Advertisers are keen on podcasts but confounded as to where they should put their money. Podcasting offers more than 900,000 shows, star hosts, and legions of engaged, loyal listeners — but results-driven brands want granular data, which has been hard to come by. Now, Nielsen is offering a game-changing service that reports who is listening and their consumer behavior. Nielsen's Podcast Listener Buying Power service marries the company's widely-used Scarborough consumer data with details on podcast listening. Subscribers can drill down on 18 podcast genres and more than 100 specific shows, and layer that with 2,000 retail or plan-to-buy categories, detailed demographics, and even specific brands. This week, Nielsen announced that PodcastOne is now a subscriber to Nielsen's Podcast Listener Buying Power service. This follows last month's announcement that IPG Mediabrands was the first ad agency to sign on, joining over 12 major podcast publishers.
As Nielsen prepares to release its third report in May, MediaVillage's Alli Romano spoke to Bruce Supovitz, Nielsen's senior vice president of national audio services, on the initial results, how podcast sellers and agencies can benefit, and why it's more valuable than a ranking system.
Alli Romano: You've published reports in August and December. What are some of the interesting trends and findings?
Bruce Supovitz: Our first two reports showed that listeners are significantly increasing their consumption. Between our first two surveys, people who listen to four to seven episodes a week increased their usage 17.4 percent, while those who listened to eight or more episodes a week jumped 34 percent. Time spent listening is also up, with TSL among those who listen to six to 10 podcasts weekly increasing 27.5 percent and 34 percent among users who consume more than 11 episodes a week. Podcasting is going mainstream in the mass media. It's not uncommon to pick up Forbes or The New York Times and read about podcasting. It's also getting easier to find shows or [platforms] that [host] podcasts and we're seeing more podcasts being turned into TV shows or movies. The industry is maturing with respect to engagement. It all starts with the content — you have to have compelling content and well-produced shows. You need podcasts to bring in the listeners and keep them.
Romano: You recently signed IPG as your first agency. What's the value for agencies?
Supovitz: After IPG signed on, we had inquiries from a number of other agencies, and hosted a webinar for about 400 people to learn about our service which helps people with a pre-buy attribution and planning tool to [determine] where they should … spend their money. The podcast environment is huge, the raw number of shows is massive, and new shows are being introduced daily. So, how do you size up where to begin? You start with the category your advertiser is in. If you have an insurance client, we have an insurance category. If they're in financial services or quick-service restaurants or big box, we have those categories. In most cases, we even have the brand name in the database, so you can start with that and work backward. You can identify the consumers' psychographic profile, their preferences, their "plans to buy" goods/services and then see which of the 18 genres or titles they're over-indexing in, so you can reach them. It gives them a starting point to frame their ad campaign and enter the space.
Romano: On the publisher side, how are your clients using the information from the service and what's the feedback?
Supovitz: We have clients with marquee podcasts that have high awareness or big talent, and the talk about the audience profile of that show. We have others with a collection of podcasts that have a meaningful footprint in a genre — like true crime or sports — and they use the service to make a case for their genre selling. Lastly, you have a specific avail from an agency so our podcast clients can act as a consultant] to make recommendations on what to purchase.
Romano: How are you educating potential clients about the product and its applications?
Supovitz: This is a qualitative service to round out podcast listener or consumer data that potential clients have. In sales presentations, the typical seller presents their download information; how and when a commercial will be run; and if it will be host-read, custom-created, or copy that comes from the agency. Then, they need to turn to what we feel is our tool — the qualitative connection. We help them make a case for "why podcasting" and "why their podcast." And of course, What kind of listeners you have...that is key.
Romano: Several companies are publishing podcast rankings. What's different here?
Supovitz: Our goal was not to create another ranker. Our publishers only see their own shows not the other companies' shows. The agencies can see all the program titles that each of our clients have chosen to release to them. That was a conscious business decision of ours and it encourages users to talk about the quality of the audience, rather than have a ranker mentality about who is #1 vs. #20. Bottom line: this data has more staying power than a ranker for brand buying decisions.
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