How Do You Present Ads in Your Podcast?

Audible logoNot every podcast includes ads. Those that do often include the advertisement close to the middle of their episode. The New York Times has an article titled: Ads for Podcasts Test the Line Between Story and Sponsor. It got me to thinking about the way I’ve presented ads in some of the podcasts that I’ve been involved with.

The article talks about advertising in podcasts, and points out that more and more companies are seeking to place ads into the episodes of the most popular podcasts. The thing is, they want more than placement. They are seeking ads that come across as less like advertisements and more like an entertaining story.

This, to me, is problematic, especially when the ad is being delivered by a podcaster who is already known as a serious journalist. How is the listener to differentiate between the advertisement and the true content of the episode, when the person delivering it is someone they expect to provide news and story? The lines are becoming a bit blurred.

One thing that makes this possible is the fact that the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has no oversight on podcasts. There are rules regarding how ads are presented on commercial radio. Ads are not allowed at all on public radio. Currently, there are no boundaries in place that limit how ads are presented on podcasts.

It makes me think of the really early days of television, when hosts of children’s programing literally told the children viewing the show to ask their parents to buy them a certain kind of cereal. The kids, of course, weren’t able to identify that as an ad. They just knew that the TV person, whom they liked, told them to get their parents to buy the cereal.

I have been involved in two podcasts that each had Audible as a sponsor. In each show, the audible ad was prefaced by something similar to “Audible is the sponsor of our show”. We tried to make it clear that what we were about to say was an ad.

That being said, the two shows handled the ad differently. The gaming podcast I’m involved in clearly states the sponsorship, and gives details of what Audible offers. That’s it. The music podcast that I was involved in, that has since “podfaded”, did the same, but added more. My co-host and I honestly enjoyed talking about the books we read, and we chose to include a discussion about one of those books into each ad. Each book was available on Audible.

Did we unintentionally make things confusing for our (admittedly few) listeners by handling the ad that way? My co-host really did have an Audible subscription, while I did not. It probably appeared as if I did, though. Was I being dishonest with my listeners? I’m not entirely sure.

Anyway, the point I’m making is that podcasters should be aware of how their ads are being perceived by their listeners. There is a fine line between including what is obviously an ad, and producing what amounts to a “segment” that just so happens to be about a product from a company that sponsors your show.

Cast Party Brings Podcasts to Cinemas

Cast Party logoCast Party is about to do something that’s never been done before. It is going to bring podcasting to the cinema. Not just one cinema, either. This podcasting event will be simulcast to hundreds of movie theaters across the United States. It will also be in cinemas in Canada and Australia.

Here’s how this unique event will work. Cast Party is going to happen, live, on Tuesday, July 28, 2015. It will happen on stage in New York City at NYU’s Skirball Center. The event will be sent live via satellite to hundreds of cinemas that are located in the United States. (8PM Eastern/7PM Central/ Tape delayed to 8PM Pacific). On July 30, it will screen in Canada. Cast Party will screen in Australia on August 22.

The event will feature five different podcasts, who will be doing their shows live, on stage, that night. The group is described as “some of the most innovative producers of audio storytelling”.

Radiolab is a show about curiosity. It is heard around the country on more than 450 NPR member stations. Radiolab is hosted by Jad Abrmrad and Robert Krulwich, and produced by WNYC. This podcast has won Peabody Awards in 2011 and in 2015.

Invisibilia gets its name from a Latin word for “all the invisible things”. It is a new NPR series about the invisible forces that control human behavior – ideas, beliefs, assumptions, and emotions. The podcast is co-hosted by Lulu Miller and Alix Spiegel. Lulu Miller will preform a brand new short documentary in Cast Party.

Reply All is a podcast that is about the internet. It is hosted by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman. Reply All is produced by Gimlet Media, which was founded by former This American Life producer and Planet Money Co-Creator Alex Blumberg.

With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus is a podcast where the guest is the host. She passes off her hosting duties to a new funny friend each episode. The show is from the Earwolf podcast network. Laruren is known for playing Susan Fischer on Orange Is the New Black.

The Truth is a podcast that is described as one that “makes movies for your ears”. It has short stories that might be dark, or funny, but always intriguing. The Truth is directed, mixed, and sound designed by Jonathan Mitchell, who has been making radio for nearly 20 years. This show is a member of PRX’s Radiotopia podcast collective. The Truth will preform an original scripted dramedy as part of Cast Party.

Visit the Cast Party website to find out if the event will be simulcast to a cinema near you.

Podertainment Magazine Issue 17 Now Available

Podertainment LogoDubbed “The Podcast Magazine,” Podertainment, the e-magazine started by Gary Leland (formerly of Podcast Pickle, now works with Podcast Movement) just released its 17th issue. This release contains two videos and a selection of articles covering a wide range of podcasting topics:

  • “Podcast Marketing Trifecta” video by Lynette Young.
  • “It’s OK Not To Monetize Your Podcast” article by Rob Walch.
  • “7 Mistakes Most Podcasters Make and How You Can Avoid Them” video by Joel Boggess and Pei Kang.
  • “Promoting Your Podcast is Simple But Not Easy” article by Dave Jackson.
  • “Ending Your Show – A Painful Breakup“ article by Jessica Kupferman.
  • “Don’t Listen to Your Listeners” article by Brian Ibbott.
  • “The Ultimate DIY Studio Setup Under $100” article by Travis Littig.
  • “Time to Clean Up Your WordPress Plugins” article by Jeffrey Powers.
  • The Flexible and Affordable ART2100-USB Microphone” article by Jeffrey Littig.
  • “Convert Audio Podcasts To Video Podcasts Automatically” article by Hani Mourra.
  • “Google is Your Friend; Looking Ahead Thanks To Lessons From…” article by Todd Cochrane.
  • “Seven Decisions for Your Podcast’s Form” article by Dan Montane.

Podertainment is available for subscription thru the iTunes Store for $12.99/year. Back issues are available for $2.99 each.

The Fair Use App Provides Guidance for Media Creators

New Media Rights logoPodcasters are often faced with the challenge of determining whether or not they can incorporate a piece of media into their productions. Most often, this comes with music. But it can extend to things like movie/TV clips or other soundbites. The best rule of thumb is, if you don’t have explicit permission to use a piece of media in your podcast, DON’T. But thanks to the complex nature of copyright law and its Fair Use provisions, many creators believe there are loopholes they can exploit to use the media clips they want without repercussion. The Fair Use App, a service provided by the New Media Rights organization can offer some guidance to creators who are unsure if they’re operating under Fair Use or not.

Before I go any further, I must stress that The Fair Use App is useful. But it can’t give you a 100% bulletproof answer as to whether or not your creative intent can be claimed under Fair Use. The app starts off by doing some simple troubleshooting like asking if the media you intend to use is in the Public Domain or if it’s covered under a Creative Commons license. If you answer no to these questions, the app will ask a series of followup questions in an attempt to advise you what is, and what is not, considered Fair Use. In the end, it’ll be up to you to decide whether or not to proceed with your work and in turn, potentially suffer any legal consequences.

The Fair Use App is geared in its terminology towards filmmakers but most of its test questions can be easily applied to podcasters. So, if you’re feeling compelled (as I have!) to do an in-depth breakdown of the latest Star Wars movie trailer on your podcast, check The Fair Use App first and see what it says about using media clips from the trailer. If Disney/Lucasfilm sends you a cease-and-decist order, relying on The Force alone may not be enough to save you.

Scripps Acquires Midroll Media

Midroll LogoThe E.W. Scripps Media Company has acquired Midroll Media, a Los Angeles based company that has been around for five years. Midroll Media creates original podcasts and operates a network that generates revenue for more than 200 shows.

One of those shows is WTF With Marc Maron which is an incredibly popular podcast, even before he interviewed President Barack Obama. Other shows include Startup and StarTalk Radio, a podcast that is hosted by Neil Degrasse Tyson.

Midroll Media’s name is derived from the term for commercials placed mid-way through a podcast. It is the largest podcast sponsorship network. It has more than 240 advertisers. In addition to creating revenue streams, Midroll Media has always been a “content first” company. It creates and distributes 35 original podcasts via its owned-and-operated comedy and pop-culture driven networks.

Midroll Media recently launched an app called Howl. It gives people an easy way to access every episode of Earwolf and Wolfpop. The app also lets people view the latest tweets from the hosts and listeners of those podcasts, view behind-the-scenes photos, and discuss shows in their forums. It combines photos and community elements for each podcast.

Scripps is one of the nation’s largest independent TV station owners, with 33 television stations in 24 markets and a reach of nearly one in five U.S. households. It owns 34 radio stations in 8 markets.

Scripps also runs an expanding collection of local and digital journalism and information businesses, including mobile video service Newsy and weather app developer WeatherSphere.

You can hear more about this acquisition in a special episode of The Wolf Den. The episode features Scripps’ Chief Digital Officer and Senior Vice President of Digital Media, Adam Symson, and Vice President of Digital Strategy and Business Development, JB Kropp.

Hollywood Reporter reports that Midroll will remain based in Hollywood and will continue to be led by Midroll Media CEO Adam Sachs. Midroll Media has been acquired for an undisclosed price.

Blip is Shutting Down

Blip TV logoBlip.tv has been around since 2005. It was one of the first online video sites that was home to the creative efforts of some of the earliest video bloggers and video podcasters. Blip will be shutting down, forever, on August 20, 2015. Those of you who have content on Blip are advised to export your videos.

In 2013, Blip got acquired by Maker Studios. At the time that Blip was acquired, it appeared that the goal was to build Blip out so that it would become a distribution platform that was able to compete with YouTube. That didn’t end up happening. Maker Studios got acquired by Disney in 2014.

Content producers who have videos on Blip received an email that let them know about the impending shutdown. Part of it encouraged people to download their content as soon as possible. All video files are going to be removed from the Blip network.

Part of the email suggested that people move their content to YouTube, or to apply to the Maker Gen network (if they already had a YouTube channel). That portion of the email said:

As you may know, Blip was acquired by Maker Studios in September 2013 and the acquisition has allowed for additional, more expansive, direct-to-consumer tools and products for content creators across the network. We encourage you to apply to the Maker Gen network if you have a YouTube channel to take advantage of Maker’s tools and services.

iTunes Creates “10 Years of Podcasts” Essential List

iTunes 10 Years of PodcastsWhile the medium itself goes back to 2004, podcasting took a big step towards the mainstream when support for podcasts was added to iTunes in June of 2005. And love it or hate it, the iTunes Store and its podcast directory are likely to be central to the world of podcasting for a long time to come. In that spirit, the iTunes staff put together a feature page called “10 Years of Podcasts.” This special section focuses on podcasts that have been deemed “Essential” and as you can probably guess, it includes a lot of stuff from the usual suspects like NPR, The Nerdist, and TWiT. From iTunes:

Back in 2005, we were thrilled to bring podcasts to iTunes – and a decade later, we’re as excited as ever. We’ve gone from 3,000 shows to hundreds of thousands, seen the medium explode internationally, and watched hits like Serial and WTF with Marc Maron capture audiences like never before. As the world of podcasts has changed, podcasts have changed the world. Celebrate their success with our favorite shows over the past decade, spanning everything from longtime classics to emerging superstars.

It’s worth noting that this list isn’t celebrating shows that have been around for ten years. Rather, it’s a collection of shows from the last ten years that are still ongoing and (more importantly) liked by the iTunes Podcasts team.

Congratulations to iTunes on its tenth year in podcasting! Now, how soon ’til we get that user portal?

Nobody Should Care How Often You Say “Like”

Voice waveThere are plenty of women who host, and co-host, podcasts. I’ve been involved in podcasting since 2005, which means I have more experience in it than a lot of people. When I started, it was undoubtedly a “man’s world”. Today, that is starting to change, but not without some backlash from men who simply don’t want to share the spotlight with women.

I think it’s safe to say that everyone who has ever done a podcast has received at least a few negative comments. There is a difference between the types of negative comments that male podcasters receive and the types that female podcasters receive. Men might get called an “idiot” because a listener disagreed with their opinion about something they discussed on their latest episode.

Women, on the other hand, are getting negative comments not about what they said – but about the woman’s voice. An article written by Senior Women’s Editor of the Huffington Post, Emma Gray, and Books and Culture Writer for the Huffington Post, Claire Fallon, discusses this. The article is titled: “Want a Lesson In How People Judge Women’s Voices? Start a Podcast”.

Emma Gray and Claire Fallon started a podcast about Season 11 of The Bachelorette TV show. It is a new podcast that has about 10 episodes (including the series preview episode). “We knew we would have some haters– as women who write for a living on the Internet, we’re no strangers to the backlash ladies who deign to have opinions tend to receive – but we weren’t prepared for how much of the critique we received would be centered around one thing: our voices.”

They got comments from men, via Twitter, in which they were told they said “like” too often. They were told that they sounded “immature” for using that word so often, and that it made them appear less intelligent. These kinds of comments have absolutely nothing to do with the content of their show. It is not a critique of the topics they chose or the opinions they shared. These comments are about the way women speak.

Other women who podcast have been told that their voice was too high pitched to listen to, or “whiney”, or that their vocal fry was annoying to listen to. These comments are literally about the voices of the women. These comments are the audio equivalent of judging a woman about her appearance instead of the quality of the work she is doing.

It is not a coincidence that the two comments left on their article came from a couple of white guys who felt the need to “mansplain”. One guy basically told the writers that they were wrong about everything. The other insisted that comments about the voices of women podcasters wasn’t sexism… and then went on to state that the writers were wrong about everything.

Women who podcast should not have to change the pitch of their voice, alter their normal speech pattern, or count how many times they have said “like”, or “just”, or “sorry” while they were recording a podcast. Doing so will not suddenly make a guy who felt the need to leave a nasty comment about the quality of a woman’s voice turn into a fan of that podcast. Don’t change yourself in the hopes of appeasing a hater.

I think the reason why this is happening has to do with power. Guys that pick apart women’s voices are trying to make that woman shut up. Those guys are realizing that women are part of the podcasting world – and growing in number – and they are flat out terrified about it. Keep on podcasting, ladies. Don’t let the bullies bar you from the treehouse. You have every right to be there.

I Still Love Podcasting! – PCN Show 019

PCN iTunes artworkIt’s been a couple months since I recorded an episode of Podcaster News Show. And now I’m back to drop a real bombshell.

Podcasting: I still love it!

During the episode, i talked a little bit about my history with the medium and how grateful I am that I’m able to make (an albeit meager) living because of podcasting.

If you’ve got any thoughts you’d like to share about this podcast, leave them below or send me a tweet. If you’d like to see the Podcaster News Twitter account come back to life, send a tweet to Todd and let him know.