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  • Writer's pictureMatt Cundill

Fatima Zaidi: Founder at Quill Inc. and Co-Host

Fatima Zaidi is the Founder and CEO at Quill Inc., an award-winning production agency specializing in corporate audio, and CoHost, a podcast growth and analytics tool.

In this episode you'll hear Fatima talk about what goes into creating successful and listenable podcasts, how she fell into the tech industry, and the opportunity that presented itself in podcasting. We also discussed why her company created Co-Host which is a podcast analytics and audience insights platform built for brands, and why attribution is a good thing. We also spoke about which metrics are important and share some tips about podcast promotion. Also why podcast ratings and reviews help, (it's not the algorithm) and why Zoom is a horrible place to record your podcast.


Finally, who pulled the fire alarm at Podcast Movement?

podcast movement cundill
One of a few 4am fire alarms at Podcast Movement. (Photo Credit: Rob Walch , X; @podcast411)



Tara Sands (Voiceover) 0:02

The Sound Off Podcast. The show about podcast and broadcast starts now.

Matt Cundill 0:13

Let me tell you the story of Quill. The company was founded by Fatima Zaidi, and they make branded podcasts. I can tell you that making a branded podcast is hard. The goal is to create compelling pieces of audio content that subtly and nearly self like, promote a brand. In fact, you could be listening to one right now. What I love about Fatima is how she knows what matters in a podcast. Which metrics should you pay attention to? The quality of the show, the sound of the show, the content that will make people come back for the next episode. Many of the things I'm going to speak about with Fatima were covered at a number of sessions sponsored by Quill at Podcast Movement last month. And we'll talk about what happened to Podcast Movement too. Now Fatima Zaidi joins me from Toronto. Tell me why you started in tech.

Fatimi Zaidi 1:08

I didn't start in tech intentionally. I think I sort of fell into this world. I used to lead marketing sales for a tech PR agency and just became really familiar with a lot of the startups that were popping up and some of the really great innovative work that was taking place in the US and Canada and ultimately saw a gap in the market and decided to productize our services. That was how Quill was born.

Matt Cundill 1:35

What did you see or hear in podcasting that energized you to start Quill?

Fatimi Zaidi 1:40

Well, actually, interestingly enough, I was trying to hire a production agency to help us create a branded podcast and this was, you know, back in 2016, when there weren't as many agencies as there are today. It wasn't really a saturated market and there was, you know, a couple of really premium high end agencies, the Pacific Contents of the world that do amazing work, but maybe the price tag wouldn't necessarily match some of the tech startup clients that we were working with. And so I had to hodgepodge a team of freelancers together, a producer and editor, a sound engineer, some writers, some creative folks and I thought just wouldn't it be easy if he could work with an agency that could be at an affordable experimental price point, but also do it all for you a one stop shop, and especially the marketing component because it was the wild wild west back then and nobody really knew anything about podcasting data or audience growth. And so I thought, I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna go out there and build a production agency that focuses exclusively on branded podcasts, but also audience growth, podcasting. And then a few years later, came our product co host, which was born out of necessity due to the pain points we were feeling on the agency side.

Matt Cundill 2:59

And you're so right, 2016, there was a lot of people who could make you a podcast, but could they make you a good branded podcast and Pacific Content was there with the vision at the front with with Steve and Dan. But you're right. Like, there was a lot of people who say, oh, yeah, I can make you a podcast, but could they really make you a good branded podcast? So what makes a good branded podcast? What were you looking for when you wanted to put together your own branded podcast?

Fatimi Zaidi 3:27

It was a combination of things. I think editorially really leveling up first, not creating another podcast that A, nobody really wanted to listen to with dry content, but thinking about is this going to be something that podcast consumers are going to tune into and be engaged all the way to the end of the season? I think a lot of brands sort of fall into this pitstop of wanting to promote their services, and products and initiatives and thinking that the existence of their business is news, which is far from the truth, and so the content piece was huge. I mean, I think folks like Pacific Content are really the masters of it, Steve and Dan, knew how to put out really great content that could essentially, you know, entertain, inspire, provide companionship. Podcast listening is transactional. We're asking for your most valuable resources, which is time and attention. I think the second component for me, that's arguably become even more important today is understanding the ROI of the show. Taking 50% of our time, investing in marketing, and then being able to prove back ROI, whether it's reaching the right audiences, whether it's lead generation, whether it's brand awareness, but you know, having some sort of a tangible metric to point to like the cost per minute of human attention. And back then I think the biggest challenge was nobody knew how to measure podcasting success or any form of metrics and, and so, we've come a really long way as an industry in terms of the ROI component. I would say that you know, our company that's what we've been laser focused on is how do we take the data and analytics makes sure that we're targeting the right people and making sure that we're targeting them the right way.

What's the education piece like with clients when they first engage with you? Because I think a lot of clients come in knowing yeah, I want it to be and look and sound like this and at which point, my experience, and I'll bet you yours is as well, you immediately have to become a therapist, to explain what they need to do and what metrics they need to look at. So what's that chasm, like, what do you do to bridge that?

Well, first and foremost, we run far, far away from the vanity projects. So as soon as somebody tells us that they're looking to become an influencer, a thought leader, for their CEO, or one of their C suite executives, we just know that this isn't really going to be a project that we want to align ourselves with. The vanity projects never really work. Interestingly enough, the second really big education piece for us these days is marketing. A lot of brands just don't understand the importance of allocating budget towards ad spend and taking as much time as you do to procreate your show, and actually marketing it through paid and organic tactics. And it was sort of the education piece I had back in the day when I was running the PR agency, which is the existence of your business is not news. And so simply creating a show and expecting people to find you isn't going to work in a market that has what I think the number I was reading in Podnews recently, the 4 or 5 million podcasts, and I believe 18% of them are active, which is, you know, a lot of content to be perusing through the iTunes app. And so the education piece right now for us is yes, creating a show is important. But we have to spend as much time getting it into the right ears and drawing in your qualified audience.

Matt Cundill 6:42

So for the last couple of years, there's been a lot of people from the social media side who will try to provide you with magic bullets to make your podcast go. All sorts of marketing wizardry and witchcraft that's out there, but in the last two years, I think the most common sense I've heard are from the people who have PR experience. We had Lauren Passell, and I go, these are just PR basics, but it just makes sense to, you know, to be able to move the needle when it comes to a podcast. So what is inside the PR playbook that works for podcasters?

Fatimi Zaidi 7:20

It's about creating content that's relevant to your show all year round, like having a 360. 12 month content strategy and making sure that you're creating content that's newsworthy, timely, and topical. You know, this month is the perfect month, September 30 is International Podcast Day and so of course, you should be doing something to improve your discoverability get the word out about your show, whether it's a cheeky PR campaign around your show concept or you know, talking or piggybacking off of another news trend. For example, when Adnen Syed got acquitted last year, or actually wasn't even that long ago, six months ago, he got acquitted, I was emailing every single journalist in the US and Canada ask him to share my point of view about what we thought of the of the verdict as well as what Serial has done for the podcasting world. And because it was super timely and topical, we had a lot of journalists interested in hearing our perspective as a production agency and thought leaders in this space and similarly, constantly finding ways to monopolize on trends, whether it's, you know, reaching out to James Cridland at Podnews and asking him to feature your show with I believe they have 20 or 30,000 subscribers at this point and that's not nothing. You know, when newsletters coming out Monday to Friday, there's the Podcast Journal, there's Inside Podcasting, there's red news, there's BNN Bloomberg covers a lot of content around podcasting. So there's, there's a lot of content being put out there and they are looking for thought leaders are looking for features. They're looking to highlight and profile stories. So it's about creating opportunities for yourself by being proactive with your pitching.

Matt Cundill 8:55

So without giving away too much of the secret sauce, what is the launch process like before any audio is recorded on a branded podcast? And really, it sort of dovetails into any podcast that gets made.

Fatimi Zaidi 9:09

For us the first process or first step of the stage, and to be honest, this is the part that takes us the longest is the podcast positioning as we like to call it. We're trying to figure out how are you, how is your show going going to be the first the best or different? And if it doesn't fall into one of those three categories, then we know that it's not a show that we want to create. Looking at your competitive matrix what's already out there, the idealists or profile, who are we creating this show for? And once you've really nailed down the strategy of your show, then you can think about concepts themes, the structure, the format, it really becomes your playbook or podcast bible, and anytime you know you're creating long form episodes or even short form and you look back and you look at your playbook making sure that you're in you know, creating content for who you originally intended to create it for. It's always better to be something for someone rather than everything to everyone and so that's why the strategy playbook is so important to us before we actually get into the magic of, of creating the actual show. And then of course, creating news around your show. Once it's ready to launch, making sure you're putting out a press release, pitching to all the right places about your show, launch a trailer audiograms. The standard playbook for promotion.

Matt Cundill 10:21

I'll just share one right now, just because I think I'm so smart. And that's if you do and you should have a transcription for your show, anybody who's a writer, point them to the transcription that way they can go and help themselves to a quote, and then voila, you're published.

Fatimi Zaidi 10:36

Yeah and if you are thinking of it from a marketing perspective, take it one step further and convert your transcripts into SEO formatted blogs, which are really great for both accessibility and also discoverability. Another really great tip for promotional sort of hacks is applying for Apple's placement forum for new and noteworthy, there's about a 25% chance you'll get picked up if you fill out the form properly, which isn't necessarily high. But if you do get picked up, it's really great promotion to be on the front end of the Apple Podcasts app and to get pushed within the various verticals that you operate in.

Matt Cundill 11:09

So I always think that's a good idea, but a lot of people are so keen to launch they don't really consider what you need to do for Apple, which is, make sure you include Apple Podcasts in all of your promo material, show them what you're going to do. Make sure their logo is front and center on all your external marketing, things like that. They like that, you'll improve your chances.

Fatimi Zaidi 11:31

And actually, usually you have better luck. It's second season, third season launches to get picked up because one caveat or criteria that they look at is how many Apple Podcast reviews do you have. So spend your first season running promotional giveaways and contests and leading people to the Apple Podcast app to leave your review because the more reviews you have, the more likely they are to pick up your show.

Matt Cundill 11:55

So you're telling me ratings and reviews matter?

Fatimi Zaidi 11:58

Of course they do. I mean, it's great feedback for you as well. I mean, that's one of the first call to actions that we have is please leave us a review whether it's good or bad. It's a touch point and engagement point with your listeners and that type of feedback is absolutely invaluable.

Matt Cundill 12:14

Okay. I have a pile here of ratings and reviews don't matter. But I guess they don't actually trigger the algorithm in any particular way, but you're talking about the social value of it and it's a lot bigger than I think people lead on about.

Fatimi Zaidi 12:27

Unless you're actually conducting surveys or brand insights studies. How else are you going to know how your listeners are responding to the content?

Matt Cundill 12:35

Tell me how you looked at attribution when you first started making podcasts. And I mean, we only had two pieces, we had an IP address, we had a user agent, I guess it wasn't enough and then you went looking for more I gather?

Fatimi Zaidi 12:47

Oh, my goodness, this was such a huge hurdle for us because back when we started really the only tool out there was Charitable, or Podsites, which you know, arguably both for very clunky at the time and probably still continue to be. Charitable's campaign attribution data was pretty limited and because Charitable wasn't a hosting provider, I think the accuracy of the data was also a little bit questionable. We could see, we know we utilized tracking links to see where our listeners were coming in from. But the data was pretty limited in terms of what we could see. I think the challenge is when you're working with clients like PWC, Microsoft, Expedia, you can't get away with just simply giving them number of downloads and listeners and calling it a day, that doesn't justify the creation of new production budgets. So we knew that we had to provide much more detailed like Google Analytics level data. And so that's why we built Cohost. It was really just internally for us to address our pain points so that we could show you things like age, gender, household income, occupation of your listeners, social media, habits, hobbies, lifestyles, what companies are listening to your podcast, and most importantly, where are the drop offs happening in terms of average consumption rate? And are your listeners loyal and engaged? Are they listening all the way through to the end of your season? Are they dropping off earlier? And where are they coming from? Which marketing channels are working, which marketing channels aren't working? This is the kind of data that we needed to take our shows to the next level. So we built our own hosting platform, really, it was just for us and for our clients. And then about a couple of years after building it, or I think it was about exactly 12 months after our competitors on the production side started reaching out to us. And we have a really great relationship with all of our competitive production agencies and they said, hey, we heard you have this product that can measure XYZ, any chance we could get on it and we thought why not? Better to collaborate with your competitors and do competitive gaps together and, and work together. And that's one thing I love about this industry. We're all super collaborative and it's healthy competition. We support each other we send business each each other's way and, and so now they're on our product and our customer and agencies are a prime bread and butter. Anyone who works with branded branded shows.

Matt Cundill 15:04

And that's why I left radio for podcasting because everyone finds a way to help one another. A lot of people share their toys, and you built a toy and decided to find a way to connect it to other people. So two things at Podcast Movement, you mentioned third party analytics when we were talking about attribution and how to do the counting and then I had a question, but the person beside me asked the question I wanted, which is, what is that third party analytics and its co-hosting and so you basically went out and built your own?

Fatimi Zaidi 15:36

Yes, we went out and we built our own. In September, we're actually launching a prefix, so if anyone doesn't want to migrate to us, so with the hosting, we had offered free migrations and we would carry your data over, but a lot of folks don't want to change their hosting providers and I get it. It's unfamiliar territory, the migrations can be a pain, no one wants to carry over their data, and you're comfortable with who you're comfortable with. And so we are in September, at the end of this month launching, it's already September, how where's the time gone? At the end of this month, we're launching a prefix. So anybody can use this, like a third party prefix, similar to the way that Charitable was used to be able to access all of this data. We do use certain third party providers like Clearbit to enrich some of our data to be able to provide you with like, you know, companies that are listening, what industries are they in the revenue size, how many employees, but you know, at the end of the day, it's something that we built from the ground up, because we really felt that there was a need for it.

Matt Cundill 16:31

Absolutely. And you also said that people will come to you and say we want x, y, and z. What is the X, Y and Z that they are looking for? What sort of attribution do they really want?

Fatimi Zaidi 16:44

I think if you're interested in A, either monetization of your podcast or B customers for your business, if you're a branded show, then the company B2B analytics to company level data is really important, because what we're seeing is our customers are exporting these company lists and either giving it to their sales teams, or personally doing outreach to all of these companies that are listening to their show, either asking them to be an advertiser, or sponsor of their podcast, or trying to build a relationship with them for their brand. And so it's creating it and lead sort of lead funnel for them and that's never been done in podcasting. It's the way Zoom Info or Lead Feeder converts your website traffic into sales leads, we're trying to do that for Podcasting. We're actually hoping that like the next feature for B2B analytics, were able to give you very direct contact information of your listeners so that you can do some more targeted outreach. And so ultimately, I would say that is really a feature if you're interested in the monetization play. And if you're more so concerned with brand awareness, and making sure that you're becoming a thought leader, and reaching the right audiences, then I would say it's the demographic data. So things like age, gender, household income, what is the title of these folks. What competitive shows are they listening to? Simply because I think that that gives you a sense of whether or not you're reaching the right audiences and if you're not, then you can use that data to take change up your content, or change up your marketing strategy.

Tara Sands (Voiceover) 18:36

The Sound Off Podcast supports Podcasting 2.0, so feel free to send us a boost if you're listening on a newer podcast app. If you don't have a newer podcast app, you can get one at

Matt Cundill 18:50

Do we make too much of a big deal about the lack of attribution in podcasting? Do we've over focus on the download?

Fatimi Zaidi 18:56

Absolutely. Downloads are a metric, I don't think that they should be ignored. They're one data point of many and I think the challenge is there's so many other metrics that we're often overlooking. So one big one being the cost per minute of human attention. Podcasting is in a really unique position where you can use listening time as an engagement metric to calculate your ROI. And nobody really uses listening time as a metric. I mean, I don't think it's talked about it at all in our industry and so that is really surprising to me, because I realized the importance and value of metrics like engagement, listening time, loyal listeners, the average consumption rate, we're the only hosting provider that provides you with average consumption rate on your hosting platform. So we actually show you how much of your show are folks consuming. And as of Q1, we're going to be launching a new feature, which is your consumption rate per episode. So you can actually see where the drop offs are happening per episode and you can see what your listeners are telling you in terms of like the data. We focus so much on downloads and nobody really talks about the fact that if someone drops off in the first five minutes of your show, that's a download, but it's not a very successful download. And the average consumption metric is something that nobody pays attention to. So if your downloads are like a million, but your average consumption rate is 20%, are bots listening to your show? Or do people just really hate your content? Those are all, you know, the questions I think we need to be asking beyond just downloads and there are a lot of metrics that I think are arguably much more important. And I think as an industry, we have gotten better, we have gotten better in terms of focusing on the right metrics, but I think there's still a lot of whitespaces today.

Matt Cundill 20:38

So for the radio portion of our audience, consumption is really the same as time spent listening. So when you're aggregating that data for consumption, are you grabbing the Apple and the Spotify or is it all of it?

Fatimi Zaidi 20:53

We're currently just doing Apple. Unfortunately, Spotify doesn't allow you to access that. But the version two of this feature that we're launching is going to be across all of your platforms. That's the heavy lifting is we're aggregating it, we're hosting providers. So we do have access to the data and we're aggregating it across all your channels, because right now, Apple provides it on the back end of their dashboard, but Spotify does not.

Matt Cundill 21:16

So little hack, if you've got your own podcast, and you submitted it to Apple Podcast yourself, you can go in and grab that number for consumption per episode and you're going to tell us what is the number that you would be satisfied with for consumption. What percentage of the show, you know, if you're a podcaster, I have 60% 7080 90% 100%, what to you would make you happy and smile? What's the number? Do you have a magic number?

Fatimi Zaidi 21:41

I do. And actually, I've done a lot of research on this because I think that everyone sort of has their own opinion and I've read tons of articles that, you know, the industry has put out focus on specific content. Dan Meisner, and I've had a lot of chats about this and then I've also looked at the average consumption, we involve our clients, we produce what 30 shows a quarter and so we're typically looking at the average of all of our clients, the ones that are, you know, winning awards and doing really successful and then like the smaller shows as well, that maybe don't have enough, as much budget to put towards the show, I would say the consensus I've come to is anything above 60% is good. Anything above 75% is excellent. So if you're in the 70th percentile, you are doing really well. Of course, you know, if you're backed by a really big production agency, for Quill, our expectations are you should be in the 85% or higher average consumption rate. And that's because you know, we have a lot of ad spend to play with, we have a whole team dedicated to content and we're collecting premium analytics in terms of your show, doing, you know, daily brand inside studies on your show, and using that data to level up editorially. So in a situation like that, when it's like really sophisticated marketing, you should be at a higher rate. But if you're you know, creating a show is a lifestyle, and maybe not spending as much time on marketing, or the data analytics component than if you have anything in the 70th percentile, you should be over the moon.

Matt Cundill 23:07

I just get over the 70%.

Fatimi Zaidi 23:09

That's great.

Matt Cundill 23:10

Yeah, well, I'm happy with it at 70, 75%. I did open up a couple other podcasts the other day and you know, they're they're seasoned veterans and with loyal audiences, and I cite some 80s and 90s. And when you come in with a very loyal fan base, and you've been broadcasting a while, I think broadcasters do have an edge because they're aware of the clock now.

Fatimi Zaidi 23:30

Yeah and generally speaking, the more niche your audience, the higher your loyalty slash average consumption rate. That's generally the rule of thumb, because you've formed a natural community around your show. And when we look at our shows, the one with the niche audiences and niche content are generally the ones that very easily, you know, skyrocket in terms of completion and average consumption rate. It also makes sense to me why your show is doing so well from that perspective, because it's like a very specific topic and you're interviewing very specific folks and I imagine that your listeners are very engaged and loyal to this, like broadcasting community.

Matt Cundill 24:07

I opened up the numbers on a true crime podcast that we have in our group and I'm like, you're getting 90s. And then somebody sort of said to me, yeah, listen, they want to hear the story to the end and find out what happened. So that's the benefit when you have a great story, people want to hear it to the end.

Fatimi Zaidi 24:23

Of course. I think that's a really great point, Matt. When you have a true crime show, it's much easier to get your average consumption right to the end, then if it's like a branded podcast, or B2B show, very, very different pros and cons to both types of shows. But I would say if you're in the true crime category, these numbers and metrics don't apply to you.

Matt Cundill 24:41

So you work with branded podcasts so you don't spend a lot of time dealing, I'm guessing with dynamic ad insertion, however, you're all about maybe the dynamic audio insertion. So how do you use dynamic audio insertion for your shows?

Fatimi Zaidi 24:56

So we're all about the pre roll, post roll ad insertion. What we use them for is generally product placements for brands, if they want to promote a product or service at their company initiative, anything related to their brand, most of our clients, we work with primarily Fortune 500 to Fortune 1000 brands, so they're not interested in monetizing on their shows, they don't care about bringing in advertisers or sponsors, their prime concern is just, you know, putting out really great content becoming thought leaders, and then of course, promoting the initiatives that they have internally. So that's generally we do it co host have the pre roll post roll, ad insertions, you can also dynamically insert them, but it's generally used in a different way than how most podcasts use them and it's for product placements.

Matt Cundill 25:45

Yeah, actually, one technique that I heard on a branded podcast is that they use dynamic audio insertion to promote their webinars to catch people to come and see what they're up to every year, or at least every quarter and find out what's new with the business.

Fatimi Zaidi 26:01

Exactly things like webinars, other marketing initiatives that are happening, conferences that they're hosting. One of our travel companies, they always like to promote their product, their their travel deals that are happening, any any discounts or promotions, any sales of any deals that will be dropping, just you know, any new features that might be launching, those are the type of, you know, sort of variances that are utilized in terms of the ad insertions. But yeah, not so much about promoting other shows or ad roles.

Matt Cundill 26:32

So if we were teenagers, and it were September, I'd be asking you this question, but it still applies today and that's, how was summer camp?

Fatimi Zaidi 26:41

Summer camp was so much fun. It's probably one of the most exhausting events I go to every year, but also one of the funnest. Were you around for the 4am fire alarm pull and did you were you one of the people who left or did you sleep through it?

Matt Cundill 26:55

No, we had an announcement in our room. I was in the tower that did not have the alarm go off, but received all the announcements.

Fatimi Zaidi 27:02

So somebody pulled the fire alarm and we still don't know who it is. We're on a mission. Heather from Acast and I are on a mission to find out who it was. But we were essentially up all night because we were you know, in lessons or sessions all day, I was on stage for about nine hours speaking. So I almost lost my voice and we were out at the industry, dinners, parties, events. We finally get to bed, we're in the middle of our REM cycle and someone decides to pull the fire alarm at 4am. Now, most people, the smart ones, decide to sleep through it or stay in bed and not leave their rooms. I was one of the plebs that decided to actually evacuate the building with our entire floors. So all in all, I would say summer camp was a blast, super exhausting. I somehow managed to avoid COVID this time. But so great to see industry friends really helpful from a collaboration perspective and every time I come back, I'm reminded as to why I want to stay a part of this industry.

Matt Cundill 28:02

So I'll put the email address. It's Heather Gordon, who's had Acast who is taking I guess, anonymous submissions for who may have pulled the fire alarm. Podcast Movement.

Fatimi Zaidi 28:12

Yeah, Heather Gordon, and I, we have our suspicions. We were deliberating the next day at breakfast, but our suspicions were put to rest. And so we're still on the hunt for whoever it was to pull the alarm.

Matt Cundill 28:24

You mentioned, I don't know if you want this in the show or not so we may clip this, but you've been the Podcast Movement in the past, you've done the booth thing. And this year, you went with the sponsored stage and you had an all star cast that came out for the event. How would you weigh both of those experiences?

Fatimi Zaidi 28:40

So I'm actually totally happy for this to air because I think that it's important feedback for anyone who's debating putting their sponsorship dollars into Podcast Movement. The last five Podcast Movements we've done, we have sponsored stages. And we're also we just signed a contract for the DC event as well and we're also similarly doing something similar for Evolutions in LA. Now, I will say if you are a product company, so if you have a microphone or you know, if you're yellow tech or Rhodes microphone or have a physical product that you're looking to promote, then I would say the booth makes a lot of sense because it's a demonstratable product. I would say that in terms of the foot traffic of these boosts up and down depending on the year. I remember Nashville was super quiet. There wasn't a lot of foot traffic. I think the Dallas was definitely a lot better in terms of foot traffic, but it really is very inconsistent in terms of the type of traction you're gonna get at a booth. I will say if you are a production agency producer or in the service space, then you're probably better off going going with some sort of a sponsorship that allows you to provide value and collect value from like a knowledge Generation standpoint. And so for us that definitely in the sessions that we're creating in the conversations that were happening, because we get to choose to have the conversations that we think are important and relevant and so our entire stage or it's called the Ghost Talk was about the challenges the opportunities in podcast analytics and marketing and growth. And I think that because we were sponsoring it, we could manipulate the content that we wanted to share and that was really helpful for us.

Matt Cundill 30:29

So you mean, the track that you sponsored had a lot in common with a branded podcast as opposed to a booth?

Fatimi Zaidi 30:35

Exactly, exactly that's exactly it, we, we our entire stage was about like how to promote branded shows. And that's a category that's really growing now in the podcasting space, but for years isn't really been looked at as a serious contender. Because we were such a small space and I think people are starting to realize that it's growing, More and more companies and brands are interested in creating audio format shows and I think the analytics and data piece was really important for us to discuss this time around.

Matt Cundill 31:06

What was your big takeaway from Podcast Movement?

Fatimi Zaidi 31:08

My biggest takeaway was they really can step it up in terms of conference locations. It was a, it was a huge step up from Dallas, I would say, where the Locusts were all over the lobby and in people's bedrooms, so the Gala was absolutely beautiful in Denver. If you haven't been I highly recommend it and then in terms of the content, I would say, I thought it was really interesting to see the amount of folks who came out that were interested in the campaign attribution data this year, that was probably one of the biggest takeaways from our stages. In the previous stages. It was always the question was around, how do we you know, increase our downloads? Or how do we improve discoverability? Or how do we reach more listeners and this year, people are a lot more focused on the quality of listeners, which was very heartwarming to see.

Matt Cundill 31:57

So a lot of people talking about video and video podcasting, YouTube with their announcements, Coleman Insights and Amplify Media up on stage telling us all about how listeners will grab onto a podcast or YouTube. So from where you sit, how do you look at video? And how would you incorporate that into branded podcasts?

Fatimi Zaidi 32:19

I think it really depends on the KPI as to why you are looking to produce a video show. I think that the reason 94% of people who listen to podcast and listening to the entire episode, whereas 30 minute video only has a 12% completion rate. We get asked all the time, why is there such a disparity in stats? Well, it's because you can be driving to work and listen to a podcast but you can't be watching the Netflix show you can be walking your dog and listening to a podcast, we can't be reading an article at the same time. It's one of the few mediums or being actively engaged in another activity. And being able to do another activity, especially the mundane monotonous tasks and chores increases the engagement. Now when you add a screen that takes away from that flexibility, and so generally speaking, I would say we have seen a direct correlation with video being added. And the average consumption rate decreasing completion rates decreasing. If we look at least for our shows, if we put them on YouTube as a YouTube series, which we often do as well, because we record on Riverside, and we capture both audio and video. And then we'll sometimes put the video on on YouTube as a as a video series and we find that the engagement rates and the completion rates and numbers are much higher on the audio only listing platforms like Spotify and Apple versus video which they'll get some views. Typically a younger demographic audience is what we're finding but but not nearly the same completion rates that we're getting on audio format shows that tells me that folks are interested in just the audio formats. That's why they're seeking out podcasts.

Matt Cundill 33:57

Thank you, you've confirmed exactly what I thought and that's people use YouTube for search, search and more search to discover once they've discovered it, they'll move on if they really like what they see on YouTube. They're going to move over to Spotify app or whatever their favorite app is to go and listen to the show.

Fatimi Zaidi 34:15

Totally. I mean, look, that's not to say that I don't love utilizing video content for bite sized social content. If you're capturing video like you are right now, Matt on Squadcast, take some of this video content and convert it into bite sized content with tick tock or LinkedIn. When it's done in like sort of micro portions. Video generally has higher engagement than audio, but there's a time and a place for it. You know 32nd promotional clip on Tik Tok or LinkedIn, great. A 30 minute long form conversation, probably best in the form of audio.

Matt Cundill 34:49

Okay, so this is where I have to make a confession. I'm actually not using this for any video. I'm still an audio holdout.

Fatimi Zaidi 34:55

No, it's great because sometimes you just use the video to be able to see someone and have a voter come conversation and that's great too.

Matt Cundill 35:02

Yeah, actually convert this into a audiogram which will appear with a bouncy little line on YouTube.

Fatimi Zaidi 35:08

Amazing. Are you using Headliner?

Matt Cundill 35:10


Fatimi Zaidi 35:11

I love headliner. I love that team. I love the team. I love their founders, their exact team is awesome. The audiogram, trailergram promotions that they do work really well so if you're ever looking to invest in ad dollars, like check out headliners promotional feature I would say that they're they're really great company doing really great work. I love the way they automated audio grabs for everyone.

Matt Cundill 35:35

And I want to thank Headliner and Kristen for the purple shirt that I received at Podcast Movement. Thank you. You mentioned you use Riverside. My ears really, really perked up in Toronto when you were at Radio Days and you said never use Zoom to record a podcast. Tell people why they should never use Zoom to record their podcast.

Fatimi Zaidi 35:56

So we actually use both Riverside and Squadcast. We have two enterprise accounts and we and we interchange between both. Both have their pros and cons and we love the team at Squadcast. So highly recommend using Squadcast if you're looking for an audio platform, and they've come a really long way in terms of functionality as well, they've done a really great job. And will they are going to continue to do better after the acquisition of Descript. Riverside has also really great alternative very clean audio, they record separate tracks. So even if you talk over somebody, it's not captured in the editing process. If you're listening to this, if you could just take one tip from this conversation is please don't use Zoom to record your episode. It is not an audio optimized platform. It is a conference line. So when you export the audio from zoom, it actually distorts the sound and content and it actually really significantly lowers the audio quality. When I listen to a podcast on Spotify, I know I can tell right away when it's recorded on Zoom and that will be the end. I will be that person dropping off in the first five minutes of your show. Doesn't matter how many you know high tech microphones and headphones and equipment and pop filters you have setup. I would say the most important thing you can do for your show is use a software that is optimized for audio quality like Squadcast, Riverside, Cleanfeed, there's a bunch of them.

Matt Cundill 37:22

Fatima thank you so much for taking the time to be on the Sound Off Podcast and share some of those branded podcast secrets.

Fatimi Zaidi 37:29

Of course, happy to be here. Thank you so much for having Matt.

Tara Sands (Voiceover) 37:32

The Sound Off Podcast is written and hosted by Matt Cundill produced by Evan Surminski, edited by Chloe Emond-Lane, social media by Aidan Glassey. Another great creation from the Sound Off Media Company. There's always more at


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