All posts by Todd Cochrane

It’s Time to Grow Your Podcast Audience with Android



Let’s talk about the Android platform in our digital space. If you want to double, triple or quadruple your audience, you need to be paying attention to the hundreds of millions of Android users that are waiting to be your next listeners.

In October 2004 when I recorded my first podcast, there were only a small number of devices with which to sync a podcast. Mobile devices only had rudimentary Internet connectivity. The iPod was new and the iPhone was still three years away. Yet in July of 2005, Apple had the foresight to build podcasting into iTunes.

This was great! We could sync our podcast content by hooking up a cable; iTunes would load our subscribed podcast to the iPod. We podcasters thought at the time that we had gained mainstream acceptance. But in July of 2005, independent innovation largely stopped, and over time, podcast directories were largely abandoned. The introduction of the iPhone in 2007 changed the world and caused the already Mac-heavy creation community to largely ignore everything but iOS.

Ten years later Apple still dominates the podcasting audience share, which is great for Apple but handicaps content creators looking to build their podcast audiences because other devices are largely ignored.

The Apple podcasting team has done a great job of promoting podcasts and highlighting popular shows by featuring them. Yet, podcasters crave — and need to — be featured in new and noteworthy mediums. Had independent innovation not slacked off in July 2005 and subsequently died, the landscape would be much different.

Many potential listeners out there do not own an iOS device. Many have an Android device or two and/or a Windows Phone. For now, let’s focus on Android: In our latest release of PowerPress, we have helped podcasters kick start audience growth on the Android by adding the ability to create a subscribe page. You can read about it here. On the page, we include the links for iOS as well free Android app recommendations and instructions on how to subscribe to the show.

So why am I harping on Android? Well Angelo Mandato, RawVoice CIO and the man behind PowerPress and our Podcasting Stats platform, sat down with his analysis tools and some statistical spreadsheets to plot out some potentials:

With Android doing dismally in Podcast Audience Share (10 percent to 12 percent) it is obvious that there is huge potential for audience growth. According to IDC, Android dominates with 84.4 percent of the worldwide smartphone market share. The U.S.-based market share is likely closer to 50 percent. With Android listeners only making up a small portion of the overall listener pool, content creators could easily double the number of listeners from the Android platform.

With that many prospective listeners out there and most shows only expecting incremental Apple listener growth, we all have to focus on building the Android listener base. By providing uniform subscription instructions via the PowerPress subscribe page and subscribe sidebar widget. The tens of thousands of PowerPress users can help move the bar as a collective. My No. 1 goal this year is to help podcasters gain Android market share.

On a side note, having just completed my team’s annual winter retreat, and actually putting the final touches on this piece at the United Lounge at O’Hare, I can say the roadmap for 2015 is going to be incredible, and I cannot wait to share with you what’s coming.

Meanwhile, go get those Android listeners.

Todd


IAB Podcasting Committee



In the middle of November, RawVoice joined the Interactive Advertising Bureau, aka IAB.net. We had a couple of reasons to join but there was one pervading reason: The formation of a podcast standards committee.

We wanted to make sure that we and the tens of thousands of podcasters and companies we represent have a voice in the proceedings. The initial document that the IAB is working on is a white paper on the state of the podcasting space that will include common terms, definitions and will detail where the space is today in regards to advertising and the technologies used.

The committee will work on podcast advertising standards that — when published — will have far reaching effects for the community. While this standards document will take some time, when completed there will be a large variety of standards that will include measurement rules, validation requirements, ad units and their definitions akin to what print, broadcast and digital have today.

We foresee podcast statistics systems such as my company as having validation and certification processes. The insights we gain from the committee will benefit all shows using out services.

Having everyone play from a single playbook of rules and standards is important to the industry, as well as ensuring that the podcast media is being measured accurately. All of this will make it easier for the media buyers to buy podcast advertising.

If you do not know who the IAB is, I encourage you to read about them at their website, as it details the breadth of the trade group and their objectives.

As part of the podcast standards committee, we will work to secure transparency for the media creators. The members of the IAB are largely corporations and we want to make sure the voice of the media creator is not lost. Once we get our head wrapped around the process, our goal is to provide feedback to our customers and give them some time to provide input into the process.

This is a pretty big deal: When I first checked there were 32 people working on the committee / document from a wide swath of companies that all have some skin in the game when it comes to podcasting. We’re looking out for the media creators’ interests, after all we’re media creators ourselves.

Todd Cochrane
CEO RawVoice
Pain Free Podcast Hosting: Post, Upload, Publish


Podcast Advertising Negotiation and Execution



Hi folks a little background I have been executing advertising campaigns the past nine years as the CEO of RawVoice / Blubrry.com. And while the advertising landscape is changing, I want to share with you tenets of my success and give you guidelines that enable you to best negotiate and execute advertising deals.

Above all, I want all podcasters to be successful in their advertising campaigns — the more success we have as a collective the more money advertisers are going to invest in the space. The following is my process — you are welcome to use as-is and/or modify as you see fit.

When contacted by a company for podcast advertising, first find out if the individual is the information gatherer, the bottom-line signature authority or someone in between. This will help mold the initial phone conversation.

In that first call share your podcast philosophy with them and/or examples of successful campaigns you’ve executed. I tell the media buyer my background and advertising campaign experience; the production schedule of my show and its genesis/theme; the complete demographic of my audience with examples of who my listeners are; the nitty-gritty of how I execute campaigns; and lessons I have learned.

You want the advertiser to be confident in your ability to execute the advertising deal in which they’re going to invest their hard-earned dollars. As important, you will want to know how they found your show and why they think your show is going to be a good fit for their product or service.

It is critical early on that you get a budgeted dollar amount, otherwise you could end up putting a number of hours work into this to find out their budget is only a $100. If their budget is too small, I generally end the conversation gracefully. You can have situations where the budget is so small you would not be able to execute the campaign effectively. Don’t take the money unless you feel you can execute the campaign. If they have a large budget — more than you can move on your own — consider working with a company such as mine (RawVoice) to build a bigger campaign.

Ask them their campaign goals. This is where you get a feel if their budget is within expectations. Dig in and try to find out what it is currently costing them to acquire a customer. This provides insight on how you should price the campaign. My goal is to always deliver ROI that is lower than their acquisition costs. When you do that, they will spend money for a very long time. If it costs them $100 to gain a customer on radio and $150 with you, they will never renew.

When speaking to prospective advertisers, I make sure I describe the basics of how we would execute their campaign: introduction of the product through use cases, talking points on features and a special call to action to the audience. I always try to lock in a special price/offer that the listeners cannot find anyplace else.

I caution the advertiser about having a script; I push telling a story through talking points. I encourage the vendor to allow the ad to flow as natural as possible and ask them for source material, samples of the product or an account on their service so I can do my homework to best sell the product or service. One exception to the spontaneity is the call to action. This will always be scripted and never change from episode to episode. This hammers home how to obtain the product or deal being promoted.

As added value, I provide my advertisers a free banner ad above the fold, and put a sponsor message within my show notes with a trackable URL to their site. The listeners hear the ad and then see the ad on my website, which increases the likelihood of an action.

At this point, you can close the conversation and build an RFP (request for proposal). I always promise to deliver an official proposal by a specific date, along with providing the terms of the campaign.

Some media buyers have their own RFP, but they generally lay out what you are going to deliver and how much, start/stop date, ad frequency, ad length, banner sizes, CPM (cost per thousand), CPA (cost per acquisition) or flat-rate sponsorship rate, suggested text for the blog post and the cancellation terms.

The RFP is essentially the contract. Once you have a signed RFP, you need to be on your “A” game. You should do your very best to execute that campaign with the utmost respect and meet all the terms that you have agreed to.

Another aspect outlines what the sponsor is going to deliver to you before the start of the campaign:

  • Banners (correct size)
  • Product/service case studies
  • Talking points for your campaign
  • Call-to-action with promo code and/or landing page
  • Service or product trial

As a word of caution, if you have doubts about the vendor’s product or service, don’t sign the deal as your audience will smell that a mile away and the campaign will fail.

An important element in your pitch is to get the media buyer to understand the advantages of longer versus shorter campaigns. I try to get them to do a three-month campaign from the start. Why three months? It concerns the number of times the ad is heard. On traditional radio, their ad would be heard two to three times an hour. In my podcast it will be heard once an episode, twice a week. Our data shows the audience needs to hear the ad or variations of it three or four times before they make a buy or sign up for a service.

Those three to four exposures on my show will take two weeks. So in most campaigns, you see a minimum two week ramp up before you start seeing the campaign firing on all cylinders. At the end of 90 days, they will get a couple of weeks more of exposure due to the delay in audience listening. In my discussions with the advertiser I emphasize the on-demand listening aspect of podcasting that causes the ramp up period. A good analogy is how most of us, use our DVR’s most of us watch shows after they have aired the same applies to podcast listeners.

I explain that I offer a quick pre-roll at the beginning of the show, aka, “This show is sponsored in part by . . . ,” then do a full host endorsed sponsor spot within the first 25 percent of the show, lasting anywhere from 60 seconds to 3 minutes. Note: I take whatever time I need to get my point across in the sponsor spot.

Don’t get greedy! If they have a large budget make sure you are able to deliver the ROI according to what they are spending on your show. If you find an advertiser with a big budget, my company offers a finders fee based on gross ad spend of that vendor. We have some podcasters making more money from referrals than their podcast will ever deliver on its own. So do not be afraid to reach out.

Ask if their commerce system can handle a promo code and whether they would be willing to put up a trackable landing page. This is critical. You want to be guaranteed the ability to track and measure your campaign success. I use a third party banner-ad server so that if I need to show and display banners on websites or text-link click throughs as part of the campaign, I can ease the implementation for the advertiser. For that reporting I simply add them to the banner-ad’s reporting system so they get the banner-ad performance via the provider.

Most campaigns require a weekly report, episode link, ad time hack, certified downloads from Blubrry Podcast Statistics, and the link to the blog post. The vendor will be listening to you: Encourage them to critique each ad spot. Be ready to try a different approach if the campaign is not getting results and work with the vendor early and often to make tweaks to the campaign.

If the campaign is underperforming, do not be surprised if the vendor asks for more ad spots. My goal is to keep the vendor happy. I would rather give the them some more spots to bring performance in line and adjust the pricing for the next go-around versus losing the advertiser.

In closing, price your campaigns for success. As a rule of thumb the smaller the ad buy the more scrutiny the advertiser is going to have on your show and the campaign success. Never ever make your show appear bigger than it is. Use a reputable podcast statistics platform to backup your reporting so that when you are audited you come out smelling sweet.

I have shared an incredible amount of data here and I encourage you to go through this info a couple of times let me know @ ceo@rawvoice.com if this information helps you score an ad deal..
Happy podcasting and be a good ambassador for the space.

Todd..


A Decade of Podcasting



Little did I know the fate that awaited me when I sat down and recorded my first podcast on a hot autumn day in Waco, Texas. On Oct. 9, I celebrated 10 years in podcasting.

In the early 90s I ran the largest bulletin board system in the territory of Guam. What was I doing in Guam? Well before and during my podcasting days I was active duty in the U.S. Navy. I retired in 2007 to do podcasting full time.

So from about 1990 to 2002 I ran a BBS and when that space died, I started blogging . . . I admit I was not that great of a blogger. But the two things had something in common: the BBS and the blog allowed me to communicate with like-minded people.

In June 2004 I was involved in a swimming pool accident that nearly left me paralyzed. The doc said I was a “3 percenter” — 97 percent of the people that suffered my injury are left paralyzed the rest of their lives. That experience left me wanting to make a difference in people’s lives and I started seeking a way to fulfill that.

During the months of recovery I made myself useful to the Navy by doing administrative jobs that landed me in Waco overseeing the taxpayers’ dollars that were being spent on the modification of airplanes. With Texas being 100 degrees in the shade, and me being constrained to a clamshell body brace, air conditioning was my best friend.

So on Oct. 8 I discovered podcasting pioneers Dave Winer and Adam Curry on “Scripting News.” I was like a fish that had not seen a meal in a year — hooked. My first show, on Oct. 9, lasted 43 minutes and reached 500-1,000 listeners; about five times as many as had ever read my blog in a single day. I knew I was on to something big.

In the early days the biggest challenge was securing enough hosting accounts to keep the show online. Bandwidth was expensive, and for the first year I had no less than 18 hosting accounts to support eight episodes a month. I would put an episode up, blow out the monthly bandwidth allowance on that host within 36 hours, and then change the media source until I blew out the next hosting account allotment.

The show quickly grew to more than 65,000 listeners. Those where the glory days of podcasting, yet I marvel that we all did not go broke. But things were evolving. In January 2005 I wrote the first book on podcasting “Podcasting the Do it Yourself Guide.” We sold over 47,000 copies of that book, a record for a tech book. We received several awards, including one from Amazon and another from the New York Times. And that kept me out of the poor house.

In July 2005 GoDaddy approached me and offered to sponsor my show, which was exciting as my wife had instituted a two-year deadline to make the show profitable. After a few months I was asked by GoDaddy rep Kris Redlinger the now-famous question that changed everything: “Do you know other podcasts we could advertise in?” It was as if I had been struck by lightning, a business instantly formulated in my head.

On my next show I did a shout-out asking for a Web developer/ programmer, business developer, graphics guy and a lawyer. From that call-out on my show we built RawVoice. The rest is history. RawVoice was built with fans of my show: Four of the five principles RawVoice started with are still primary owners in the company.

Honestly, the past 10 years have been a whirlwind and I admit that being one of the first 50 or so podcasters was pretty cool. Hundreds of thousands have come and gone since then and today we still see new shows launching nearly every day — people with a voice and a passion to discuss every possible topic under the sun.

The principles of podcasting have not changed since Day 1, and I chuckle when someone has a new scheme about how to get into the new and noteworthy section of iTunes. When I walked both ways uphill in the snow to do my podcast, there was no podcast section in iTunes let alone “new and noteworthy.” We had to win the audience over by content. Content and passion will remain the formula that wins the hearts, minds and loyalty of podcast audiences.

While I do consider myself what us Navy guys call a plankowner — a crew member who is part of a inaugural crew when the ship is commissioned — in the podcasting space, I am overjoyed every day when I learn something new or consider a new podcasting technique. But one thing for sure is I am not the same podcaster that started on that hot steamy day in Waco, Texas, in a dingy hotel room.

The podcasting journey has been my therapy. My audience experienced the death of my father on the day of my 200th episode. The response I received to the 5-minute announcement I made to my audience explaining why there would be no show that night still amazes me, and also made me realize what podcasting was really about. I got more than 5,000 emails from my family of listeners with words of condolence, and my family of listeners sent dozens of bouquets of flowers to my father’s funeral.

Notice I say my “Family of Listeners”. On my show, every listener is part of my “ohana.” From Google, “The word ʻohana means family in the Hawaiian language, but in a wider sense to include not only one’s closer relatives, but also one’s cousins, in laws, friends, race, and other neighbours,” and in my case my audience.

Once you start thinking about your audience as an extended part of your family your relationship with them will change and you will become a more engaged podcaster.

So as I start my second 10 years in podcasting, I hope that you will consider the legacy you are creating, the lives you’re molding and make your voice one that will not be forgotten.

As I approach my one-thousandth show, I hope you will tune into my podcast and let me share in much deeper detail what I have attempted to share with you today in written word. It sure is a hell of a lot easier to just podcast it.

Happy Podcasting
Todd Cochrane
Host Geek News Central
CEO RawVoice


Resources for New Podcasters



Podcasting is on a huge roll and I could not be more excited for the space. I also see a massive influx of new podcasters who want to join the party and create content. Shows such as the New Media Show, Rob Greenlee and I produce are one of many great free resources for new podcasters.

As new podcasters join the space, it is important to make sure they are exposed to all of the free resources and commentary available to them. Too often these days, novice podcasters are being funneled into paid podcast pipeline-training programs that turn out a bunch of folks doing the same exact thing.

When I hear folks say, “I just finished my 12-week podcast training course and I am ready to start my show,” the thing I am thinking is they probably should be in about their eighth week of creating content versus just finishing a course.

When I started my show, it took me about two hours to figure out the tech and 30 minutes to go to Walmart to get a headset to record my show. Granted, the first 10 shows were not that great. Even now after 982 episodes I still learn something new every day. You can only become good at creating content when you are creating content.

In recent interviews, the two interviewers sent me the same exact questions to be covered. I asked them where they were trained and got the same answer. I am not saying paid consultants are bad, but it’s a concerning trend when shows are following the same cookie-cutter formula. I question whether that’s a smart thing to do when you are trying to break out in the space.

The community as a whole has a significant number of free resources and online forums that can answer about 90 percent of the questions needed to get started. Heck, need advice on Mic, Mixer, Host, Plugins, Skype, Interviews, Co-Host, Guests, Encoding Rates, Software? Answers to questions related to these topics can be found via many of the online resources listed below.

I hate to see folks spend thousands of dollars on consultants, then spend another thousand on their suggested hardware packages before ever uttering a word into the microphone when often the purchase of an inexpensive mic is all that is needed to get started.

I am not down-playing the roles consultants and trainers provide. But when I hear groups that have been formed to do review trading and other things to artificially bolster iTunes rankings, I find it strange they are not asking their audience to do that instead.

Lets us as podcasters help the new podcasters as much as we can. I have compiled a list of shows and online resources that I feel are great starter spots for new podcasters

Shows

Forums and Online Resources

While I know this is not a comprehensive list of everything available, I do feel the above links are great resources for the new podcaster to review and make use of for free. There are thousands of us podcasting, and we should pay it forward and help new podcasters as much as we possible can.


iTunes Album Art goes Large



News From Blubrry.com via Apple

Big news about your iTunes cover art. We ‘ve just been notified that Apple has gone big — I guess you could say the “big Apple.” Apple has notified us that new iTunes album art specs have a minimum image size of 1,400 x 1,400 pixels* (which is what it has been in the past) to a maximum 2,048 x 2,048 pixel size cover art in JPG for podcast feed and podcast episode images. Apple is still recommending the 1,400 x 1,400 size, but, hey, a little flexibility is always nice, right? We’ll be updating the plugin specs on our site, but we wanted to let you know ASAP.

Apple is “not” recommending you save your image art in .png (portable network graphics) format, but if you can’t resist .png needs to be RGB (red, green and blue color model) only. That’s straight from Apple folks!

* Specified image sizes are in pixels — a picture element for digital imaging. The size of the image file on a disk is expressed in terms of “kb” (kilobyte) or “mb” (megabyte).


Podcast Awards Acquired by New Media Expo



As Founder of the Podcast Awards, I want to announce some exciting news. After some thought, I’ve made the decision to sell The Podcast Awards to New Media Expo and their team. I made this decision as Rick and his team have been so involved with us over the past few years.

It has been my absolute pleasure to create and run the awards for the past 9 years, giving podcasters a platform to be recognized. All of this would not have been possible without the support of the podcasting community, and the podcasters that supported the show financially. I will be forever grateful for their participation.

Over the past couple of years, New Media Expo has been instrumental in our Awards Ceremony’s success. I feel certain that the NMX team is ready to take The Podcast Awards to the next level.

Of course, I am not disappearing. I will have a founders’ role and will advise the NMX team in the development and production of the 10th annual event, April 14th in Las Vegas, NV. While Rick and his team will likely make some changes along the way, the spirit of the Peoples Choice Awards will still remain, with the nominees and winners being selected by the listeners, fans and podcasters.

See you at the 10th Annual Podcast Awards

Todd

See New Media Expo Comment


Great Inexpensive Podcast Album Art



If you have not heard of Fiverr.com before and your a podcaster you need to listen up. In the graphics department I have no skills, so I am always outsourcing new album art. Well Fiverr.com is a website where you can get album art, banners and a whole bunch of other cool stuff done for a Fiverr $5.00.  I want to show you the album art series that have been delivered to me over the past few. If you shop around you can get designers to make you multiple designs in a single order.

I am going to post a few here but you can visit this link to see the full series.

new_media_show_1bGNCgadget_Professor_2