Bryan Barletta, Sounds Profitable: Remedial Ad Tech 101
Updated: 4 days ago
Bryan Barletta is back to tell us about the evolution of his company, Sounds Profitable. He started it two years ago, and since then it's evolved harmoniously alongside the podcast industry. You don't need even need to have podcast ads on your show to find value in its podcasts and newsletters, which we highly recommend you subscribe to.
In this episode, we speak to Bryan about the first two years of Sounds Profitable. We discuss the podcasts he's on-boarded, like The Download, and the great podcast people he's worked with: Arielle Nissenblatt, Lauren Passell from Tink Media (check out their newsletter here), Tom Webster, Evo Terra, James Cridland, and more. We also discuss the value and difference between programmatic and dynamic ad insertion - and how (and if) you should be using it to monetize your show show.
We also have some special segments and questions from Jon Gay of Jag In Detroit Podcasts, and Mary Anne Ivison, who does some awesome voicework and has a kick ass podcast we produce called "Let's Take This Outside." In particular, Bryan helps Mary Anne find the best way to handle which ads can run on her show. Be sure to check out the episodes we recorded with them too.
Finally, Bryan shares the reasoning behind the incredible study he did with Sounds Profitable, called The Creators. He talks about how the data was gathered, what it means, and how everyone in the podcast space can benefit. If you'd like to view the study yourself, you can download it here.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:00:01
Jon Gay from Jag in Detroit Podcasts. Should I have Bryan Barletta from Sounds Profitable on my podcast again?
Jon Gay (Guest) 00:00:10
Bryan Barletta really knows a lot about a lot. My only issue is I have sometimes a hard time getting my head around all the material that he knows.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:00:20
This time I'm going to make it so everybody knows what's going on.
Jon Gay (Guest) 00:00:23
I'm all ears.
Tara Sands (VO) 00:00:23
The Sound Off Podcast. The podcast about broadcast with Matt Cundill... Starts now.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:00:35
This week we bring back Bryan Barletta from Sounds Profitable. A little under two years ago, we had Bryan on the show to talk about his brand new venture and he gave us an Adtech 101 lesson. Today, Bryan is back to give us another Adtech 101 lesson. But it's going to be radically different than the one from a few years ago because the business and the technology around adtech have changed. You know, Adtech is one of those things that makes me excited about podcast. Back in 2018, when we started using our podcast host Art 19, we got to run tailored ads from clients so a company like Promosuite could have different copy for each country and ads for US audiences would run only in the US. Meanwhile, ads for Canadian companies like Enlarge and the Hudson's Bay Company would only be heard by the people who would want to buy those products. And a few people have sent me notes from time to time, saying they hear different ads when they listen to the podcast on vacation. To which I say, you shouldn't be listening to this podcast while you're on vacation, but we certainly appreciate it. Bryan returns to answer all our ad tech questions once again. And he's coming fully loaded with resources like newsletters and podcasts you should listen to while you're on vacation. He joins me from San Antonio, Texas. Bryan, what it Sounds Profitable and is it the same answer as two years ago when I asked this question?
Bryan Barletta (Guest) 00:01:56
Well, I don't think it is. I think two years ago Sounds Profitable was my attempt to, I guess, like single handedly educate and lift up as many people I could in the business side of podcasting. And I think it was heavily ad tech focused. I'd say that today, Sounds Profitable is more about the community and uplifting and empowering everybody to kind of do it themselves, to provide them the opportunity and the information, to teach their teams to selfeducate, to participate with their peers, to connect, to share research. And everything that we're doing is meant to be free and publicly available. I mean, I think the biggest difference there is that Tom Webster joined in June of this year. He had left 18 years at Edison Research, one of the leading voices and probably the leading voice in research and podcasting. And he came to join to expand that for us. He helped us start up live events. He helped us start up our own cutting edge research. And yeah, it's blossoming. I don't even know if I had my podcast last time I was on.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:02:59
No, you were in the process of just starting it.
Bryan Barletta (Guest) 00:03:02
Yeah. And so now we have five podcasts a week, right? Because two of them are in Spanish. So we have the Narrated articles in English and Spanish, synthetic voice for the Spanish with Veritone, which is really fun, ad Tech Applied, which is with me and Ariel and interviewing a guest on Wednesdays. And on Thursdays we have honestly, my personal favorite, The Download. It's what is happening in the business of podcasting and why it matters to you in ten minutes or less. And we do that in English and native Spanish with Shreya Sharma of Inside Podcasting and Manuela Bedoya in the English version. And Manuela and Gabe Soto of Edison Research do the Spanish version. And we really, really enjoyed doing that. And we have the newsletter every week. We have the deep dives every month. So it's a video walkthrough of really cool products that you should probably know about in this space and how they work. And hopefully my excitement and interest translates over there. And then quarterly research that Tom's putting out, which is just a blast.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:03:53
So I get together with radio people every once in a while, and we have conversations and like, did you know that you could do your podcast in Spanish? And here's how the technology works. And I know that you've been using this with some of your podcasts, but tell people how you do a podcast in Spanish, because I don't think you speak Spanish.
Bryan Barletta (Guest) 00:04:12
No, not even a little bit. I was so bad at Spanish, and my brother is a grade younger than me, and that in high school, we were in the same Spanish class because I was behind. Basically, Veritone uses my voice in my podcast. I send them the highest quality recordings that I have, and they're able to process that and make a synthetic version of my voice. Then they're able to have it speak any language with multiple dialects per language. So if we wanted to do French, it would be just as easy. I give them the newsletter, and honestly, in a few minutes, they turn it around from English to Spanish, which we post. We have a Spanish version of the newsletter, and then they take that and they use text to speech using my voice that they've synthesized. And I've given permission to have it speak Spanish. And it's really an interesting experience, the speed at which they're able to deliver it, the accuracy of the sound. I really am impressed by it. My wife is probably the only person who's convinced it doesn't sound anything like me, and so I guess that's the only sniff test that hasn't passed. But a lot of people are really impressed by it. And I think that the reason I dug into it was I wanted to show how any company of any size can do that. I mean, it's me and Tom. We have the people who write and edit and are participating in the download. And then Gavin Gaddis, who came on as my assistant, that's how small the crew is. And we've been able to do it in English and in Spanish for two of our three different unique podcasts pretty easily. The tools are there.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:05:32
So if you're a Canadian podcaster and you're looking to translate or you're looking to start a podcast in French, this is an excellent tool to do this.
Bryan Barletta (Guest) 00:05:41
Oh, that would be such a great idea to do that. And I know that Veritone launched their voice network. I believe that that's something that they're exploring, is working with people who have a great following in one language and helping them build another language version of their podcast and even represent the ad sales for it. So that's something to keep in mind if you're interested in reaching out to them. Maybe you have a big enough following. And exactly like Matt said, French is something that would bring it even further.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:06:07
So I was going to ask you to recount all the little steps along the way and the evolution of Sounds Profitable, but we'll just bring it back to the one that you've already mentioned, and that's the acquisition of Tom Webster. I remember when I heard it, I thought, oh, that's surprising, yet not very surprising because it makes sense, but a lot of people were surprised by that. So was that a big pivot for your company?
Bryan Barletta (Guest) 00:06:30
I think that I've been overwhelmed by the success that Sounds Profitable has had. saying that out loud, I feel like kind of a jerk, but things have been growing so fast. We had one partner we were working with in September 2021, title sponsor, that was Midroll at the time, and podsites. And before Tom even came on board. We've been working with I think it was close to 60 or 70 partners, so we'd grown massively. Like, this was a really great operation that was looking at what it could become more than that, and it was really Bryan Yells At Clouds for a little bit. I have these opinions about the space. I believe I can educate people. I think I'm making an impact here. I'm putting out a ton of content and hopefully it sticks. But the truth is that I saw that there was a lifeline for that. There is a set amount of time before something like that expires, and so it's really important to me to figure out what the next step is. Now, I'm confident that I could find a great job in podcasting or in ad tech and not worry about it. But it's really fun and unique for me to be able to bring everybody together and be a neutral player in the podcast space. So I thought about what other neutral things were out there and, you know, Tom was absolutely, you know, a long shot for me. We started talking about it, I think, at the beginning of the year. And my pitch to him was basically, Edison is the backbone and you helped establish that. And I think the team at Edison is indisputable and the abilities and education that they're providing to the podcasting space. I absolutely think that we should be looking at the data stronger than anyone else's data, but we need to be able to put more things in, more people's sales tax. The reason why we're not winning as many deals or we're fighting against other media channels or even infighting, like Spotify likes to go head-to-head and say they are streaming and the rest of us are downloads. We need more material to help those people, selling those campaigns, building those new shows, getting funding. And to me, the best way to do that is research. I did not believe that my offer to Tom would turn out, and I was just as surprised as a lot of you. I just had a little bit more notice. But it's been fantastic. It's really exceeded all my expectations. And watching Tom, who has done a lot of client work and has done a lot of structural work, get to say, no, this is what we need to do. This is a topic that we need to go over. This is something that we need to create research for and we need to do it right now for the people to succeed. Giving him that freedom and backing him as a partner has been amazing. I think it's really moved the industry forward.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:09:04
So another piece of talent acquisition that I really liked, and I could hear this in the evolution of where it was going, was you brought Ariel Nissenblatt in to cohost the podcast with you, and all of a sudden the podcast is like, oh, I get this dynamic. Here's Ariel, who is curious and inquisitive and wants to know more about ad tech and wants to ask questions, and here you are with a whole lot of answers. But now the show is no longer at a risk of becoming too inside baseball.
Bryan Barletta (Guest) 00:09:31
Yeah, and it's funny you say that. My wife actually specifically listens to the parts that Ariel is on because it breaks down the interview. It sets it up, it talks about why this is important. It gets to the interview and then it just goes to, what are the key takeaways? How do you do something with this? Because I admit it, I get excited, I get carried away. This person is an expert. I'm trying to highlight them. So we just dive right into it and sometimes it's a little deep. That's absolutely something that I feel like I can do better at, and I really do want to do better at is figuring out better on-ramps. Quicker ones, right? I think I need to get quicker because I think there's a lot of great surface content out there in podcasting. There's a lot of people who can talk to creators and can talk to people who are like, how do I monetize when I start? I need to talk to the people that are building this into a business and all of that. So that to me, is why I dive into the deep end. But Ariel is that on-ramp, and Ariel is that list of things you can take away from it and why you should reach out to that person, or why you should take their advice and apply it. So it's been fantastic. Ariel has been a critical part about Sounds Profitable since shortly after we recorded, Ariel came on and did our social media and really blew that up. I love that the Sounds Profitable Twitter handle is about to exceed me in follows because then I can be a little bit more of a nerd and less just ad tech stuff. I can talk about my other nerd habits. It's really cool. I think she adds a lot of value and I think everybody in the space can benefit from listening to her. It doesn't matter how early you are in your career or late in your career, I think Ariel has the pulse of the space. I think she's exactly the type of person I wanted to work with, and I cannot wait to see how far she surpasses us at Sounds Profitable.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:11:11
She's on a fast track. I mean, somebody called me yesterday and said, how do I market my podcast? I'm like, just follow Ariel. That's all you need- on Twitter.
Bryan Barletta (Guest) 00:11:19
Yes. And she's super accessible. I know- While she does work at Squad Cast and she also does earbuds and all- she does so many things.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:11:26
She's now on the board of the Podcast Academy.
Bryan Barletta (Guest) 00:11:27
Which is amazing, which absolutely is well deserved. I think that the fact that she also works with Tink Media and you can get consulting or get your podcast triage there is killer. Her and Lauren are amazing. They are such a good duo and I think they add so much value even just in one phone call. So I highly recommend people reach out to her.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:11:49
Lauren is Lauren Pacel. We'll put the link to that newsletter, which is incredibly valuable as well, in the show notes of this episode. Tell me about the number of downloads. You made reference to it, I think, in a podcast, you said, oh, we only have about 300 downloads, or something like that. But I'm like, yeah, you also got a newsletter. And both the podcast and the newsletter tell the tale. So does it really matter?
Bryan Barletta (Guest) 00:12:09
Yeah, that's the hard part. I mean, when you're building content- Here's the truth, people. I was a product manager who was in a back room. I was a sales engineer who was out there with salespeople. I didn't have, like, a brand. And creating content is anxiety inducing. It's how I started my career. I used to do app reviews. Like I literally would download six or more iPhone apps in one business day. I would play with them each for 15 minutes. I would write a review of it, I would take my DV camera pointed straight down and I would put my fingers on the screen and walk through it while also then taking that video and narrating my article over it. And I put on YouTube, I had massive anxiety. Six a day, right? If you take an hour each of them and then 2 hours of catching up from email and lunch, that's a lot of content to pump out. And so I had anxiety with that. So when I create content with Sounds Profitable, I want to make sure I enjoy it, that it's easy to get out there, and that we really buy into what works. I mean, just looking at it, yeah, you're right, it's a couple of hundred downloads for the podcast. But the truth is, the people that listen to the podcast find immense value out of it. They come up to me at conferences and they tell me that, and that is such a powerful and great experience because it enables me to know what works for them, that there is still an audience or that I am still reaching people and I'll still continue it. But the newsletter, we're almost at 7500 subscribers in two years who are a podcast newsletter that was originally about ad tech but is now more broadly about the business of podcasting. And it's a 55% unique open rate, like same day 55% unique open rate. Those numbers are phenomenal. I mean, we're getting in touch with the right people. We get responses from people. Like right now, today, the newsletter went out about 2 hours ago. I have five emails from people who have read it and have opinions on it or want to talk more about it.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:13:58
They said nice things, right?
Bryan Barletta (Guest) 00:14:00
Some of them did. Some of them say a little bit of jokey stuff. It's great because I know a bunch of people in the space, so I can read through some of the messages, but definitely there are a few trolls, but a few people who push back in great ways. For the longest time, Todd Cochrane from Blubrry would reply back with counterpoints and I love that. I mean, I have the luxury of being neutral in this space, definitely not unbiased, and I get to work with everybody, but that doesn't mean I know everything. And there are absolutely times where I'll write something and I believe I know it. And the people I'm interacting with believe that that's the truth. And then someone like Todd can provide another perspective. I personally need that. If I don't receive that, I can't grow and I can't better serve everybody in this space.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:14:42
I love it. And I mean, you're somebody who wasn't even on social media when we first did this podcast a couple of years ago. Because I went to go tag you and I went, oh man, this guy has no social media.
Bryan Barletta (Guest) 00:14:52
Yeah, I quit Facebook at the time, which I'm like, tentatively back on just to make friends in San Antonio since we moved here a year ago. I got on Twitter, but it was high five RPG because it was all about tabletop role playing and I was just trying to interact with that community. And yeah, I guess I was on just LinkedIn, but now Sounds Profitable has a Tiktok account. We are going to see if we can make that work. I have all the company accounts, we have all my personal accounts everywhere. And it's fun, but it's a lot of pressure when you make a really interesting point on social media and the end result is nobody likes it or shares it, you're just like, Ah. But then when you're just like- it's really offputting. When you get three ads and you start a new podcast and you don't know who the host is and that gets like a hundred, I'm just like, okay, well, I got to learn how social media works on top of learning how to tell these stories about the things I think the industry needs.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:15:42
So on your podcast, I've noticed that you're on OMNY, which is a great podcasting platform. I've been there before. How do you use dynamic audio within all the podcasts?
Bryan Barletta (Guest) 00:15:52
We actually this year took a step back and we're just focusing on the analytics. We had tried some stuff out when we first moved to OMNY and it worked great. I really like how OMNY set up for that. I also like how for like, the dynamic creative options that they have, they work with frequency to allow you to do some really interesting things. But the first year of the podcast, we kind of push things to the limits. There were 13 pieces of dynamic ad insertion, and more often than not, by doing that many, one or two would mess up. And so if you did that many, especially conditional ones, we fielded a lot of emails from even smaller pool of people telling us about that. So my focus on Omni was the fact that I wanted to understand how to make sure I could flight fully on there. And I love their process for doing it. I love the visibility and everything. For example, when we schedule the podcast, I have to pull the download link out, send it to James Cridland at PodNews, who sends out our newsletter for us and hosts our website. And that's very easy. That's not something I've easily come across in other hosting platforms. And we did test out some of the dynamic ad insertion. We were going to test out some of the programmatic capabilities that OMNY and Triton offered, but we've decided to really limit the ad opportunities in Sounds Profitable because it's talking so heavily about advertising and it's talking so heavily about the business there. So we're trying to be succinct and clean on that. And you'll actually see at the beginning of next year, too, the newsletter is going to have no advertisements or sponsorships in it. We move to calling the people we work with partners and those will all continue to be listed at the bottom. But we feel, we're giving you three pages of content. We don't need to break it up with sold media, and we don't need to share the title headline when our newsletter comes out. There will be other ways that we work with people like that, but I think that we're best serving the community by equally working with everybody.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:17:38
So one of the things that I really love are the two studies that, at least I can recall, that you've done, since I think Tom Webster got there. One of them was the creators. And finding out who is making podcasts. Why was that study done? Why did we need to know that? And what was your biggest eye opening takeaway from it when you got the results back and went, oh.
Bryan Barletta (Guest) 00:17:59
So this was a great example. Tom had joined in June and that report was released in June. He had his heart set on doing it. He knew where he could get the data. This is actually really cool. That data comes purely out of the Edison Podcast Metrics Tool, which is a tool that anybody can get access to. And I highly recommend that if you could use data, you reach out to the Edison team because this is the type of thing you could research yourself, you could provide it as a third party, you could run your own private study and compare it to the benchmarks. I think that that's really like a really strong way to go about it. Tom wanted to show who the people we're working with are. We believe it's going to turn into a franchise. We're likely going to do it next year as well, and maybe even expand it past the US. But that's Edison's core set of information. I think it provides a lot of value. I think you can apply that to a lot of other English primary speaking countries. There are plenty you can't. Our goal with that was just to shine that light on everybody so that companies can say, hey, we do exceed these benchmarks. Hey, we are falling a little bit short behind it. Hey, these are the people that we're targeting and it is working. But can we expand it to a more diverse audience? Hey, we're missing the mark. So maybe we do need to open up to some of the people that are clearly there, and get ideas on how big the industry is. We talk a lot about podcasting hit $2 billion. What we mean by that is ad spend, right? And in the US. What a research report like this, I think does. And this was really our goal, is it enables a company or a production house to say, we want to build the show, and here's why. Here's what the norm is, here's why we're different, and here's why it's better. It allows companies like that to also get funding, and it allows people to realize there are more things to sell and interact with in the podcast community than simply advertising. There are more. We have microphones. Me and you were gabbin' at the beginning of this. I got a New Earthworks Ethos microphone, $400 microphone, gorgeous microphone that they gifted to me. But these are the types of things that we're spending money on in the space. Evo Terra, podcast pontifications, he always talks about that. We're not talking about how big the spend is in podcasting. And by having metrics like this, we can explore all aspects of podcasting, not just advertising, but the creators too.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:20:10
And you had a study at Podcast Movement that you opened up for everybody after your day long event. And I loved it because it solved a problem and answered questions that get asked all the time. And in this case, it was really how effective are programmatic ads, versus host-read ads, versus- forgot the third one.
Bryan Barletta (Guest) 00:20:28
It would show us host-read live-read endorsement, host-read scripted without endorsement, and announcer-read scripted. So let's dive into that for a second. You said the P word, right? So this is a problem that- it comes up a lot. Programmatic and dynamic ad insertion are different things, and technically all three of those executions could be baked in. So we're talking about the creative aspect, because a listener has no idea if an ad is baked in or if it's dynamically inserted. If it's dynamically inserted, they have no idea if you, Matt, served it, your hosting platform Megaphone served it, or if you or Megaphone kicked it out to a programmatic partner to make that available for anybody to bid on. Basically the listener or the information that it has about your show to determine if that's the right ad for it. Delivery is not incredibly confusing, but it's easy to combine the things. I think a lot of people want to be mad at programmatic. When they hear an ad, it's like ah, that ad sucked. I hate to tell you, a substantial amount of the ads that you think suck, are actually dynamically inserted by the people that you like, the hosts that you work with, the networks that represent them directly, a human specifically selected Matt's show or a bundle of Matt's shows and that ad and put them together, right? So this was to take a step back and say, all that matters is the creative and the content. So we took Jordan Harbinger with Matthew McConaughey as a two minute clip. In that clip, we had Jordan do the live read endorsement, Athletic Greens. We had Jordan do a scripted read for Athletic Greens, and we had Ashley Hammer-Pritchard do the scripted announcer read for Athletic Greens. The results were amazing. I mean, first off, out of almost 1100 people who participated in the study, 300 of them were familiar with Jordan Harbinger. Which makes this bulletproof, because if you don't have an association and affinity with the host, it's hard to say that the host-endorsed one actually made a difference, or the host read, when you've only listened to the host for two minutes total. Right? What we found was, it was like, single digit percentages difference between the effectiveness of a host endorsed live read and an announcer-read. If the content is good, if the ad is great, and the sound quality and all that meshes together, you really can hit a home run. Even if the host isn't saying, I like this product and you like what I do, so you'll like this product too.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:22:46
I want to say that the results were very close to negligible.
Bryan Barletta (Guest) 00:22:50
I would say so, yeah.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:22:52
And encouraging as well.
Bryan Barletta (Guest) 00:22:54
Yeah. But to me, what it does is this is exactly why we do reports like this. And we did a follow up of it this month, actually called We'll Be Right Back. And the intent was to dig into like, what people remembered from it. And what Tom highlighted is that promo codes weren't what they remembered. They remembered Jordan Harbinger, they remembered athletic greens, but the promo code didn't come up giving this information. The intent for this is we have partners that help fund it. We are fully funded for research, but there's value in them having their name on it. They get custom versions of the report. We brief them on it beforehand. They're part of our live event where we reveal all the research. But anybody can take this report and build their case around it. So think about it this way. Let's say that I have a marketplace like Gumball for example, where host-read is exactly what I sell. That 7 to 8 or 9% difference of effectiveness is enough for them to take that slide and that part of the argument and say it is more effective. It might not be massively more effective, but that difference makes an impact. And that's something you should lean into. Whereas you could also say for a company saying, hey, we really need to switch to dynamic ad insertion, it's a lot of work to do baked-in ads and keep track of everything. Here is a report saying that host-read scripted actually doesn't have a negative impact. It's only 2 or 3% different from the announcer-read and from the live read. So that's a case that they can make there. And finally someone can say programmatic, like you said, the access to someone else's inventory from another ad server, the announcer-read. If the content of the ad matches the content of the show, and the targeting is really succinct, it can still be a massive home run. So I think we showed, in my opinion, that there is a negligible difference, but we empowered multiple different companies to say, this is why we do what we do, why we're the best at it, and why you should give us a shot. And it really set kind of the post for them to hit, to say, this is what's important, right? These are the qualities that allow us to get that close to that value.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:24:56
In just a moment, we discuss rates. How much is that ad space worth on your podcast, anyway? And we take questions from the audience too. There's more, including all the connection points to Sounds Profitable podcasts like The Download, and some of the narrated articles if you don't like reading. And if you don't like hearing people talk, you can always get a transcript of this episode at soundoffpodcast.com.
Sarah (VO) 00:25:21
Transcription for The Soundoff Podcast is powered by Poddin. Your podcast is an SEO goldmine. We help you to dig out. Start your free trial now at Poddin.io.
Tara Sands (VO) 00:25:21
The Soundoff Podcast.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:25:34
So, you were talking earlier about creating content and social media content and getting some anxiety over it. And when I talk to some podcasters and I'm presenting them the option of using programmatic as a way to get a little bit of revenue, they get a little bit anxious because they're not really sure of the advertiser that's going to be going into their show, even if you can block it. So, a great example, I sent it to you yesterday and we'll play her clip here. So Mary Anne had a question for you and she wanted to ask.
Mary Anne Ivison (Guest) 00:26:02
I have a podcast called let's Take This Outside. It's all about the outdoors. I heard a Programmatic ad for the dairy farmers of Ontario and I wasn't super comfortable with this ad as I can't eat dairy. However, when I went to remove the ad categories, it included nonalcoholic beverages, food and nutrition. I feel if I disqualify these categories, I'm saying no to legit ads as well. Am I overthinking this? Is programmatic right for me and my podcast?
Bryan Barletta (Guest) 00:26:02
It's a great question. And yeah, thanks for sending over that clip for me to think about before this. I think the really important part to think about is, is the ad part of your show content? Or is it a targeted thing for the listener? Two ways to look at it. I don't think there's a wrong answer. I personally believe it is content, but if it can be that quickly changed for the listener, that's also important to kind of separate it a bit when you get to programmatic, when you get to dynamic inserted from third parties that are not yourself. In that example, if she does not want milk on there, then I think it's important to filter that out. Now, in the example you gave, she was given the option to filter it, but she'd have to filter entire categories. That's a business decision. Ad tech, as we expand in podcasting to get closer to the mainstream channels, should allow someone to enter the domain of the advertiser, the advertiser's name, and simply select that they're not interested in them. We're not quite there yet in podcasting, so by doing something like that, requesting a specific advertiser to be blocked, it puts a lot of work on those third parties that are serving ads for you. So that's why they give you the option to really just pick a category. When you pick a category to block, you should ask them for the last six to twelve months, like how much revenue did I generate from those categories so I know what I'm blocking. How often do you expect to run with a dairy company like this? I don't think throwing programmatic completely away is the right call, but I think that if this is an important thing, then that host should block the category that has the least impact and reassess. Reach out to that partner every couple of months. Say, hey, do you have any dairy campaigns on the horizon? What's my revenue potential from reopening this inventory? I think programmatic allows a lot of control for a publisher if you fine tune it. I think it's supposed to be in a lot of these situations- How it's set up- One of the last steps. I mean, Megaphone as an example, you have your direct sold first and you can even invite in partners to sell there. There's plenty of companies like you can list on Gumball, you can list with advertisecasts. You can work with anybody in that scenario to help you sell that inventory. Then from there you get into the Spotify ad network, which is the area where these ads come from, and then from there you can make true programmatic calls externally. I differentiate with Spotify because it's actually a human as like a super user of the Megaphone platform, targeting to multiple shows by different categories that have opted in. And I think that- don't throw the whole thing away. I think programmatic fills a really powerful need, and I think it gets you revenue and fills unsold inventory. And Matia from Spreaker always says, would you rather $50 CPM with 10% fill or $5 CPM with 100% fill? Get 100% fill, get as close to it as possible, then start raising your rates, show performance, show that you can grow, show that you're a desirable inventory and then grow from there. But it's a personal opinion. There's no wrong answer, but I would assume that the options are zero revenue or fine tuning programmatic for someone in the mid range. Because the next step from there is you have to represent yourself. You have to be big enough for someone else to represent you. It takes a lot more effort. And as a creator, you may not want to become a salesperson too.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:29:41
So I know you said lots of brilliant things at Podcast Movement. They're on record, people heard them. But you said something that was a little bit enlightening to me when you're on your way to the airport and heading home. We were talking about a five dollar CPM, and a lot of people will poo-poo it, and say, that's not really worth anything. But then you told me, yeah, it is worth something because you can spend a lot of your time selling and working towards a much larger CPM, but a five dollar one, you didn't really put in the work. I thought the math was great on that, and it really sort of made me light up and say, oh, this is worth it, because I don't have to write the copy and I don't have to do all the sales hustle, and I don't have to do all the back and forth and spending time and voiceover and host-read ads.
Bryan Barletta (Guest) 00:30:22
Think about it this way, right? Like finance alone, I would be embarrassed to show you the pending invoices I have out there, the ones that I haven't filled out their form correctly to send the invoice to them to manage, right? That I have to send my W9, that I have to fill out their custom form, that I have to be cleared by their processing, that I have to sign a legal agreement. That's time that I need to take to collect on a payment. That payment for me is worth it, right? We're talking a sizable cheque for working with the partners that we work with in a consulting fashion, but it takes time out of my day, and I need to get on that. Sometimes for smaller ad campaigns- I mean, what's the smallest check you've ever received for an ad campaign? Let's say direct. Couple hundred? Thousand?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:31:05
Yeah, I did $325 last month.
Bryan Barletta (Guest) 00:31:08
Yeah. And how much effort did that take? How many phone calls could it have taken to make sure the script is correct and all that? How many retakes for what you sent over, the billing aspect of it, the email support? Evo Terra wrote an article forever ago about that, really breaking down your costs. When we think about programmatic, all of the costs are baked into that. That $5 might suck, but it's no sales team, no account management, no reporting, no phone calls, no finance, no legal. You sign with the entity that is going to pay you and put the ads in there. That entity signs with all those advertisers, and you just get a check.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:31:44
Yeah, I tell the story every once in a while, just traveling in Spain and listening to my podcast and hearing a Spanish ad on it and thinking, I don't know what that was, but I got paid. And then I thought, I sure wish Bryan Barletta were here to tell me that he doesn't know Spanish.
Bryan Barletta (Guest) 00:32:01
But that's really cool, right? When you're able to see the reach that these partners have, I mean, that's the next big thing. The US inventory is getting competitive, but many podcasts have some up to 30%, some even a little higher of non US inventory. And a lot of times these partners, the direct sales partners, don't want you to do a host read for even your Australian audience, like your podcast being listened to in England versus Australia, an announcer who speaks the local dialect, right? The accent unique to those areas, that makes such a difference. That ad performs better, the audience is more receptive to it. You reading it as host-read, that's fine, they're used to you, but announcer-read, dynamic insertion programmatic could allow you to say, for each country, give them a different ad, give them a different narrator, give them a different voice actor, really explore what makes that unique and really drive different performance. Give them a Spanish language ad because you are in Spain at the time of downloading and it's a high likelihood that you are a native Spanish speaker and not just a tourist.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:33:10
Is that something you're looking forward to with podcast 2.0? And that's some of the tags with languages and locations that would be able to sort of work within the programmatic space.
Bryan Barletta (Guest) 00:33:18
I think there's a lot of cool things in podcasting 2.0, and I think a lot of those, like languages are things that are built into a hosting platform. And a hosting platform, whether they send it in the RSS feed or not, for the player to realize, can send that call out to their programmatic partners. Because remember, everything in podcasting is server side. So when you press play on a podcast, it calls your host and says, do you have an episode for me? I want this specific one. Do you have a file? It says, hold on 1 second, I have to build it. When it goes through its ad breaks right, to put them in there, or pods, I believe they're called, in radio, it makes calls internally, it says, do I have an ad to fill? No. Does anybody externally have an ad to fill? And it calls those partners, those partners and internally will say, well, what are the parameters that we know? We know IP, which can be used to figure out geo, we know user agent, which can be used to figure out operating system of the device and the specific player they'rein. We know the episode ID, so that can tell us things like the context of a specific show, right. You're able to transcribe and contextualize that show. You're able to know the IAB categories of it, all these different things. But if you put them all together and you pass them on, that's incredibly powerful, right? Adding on there with the host has that, yes, this is a Spanish language podcast to a third party is really powerful. You yourself might know that your podcast is in Spanish, but it's important that the programmatic partners know. It's important that they know what country it's in. It's important that we learn more about what the listeners listen to. So, yeah, I think that that's the wide open ocean, that's what we're going to attack next is understanding global. I think advertising is too narrowly focused on the US. And I think that that's a flaw.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:34:56
Great, because that was my next question. I was going to ask you a little bit about Canada, which sort of has to live next to this big entertainment elephant. And, you know, I think in Canada to be successful, you do have to be able to export your content to the United States in order to get the downloads and attention and the scale. But also, are there any other countries that excite you aside from North America?
Bryan Barletta (Guest) 00:35:19
You know, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. I think those areas are really interesting. I think. I mean, and Africa, I met the team at Afropods, and there are so many cultures that are so deeply invested in spoken word still. I mean, radio is a big part of the US. You know, the UK and the EU overall, but there are so many cultures. Their spoken word didn't, like, wane with TV, right? It was still a major thing for them. As Internet access becomes stronger and stronger, these things matter a little bit less. But the on demand nature of it is really attractive. The ability for anybody with a cell phone to record a podcast and share their ideas, I think it's really exciting. I think that's where we're going to see the growth in youth adoption in these markets where it's easier for them to record audio into their phone than anything else. I get uncomfortable when somebody calls my phone. I'm the texting generation at this point, but the younger individuals that I work with will send me voice messages. And we're moving back towards voice being a dominant force. I think we took a step back from that with the Internet really growing and mobile technology really growing and the ability for text message. But those cultures, those geographical regions have a lot of hungry and excited individuals who build amazing content. But maybe it's harder for them to do video, maybe it's not as easy for them to do written word. It's easier for me to get on the microphone with you than it is for me to write two pages of anything. So, yeah, those areas, I think, have the highest potential to explore podcasting further. I think the Sound Off podcast there will only continue to skyrocket.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:36:55
One of the things I was really excited about when we were in Dallas for podcast movement was the in person events that you've got scheduled. You're going to be connecting the advertisers to the podcasters. So what do you have coming up?
Bryan Barletta (Guest) 00:37:07
Yeah, we're trying to do one at the end of November and the beginning of December, and it's going to be interesting. We're magically an events company now too, so getting into all that, finding the right space has been interesting, but the goal is LA and New York, the end of November. Beginning of December. I don't want to give specific dates and lock myself in, but we're going to do it quarterly. We have research to share every quarter. We think it's a smart way to pull all of our partners together. Every partner gets free access to these events. We're going to start inviting brands in those areas to attend for free. Because the truth is, every one of our partners benefits by more brands being in that space. And as we do that, we have our heart set on exploring South By Southwest, Cannes, Adweek. I think Podcast Movement was the right call to kick this off, and we were the biggest business session of the biggest podcast event. But what I'd really like to explore next is how to be the biggest podcast part of a bigger advertising, or content, or media event, and be a major reason why these people at major podcast networks show up to South By, Cannes, Adweek and really have a presence there. I mean, Ad Week is going on right now as we're recording this, and I'm actually flying out there tomorrow for a few things, which is really exciting. They're having an audio track for the first time ever. That's a big deal. So we're seeing the rise of podcasting in these mainstream channels. Let's make sure all of the right people, all the leaders in these spaces are there and participating and motivated and armed with new knowledge. We still are going to be working with Podcast Movement and other podcast conferences. I think there's a lot of value there. I'm super pumped to see what happens in Vegas, especially with things like the Ambience. And maybe it's time for a podcast advertising awards.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:38:46
Well, as a voice actor, I'm now excited.
Bryan Barletta (Guest) 00:38:49
Yeah. And we thought about it, right? We can apply to a bunch of things for Sounds Profitable and that's cool, but I don't want to steal the limelight from anybody. But it would be really cool for an account manager to receive a Sound Profitable award, right? Like a salesperson, not like the leader of a company, not the CEO, not the people who get the accolades anyways, but that voice actor who really crushed it, right? That programmatic partner that really landed the results that helped save those companies, that attribution vendor that really turned around a handful of campaigns and provided the killer service that everybody needed, that's who sounds comparable for the people that probably can't make it to every event, but definitely need to know all the information about those events. And so maybe it's time that we start rewarding them.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:39:30
Yeah, I think a lot of people don't really understand that podcasting has created another form of voice read, because you get the script and a lot of people think it's a radio ad, and we'll read it like a radio ad, and it doesn't work in podcasting. It has to be to the headphones. It's very warm, it's very personal. It is completely different. And I have to tell that to people who have radio experience when they see the copy. No, no. Headphones experience, super casual, super one on one and there's less copy. Do not worry about the 30 seconds. Or there's more copy, and we can go a little bit longer because it can be an announcer-read ad. And we don't have limitations like in radio. So podcasting, without even really knowing it, has changed the voiceover business and created a whole new category.
Bryan Barletta (Guest) 00:40:10
And I'm excited for that. You know what's really interesting is- the synthetic voice. I can't wait for you to dig into that. The things that you're able to do instead of doing a pickup, but having your voice ready. You recording what you need, and then wanting to change one thing, instead of you burning an entire hour and going back and getting set up for all that. Just being able to change a word. Or someone who does really great impressions. Right? We don't have that celebrity endorsement yet in podcasting, but if a person gives the rights to their voice away- not a giveaway, they're clearly going to make money, but you know what I mean. It allows somebody to use that. Could be some really interesting things that you could do with that. Obviously not endorsement unless they wrote and approved the script, but just being able to separate that, I think voice acting is going to be a highly in-demand skill. And I also think that audio engineering is too, because those two together, someone who does great impressions can immediately do a version of your ad with an Australian accent, an English accent, an American accent.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:41:03
By the way, there's already precedent for that. It was in 2016. I had Shaquille O'Neil be my voice of Waze as I drove around Italy and tried to negotiate all those roundabouts. It already exists.
Bryan Barletta (Guest) 00:41:14
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:41:16
Bryan, thanks a lot. Is there anything I missed?
Bryan Barletta (Guest) 00:41:18
No, that's it. I really appreciate the opportunity to come back, and it's always great collaborating with you, and I'm excited to listen and hear how your podcast friend with the dairy farmer issue decides to move forward. I'd love to hear. I think that would be a great follow up, for everybody to hear what happens when they choose to block a category, how it impacts their revenue.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:41:37
Well, I said to her, so the Toronto Maple Leafs are wearing a dairy patch and I'm sure that there's some players who don't drink milk and have gotten pasta.
Bryan Barletta (Guest) 00:41:45
As a vegan, I can appreciate not wanting a dairy ad in my podcast.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:41:49
Thanks a lot, Bryan.
Bryan Barletta (Guest) 00:41:50
Yeah, thanks for having me.
Tara Sands (VO) 00:41:50
The Soundoff Podcast is written and hosted by Matt Cundill. Produced by Evan Surminski. Social Media by Courtney Krebsbach. Another great creation from the Sound Off Media Company. There's always more at soundoffpodcast.com.