcasts.
I’ve heard plenty of podcasts by established media companies that run ads from brands that their audience has no relationship with. Probably sold by the ad sales team who’ve gone from selling space in the paper, to space in the paper and on the website, now they get to push podcasts.
But the organisation has created valuable subscription products that would deliver higher lifetime value to the publication without pushing third-party ads.
The subscription product should be the only thing advertised on the podcast.
- It’s a familiar brand to the audience
- It’s a consistent call to action for the audience
- It’s a product that the audience is already interested in
- Audience spend goes directly to the outlet
- Highly measurable return using custom URLs, smart links, data collection at purchase
- Takes no time from existing sales and marketing team
The Economist does this quite well with routine and unique subscription messages in their podcasts, though it still runs ads on the podcasts.
Deputy editor and head of digital strategy Tom Standage (source)
“Podcast advertising, even the programmatic kind, actually pays pretty well”
“As well as helping us attract new subscribers and retain existing ones, podcasts also cover their own cost of production. So it’s a good deal all round.”
From Tom’s comments above in the article it’s hard to tell if the podcasts get any credit for the subscriptions they’re responsible for.
In the signup form on Economist.com there’s no way to indicate the podcast was inspirational to you taking out one of their subscriptions.
You’ve still got to make the thing
To advertise a subscription product on a podcast you’ve got to make the podcast in the first place.
More often than not in my experience and observations media outlets / publications seem to think…
‘Ok, we’re making a podcast, what should we make it about? Let’s do a series on this special thing that’s really great and really specific that’ll take us a whole lot of time and effort and money and we’ll be really proud of it at the end then a bit let down when the money doesn’t come back’
Why not extend the knowledge and effort of the existing content workflow (editorial discussions, interviews with sources, reporting the story) to ongoing podcast production?
This way the audience, like they do with the newspaper and online content, can have an ongoing relationship with the masthead and journalists / reporters.
We’re getting away from the point.
News outlets have put a whole lot of effort put into creating, implimenting and marketing subscription products. And additional effort into producing podcasts only to have the sales team spend more time educating advertisers about a new medium and content that already fits perfectly with the subscription product.
It would also be safe to assume that each subscriber would be higher value than the comparative value of advertiser spend (if anyone can suggest a way to do this comparison I am all ears, I don’t know exactly how it would be done, maybe with a CPM ad rate verses conversion rate per thousand).
To wrap up, as there’s many ways to complicate the strategy and every business is going to be slightly different, us your podcasts to sell your own products that get you the most lifetime value from the audience.
Interested in what you think!
My sample pool of podcasting media outlets I routinely listen to, in no order in particular and without any positive or negative things to say about them…
News Corp, Mumbrella, The Economist, The Verge, The New York Times, Schwartz Media, ESPN, SCMP, SupChina, The Intercept, Eater, Vanity Fair, Longform, Curbed, Crooked Media, Slate, WNYC Studios, Recode, Gimlet, The Times, NPR, WSJ, VOX, The New Yorker, The Guardian, Wired (UK), World Vision, The Age.