89: Can We Use a Tracking Pixel?


00:00:00   [Music]

00:00:08   From Relay FM, this is Upgrade, episode number 89. Today's show is brought to you very kindly by our friends over at FreshBooks and MailRoute.

00:00:17   My name is Myke Hurley and I am joined over on the other side of the globe by Mr. Jason Snell.

00:00:22   Hi Myke, I saw a funny thing that was going around, a meme that was something about people

00:00:29   who believe in the the earth is flat and the the line was something like there

00:00:35   are there are members of the flat earth society all around the globe you're

00:00:40   doing it wrong no no you can't no would it be a cross I guess yeah all across

00:00:46   the flat plain that is the earth riding on the back of a turtle how are you so

00:00:53   you doing well today except for this crazy meme you found it's Monday it's

00:00:57   It's Monday morning, you know, it is a pleasure to spend my Monday morning with you and the

00:01:03   listeners and to get, of course, you're listening whenever, but you're hearing Monday morning

00:01:07   me when you hear Upgrade, usually.

00:01:11   And it's good, like I always say, it's a good start to the week.

00:01:15   I stay up late watching Game of Thrones on Sunday nights, so I gotta, you know, take

00:01:19   and have a little more tea and try to wake up.

00:01:22   But having kids in my house makes it easier to wake up because if I was just like you,

00:01:31   you don't have a lot of people in your house who are on a normal human schedule.

00:01:39   You've got one.

00:01:41   For me, having the kids, my daughter has to be up and moving around before seven o'clock

00:01:47   really and my son not too long after that.

00:01:49   And so I could be one of those people who has a really weird schedule and sleeps until

00:01:55   11 a.m. and all of that, but I can't because, you know, not only do I have the kids have

00:02:00   to get out fairly early and then Lauren has to get out right about now, but, you know,

00:02:07   also the dog, whenever it's light out, the dog decides now is the time to come and lick

00:02:13   my face and demand that I feed her.

00:02:15   I got a trainer out of that.

00:02:17   But so yeah, so in the end, it's a, you know, I dream of being one of those people who can

00:02:22   wake up at 11 in the morning and get about their business, but I am never going to be

00:02:26   one of those people.

00:02:27   So good morning is what I'm saying.

00:02:30   We have a big show today.

00:02:31   So we had an overwhelming amount of feedback that people wanted to hear more about kind

00:02:37   of the business side of podcasting.

00:02:38   Yeah, how the sausage is made apparently is the thing that we're talking about now.

00:02:42   So we've got a lot of that today.

00:02:44   We have a lot of follow up, but also later in the show,

00:02:47   we're gonna be joined by Mr. Lex Friedman.

00:02:50   You may know Lex, he is the host of many podcasts,

00:02:54   including Turnin' His Car Around, and he's also,

00:02:57   I wouldn't know how to describe him,

00:02:59   we'll get him to describe himself,

00:03:00   but he works for Midroll Media,

00:03:02   working on their advertising.

00:03:04   So Midroll is a huge podcast advertising company

00:03:09   that kind of provides advertising to many, many huge

00:03:13   podcasts including stuff like the Mark Maron show.

00:03:16   So he is really in that world

00:03:19   of leading podcast professionals.

00:03:21   So we wanna get Lex's thoughts and opinions

00:03:24   on this whole data and discussion

00:03:27   that we had from last week.

00:03:28   So that's coming up a little later on in the show.

00:03:30   But first off, I wanna kind of go through some thoughts,

00:03:33   some additional thoughts that I've had

00:03:35   and to kind of clarify some points from last week

00:03:39   based on listener feedback.

00:03:41   So I wanted to kind of go through a few things about data with you, Jason, so we can talk

00:03:46   about that.

00:03:47   So I've got a few questions that we can answer.

00:03:49   So question number one is, "What is the data that we do not want Apple to give to

00:03:55   all podcasters, including us and everybody else?"

00:03:58   And we should say there's no evidence that Apple's going to give this data.

00:04:02   The New York Times story that set this off was sort of about people complaining that

00:04:05   Apple isn't doing enough, making enough of an effort to gather data.

00:04:10   And quite frankly, as the week has gone on and more people are talking about this and

00:04:15   less people are coming forward to say anything, it really does seem to me that a lot of that

00:04:19   article maybe isn't exactly how it seems.

00:04:22   Yeah, I think that's probably true. And I also, something that tends to happen on the

00:04:28   internet is your arguments get flattened into this, you know, very basic polar opposite

00:04:34   kind of argument. And I think that's one of the reasons we want to follow up a little

00:04:37   bit about here is there's I've seen some people suggest that what we are saying and other

00:04:43   people are saying is that we don't think that there's a place for data in podcasting and

00:04:48   that's not really true. So what's the data from your perspective Myke, what's the data

00:04:53   that you don't want Apple to give?

00:04:56   I really don't want Apple to take Apple IDs, iCloud IDs and use the information that they

00:05:04   know about the people behind those and attach them to the shows that they listen to.

00:05:09   Even in an anonymized way, I think there's very basic information that is fine.

00:05:13   So maybe the stuff that we'd want to give is information about the listening of the

00:05:18   show.

00:05:19   I can see why some people would want to know that and we'll get into that in a minute.

00:05:22   But the actual data about the individuals, I don't think that that data should be given

00:05:27   unless somebody specifically wants to do it, like through surveys or something.

00:05:31   a listener opts in to give that information. They say like, I am female, I am 25 years

00:05:37   old, I earn this amount of money, I live in this part of the world. I don't think Apple

00:05:41   should be providing that information without explicit opt-in from the listener. So really

00:05:46   Apple shouldn't be involved in this at all. There should be, the podcasters themselves

00:05:50   should create surveys as many do if they want to get that information. I don't think that

00:05:53   that stuff should be taken from what would be people's iCloud IDs and given out because

00:05:59   Because also that frankly doesn't feel like something that fits with Apple's core value.

00:06:04   So I don't, and I don't think that, you know, we'll get into this later with Lex I'm sure,

00:06:09   but I personally don't believe that that information is necessary for the type of advertising that

00:06:16   we have been doing for years and has been in the podcast industry for over 10 years

00:06:20   now.

00:06:21   Right.

00:06:22   It's the, it's that, uh, user tracking and, uh, the ability to, yeah, I mean, it's essentially,

00:06:27   I think what is suggested in that article is that they want web style tracking where

00:06:33   they can place—and this is where it breaks down from a technological standpoint—is

00:06:37   like, what they want to do is place markers on a file somehow and have it be that this

00:06:44   is where the ad is and please give us information about this and let us have a unique identifier

00:06:50   for these people and send this back to us as we go. And you kind of would need to build

00:06:55   an entire infrastructure around tracking to do that. And that's where it breaks down for

00:06:58   me is I don't think Apple is interested in building an infrastructure around tracking

00:07:03   based on the contents of your MP3 files. Which is not to say that not just Apple, but podcast

00:07:10   app makers in general couldn't generate more data for their podcasters, although there

00:07:19   are still challenges there. Like, if you're Marco Arment, how do you verify that somebody

00:07:24   is the owner of a podcast in order to give them access to their personal data? Because

00:07:31   you're not going to give all data to everyone, are you? That seems a little bit far-fetched.

00:07:36   Apple, because it's got a directory, does have an advantage there that people have signed

00:07:41   up essentially and submitted their podcast, and so it's tied to an Apple ID. But more

00:07:47   broadly, there is data that anybody who makes a podcast app could generate if they wanted

00:07:52   to, and it could be as aggregate or as anonymized as they want it to be. Now, I'm not sure I

00:07:57   want people measuring all of this data either, and I'm not sure how useful it would be, but

00:08:04   there are definitely data that you could get around people listening to shows because the

00:08:09   the... We should mention, ATP talked about this this week in ATP 169, and they recommended

00:08:17   us, so we should probably recommend their conversation about it. They all...

00:08:20   - To close the loop.

00:08:21   - They all snake around together. But Marco talked about this a little bit, and it's the

00:08:26   idea that right now, the way podcasting works, it's an RSS feed. You see the feed gets updated

00:08:31   and says, "There's a new episode. Here's the download link," and your RSS or your podcast

00:08:35   app says "okay" and it goes and it downloads it. And so you get download stats. You get

00:08:42   download stats that are very much like web file stats. You get an IP address and you

00:08:50   know what client it was and some very basic stuff. And that's the end of the conversation.

00:08:54   That's like that's the end of it. And so inside the app you could do something to measure

00:09:01   does that episode ever get played? How many times did that episode actually have somebody

00:09:07   press play and begin the playing of audio? You could also have an abandonment point,

00:09:13   you could measure after, again it gets really complicated and how do you determine this,

00:09:17   but you could say the average person got to this point, or 50% of people reached this point,

00:09:27   or whatever. You could do that. So you could get the idea, which might be useful for podcasters

00:09:31   if you do a three-hour podcast to realize that most people aren't listening past 45

00:09:35   minutes. It would be interesting. That's possible. That would be good for advertisers to know

00:09:40   where to put their ads is when people are listening. And you could go even deeper and

00:09:45   say, do people skip audio in there? And even deeper would be where do they skip audio and

00:09:50   are they skipping ads and all of that? You could go down the rabbit hole there. But every

00:09:54   step you take, every, I guess, rung in the ladder down into the rabbit hole, I don't

00:10:00   know, I've lost the metaphor here, it's more complicated the further you go, and the data's

00:10:04   more complicated. And I can tell you from having a load of web data from my previous

00:10:09   job, doing, you know, looking at all the data for PC World and Mac World and TechHive, that

00:10:15   it's, it's too much data. The data is usually not used particularly well by anybody. So

00:10:22   people talk a lot about collecting data but I'm skeptical about how useful it would be.

00:10:28   So Apple already have some data that they could turn into something without needing

00:10:34   to lock the system down, right? So there are statistics that they are able to gather that

00:10:39   could make things more useful for people if they were to display them in a good way. Like

00:10:44   Apple will know if the episode is downloaded or streamed, right? They know if somebody

00:10:48   subscribes, they have that information, they can get through their apps. They know broad

00:10:53   geographical information, so do Libsyn, the host that we use, they have that so like we

00:10:58   know what state people are listening in and sometimes what city depending on how big the

00:11:04   city is.

00:11:05   Yeah, V Press has that too which I use for some some podcasts as well and and it's the

00:11:09   same you know they're generally using a redirect so when you try to download the episode it

00:11:14   logs that on the server and then sends you to download the episode and it gathers a little

00:11:18   bit of data by measuring that request.

00:11:21   And that broad data is useful.

00:11:23   So the geographical broad data helps me make decisions of advertisers.

00:11:27   So I'm able to say to an advertiser, 60 to 70 percent of our listeners are based in the

00:11:32   United States, which is really useful when we have a product that's U.S. only.

00:11:36   So that's, you know, but I feel like for me, that's as far as it needs to go in most instances.

00:11:41   But you know, many people think differently.

00:11:43   We also can find out through Libsyn which application or device is being used, which

00:11:49   is just, I don't really think that's very useful, that's just an interesting tidbit.

00:11:52   I don't really know if there's much you can do with that.

00:11:56   Apple could also kind of provide information on related shows, so they know what you subscribe

00:12:03   to, right?

00:12:04   And they show like, on the store, people that subscribe to this like this, but they could

00:12:09   maybe generate more graphs for people or maybe charts that kind of show the correlation between

00:12:14   shows?

00:12:15   Yeah, yeah, they could. They could.

00:12:18   I don't know what you'd use that for, right? I'm just thinking these are the data points

00:12:21   that they have.

00:12:22   Yeah, so there's data around. I think that's one of the things that we mentioned briefly

00:12:26   last week is there's data around. And I'm skeptical enough about the complexity of getting

00:12:35   more data and then the... I'm skeptical of whether that data really would get used in

00:12:40   a good way. And I'm not saying in an evil way, I'm like in an effective way because

00:12:45   it's very hard to parse that data and understand what it all means. And if you've got different

00:12:50   sources, then you can't really compare them. So that's problematic too. Also, there are

00:12:54   other sources of data. We've talked about some of them here. Let's also not forget things

00:12:57   like surveys. And you may think, "Well, surveys aren't data. That's you're asking people to

00:13:02   tell you who they are and all that and those can be skewed. It's true, that said, radio

00:13:06   and television have used surveys to determine the life and death of every TV and radio show

00:13:10   ever since the beginning of those two media because that's how they've had to do it. And

00:13:18   although now there are technological things involving DVRs and things like that that are

00:13:22   part of the mix, for years and years the way the TV industry and the radio industry dealt

00:13:27   with this is they had a panel of viewers or listeners and they would measure them in their

00:13:32   homes or they would have them fill out surveys telling them what they watched and they would

00:13:37   use that to determine ratings. So, Midroll does this, Lexus company, they have a demographic

00:13:43   survey that they use. It's not a listening per episode listenership but it's a demographic

00:13:47   survey. You know, you basically can say what's your age and race and profession and gender

00:13:52   and "Have you ever bought things on a podcast?" and stuff like that. And it's optional, not

00:13:58   everybody has to fill it out, but they've used that to compile demographic data that

00:14:01   lets them sell better to advertisers and lets advertisers target shows. They know if an

00:14:06   advertiser is targeting menswear, they want to advertise on a show that skews male, and

00:14:11   if there's somebody who's advertising a shaving product for women, let's say, that they want

00:14:16   of thing that's going to be female skewed. And that data is there, age and income and

00:14:22   all sorts of data like that. You can collect that now, and although it might not be perfect,

00:14:27   I would argue maybe none of this data is ever going to really be perfect.

00:14:31   Yeah, my feeling about that stuff is the surveys are fine, because it's opt-in, right? This

00:14:36   is just where it just starts to get a bit, "What is your personal tastes?" And I just

00:14:41   don't like the idea of data being taken about our listeners, about them meaning

00:14:47   for it to be or knowing that it is, when for so long it hasn't been. So like if

00:14:51   you're listening in Google, you're listening in Spotify, you're listening in

00:14:54   Stitcher, you're giving that data. These services are created in a way

00:15:01   that they are able to get more from you because they're locked down and that's

00:15:05   the idea right? They don't use the RSS feeds, they have their own stores and

00:15:08   and they're able to learn a little bit more about you.

00:15:11   But you're opting into that, you know,

00:15:13   whether you read the terms of service or not.

00:15:15   But you know, my whole thing is just not liking the idea

00:15:18   of Apple changing it under people's feet.

00:15:20   - Yeah, and people don't understand that too.

00:15:22   I actually heard from people,

00:15:23   I heard from somebody yesterday who said,

00:15:25   why aren't there incomparable episodes on Stitcher anymore?

00:15:27   And the answer was,

00:15:28   I never submitted a comparable to Stitcher.

00:15:32   And when somebody complained that there was something wrong

00:15:35   with our feed on Stitcher,

00:15:37   I wrote to Stitcher and said, "Take our feet off," because I can't actually measure listenership

00:15:44   there. I have no access to whatever statistics they do have because I don't have an account

00:15:51   there, and yet somehow my podcast is in their system. So I asked them to take it out, but

00:15:55   that person was like, "Well, what about Stitcher?" And the problem is that you risk being in

00:16:01   a situation where somebody said to me the other day, "I don't want to have an Audible

00:16:06   app for the Audible podcasts and a Howl app for the mid-roll Howl podcasts and an Apple

00:16:13   app for these Apple exclusive podcasts and then a podcast app that gives me the free

00:16:19   standard podcast. I don't want all those things. I want them all in one place. And that's one

00:16:22   of the risks of doing something like this is... And I guess that's what they're saying

00:16:27   in a way that people in the New York Times article is basically, "Please, Apple, find

00:16:34   us, don't make us build our own app and wall this off, just let us monetize this stuff

00:16:38   and charge for it and things like that inside your podcast app. And I just don't think it's

00:16:41   going to happen because that's a whole lot of overhead and it totally changes what podcasts

00:16:45   are to do sort of like paid, gated podcasts in, and even if Apple supports it then, can

00:16:52   Overcast support it? Can Pocketcast support it? I don't know, it's kind of a mess. So,

00:16:58   yeah, it's a mess.

00:17:00   So that's our follow-up for the time being. We'll get back to this conversation a little

00:17:04   bit later on in the show. But you have some exciting podcast-related news over at The

00:17:09   Incomparable this week.

00:17:10   I don't think it's news. It's literally counting. But we've been doing The Incomparable for

00:17:17   essentially 300 weeks, and that means six years almost have passed. And that means that

00:17:23   we did episode 300 over the weekend. So people can check that out if they like. It's kind

00:17:29   of a meta episode. It's sort of really two episodes stuck together. First one, we talk

00:17:34   about sort of how our consumption of media, you know, books and movies and TV shows and

00:17:39   comics and stuff has changed over the last six-ish years since we started podcasting

00:17:43   about it. And then there's a silly segment after that where we do things like draft favorite

00:17:49   episodes and answer listener questions and talk about topics we wish we would have covered

00:17:53   or topics we regret how we covered it or episodes we wish we were on but weren't and

00:17:58   to all of that. So there's a lot of that in there. But I wanted to bring this up because

00:18:07   I think it's interesting, and again, apologies to people who don't really care about anything

00:18:12   but us talking about computers, but I think in terms of making things on the internet,

00:18:18   one of the questions is how do you stop if it's something that is recurring. Anybody

00:18:23   who's had a blog has had to deal with this, right? Which is, once you start a blog, you're

00:18:27   sort of like saying, "I'm going to post on it regularly," and then at some point you're

00:18:30   like, "Oh man, how long am I going to keep posting on this thing? Maybe I should stop."

00:18:35   And I was thinking about that because, you know, I had this idea, it's very clear from

00:18:39   the early, you know, first 20 episodes of The Incomparable that I was not thinking about

00:18:45   the fact that this might go on eternally. And so I made a decision basically like, "Wouldn't

00:18:55   it be fun to try this?" And it has resulted in me hosting and editing the vast majority

00:19:02   of 300 straight weeks of podcasts. And so my question for you as somebody who does this

00:19:08   too, these are serial mediums, they have subscribers, you're sort of supposed to keep feeding them

00:19:14   over time. How does that factor into your decision about wanting to commit to start

00:19:22   something? Does that hang over your head? And how do you factor in, because you've

00:19:27   done this a few times now, how do you factor in when to move on and when to say, "Okay,

00:19:31   I know that I said I would do this for a while, but a while is over now and I'm going to

00:19:35   go do something else."

00:19:36   It's such an airy-fairy answer, but for me, like, it's just about feeling. Like,

00:19:42   so I, you know, I always start a show and it's like, well, the show has begun, right?

00:19:46   There is, with some exceptions, no end in sight, like, we're just going to start this

00:19:50   and off we go. By the way, the Ring post, the wrestling show on the incomparable, still

00:19:55   in production, I'm still working on it, I'm sorry for everyone that's waiting, I promise

00:19:59   it's gonna be good but, TL;DR starting something before San Francisco WWDC was a crazy idea.

00:20:08   Still working on it, I'll have more soon. My feeling on this stuff is I wait until the

00:20:13   show just doesn't feel exciting for me anymore and when I'm at that point where I'm not interested

00:20:19   in it is probably the time for me to move on from it.

00:20:23   Because if I'm not interested in it,

00:20:25   then how can I expect everybody else to be interested in it?

00:20:28   It kind of feels unfair.

00:20:29   If I'm not excited and putting my all in,

00:20:32   then I'm not really doing the right thing

00:20:34   by the people that are committing their time to listen.

00:20:36   I feel like it's kind of unfair to them.

00:20:38   So when it gets to that point,

00:20:39   I do, and I've always done one of two things.

00:20:41   I either end the show or reboot the show.

00:20:45   And I've done those things in various different ways

00:20:48   over the six years that I've done this stuff.

00:20:50   And that's what keeps things going for me.

00:20:51   I don't have anything that has reached the heights of 300.

00:20:54   Do you know what?

00:20:55   I probably never will.

00:20:57   Maybe except the pen addict.

00:20:58   I think that might get there, right?

00:21:00   Just because there's no reason that that show would end

00:21:02   and we're over 200 now.

00:21:04   - Exactly.

00:21:06   - Because it's the only thing that stuck around,

00:21:07   but for whatever reason,

00:21:08   it's the only thing that stuck around.

00:21:09   - Across three networks.

00:21:11   - Yeah.

00:21:12   - It has remained intact.

00:21:13   - Exactly.

00:21:14   Maybe it's just because me and Brad

00:21:17   just have this fun show where we talk about the thing that we love every week and the

00:21:21   thing just keeps on moving.

00:21:22   It sounds familiar, right? I mean, The Incomparable is a similar story and one of the reasons

00:21:27   that I think, I think you're right, it's about feeling and I would say it's almost

00:21:31   like about feel, like this feels like it's probably a good idea to do it and I don't

00:21:36   know where it's going to go but let's try it, let's do it. And with The Incomparable,

00:21:40   the premise is so flexible and some would argue completely unfocused. It's about anything

00:21:44   that it's not about pens, right? It's about, you know, it's not a show about a TV show

00:21:50   or all TV shows. It's about TV and books and movies and comics and whatever, right? And

00:21:57   that is unfocused. It leads to people saying, you know, I've got to skip episodes, which

00:22:01   somehow is, it's fine. People are like, "Oh, I don't know about this podcast. I'm not interested

00:22:07   in everything in every episode." And what I always say about the incomparable is, "That's

00:22:10   The only person who's interested in everything in every episode is me. You can pick and choose,

00:22:14   it's fine. But what that's given me as the person who makes it happen every week

00:22:21   is, it's been flexible enough to sort of handle what I'm interested in. And that

00:22:27   if my, I didn't think of it at the time in these terms, but looking back 300 weeks,

00:22:34   I would say is, I think it would have been a grind if all I could talk about on that

00:22:42   podcast was one topic. Like, I mean, even like books, right? I think it would have gotten

00:22:48   to be a grind, or movies or whatever. Like, and I would have been looking at comics and

00:22:55   TV shows and whatever else, the ones that were not part of it, and being kind of like

00:23:01   wishing that I could talk about them. So in some ways, the reason that it's lasted and

00:23:06   that it hasn't become a grind for me where I feel like I need to end it is because if

00:23:12   I'm not interested in that topic, I just talk about a different topic. And I'm allowed

00:23:16   to sort of like follow my interests and follow the interests of the panel, and that's been

00:23:21   helpful. So it's, you know, and that's built right into it, which is also why it's not,

00:23:26   I think as popular as it probably could be if it was super focused on something, but

00:23:32   I'm okay with that because I don't think it would have lasted if it had been super focused

00:23:37   on anything.

00:23:38   And with the podcast network thing now we've got some stuff that's more super focused.

00:23:41   I can do that Sunday night podcast about Game of Thrones for 10 weeks and then stop for

00:23:47   a year and then go back to it.

00:23:49   But for the main show, I think it's that.

00:23:52   It's just the way it's built in.

00:23:54   eclectic enough to keep me interested after this time. I should also say I'm very bad

00:23:59   at quitting things. I'm a—I'm a—I am. I'm really bad at it. I mean, we've talked

00:24:03   about my job, right, and how I had that job for essentially like 17 years and even the

00:24:08   last two years when it was terrible and I should have quit and it was obvious I should

00:24:11   have quit, I didn't quit. But it's true. I am a person who sticks with things, which

00:24:16   I think is an admirable trait in a lot of ways, but I am always questioning myself about

00:24:23   am I sticking with this because I want to do it, or am I sticking with it because I'm

00:24:26   too stubborn to say that it's over?" And like the blog that we did in the 90s TV, the

00:24:34   zine I did, the fiction magazine that I did on the internet, Intertext is the same way,

00:24:38   where Intertext especially, where like it was obvious for like about three years that

00:24:41   I could manage maybe one issue a year, and it took that long for me to be like, "I

00:24:48   need to stop, right? I can stop this. All I have to do is say it's over, but sometimes

00:24:55   it's hard to say that. So, you know, that's an issue here too, but I'd like to think that

00:25:01   I've learned and gotten better at it. But yeah, anyway.

00:25:05   But anyway, congratulations to you and all of your fellow panelists for hitting 300 episodes

00:25:11   of The Incomparable. Thanks. It's a big number. We should also

00:25:15   mentioned the Mac power users hit it a little while ago and I was very

00:25:17   impressed by that because I told David Sparks when I was talking to him that

00:25:22   like I know how many episodes that is that's a lot that's you know and on one

00:25:26   level all you have to do is just keep putting them out like I said 300 weeks

00:25:30   pass and there you are but it's a different thing to to I mean to do it

00:25:37   that long is it's it's kind of special and and I appreciate it when I see it

00:25:43   And Penavic at over 200. It's amazing.

00:25:46   Yeah, MPU's up to 321 now.

00:25:49   I know. Well, they do those bonus episodes. We used to be ahead of them, and now we're

00:25:52   not.

00:25:53   That's the way they do it. Penavic's moving to daily, just so we can take you down.

00:25:57   Oh good. That'll get your numbers way up.

00:26:00   We're coming for you.

00:26:02   Yeah.

00:26:03   This week's episode is brought to you by FreshBooks. FreshBooks are a company on a mission to help

00:26:09   small business owners like me and hopefully like you save time and avoid the stress that

00:26:14   comes with running those businesses. I have lots of things that take my attention every

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00:26:22   to keep up with. One of the things that is least interesting to me in my job is finances.

00:26:28   I hate doing anything related to that. Fresh books take the pain away for me. I sit down

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00:28:06   knows that you came to them from us. Trust me on this one, go check them out. Thank you

00:28:10   so much to FreshBooks for their support of upgrade and Relay FM.

00:28:16   So we had a bit of follow up regarding cellular connectivity in watches from our friend, Anze

00:28:22   - Tomić, yes.

00:28:24   - Anche is a fantastic podcaster from Slovenia.

00:28:28   - Yes.

00:28:29   - He has been--

00:28:29   - He'll be so happy that we pronounced his name

00:28:30   and set his country right.

00:28:32   - I know, well, we try, you know, what can we say?

00:28:34   - And we met him in person, so that's nice, he's very tall.

00:28:37   - Yeah, he came to the upgrade meetup, was it last year?

00:28:40   - Yes, it was.

00:28:42   - There you go, so last year, and Anche,

00:28:44   he tries out lots of products,

00:28:46   like he does lots of product reviews and stuff.

00:28:48   - Yeah.

00:28:49   - For his shows.

00:28:50   - They bring him cell phones in a paper bag.

00:28:52   he reviews them tips them out of the bag yeah it's going um and one of the things that he has been

00:28:56   reviewing recently is the LG watch urbane second edition and this has a nano sim slot in the watch

00:29:04   it has a speaker and a microphone so you can talk into it like on phone calls and this something

00:29:09   is quite cool that and she said that the antenna for the for the like all the calls and stuff are

00:29:14   in the watch band but this makes the watch band non-removable which is sad for you yeah which is

00:29:19   is very sad for everybody. And he says that it's kind of ridiculous to use for phone calls,

00:29:25   right, to talk into the watch, but it does work. Like the speaker isn't that loud, it

00:29:29   gets a bit crackly, and I like that his overall kind of feeling is the "watch as a phone"

00:29:35   concept technically works, right, like you can do it, somebody is doing it, it is working,

00:29:41   but it's not really that cool.

00:29:42   Yeah, he says it's cool like, it's cool in Knight Rider or something like that. Kit,

00:29:47   and get me, right? But not in, that's an old TV show, but not in real life. So it's, yeah,

00:29:53   this is why I was saying last week that I feel like, we got some good feedback about

00:29:58   this. I actually, I think I was fortunate to have that experience of having the second

00:30:03   gen Kindle with a cell stuff built into it because a lot of people were saying, oh, I

00:30:09   hadn't even thought of something like that because, you know, it's sort of not something

00:30:13   you think about unless you've actually had a device that did this, this sort of like

00:30:16   it's paid by the vendor, it's very tightly metered,

00:30:21   like how does Amazon get away with it?

00:30:22   They control the software that's on it.

00:30:24   So even if you had something like that,

00:30:25   this included with the device on slow speed networks,

00:30:30   you never really even see that it's there.

00:30:35   And since Apple in this case would control the software,

00:30:38   you wouldn't really need to worry about data usage.

00:30:40   The data usage would be pretty limited

00:30:42   because Apple would limit it because it's paying for it,

00:30:44   or it's got some sort of agreement with a cellular provider to limit how it's used so

00:30:49   it doesn't destroy that network. And the more I think about it, I mean, this is why I think

00:30:55   this is the right direction for something like Apple Watch because it gives it conductivity

00:30:59   without it becoming your phone. Like, and I think like having it only have access to

00:31:04   data is a part of that too that, you know, you can talk on your Apple Watch now, but

00:31:10   but it's using your phone. Now if they can do it so that even if you're nowhere near

00:31:14   your phone, phone calls also ring your watch and you can pick up your phone, you know,

00:31:21   a cell phone call to your cell phone on your watch, that's good, but I don't want another

00:31:24   phone number for my watch. But that may be doable. It may be similar to the stuff they

00:31:31   do in your house with sharing your phone calls and texts and things across devices. It, you

00:31:39   know, if they're maybe if they're on the same carrier probably not if they're not.

00:31:43   But anyway I think it's an interesting idea and I'm I would rather do that than have it

00:31:48   be something where I have to pay $10 a month to add my watch to my AT&T plan.

00:31:52   Yeah I'm not keen on the idea of these two things being separate like it's you know as

00:31:58   we spoke about last week the idea of it being able to work independently but to understand

00:32:04   that it is tied to the phone. That's the key here really.

00:32:10   I want to just cover a little piece of news because I really am very interested in what

00:32:14   you think about this. Out of the blue last week, there's news that came that Apple has

00:32:19   invested $1 billion in a Chinese ride sharing service, like a big Uber competitor in China,

00:32:26   called Didi Chuxing.

00:32:29   Tim Cook gave a bunch of comments to writers.

00:32:33   He's saying that they've invested a billion dollars

00:32:35   in this company because it will better help them

00:32:37   understand the Chinese market.

00:32:39   And they said that this deal reflects our excitement

00:32:43   about their growing business, Didi Chuxing,

00:32:45   and also our continued confidence in the long term

00:32:48   in China's economy.

00:32:49   This is as much about sending signals

00:32:52   about their seriousness in that country

00:32:54   it is about helping Didi build a ride sharing platform," he said. And then Tim, he tweeted

00:33:01   a picture of him in Beijing hailing one of the Didi taxis. What's going on? What is this?

00:33:11   I don't know, other than I could say it suggests something about Apple's commitment to China,

00:33:18   not just to the world, but to China

00:33:22   and to the Chinese government.

00:33:23   - Yeah, I feel like this is more of a way for them to,

00:33:28   they're not necessarily,

00:33:29   a lot of people are speculating that,

00:33:31   oh, this is them trying to understand cars.

00:33:34   I think it's just they found a company

00:33:36   that was doing pretty well that they could invest in

00:33:39   so it looks good in Chinese business.

00:33:41   - Yeah, it could be.

00:33:44   Ben Thompson from Stratechery wrote a piece today,

00:33:47   I think it's a subscriber piece that I liked.

00:33:50   And I liked it for his forthrightness

00:33:53   about the fact that he says,

00:33:54   "With China, nobody really knows."

00:33:56   Because unless you're on the inside,

00:33:59   nobody really understands why the Chinese government

00:34:01   does what it does, and it does what it wants.

00:34:04   So even though Ben is, I would say,

00:34:07   from perspective of like people who write about Apple

00:34:10   and other technology companies, fairly knowledgeable,

00:34:14   even just because he is in Taiwan, that he understands things about Asia and about China

00:34:20   that the rest of us don't. But he said, "Look, I have no idea either because unless you're

00:34:25   inside the Chinese government, you really don't know what's going on here." It seems

00:34:29   to be Apple sending a signal to China about its commitment and being a good citizen and

00:34:34   being a part of the Chinese economy. Does it mean something about Apple's position on

00:34:39   ride-sharing, specifically, does it mean something about Apple's position on building cars? You

00:34:46   know, I'd say maybe, but the overriding thing I would say is that this seems like it's about

00:34:51   China. It's about, you know, Tim Cook famously has said that he thinks China will ultimately

00:34:56   be Apple's biggest market. It's already the second biggest market, the greater China segment,

00:35:01   and I think that's only gonna, you know, that's gonna continue to grow. Apple wants it to

00:35:06   Apple sees China as a market of huge potential and it's hard for Western companies in China

00:35:10   sometimes and the Chinese government makes it hard because they want to, they have their

00:35:17   own interests at heart. They have China's interests and the people in the Chinese government's

00:35:21   interests at heart. And there's some suspicion, I think, a lot of times of companies from

00:35:26   the West doing, you know, making their investments in China and I think Apple has played that

00:35:34   game pretty well of showing their commitment to China. Apple's business model works fairly

00:35:38   well in China. And so that, I don't know, that's my gut feeling is that this is about

00:35:44   Apple putting down more roots in China and showing to the Chinese government that it

00:35:50   is absolutely serious in this. Now whether this is something that was like Apple's idea

00:35:55   or was D.G. Chuxing's idea or whether it was the Chinese government's idea to push Apple

00:36:03   into this investment, who knows? Who knows? I feel like this is the equivalent of nuclear

00:36:09   arms talks. This is high level stuff, but I do feel like that's some of what's going

00:36:16   on here.

00:36:17   Because whatever Apple is doing in the automotive industry, they're not looking at creating

00:36:21   an Uber competitor. I just don't think that's what they're doing. So I don't think this

00:36:26   is it. And also knowing Apple's previous trajectory in investments, they wouldn't invest in a

00:36:32   a company like this if they were planning their own service. They would either buy it

00:36:36   or leave it alone. Right?

00:36:38   Right.

00:36:39   This is just a fascinating out of kind of character story.

00:36:44   They may not be allowed to buy it anyway, right? It's a Chinese company. So this may

00:36:48   be the, you know, you want to be in this market but we're not going to let you buy our company.

00:36:52   Well, but they could buy Lyft or Uber, right, probably, if they really wanted to do that.

00:36:56   Yeah, that's true. I suppose. I don't know. Yuck.

00:37:02   This is one of those things that is, and this keeps happening, right?

00:37:06   Because it's a different company under Tim, because it's his company, not Steve's company.

00:37:10   So over the last couple of years, I feel like we've all been saying constantly how different

00:37:15   it is, this is new Apple.

00:37:17   And this is the number one of those things.

00:37:20   But they've never really done anything like this before.

00:37:23   Making a big public investment in a company that is kind of completely unrelated to what

00:37:27   they do in another country and you know making a big song and dance about it

00:37:32   like they usually keep these things pretty quiet. Is that unrelated though? I

00:37:36   mean these are all app based. It's tangentially related. Sure. Like Apple

00:37:41   make computers and software and this is... Unless we know that they've got you know

00:37:46   a car initiative going too that makes it a little less tangential but yeah. But

00:37:51   it's you know it's just a very it's just very peculiar it's just very peculiar. I

00:37:55   I don't disagree. It is a strange thing.

00:37:59   But exciting at the same time because it's weird. Right? Like for me and you, this sort

00:38:05   of stuff is super exciting because this is new. We're getting to talk about and consider

00:38:11   things that we've never considered before when looking at Apple. Like, why are Apple

00:38:15   investing a billion dollars of their money into a Chinese ride hailing service that we've

00:38:20   never heard of before? I don't know. Let's think about that. And that's what I find to

00:38:24   be really interesting, right? Who knows what they're doing here. And I'm interested to

00:38:30   see where it goes. It feels like a lot of this, like the timing, you know, is really

00:38:34   kind of related to the earnings calls and stuff like that, right? Like, how are you

00:38:38   going to grow your business? We're now going to invest in upcoming companies. Okay, great.

00:38:42   Here's the stock price increase, you know?

00:38:44   I don't know. I guess we'll see. Should we move on to our exciting next segment?

00:38:50   We should indeed.

00:38:51   All right, well, before we do that, let me tell you about one of our sponsors.

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00:41:22   Hey, mailbagging. Mailbagging! I keep saying it. You didn't give me the chance. I was so

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00:41:39   Everything you'd want from the people handling your mail. Thanks Mail Route.

00:41:42   Thank you Mail Route. So now we are very lucky to be graced by the EVP of Sales

00:41:48   and Development at Midroll Media and all-around podcasting nice guy Mr. Lex

00:41:51   Freeman. Hi Lex. Hi how are you? Good thank you so much for joining us today. We

00:41:56   have to realize from our listeners that they are very interested in hearing more

00:42:01   about what happens in podcasting and one of the things that Jason suggested last

00:42:06   week is why don't we talk to you about the things that we find interesting and/or concerning and you

00:42:13   could tell us why it's all okay right that's kind of the thinking here i'm okay with it i will say

00:42:19   you know i i listened to your episode uh from last week and i listened to atp's episode from

00:42:23   last week we were talking about it and there's parts of it that were in total agreement on and

00:42:27   parts of it there were less agreement on i feel like it's important that i disclose all my biases

00:42:33   obviously I work for a podcasting company. I sell some of Jason's shows. I have sold

00:42:40   some of your shows and some of Marco's one show, ATP at least, in the past. But I just

00:42:47   want to make sure that I disclaim all of those things so that all biases are revealed.

00:42:51   Yes, I used to be your boss. You have a podcast, although it's dormant right now that's at

00:42:56   the incomparable. There are lots of connections here. That's fine.

00:43:00   Which is why you're the perfect person.

00:43:01   Yeah, you're one of us and you're one of them.

00:43:04   You are also somebody who understands what we do, which is ever so slightly different

00:43:11   I think from some of the larger shows and the way that we're approaching.

00:43:14   So I have a bunch of questions and points that I would like to discuss with you, Mr.

00:43:20   Friedman.

00:43:21   Go for it.

00:43:22   I think fundamentally, one of the things that we're talking about is all the stuff that

00:43:26   was in that article but just in general what data do you feel from the

00:43:31   conversations that you've had that advertisers would like from podcasters

00:43:37   that they don't currently have? What are the things that you hear about the most

00:43:41   that companies that are willing to advertise want but can't get? So the thing

00:43:45   that we hear from the bigger advertisers who either are in the space or are

00:43:50   saying I can only get into the space when the things that they're asking for

00:43:53   the most are they want to know how many people have actually heard the ad right

00:43:57   they're looking at us as digital and so they're saying hey when we buy what we

00:44:01   consider digital ads on YouTube we know who clicked the five-second skip button

00:44:07   who watched the whole video who fast-forwarded as soon as they could or

00:44:10   who saw the entire ad we want to know that for podcasts now what I tell them

00:44:16   is I don't have that number my guess is I'll never have that number the if we

00:44:20   were ever gonna really have any version of the number would have to come from

00:44:23   Apple and they're never going to give it to us.

00:44:26   But the thing that I tell everybody, and I genuinely mean it is, if we had that number,

00:44:31   it wouldn't change the price, right?

00:44:33   It would change what the metric is that we're using against our CPM.

00:44:36   So we'd say, okay, let's say that 40% of the people who listen to a podcast listen to the

00:44:41   ads.

00:44:42   I hope it's a lot more than that.

00:44:43   Let's say it's 40%.

00:44:44   I wouldn't suddenly charge only 40% of what we're charging today.

00:44:46   It would just say, okay, the number that we're using as our multiplier is now this actual

00:44:49   listens number, so it's still the same price.

00:44:52   The market has proven that the pricing is fair on these things.

00:44:55   And it's really, they're just, you know, I used to and still do deal with all the direct

00:45:00   response advertisers that you guys were talking about last week.

00:45:02   You know, everybody with their offer codes up to and including mail route.

00:45:07   They can track every single thing that's happening.

00:45:09   But I would say that mid-roll's business over the past three years has evolved from 90%

00:45:15   direct response to about half.

00:45:17   And so we're doing campaigns with Wendy's and Dunkin Donuts and Allstate.

00:45:24   Where's my Dunkin Donuts ad on the incomparable, Lex?

00:45:27   So far they're only buying Bill Simmons.

00:45:30   But the brands that we've landed are Head & Shoulders.

00:45:34   Head & Shoulders did a campaign and they didn't spend...

00:45:40   I think you guys even made references, maybe Marco and company did, to the fact that big

00:45:44   brands coming in aren't necessarily going to spend bajillions of dollars, right?

00:45:47   They're going to test it out just like everybody else.

00:45:49   But the folks who are coming in are cautious because we don't have more measurement.

00:45:54   And then the folks who are on the fence keep telling us, "Well, I need to know exactly

00:45:57   how many people heard the ad," which you guys made the point last week.

00:46:01   Well, do you know how many people saw your ad on the billboard or in the magazine or

00:46:04   on television or on the radio?

00:46:05   The answer is, of course, no.

00:46:07   But they believe all the numbers they get for those things, right?

00:46:09   They believe that Nielsen numbers are accurate.

00:46:11   Right.

00:46:12   Would it be safe to say, given my background and seeing print salespeople as well as digital

00:46:17   salespeople, would it be right to say that there's really a disconnect where people who

00:46:21   are used to buying digital, like you said, they expect web metrics for everything. And

00:46:26   even if podcasting is more like radio, except with better stats, because we do have some

00:46:32   statistics, that's not what they're used to. They're used to having rafts of data to use

00:46:38   to make their buying decisions.

00:46:40   - That's fairly accurate.

00:46:41   And you know, when we talk to ad agencies,

00:46:43   you know, like the giant ad agencies

00:46:45   in Madison Avenue and whatnot,

00:46:48   sometimes it's their digital team

00:46:49   and sometimes it's the radio team.

00:46:51   We're too expensive for the radio team, right?

00:46:53   The prices that radio gets typically are very, very low

00:46:56   and they're typically selling spot.

00:46:57   If you're doing, meaning like a prerecorded 30

00:46:59   or 60 second spot that they play on the radio.

00:47:02   If you're doing host reads,

00:47:04   like most of us are doing in podcasting,

00:47:06   that's typically local talk radio

00:47:08   who was selling host-read style spots.

00:47:10   And so when it's the radio buyers talking to us

00:47:14   and we're like, no, we don't have day parts.

00:47:16   Like they want to know what hour

00:47:17   is the ad going to run all the hours?

00:47:20   The ad will always be running.

00:47:21   - It's five years from now the ad will run, yeah.

00:47:24   - Yeah, so it's most of the buying,

00:47:26   I would say probably of the agency buying

00:47:28   greater than 95% is coming from digital buyers

00:47:30   who like you said, they're accustomed

00:47:31   to digital style numbers

00:47:33   and that's what they want from us.

00:47:35   - Right, so couldn't it be argued then

00:47:37   that rather than trying to fight to get the data

00:47:41   and trying to educate companies like Apple

00:47:43   as to why they should provide the data,

00:47:45   that maybe the effort should be focused

00:47:47   on the advertising agencies about the way

00:47:50   that podcasting works, about the benefits of the medium,

00:47:53   and why it should be thought of more like radio

00:47:55   but in the digital space.

00:47:56   I guess it feels like there's a disconnect

00:47:58   that because it's on the internet,

00:48:01   it should be like web ads.

00:48:03   - It could be argued.

00:48:05   And I don't disagree with that mentality,

00:48:07   but I have to think carefully because of my job

00:48:12   and not wanting to offend people who buy ads from me.

00:48:15   The reality here is this, right?

00:48:17   Agency ad buyers are just like you and me, right?

00:48:21   They wanna be able to do the best work they can,

00:48:23   ideally with the path to least resistance.

00:48:27   And so they're accustomed to buying

00:48:29   what they know how to buy.

00:48:30   - Right.

00:48:31   - And the number one way we get agencies buying

00:48:34   the number of Dunkin Donuts of course comes through an ad agency they don't do themselves

00:48:37   but the only reason Dunkin Donuts bought was because somebody at Dunkin Donuts told the agency

00:48:42   oh my god Bill Simmons has a podcast he talks about Dunkin all the time buy ads on it and that then

00:48:46   gave them the push to do it without that happening without the brand having a podcast advocate saying

00:48:51   I want to buy ads on that show yep they wouldn't have come and that very frequently is the way that

00:48:55   I sell ads for Relay right like we will either have somebody contact us who works in that company

00:49:02   to say that they want it to happen or I speak to somebody who asks the question

00:49:06   inside of a marketing team and someone puts their hand up and be like I love

00:49:09   those shows. Right and so I think yes we can keep

00:49:14   working to try to convince advertisers this is what we have.

00:49:17   I'll tell you what some of the problems are and I think

00:49:21   that you guys fairly but still did this I think you maybe

00:49:26   mischaracterized the meeting or why people went to the Times last week

00:49:30   because I was not at the Apple meeting, I can say that.

00:49:35   Whether mid-roll was or wasn't, I couldn't say,

00:49:37   because I'm sure that Apple would have anybody

00:49:38   who attended sign an NDA.

00:49:40   That's just my guess, knowing how Apple works.

00:49:42   - The article did say that.

00:49:43   - Right, exactly.

00:49:44   And so, my guess is, people simply,

00:49:47   people at the time said, "Hey, what were you doing

00:49:51   "at Cupertino?"

00:49:53   Person from various local podcasting companies who I like,

00:49:56   and I'm like, "Oh, well, I can't really tell you,

00:49:57   "but I'll tell you off the record kind of thing."

00:49:59   don't think that people want specifically to complain,

00:50:01   is my gut.

00:50:02   But here's what we have today.

00:50:06   There are competitors in this space,

00:50:07   companies selling podcast ads,

00:50:08   who claim to have the numbers that advertisers want.

00:50:11   We get asked, I swear to you, every single day,

00:50:15   I have 10 salespeople now,

00:50:16   every day at least one of them gets asked,

00:50:17   can we use a tracking pixel?

00:50:19   And we say, no.

00:50:21   And then they say, but competitor X,

00:50:23   and I'll tell you after we are done recording

00:50:25   who the competitor is,

00:50:26   but they say competitor X says they can do that.

00:50:29   And no, they cannot.

00:50:30   Like, you guys know how MP3 players work,

00:50:33   how audio files work, you cannot embed a pixel in there

00:50:37   that somebody will load at the time the ad shows up,

00:50:39   unless it's in some custom app,

00:50:41   which is where none of the listening happens, right?

00:50:43   Still, 60 to 70% of the listening is happening

00:50:45   in iTunes or podcasts.

00:50:47   And there's no mechanism by which you can report back,

00:50:49   but they're being told that there is.

00:50:51   So I think people in part went to Apple

00:50:53   because they wanted to say,

00:50:54   "Guys, liars are saying that this is how they can stop."

00:50:59   And if you can give us some kind of reality to attach you so last week you guys were saying

00:51:04   Because Apple doesn't stream the files. They can't do this

00:51:06   My understanding from anonymous sources is they absolutely could do this like they already can report to you on who's streaming versus downloading

00:51:13   I think a large percentage of people are streaming in podcasts and in iTunes without even knowing it, right?

00:51:17   They just hit the play button. So it starts streaming right and Apple knows even though they're just kind of passing through the file

00:51:22   They know how far you've gotten I have seen a report from Apple on completion rates. They don't actually make it available

00:51:28   I don't see one every week. I saw one one time that was anonymized and wasn't about any shows

00:51:32   I deal with but they could do it

00:51:33   They own they own the app if you've got the player app you can get the you can get the stats

00:51:37   That's that's absolutely true. If you it's it's stats from your your player

00:51:41   I want to go back to something you said though because I thought having worked as you as you did we you know when you would

00:51:46   Visit our office in San Francisco having worked with digital salespeople

00:51:48   You know, it's a tough job and they are being how do you measure? How do you measure the effectiveness of a salesperson?

00:51:57   Who's selling digital and one of the things is is they've got to have good relationship with clients because they got to make the sales

00:52:03   How does the client measure effectiveness with a branding campaign on digital and it's hard right because like you said there's a leap of faith

00:52:10   With numbers from radio or TV or something like that

00:52:13   And so I understand the impetus here from the salesperson and from the person at the agency

00:52:19   Which is like, you know, how do I get I'm so I'm an agency ad buyer and unless Duncan is telling me

00:52:24   I want Bill Simmons

00:52:25   I need to justify where I'm putting money, and if I have no numbers that will convince

00:52:32   my boss that this is a good buy, why would I do that? Why would I go down that route?

00:52:37   And so you end up, even if we all feel like, "Oh no, actually, this is a really good

00:52:41   medium and you should do it," I can see just from a personal scale of the people in

00:52:46   the chain, the person who has to sell the ad, the person who has to buy the ad, that

00:52:51   it would be difficult because they need to show proof. And more and more, the only medium

00:52:56   that has proof proof that everybody's used to is the web. And so they start to say things

00:53:01   like, "Can you give me pixel data?" even though that does not exist.

00:53:05   And so what we've started doing is, when it's a big brand, like if it is a Dunkin' Donuts

00:53:11   or a Wendy's or that kind of company, we'll try to do a recall study for them. And surveys

00:53:19   Advertises are what they are, right?

00:53:20   But it's the only thing we can do.

00:53:21   And so when brands are advertising on television, in theory they're going to say, "Hey, let's

00:53:24   do some kind of brand lift study.

00:53:26   Let's do some kind of surveying, some kind of sampling to say, 'What ads were in that

00:53:30   TV show?

00:53:31   Can you remember without us helping you at all?

00:53:33   Can you tell us unaided, they call it?

00:53:35   Can you recall who the advertisers were in that episode?'"

00:53:37   And then once they say it, they're like, "Okay, yeah, you saw an ad for X car company.

00:53:41   What car was it?

00:53:42   What did they say about the car?

00:53:43   What were the features?"

00:53:44   So we've been basically doing that on some podcasts that have brand advertisers.

00:53:47   in the post roll at the end of the show,

00:53:49   they'll say, "Hey, listeners, if you have two minutes,

00:53:50   "go fill out this survey."

00:53:51   Now, it's a very, it's some kind of survey bias, right?

00:53:55   Because it's only people who've listened

00:53:57   to the end of the show.

00:53:57   It's people who like the show so much

00:53:59   that they're willing to go fill out a survey

00:54:00   that has no reward for them of any kind.

00:54:02   They don't know why they're filling out the survey

00:54:04   or what it is, 'cause we don't tell them,

00:54:05   "Hey, we wanna ask you about the ads you just heard,"

00:54:06   'cause that would already skew your results even further.

00:54:09   So people go in and they tell us,

00:54:10   but what's amazing is, exactly as you'd expect,

00:54:13   the numbers are really good.

00:54:14   People listen to the ads.

00:54:15   It's not like radio and television where they ignore it,

00:54:17   or magazines or the web.

00:54:19   They actually pay attention to the ad.

00:54:20   So they can tell us, oh yeah, I heard the ad.

00:54:23   I can remember who the advertisers are.

00:54:25   And more than half the audience says,

00:54:27   I'm more likely to eat at that restaurant

00:54:29   or shop at that store now that I've heard that ad.

00:54:32   So we can get the right data,

00:54:34   but now everybody wants a recall study,

00:54:37   and there is a finite amount of listener patience

00:54:39   to keep hearing recall studies

00:54:40   and keep following up on doing them.

00:54:42   But that's the only, if it's not a direct response campaign

00:54:45   where you can track coupon codes or vanity URLs,

00:54:48   that's all you can really do is try to do some brand lift.

00:54:50   I will tell you, there was one restaurant chain that said,

00:54:55   all we're really looking for is, and I'm quoting here,

00:54:57   all we're really looking for is asses and seats

00:54:59   at the restaurant.

00:55:00   And I said, well, how will you tell

00:55:02   if the podcast helped that?

00:55:03   And they're like, they said a line that I've heard

00:55:04   from numerous advertisers, which is,

00:55:07   they think that overall 50% of all their brand advertising

00:55:10   is effective and they just don't know which 50% it is.

00:55:12   So as long as the numbers are trending

00:55:13   in the right direction,

00:55:14   they keep doing everything that they're doing.

00:55:16   - I used to work at a very large company, a global company,

00:55:19   and I worked in the marketing teams

00:55:20   and I used to sit in meetings

00:55:21   where the digital advertising people would sit

00:55:25   and they were basically of that idea too.

00:55:29   This seems to be like a prevailing thing.

00:55:31   It's just like, we know we're putting all this money in

00:55:34   and we know something's happening.

00:55:36   We have no idea what is causing it, but we know it's good.

00:55:39   it was it was a very interesting thing to see and it's because that sort of

00:55:46   brand advertising exists in another medium is why I think that it you know

00:55:51   it can and does exist in podcasting but then when you start putting the data in

00:55:56   it I think it fundamentally changes what the advertising is because if you're

00:56:00   again you know whenever we've gone over this but if you're looking at this is

00:56:04   more like radio, but you have to pay digital. I know it gets tricky, but it's asking for

00:56:11   data to exist that doesn't exist, right? And then how do you, I don't know how you start

00:56:16   to combat against that. Like companies just have to go along with it, right?

00:56:21   It doesn't, it also, the web, I feel like it has skewed this because with the web, direct

00:56:25   response is so powerful. Everybody wants to measure, I mean, that was my experience of

00:56:29   IDG. It's like everybody wants to sell direct response. Everybody wants things, click-throughs,

00:56:33   click-throughs, what are the click-throughs? And that misses the most, I would say, powerful

00:56:40   and lucrative portion of advertising, which is brand advertising. And for people who don't

00:56:45   know about this, it's the difference between an ad that makes you feel good about a company

00:56:49   and its services or products, and an ad that wants you to call a phone number or go to

00:56:54   a website right now. And on the web, a click-through is like you're picking up the phone and dialing

00:57:00   to buy that vegetable slicer. It's direct response. They can measure that click. And

00:57:07   the problem is branding advertising doesn't really work like that. An old boss of mine

00:57:14   used to say, "You have to be considered to be bought." Your brand's legitimacy is a part

00:57:19   of this, the importance of you getting business. And all those Squarespace ads, I think Squarespace

00:57:25   Although they have some direct response, Squarespace's campaign on like every podcast was a branding

00:57:31   campaign because what they want is if somebody thinks I want to set up a website, that Squarespace

00:57:36   is the first thing that comes to mind. And I think it's been very effective at that.

00:57:40   But like Coke, Coke doesn't want you to click on a box in order to get a Coke in your house.

00:57:46   Right? Coke wants you to think, "Oh yeah, Coke, I like Coke. I should buy Coke the next

00:57:50   time I go to the store or the next time I need soda, I should get a Coke."

00:57:54   Or Vizio is the example I give.

00:57:57   Vizio did a lot of advertising because they wanted to be seen as a television brand and

00:58:01   not the cheap TV that is at Costco.

00:58:05   And the benefit there was not direct response.

00:58:07   It was the brand got better.

00:58:09   But you get branding without clicking on things and without direct response, so it's very

00:58:12   hard to measure it and you don't know if it's working or not.

00:58:15   I think that's all exactly right.

00:58:17   I don't disagree with any of it.

00:58:19   And the one thing that you mentioned last week, Jason, on this show was ideally there'd

00:58:25   be some way to sample it, right?

00:58:26   Because advertisers are asking for data that they don't have from anything else except

00:58:30   the web.

00:58:31   And we even know that the data they have from the web is bogus, right?

00:58:32   Just because the impression was served doesn't mean anybody saw it.

00:58:34   Could have been an ad blocker, could have been off the page, whatever.

00:58:37   A lot of people have the ads turned off, a lot of things messing with it.

00:58:41   But if there was some way to give them sampled data the way they have for television and

00:58:46   radio, I think advertisers would accept it in a heartbeat.

00:58:48   But the problem is, to get sample data, you need Apple and Google and Overcast.

00:58:55   Every app with an endpoint there has to participate.

00:58:58   Let's say that Marco came to me and said, years ago when he first launched it, I asked

00:59:02   and he passed.

00:59:03   He said, "No way."

00:59:04   Yeah.

00:59:05   If Marco said, "Hey, Lex, pay me this fee and you can have access to my listener behavior

00:59:09   data."

00:59:10   It's not useful, right?

00:59:11   Because I think, Myke, you said last week that 60% or something of your listeners come

00:59:15   from Overcast, which is obviously atypical for the industry overall.

00:59:22   If I were only sampling Overcast, which is, I don't know, I don't have any percentage

00:59:25   in front of me, but it's a single digit percentage of say WTF with Marc Maron.

00:59:29   It's a very different audience potentially from people who are listening to it on SoundCloud

00:59:33   or in Howl, like whatever it is.

00:59:36   So getting data from any one app is not useful.

00:59:38   It has to be true sample data across everything to be at all relevant.

00:59:43   You mentioned it as a good idea, which it is.

00:59:45   I don't think it's possible to get.

00:59:46   Well, I mean, you would have to get it from a survey.

00:59:49   I mean, you'd essentially have to build a Nielsen survey style thing of podcast listeners.

00:59:54   You'd have to recruit a panel on, I guess, websites and maybe by putting advertising

00:59:59   and podcasts saying, would you like to join our panel?

01:00:01   And you'd, I mean, it would be a huge effort to try and create something that you would

01:00:05   have to feel at least somewhat confident is a statistically significant percentage.

01:00:11   How does it work on radio?

01:00:12   I mean, I did it once where they sent me a booklet

01:00:14   in the mail.

01:00:15   - So today on radio, they give you a thing

01:00:17   that's always listening to what you're listening to.

01:00:20   - Oh yeah, and it's like Shazam, Access.

01:00:23   I think they do that for some TV ratings now too.

01:00:25   - They do that for some TV ratings too.

01:00:26   TV, I mean, basically what podcasters,

01:00:29   what podcast companies are saying to Apple is,

01:00:31   be like TiVo, give us the DVR data that you have,

01:00:33   tell us what people are watching and listening,

01:00:35   tell us how far they get.

01:00:36   'Cause TiVo is able to make that data available,

01:00:37   and does, they do it all anonymized,

01:00:39   and as a soul-sucking advertising salesperson,

01:00:42   That's the data I want.

01:00:43   Like I would love to have anonymized bulk data

01:00:44   of who got where.

01:00:46   But with radio, it's like listening over your shoulder.

01:00:50   Hey, did you hear that ad?

01:00:51   Are you hearing that ad?

01:00:52   And they know, because when you're in the car, right?

01:00:54   If you aren't listening to a podcast for some sick reason

01:00:56   and an ad comes on the radio,

01:00:58   most people who are driving jab at the preset buttons,

01:01:00   they go to the next station.

01:01:01   So they have these little listening devices

01:01:03   so they can know which ads did you hear.

01:01:05   And then, you know, the radio companies

01:01:07   add some giant number to it and say,

01:01:08   okay, that's the number of people we have

01:01:10   listening to our station when the ads are on.

01:01:11   And it's all bogus, but it's bogus that's accepted by advertising buyers.

01:01:15   Yeah.

01:01:15   All right.

01:01:16   So I have a feeling about this and this is kind of, I guess it's kind of selfish,

01:01:19   but I'm just thinking about my own business here.

01:01:21   So like you mentioned a moment ago, Lex, about the fact that we skew so much on

01:01:25   our shows towards third parties and all of this discussion is around what Apple

01:01:29   can do, what Apple can do, because in more mainstream shows, Apple is the 60, 70%,

01:01:34   where for us, we have third parties in that.

01:01:37   Even incomparable.

01:01:38   It's like 60 or 70% Apple, right?

01:01:40   because again, it touches more on mainstream topics.

01:01:43   So making these kinds of changes,

01:01:45   asking a company like Apple to provide this data,

01:01:48   is this not a scenario where the needs of the many

01:01:53   could affect the needs of the few, right?

01:01:55   So it's gonna make massive changes potentially

01:01:57   to the business where I,

01:01:59   and many other niche kind of podcasters

01:02:02   can't give that data, and then that then affects

01:02:06   the way that we can do business, right?

01:02:08   - I think it's a reasonable concern.

01:02:10   I think it's partially a marketplace concern,

01:02:12   if you know what I mean.

01:02:13   Like it's the same way that if,

01:02:16   that when there were 100 blogs using AdSense,

01:02:19   they could make more money than when there's a billion blogs

01:02:22   using AdSense, 'cause there's just,

01:02:23   there's less of that to go around.

01:02:25   I don't think though that it,

01:02:27   I don't think it negatively impacts your business

01:02:29   in a measurable way, is my guess.

01:02:31   Because if it means that more advertisers

01:02:32   can trust podcasting, and they can get in and say,

01:02:35   "Oh, okay."

01:02:36   So if they're saying that Marc Maron gets,

01:02:38   I'm making these numbers up, 650,000 downloads,

01:02:40   and 580,000 people get all the way to the end of each episode on average,

01:02:44   now I know people is in a podcast.

01:02:45   So I think to me, and I am trying very hard to be as unbiased here as I can,

01:02:49   although I can't escape what I am and what I do,

01:02:52   I think it probably ends up lifting all boats.

01:02:54   Because today, I wish I had more tech shows, right?

01:02:57   I wish I still sold all the relay shows,

01:02:58   because the niche, the audience there is so strong,

01:03:02   and so, and Sir Cuse was talking about this on ATP,

01:03:04   like the audience is so pre-identified as these are, you know,

01:03:08   tech-centric people with affluent incomes

01:03:12   and eagerness to spend on well-recommended products

01:03:15   that make sense for them.

01:03:16   They do really well, right?

01:03:18   It's a relatively easy sell, all things considered.

01:03:21   So I would be surprised if, let's say that,

01:03:24   because the WTF size shows of the world

01:03:26   had more listener behavior data,

01:03:28   that advertisers said, "Well, I'm never gonna buy

01:03:31   "from ATP or from upgrade again,"

01:03:33   because they still, once they've proven to themselves

01:03:36   that the industry works, I feel like when they want

01:03:39   to reach the tech audience, they're gonna know to come here.

01:03:41   And I'll add this, if you listen today

01:03:45   to a show like The Talk Show or ATP,

01:03:49   you hear on those two shows in particular,

01:03:53   shows that I really love and like shows that I have sold

01:03:55   in the past, you hear today the same six to 10 advertisers

01:04:00   most of the time, I would say 90% of the spots

01:04:02   are maybe six to eight advertisers across those shows.

01:04:05   And that, to everyone's point, that's a really good sign.

01:04:09   That means the show really works for advertisers.

01:04:11   If you hear different advertisers,

01:04:12   every episode of the show,

01:04:13   is a show that doesn't work that well for advertisers

01:04:14   'cause they don't renew.

01:04:16   So the fact that they have the same advertisers

01:04:17   again and again is very reassuring for them.

01:04:20   But when I look at it, it's like grrr,

01:04:23   because I'm seeing all these brands who wanna get in

01:04:25   who are coming to me and saying,

01:04:26   "Hey, do you have any giant tech shows?"

01:04:27   I'm like, "No, not anymore."

01:04:29   But the advertisers are there, right?

01:04:31   Maybe neither Marco nor John would wanna run ads

01:04:34   for the Aaron Sorkin Steve Jobs movie.

01:04:36   But we ran a big campaign for the Steve Jobs movie, right?

01:04:39   And I literally just had somebody come to me last week

01:04:41   about a new book about Steve Jobs that's coming out

01:04:44   and wanted to know, and I'm like,

01:04:44   "Well, I can put you on these shows,

01:04:46   "but if you want these other ones,

01:04:47   "here are the people to contact."

01:04:48   But I think that they're probably,

01:04:51   all those shows are doing very well,

01:04:52   which I don't think is telling tales at its turn,

01:04:55   but they're doing very well financially, I mean.

01:04:57   I think they're probably even leaving money

01:04:59   on the table though,

01:05:00   because they're so direct response focused,

01:05:02   because there are brand advertisers

01:05:03   who want that audience so badly,

01:05:05   and the same way that people would pay a premium

01:05:06   to be on, to have their ads run on the West Wing,

01:05:09   speaking of Aaron's work,

01:05:10   and even though its audience was smaller than friends,

01:05:13   it was a different kind of listener,

01:05:14   or a different kind of watcher in that case,

01:05:16   and I think that's the same situation

01:05:17   that ATP and the talk show have,

01:05:19   and because they can't give the brands

01:05:22   what they want necessarily,

01:05:23   the brands aren't coming to them.

01:05:26   - But it's also-- - The brands.

01:05:27   - The brands.

01:05:29   - Brands, Marco will love this part.

01:05:30   - The thing is though, like,

01:05:32   I keep going back to it, then when we can't hand over that data, like so someone says

01:05:36   to us like, oh, there this big brand advertiser comes, this movie comes and they're like,

01:05:41   okay, and we've advertised here and there. And we want that data, we want those listener

01:05:45   number data from you. And we say, well, we can't give it to you. Doesn't that then affect

01:05:49   it though, because we don't have the information that they know has told them that it works

01:05:54   in other places. And if NFA podcasts, which doesn't use one of the big platforms as its

01:05:59   primary way of distribution cannot give that data to a new advertiser.

01:06:04   Does that not put them on a bad foot with them?

01:06:07   I still don't think so.

01:06:08   Because I think that if they're able to prove to themselves that in general people listen

01:06:14   to podcasts pretty far through.

01:06:16   And if they're able to prove to themselves that yes, this medium is going to work because

01:06:19   they can get over whatever hurdles they have today, then you're able to tell them, "Look,

01:06:25   more than half of our audience is so opted into this medium that they went and got a

01:06:28   different app like they took it a step further because they they felt you know

01:06:31   we're a pro level listener we need more access and we need better features and

01:06:35   be able to get through more shows and subscribe in more ways like I I think

01:06:40   that you know if you got first of all if you got to the point it was an overcast

01:06:43   specifically and suddenly companies like yours were hurting I know the guy who

01:06:47   makes overcast you could maybe convince him to change his mind a little bit on

01:06:51   how he approaches it but I doubt it you'll still have 10 to 20 percent of

01:06:55   of your audience at least using iTunes, right?

01:06:57   Or using Apple.

01:06:58   And you'll be able to have a sample just from that.

01:07:01   You can tell them, look, you've seen that the medium works

01:07:03   from these other things, from these other shows,

01:07:05   and a portion of our audience that's doing this

01:07:07   has these great or even better numbers, let's say,

01:07:09   comparable numbers, and we assume that the overcast piece

01:07:14   is even more engaged based on the fact that they've opted

01:07:16   into using a different app and have gone out of their way

01:07:18   to make it easier for them to listen to the show.

01:07:20   - We also, we are very focused on niche advertising, right?

01:07:25   - Yeah.

01:07:26   - And I agree that there are quite a lot of advertisers

01:07:28   that they frequently sponsor all these shows.

01:07:33   And one of our big goals here is to bring new people in.

01:07:35   And we have a couple of companies that we've brought on now

01:07:37   which are different.

01:07:38   Also have lots of buy, right?

01:07:41   They're buying lots of shows over many weeks

01:07:43   and I think our listeners are starting to hear those.

01:07:45   So we are focused on trying to broaden that net,

01:07:48   but it's still within our niche.

01:07:50   And one of the things that I think about

01:07:51   is the reason that our CPMs,

01:07:53   which is the cost per thousand listeners are so high

01:07:57   is because the advertisers and the content

01:08:00   and the listeners match up so nicely.

01:08:02   If the net, if overall everyone starts to go broader, right?

01:08:07   So we're all going broader with bigger brand campaigns,

01:08:10   wouldn't that drive the CPMs down

01:08:12   because the fit is not so tight?

01:08:15   - It's an interesting question.

01:08:16   Not so far in practice, I don't think it's impossible.

01:08:19   You know, the broader an audience,

01:08:22   the less valuable it is to an advertiser.

01:08:23   I think that's true.

01:08:25   But if the brand specifically wants to reach

01:08:28   that kind of audience, then it's very valuable to it.

01:08:30   It's like real estate and everything else.

01:08:32   It's worth what people pay for it.

01:08:33   And Dunkin' Donuts, in its case,

01:08:36   didn't even care so much who Bill Simmons' audience was.

01:08:38   I mean, they did, but they were more interested

01:08:39   in the fact that Bill Simmons grew up with Dunkin' Donuts.

01:08:42   He's a sportscaster, he grew up in Boston,

01:08:44   where Dunkin' Donuts is, and he talked about it organically

01:08:47   in his columns that he wrote all the time,

01:08:49   so they said, "We want him to talk about us for pay."

01:08:51   And his very first ad was like four minutes long

01:08:54   talking about his childhood where every day

01:08:56   he would take his allowance money

01:08:58   and go to Dunkin Donuts after school.

01:09:00   But so, I think that advertisers are gonna say,

01:09:05   look, we're trying to reach,

01:09:06   like honestly, podcasts are helping them reach people

01:09:08   they can't reach anywhere else, right?

01:09:10   Men 18 to 30 something aren't watching TV

01:09:15   nearly as much as they used to.

01:09:16   And if they are, they're watching stuff that's streaming,

01:09:17   doesn't have ads.

01:09:19   but they're listening to podcasts in big numbers.

01:09:22   The kind of, the people who listen to your shows, right?

01:09:26   This well-educated, high-earning listener,

01:09:29   tech-centric listener, is again, not watching television.

01:09:32   They're listening to podcasts.

01:09:33   This is the place to go to reach them.

01:09:35   And advertisers definitely want to reach,

01:09:37   that's why CBS might have the top-rated shows,

01:09:40   but maybe doesn't get as much ad dollars,

01:09:42   because they don't have the top-rated shows

01:09:43   amongst 18 to 34-year-olds,

01:09:44   the people who spend all the money.

01:09:46   I used to be an 18 to 34-year-old, those were the days.

01:09:48   And, but so it's like, overall my gut is that if,

01:09:53   to be honest, it's mostly an intellectual discussion

01:09:58   because well, except for my part,

01:09:59   because I don't think Apple will ever do it.

01:10:01   But if Apple were to say,

01:10:02   "Hey, we're gonna provide some anonymized data."

01:10:04   Even if it wasn't show specific,

01:10:05   but just industry specific saying,

01:10:06   "This is the percentage of people who listen

01:10:08   in these categories of shows all the way through

01:10:09   or whatever."

01:10:10   If we had, I don't think they'll ever provide that data.

01:10:14   But.

01:10:15   - So what are you gonna do then, right?

01:10:16   Because I mean, this whole conversation is focused around how good this data would be

01:10:20   and how much it's going to help the industry.

01:10:23   But I think we're all in agreement here that pigs will fly, I think, before you get any

01:10:27   of this.

01:10:28   So what happens?

01:10:30   So one of the points that ATP was making was, what you should really be focused on, advertising

01:10:36   industry and podcasting industry in general, is how do we get more listeners?

01:10:39   How do we get more people into the space?

01:10:42   For me, it's a chicken and egg problem, right?

01:10:44   Howard Stern renewed his I'm not saying Howard Stern's an ideal podcaster

01:10:47   But if you take if we take as truth that he is hugely popular and that Sirius XM is built on Howard Stern

01:10:54   He's too big for podcasting

01:10:57   No podcasting company can give him the money that he wants because the advertising dollars aren't there yet

01:11:01   Now Wall Street Journal ran an article a couple months ago saying that the entire advertising industry for podcasting was 35 million

01:11:07   Which is like laughably wrong

01:11:09   So there's there's real money in podcasting

01:11:14   But there's not Howard Stern money podcasting

01:11:16   So part of the reason that people like me are so eager or wish that Apple would

01:11:20   Succumb and give us more data so that we could woo these advertisers because those advertisers have the bigger budgets right like even

01:11:26   Unlocking the fortune 100 of podcast advertisers of which we've cracked here at mid-roll. I don't know 10

01:11:32   There's a lot of incremental money into the space because it's not like it's gonna stop working for the Casper's and

01:11:38   Square spaces and mail routes of the world. It's gonna keep working for them, too

01:11:42   So my feeling is the more people we can the more money that the industry can make

01:11:47   The more big talent will come in there the more big talent that's there the more listeners will get because today

01:11:53   I don't think there's a vast untapped market of tech podcast listeners who aren't yet listening to tech podcasts

01:12:00   I think for the comedy space that ear wolf sits in which is part of my day job

01:12:04   I think we've hit you know

01:12:06   90% of the people who want to hear that kind of content are listening to it right now

01:12:11   Then there's a big untapped market of all kinds of other people who don't know what podcasts are don't know how it works for

01:12:16   For them podcast app iTunes and overcast are all too difficult right now

01:12:21   Figuring out how to connect their phone in the car is too hard all those pieces getting like if my car could download the episodes for

01:12:27   Me automatically and be synced with whatever app I'm using so that I could just get in the car and push the podcast button and start

01:12:32   Listening to the latest episode of upgrade that's that's where the industry has to go

01:12:36   But to make all those things happen to make it get that mainstream

01:12:39   It's gonna have to be all the things happening once bigger talent coming into the space

01:12:43   So that you can get bigger shows and making it all easier so that more and more people are getting in there as listeners

01:12:48   So what are we gonna do? We're gonna keep doing we do it, right?

01:12:50   We're gonna keep having these same conversations advertisers explaining why they can't have the data that they want

01:12:54   And trying to reassure them that doesn't matter

01:12:57   And we're gonna miss out on some advertisers. There's gonna be some folks who we I

01:13:02   Have a trip to Detroit next Monday a week from today

01:13:06   To talk to the kinds of companies kind of companies there you can you can guess what kind of companies

01:13:10   Some of them have tried podcast some of them are looking to do bigger and better things

01:13:15   But it's an open question as to whether all of them

01:13:18   Well, I used to think I used to tell everybody you look if we get one movie studio advertising as movies of us all the

01:13:23   movie studios

01:13:24   well

01:13:24   it actually did happen with TV stations right a lot of TV networks do tune in with us where they're saying hey tune into this

01:13:29   Show at this time and I'll tell you just as a quick aside

01:13:33   sometimes they'll say, "Hey, we only want the ads to run up until the time the show premieres. After

01:13:37   that, can we pull the ads out?" It's like, no, we're not going to do that. You are very old school

01:13:41   and you're thinking you are a crazy, but that's what we're dealing with. I was going to ask you

01:13:44   about that. Does that hurt podcasting, the fact that you cannot guarantee a listen and that the

01:13:48   ads, the ads are kind of baked in and then stay forever? Oh, hell yeah. That's why some people in

01:13:54   the industry are moving to inserted ads, right? Even if it's effectively a host-read spot, they're

01:13:58   trying to pre-record the spots and inject them at the time of download so that you might hear the

01:14:03   the host reading an ad for you know Squarespace this week but if you listen

01:14:07   next week you'll hear an ad for a TV show that comes out that week. Yeah that's

01:14:11   one thing I noticed I downloaded cereal recently the first season and the MailChimp

01:14:16   ads were gone. Yeah and that's very common, it's gonna get increasingly common.

01:14:20   Everything that just about everything we sell today is still baked in right the

01:14:23   ads are there and until and unless we strip them out by hand which just

01:14:27   doesn't happen but the industry in some places is really trying to move to

01:14:32   inserted spots like that where it's inserted on demand as you download it because they

01:14:36   know your geo when you're downloading it and they know the date when you're downloading

01:14:39   it.

01:14:40   The risk to me is if you go down that route, it gets really easy to say, "You know what?

01:14:46   We could take a prerecorded Geico ad for a $3 or $4 CPM and just put that in if we didn't

01:14:53   sell the spot."

01:14:55   That's when podcasts really start sounding like radio and it's when listeners really

01:14:58   get alienated.

01:14:59   ads are so cheap because they don't work that well.

01:15:00   It's not the host reading it and listeners start tuning it out.

01:15:03   And it's like, think of how good you are at ignoring every commercial around you.

01:15:07   As soon as it's a prerecorded spot, doesn't do anything other

01:15:09   than take you out of the podcast.

01:15:11   Uh, so I've been holding that off as far as I can.

01:15:13   Yeah, I agree with you.

01:15:15   I, I I'm kind of intrigued by the idea of having my, you know, host

01:15:19   red spots, uh, dynamically inserted.

01:15:21   We, we actually hear a lot from people in Europe about how so many of the ads on

01:15:26   the relay shows are obviously, and most podcasts, right, are, they're often very US-centric.

01:15:32   And the reason is exactly this, which is everything's just baked in right now. This is, I mean, it

01:15:37   is very primitive in that way. And yes, if CBS wants to have that ad for CSI Cyber stop

01:15:43   running because they canceled it, you can't. You just, you can't right now.

01:15:48   Yeah.

01:15:49   Do, I have one follow-up before we wrap this up, which was standardized data. Like one

01:15:55   of the things that I know that your podcasters that you were selling for have to do, because

01:15:59   I'm one of them, is supply you with data. And the challenge is that the data right now

01:16:03   is not just limited to downloads, let's say, and streams, but it's also not standardized.

01:16:09   And I know that NPR had a white paper about this a while ago, this idea of trying to create

01:16:15   some standards, because right now a number, and I can say this from personal experience,

01:16:20   a number on SoundCloud and Libsyn and Feedpress, it's not the same number. Like the numbers,

01:16:29   and it's hard to tell what the real number is, but they're not measuring the same thing

01:16:33   so far as we can tell. And so therefore, even when you say this is a show with this many

01:16:38   downloads, what downloads means is unclear.

01:16:42   Yeah, it's a problem. And there are the same companies that claim they can put in pixels

01:16:48   will say, "Hey, this show's doing one and a half million downloads an episode where

01:16:51   it doesn't rank in the iTunes top 500."

01:16:53   Because they're saying, "If we tweet it and Twitter uses the SoundCloud embedded player,

01:16:59   then every one of this person's followers counts as a potential listen, so we're going

01:17:02   to count those as listens."

01:17:03   That's literally the math they've been using.

01:17:06   We've seen shows move from Libsyn to SoundCloud and have their numbers go up.

01:17:09   We've seen shows move from SoundCloud to Libsyn and have their numbers go up.

01:17:11   We've seen them both go down when they make those switches too.

01:17:13   It's a problem.

01:17:16   Everybody's trying to use some amalgamated algorithm, which is also the name of my cover

01:17:20   band that looks at bandwidth usage by file and session length if you're streaming it

01:17:28   on the site and other variables to try to come up with what the right download number

01:17:31   is.

01:17:32   But it's impossible to really measure peer downloads.

01:17:35   We get a surprising amount of shows who come to us and tell us, "Hey, we do 200,000 downloads

01:17:39   an episode," when they're measuring it just by server stats, not really since their server

01:17:43   is chunking the file and they're getting a quarter or a fifth of what they think they're

01:17:46   getting.

01:17:47   And so we get to be the bearers of delightfully bad news for disappointed podcasters around

01:17:51   the world.

01:17:52   But it's a problem.

01:17:55   I like SoundCloud's numbers and I like Libsyn's numbers because I appreciate what they're

01:17:58   trying to do and how they're trying to do it.

01:18:00   And I think it's more exact than anybody can get on radio or TV, even though it's still

01:18:04   clearly vague and inexact overall.

01:18:08   I actually had one more thing before we go, which is Lex did leave that tantalizing point

01:18:11   out there that there were things that we said that he disagreed with last week.

01:18:17   Have we failed to cover some of those now?

01:18:19   Because this would be a good time for you to say, what else did we, do you think that

01:18:22   we got wrong?

01:18:23   I only have one minute, but we covered the one which I think that you can use, that Apple

01:18:28   could give us access to listener data even without serving the files.

01:18:32   The only other thing is, and this is, I know this is way more than a one minute conversation,

01:18:36   But you guys on both shows, this one and ATP, you guys talked about how we don't want this

01:18:42   to become like the web or like YouTube because those things are ruined.

01:18:45   At the same time, I spend a lot of time every day on the web and on YouTube and I understand

01:18:49   what we're saying when we say that the web is ruined or the YouTube is ruined, but it

01:18:52   also still gives me a lot of joy, a lot of information and a lot of entertainment.

01:18:57   So I recognize and I like you don't love advertisers trying to follow me around every website I

01:19:02   visit and everything like that.

01:19:03   But the fact that YouTube advertisers can get some kind of aggregated data about how

01:19:07   many people pressed the skip button versus how many people didn't, doesn't bother me

01:19:10   that much.

01:19:11   It certainly doesn't negatively impact my overall YouTube experience.

01:19:12   So I just wanted to put that out there that I know it's easy for us to say that YouTube

01:19:17   and the web are ruined, but I still love both YouTube and the web.

01:19:20   So I, there's-

01:19:21   Yeah, but loving them for the content is very different to, like when we say ruined, it's

01:19:25   like the advertising business in those is significantly worse.

01:19:30   Like YouTube CPMs are horrific.

01:19:34   That I get.

01:19:35   The only other piece I'll put out there is, we didn't talk about the idea of advertisers,

01:19:40   I'm sorry, of podcast companies selling episodes on iTunes and how like, do you really want

01:19:45   to cut, like that's not something that I'm personally advocating for.

01:19:47   I'm not super interested in it.

01:19:49   By the same token, advertisers who are trying to find ways to make more money for podcasts

01:19:54   so that the, like, we have to, we want these advertisers,

01:19:58   we want podcast creators to find a way

01:20:01   to make it profitable, right?

01:20:03   We can't say just, you know, just make great stuff

01:20:05   and you'll make money is the same thing.

01:20:07   Like we can't, we shouldn't yell,

01:20:08   I'm gonna get a point eventually, I promise.

01:20:10   We can't yell at developers who are putting out free apps

01:20:13   or 99 cent apps and saying,

01:20:14   you're not building a sustainable business.

01:20:16   Think about how to really make this big.

01:20:17   And, you know, think that they're thinking about it wrong,

01:20:20   but then turn to podcasters and say,

01:20:21   guys, you're trying to think about ways

01:20:23   monetize this better, just make great content.

01:20:26   It's the same.

01:20:26   It's really the same opposite sides of the argument being made in two different

01:20:29   ways.

01:20:29   Cause I think that it's right and important for podcasts companies to figure out, Hey,

01:20:33   what can we do to make these podcasts and make more money?

01:20:35   Cause what I love about I'm going way over time, I'm going to get missing my next

01:20:38   call and you wouldn't believe who it's with.

01:20:39   But if the, if, if what I love about this job is the podcasters can make the shows

01:20:47   cause they're getting paid, right?

01:20:48   Otherwise they couldn't make this art.

01:20:49   The listeners can hear the show only because the podcasts are getting paid.

01:20:51   Like most hosts wouldn't be able to keep doing the show if they weren't making

01:20:54   money from it.

01:20:54   So the listener gets to buy in and then the advertiser typically sees good results.

01:20:58   So it's truly in that sense, a win-win-win right?

01:21:00   The show exists because they're advertisers and the advertisers are happy because

01:21:04   they can advertise on that show.

01:21:05   So when we see the podcasters are trying to figure out what can we do to make more

01:21:08   money, it's the same thing that developers are trying to do, right?

01:21:10   Let me make this a subscription thing, even though that's not what people are

01:21:13   interested in necessarily.

01:21:14   They're like trying those pieces because they're trying to figure out a way to

01:21:17   make it a sustainable business.

01:21:18   We're going to do this forever.

01:21:20   but this fundamentally ties into the misunderstanding

01:21:22   or the difference in opinion between me and you

01:21:24   is I agree with everything you just said,

01:21:25   so I say leave it alone.

01:21:27   Lex, thank you so much for joining us.

01:21:30   It has been an absolute pleasure to have you.

01:21:32   Where can people find you and the work that you do?

01:21:36   - The easiest place to find me is just go on Twitter

01:21:37   and look for Lex Fry,

01:21:38   and then you'll find everything from there

01:21:39   'cause I'm all over the place,

01:21:40   but this has been a delight.

01:21:41   Thank you so much for having me on.

01:21:42   - Thanks, Lex.

01:21:43   - Lex, it's always a pleasure.

01:21:44   You go and take that next call.

01:21:46   - Bye-bye.

01:21:47   - Say hi to the president for me.

01:21:49   I don't feel like we've got anywhere Jason I could do that for another hour so I'm sure

01:21:53   we'll continue to have this discussion. I again hope that everybody who said they liked

01:21:59   this discussion last week enjoyed it this week as well. We have come to the end of our

01:22:04   time for this episode if you'd like to find some links for today head on over to relay.fm/upgrades/89

01:22:11   as always you can find Jason's lovely work over at sixcolors.com the incomparable.com

01:22:15   and he is on Twitter @JSNEL, J S N E double L.

01:22:18   I host many shows, the lovely Real AFM.

01:22:21   I also sell the ads at Real AFM.

01:22:23   You can find me on Twitter, I am @imike, I M Y K E.

01:22:28   Thanks again to our lovely sponsors

01:22:30   who we hold so dear, Mail Route and Freshbooks.

01:22:33   And thank you as always for listening.

01:22:35   And I look forward to receiving your feedback

01:22:38   for this week's episode.

01:22:39   As always, the best way is via Twitter.

01:22:42   You can use the hashtag #askupgrade

01:22:43   Or you can just tweet to me or Jason and we will find it. Thanks so much for listening

01:22:47   We'll be back next time until then say goodbye. Mr. Snow. Bye everybody

01:22:51   [MUSIC]