Virtual Roundtable, Part 2: How to Prosper in the Podcasting Industry

By WomenAdvancing Archives
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Historically, men have comprised the majority of frequent podcast listeners.  But in 2018, Edison Research data shows female listeners are closing the gap.  Women are also filling more and more of the senior roles in producing and marketing those podcasts.  In a "virtual roundtable" with female executives at some of the top podcasting companies, we asked about their personal experiences as well as their professional opinions on the business of this world of on-demand audio.  In Part One, they described why podcasting offers women fresh opportunities for advancement and creativity.  Here, they prognosticate about the future of this industry sector and how to navigate towards success.  They agreed that regardless of the podcast focus or the gender of the individuals behind a program, the business imperatives remain the same: Present an original point of view, create good content with strong production values and support it with top-notch marketing.

The women we spoke to are Jenni Skaug, Senior Sales Director for AudioBoom; Kerri Hoffman, CEO of PRX; Gayle Troberman, Executive Vice President/CMO for iHeartMedia; Jennifer Ho-Dougatz, Co-Founder of Hangar Studios; N'Jeri Eaton, Senior Manager of Program Acquisitions at NPR; Patty Newmark, Co-Founder of PodSearch, and Pam Kramer, CMO of Cadence13.

E.B. Moss:  What are your projections for the growth of podcasting, and what obstacles are there still to be conquered?

Jenni Skaug, AudioBoom:  We are continuing to see tremendous year-over-year growth -- and advertisers are taking notice.  The industry has made great strides in measurement and accountability and will continue to develop in these areas.  According to Edison Research's most recent Infinite Dial Study podcast listenership continues on a steady growth trajectory, with an estimated 124 million listeners in 2018 -- and 80 percent of listeners finish most, if not all, of the podcast they are listening to.  This is great news for podcasts and a tremendous opportunity for advertisers. 

Kerri Hoffman, PRX:  We're in a period of innovation and experimentation with format, sound, length and topic.  As the content gets better, the bar continues to rise and new shows start at a higher level.  We will need a feedback loop that will provide information back, so we can continue to increase the quality and serve the audience.  Technology will continue to reduce friction, which will fuel growth.  There are a lot of eyes on Android and how advances on that platform will unlock additional audience.  Access to consistent, consolidated metrics over time continues to elude many publishers.

Gayle Troberman, iHeartMedia:  We expect that we will continue to see massive growth in podcast listening and investments from brands in this new platform.  But podcast listening remains a small fraction of all listening, with broadcast radio continuing to reach nine out of ten Americans every month.  That's the biggest obstacle that podcast creators and advertisers continue to face: How do you scale the medium?  You'll see publishers and brands team up with multiplatform media companies like iHeartMedia to create and distribute long form podcasts, then air its content in short form at the scale of broadcast radio.  This unique model helps create podcast hits and drives major impact for creators, fans and brands. 

Jennifer Ho-Dougatz, Hangar Studios:  At Hangar Studios, we have been seeing a consistent surge in new podcasters over the last two years, especially in the corporate sector.  On a daily basis we're getting a slew of inquiries, so much so that we stopped advertising to keep up with the demand.  Businesses are starting to see the value and ROI in their own hosted podcasts by reaching a new audience.  Instead of using their advertising dollars towards 30-second ad spots, they are able to produce episodes full of content, allowing them to get more with much less than before.  It's been exciting to produce even the most red-taped of industries, including congressmen, Fortune 100 companies, hospitals and law firms.

N'Jeri Eaton, NPR:  One of the things that's both exciting and challenging about podcasts is that it's really hard to make predictions.  It feels like someone hits a reset button every 60 days.  It forces you to not make assumptions, try new things and move quickly, yet purposely.  It's exciting to see the continued growth of podcasts and see an organization as large as NPR be responsive to the changes.

Patty Newmark, PodSearch/Newmark Advertising:  The sky's the limit for podcasting.  It is the new frontier of media in every sense of the term, poised for continued growth as content proliferates and ways to listen through technological advances grow with amazing speed, including more enhanced mobile devices, smart speakers and in-car connected dashboards.  The biggest obstacle is still bridging awareness and usage, which is the reason my husband/business partner and I launched PodSearch Inc., to bring in more listeners to discover podcasts with a robust, easy-to-use directory.

Pam Kramer, Cadence 13:  According to the Infinite Dial numbers, the percentage of the population listening to podcasts has doubled in less than 10 years.  We're currently at a rate of growth of about 4% of the U.S. population per year.  Given the pace and quality of new content, my guess is that the number could nearly double again in less time.  I think there are still a couple of obstacles: I meet smart, seemingly tech-savvy people every week who say, "So, how do I listen to a podcast?" or "How do I find a podcast?"  So, it seems discovery and usability are still an issue.  But the quality of the content now is amazing.  Cadence13 alone has everyone from Oscar to Emmy winners to best-selling authors, a World Series ring recipient and even a James Beard Award-winner among our series hosts.

Ho-Dougatz further summed up what many are observing: "It's interesting to see how entities are leveraging podcasts.  They're finding new ways to generate revenue other than the traditional means of ad sales and pay walls.  I believe we will see new ways to monetize podcasts sooner rather than later.  The race to become the 'Netflix of podcasting' will be the one to watch this year."

Pictured clockwise from left: Jennifer Ho-Dougatz, Co-Founder, Hangar Studios; Gayle Troberman, Executive Vice President/CMO, iHeartMedia; N'Jeri Eaton, Senior Manager of Program Acquisitions, NPR; Kerri Hoffman, CEO, PRX; Jenni Skaug, Senior Sales Director, AudioBoom; Patty Newmark, Co -Founder, PodSearch, and Pam Kramer, CMO, Cadence13

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