Jeff Vidler: Signal Hill Insights
Updated: May 31
Jeff Vidler knows research. Before programming radio, he worked with John Parikhal and Dave Charles at Joint Communications, the venerable radio research group. After his time programming the newly launched Mix 96 in Montreal, he went on to work He worked with (what is now) Ipsos-Reid before forming his own research-led companies like Vision Critical, Audience Insights and now Signal Hill Insights; an audio research company that helps individuals and businesses interested in using audio to connect with people.
You may know someone that wants to start a podcast and may roll our eyes when you hear this because the world already has 4 million podcasts. Jeff thinks that now is the best time to start a podcast, and that we don’t yet know its full potential. Jeff tells us that “Even in a recession, revenues are still growing. Podcasting is still probably the only medium that's experiencing double digit growth of ad revenues in a recession. The professional podcast, independent podcaster, I think has tremendous opportunities now.”
There will always be a podcast out there for someone, but of course the challenge is to continue to engage people. Jeff and his team examine the trends, the numbers, the algorithms, the analytics - that’s all very useful, but what’s important is how this information is used to better connect with an audience.
Be careful - you’ll have a listen to this episode and it will give you the motivation to start the podcast you were thinking about launching.
The Canadian Podcast Listener's Client Advisory Council has been developed as a forum to ensure the study addresses market needs, and to discuss initiatives to move the Canadian podcast industry forward.
Check out the webinar Jeff helped develop, ‘The Medium Moves the Message’ on the The Sounds Profitable website about the comparative study of the effects of advertising across radio, TV and on-demand platforms.
Tom Webster specializes in market research and is a partner at Sound Profitable. He talks about the importance of getting to know your audience on a Sounds Profitable podcast episode called, “5 Ways to… “ which is co-hosted with Arielle Nissenblatt.
You can connect to our episodes with the Sounds Profitable team at the bottom of the page.
The Sound Off Podcast Network is a sponsor of Sounds Profitable.
Tara Sands (Voiceover) 00:00:02
The Sound Off Podcast. The show about podcast and broadcast starts now.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:00:12
The first time I met Jeff Vidler was at a Bishop Street bar called Grumpy's in Montreal in 1993. I wanted to say that I was meeting up with Rob Braid and we were going to go see the Archangels and Big Sugar play the Spectrum. We all had a few drinks together. But what I learned in that meeting was that Jeff was very sharp when it came to research and was good at arming the sales department with data to sell radio. Now, if I could have fast forwarded 30 years later to today, you know what I'd say? Wait, what happened to radio? And what the fuck is a podcast? Jeff and I have worked together on numerous projects involving radio station branding in the we spend a lot of time looking at podcasts. He heads up Signal Hill Insights, and we have him on the show today to talk about podcast trends. If you're into radio streaming or podcasting, you should sign up for their newsletter. His company is also the author of the Canadian Podcast Listener. The latest version of that is always at Canadianpodcastlistener dot CA. Jeff Vidler joins me from the offices of Signal Hill Insights in Toronto. Jeff, there's been a lot about podcasting being in a downturn. There's been a lot of bad news. Depending on what podcast about, podcasts you listen to or what newsletter. Yet the listenership keeps growing. What's going on?
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:01:29
Well, I think this is an industry that is still very much in. I would say we're past infancy now and we're maybe even past our preteens, but we're maybe in our teenage years, but there's a maturing of the marketplace. I think in a very broad sense there has been an enormous amount of growth podcast listening and advertising revenue over the past four or five years that attracted a lot of what Eric Nisum calls dumb money into podcasting. People said, wow, there's money to be made here. And so they started to spend tons of money try to be number one in the space. Lots of people trying to launch their podcast to be the next Joe Rogan on a sort of very independent level. So, yes, we look now. And a lot of that was irrationally exuberant. Paul Rizma Del, who's our chief insights officer at Signal Hill now that's the term he uses for that stage. But again, audience is growing. Even in a recession, revenues are still growing. Podcasting is still probably the only medium that's experiencing double digit growth of ad revenues in a recession. Now. It's not doing what it was before, this sort of pending recession where it was like Moore's Law of ad revenues. It was doubling every two years, growth last year, there is growth from last year, and those numbers will be coming out for the IAB relatively soon. There is growth, but it's not at the same level of what was expected. But there's still a lot of robust growth in terms of ad revenues and podcasting. There's still more people coming into the medium. There's absolutely no reason to expect that people will stop wanting to listen to audio on demand. I mean, it is just the on demand trend, and audio is actually kind of the last one to kind of catch up to that. And there's still lots of opportunity for growth there.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:03:32
You and I were talking just before we started this about Rob Greenlee, who sees a shift going back to the roots of podcasting. Do you see it that way?
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:03:41
Yeah, I think that's true. I think that one of the sort of shakeout that's happened is at the very kind of top end of podcasting. And you think of the Spotify as the ultimate example, that enormous amount of money that was spent from big players who wanted to be number one in the space. Some of that money is pulled back because there's certainly growth there. But they're not going to be necessarily own the entire podcast audience. It's going to be shared among multiple networks, and that's a good thing. And I think the other thing that's happened, too, is a lot of those hobbyists people said, hey, I'm going to do a podcast, and sort of doing something out of their bedroom and trying it for a little while. And that expanded that universe of podcasts. It went from 60,000 to 100,000 back in 2016 to, what was it, 4 million. Well, a lot of those people have gone away because they realize it's not that easy to do a great podcast that people want to listen to when they have so much choice and so many options out there. But that leaves the middle ground. The professional podcast, independent podcaster, I think has tremendous opportunity now.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:04:51
Absolutely. You know what I get excited about every week when somebody says they want to start a podcast, I say now is a great time because there's under 400,000 who are actively releasing episodes into this space every other week or whatever the stat was. But when you look at the number of active podcasts, it's encouraging.
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:05:12
Absolutely. And a lot of those podcasts are making money or have a great reason to exist, even if they're not making revenue. They're also delivering against other purposes as well branded podcasts. For example, they may be making money for the producer, but they're not necessarily making money if the brand is doing that really as a gift to their customers and their audience. And that's a big part of what that 400,000 of active podcast still is.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:05:41
We were talking earlier about companies who are striving to be number one. iHeart has succeeded depending on which chart that you look at. And I remember back in 2018, I think a lot of people looked at iHeart's venture into podcasting with a little bit of skepticism, but there they are at number one, and they did exactly what Tom Webster told them to, which is to go make a lot of junk. And by junk we really just mean it could have been celebrity podcasts or anybody who was eliminated from The Bachelor or Bachelorette, and then they made some purchases along the way and they've done very, very well for themselves. How would you grade it?
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:06:16
I think one of the things that they were able to do, first of all, they had an enormous inventory of radio shows that were able to generate podcast listens as well, which helped to expand the size of their network and listener base. But also they consciously went after the mainstreaming of podcast listening, taking it from where it was, which was really an outgrowth of public media to something that was broader and reached more Americans and really has been part of really what I think has either fueled that growth or latched on to that growth that's happened in podcast listening over the last few years.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:06:55
Now we'll go to the other side, which is NPR, which has about, I think it was publishing about 50 podcasts but getting roughly the same audience as I heart would. And now they've had to go through a little bit of change over the last few months as it pertains to podcasting and the industry. It is their number one revenue source.
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:07:17
Yeah, absolutely. And I think it's an interesting time for them to sort of recalibrate what they're doing in podcast space. Really go back to when podcasting really became something of value in the sense that there were more and more listeners using podcasts. It was because it was really solving a problem for public radio listeners that they could listen to their favorite shows on their time. They didn't have to set the clock at 10:00 Sunday morning to listen to This American Life. They could listen to this American Life when they're driving up to the cottage or when they were going for a walk with their dog. And it was a younger audience because a younger audience was more inclined and still is more inclined towards on demand media and it really helped them a lot and it helped podcasting grow. As podcasting became more mainstream, there are more options. It's not just really kind of public media, public radio shows that are time shifted to your convenience. There's a lot of other options available to people there and that has made them I mean, they still have a lot of podcasts that have a very high audience, but it's made them a face in the crowd rather than the leading thrust of podcasting.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:08:36
What did you talk about at Podcast Movement with Dave Beasing and a few others?
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:08:41
We talked about branded podcasts and we've done a lot of work in branded podcasts and going back to 2016, working with Pacific Content who really are still with the leader in that space, doing some really great high end narrative podcasts for some big brands. In the US. So for that session, we talked really about how can you give the measurement to the brands that you're working for to help them feel more comfortable that the money they're spending, and sometimes they're spending a lot of money for a branded podcast is actually delivering for them. So on one side, we do brand lift studies for brands that want to try to establish do people like this podcast? Is it really engaging them? How does it changing the way they feel about the brand? So we do studies that help to establish the extent to which they do. And we have benchmarks and we're able to compare the performance of individual branded podcasts to others. We've done about three dozen of them now over the last few years. But also at that same session, Jonas Woost from Bumper was there. And Jonas and Dan Meisner have other ways of measuring success for podcasts. And the one thing that they've developed, which is really interesting, is this notion of listen time. Are you familiar with that?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:10:02
Yeah, I read through their idea of it. I did see one piece of pushback from Hot News, James Cridland. I mean, his show is four minutes, so it's not going to be a whole lot of listen time. But for a show like the one we're doing right now, we can bang 30, 60 minutes if we can get people to the end of the episode every week.
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:10:22
And really it's about how much time people are spending with your brand and successful podcast. If it's one that people listen all the way through the episodes and if they go from one episode to another to another, well, it sort of changes that whole metric around. Oh, but this is a branded podcast, it only has 10,000 downloads. But what that misses is that it has 10,000 people, many of who are engaged with the podcast and listening constantly. And that's an audience. You've built a relationship and a depth of engagement with an audience that you wouldn't be able to get any other way.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:11:01
So is that something that you look at as completion rate when you're working with a network or a branded podcast? That you're going to Apple and Spotify and opening up and finding out what that completion rate number is? And to that, what is the number that makes you happy?
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:11:17
We measure engagement differently. We ask people how they felt about what they listened to. Would you listen to another episode? And a lot of those things do tend to line up those podcasts that are really successful in being able to extend listen time.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:11:29
I still think the answer is 80%.
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:11:32
80% completion of a single episode? Yeah, actually that's a number that sounds like a good benchmark and it depends on the podcast and what you're doing. But often they're as low as 60%, sometimes they're 95%. Right. But if you get to 80, you're doing really well.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:11:47
Well, I've also had 105%, especially on an episode like this one where people have to go back and take their notes.
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:11:55
Or they can say, what did he just say? What was that? There's no way that's true. Let me listen to that again.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:12:02
And just to be truthful about the whole thing, most of the podcast episodes, at one point there were about 80% and then there was a point I think Apple might have changed the way the app worked, but it did drop by about 10%. So I'm seeing a lot of 72% to 75% depending on the episode that we released, which I think is pretty good. I think if I can get over 75 or 80%, I'm pretty satisfied with myself.
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:12:28
You should feel good about that. Absolutely.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:12:30
Is the download still good? As a form of metric, it's the best we got. Or can we maybe combine it with consumption and maybe come up with a separate metric?
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:12:40
Yeah, I mean, it's the best we have at this point, there's no question. Right. But you look at something like listen time and let's just take this back to the radio model as an example. Now, downloads are not the same thing as unique, but let's just say downloads can give you a unique measure of how many people uniquely downloaded your podcast over a month. And if you are able to develop that listen time, then you are able to develop what can effectively be the reach and the time spent listening. Right. I think we'll see that time come, but there's going to have to be a few walls come down in measurement first. You'll have to be able to have more podcasters, will have to have greater visibility into how much people are actually listening to the full podcast, more than the kind of information they might be getting from Apple or Spotify.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:13:32
Right now, you used a term which I've never heard of before and I'm glad you're going to introduce it to whoever else hasn't heard this before and that's the idea of industrial podcasts. What is that?
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:13:44
I see it just as part of the evolution or part of the opportunity that's ahead for podcasting. If we say, well, where are there opportunities for growth? One of those areas is in the area of, you know, of industrial videos. There opportunity for industrial podcasts are there too. And that's quite different from a branded podcast because branded podcasts are really made to be great content that you choose to listen to among all the other podcasts that you have available to you. An industrial podcast is a little bit different. It might be a CEO talking about the plans for the company, checking in with employees every quarter or every month with an update of that. It might be part of an overt marketing strategy that you have prospects, and prospects want to understand more about the people who work there, people who are running the show. Podcasts are a great way to introduce those people and have them understand those people, what they think about what they stand for. And I think the ultimate example of that industrial podcast is the Bob Pittman podcast for iHeart. He's the head of iHeart, and he's very professional, has great interviews, is entertaining, but also very much. It's something for Iheart employees and for people doing business with Iheart to have an understanding of who that guy is that's running Iheart, and definitely helps to shape the image and value of Iheart by having that sense of connection to that CEO. So that's what I mean by industrial podcasts.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:15:18
If you want to connect with that podcast, it is now in the show notes of this episode. I remember you and I had gone to dinner, we were in Toronto, and you gave me the bad news as we were walking back to the hotel, headed towards another drink. And that was about marketing your podcast. And I think you referenced at the time, Steve Pratt at Pacific Content and how they market their podcast to success. And since that time, when we look at marketing podcasts, how do you look at some of the ways to market a podcast and how it's changed whether the show is branded or not?
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:15:52
Obviously, discoverability is the biggest problem from listener point of view and getting listeners to discover your podcast is the biggest challenge from podcaster point of view. So one thing we do in Canadian podcast listener, we've done it now for three years running, is we ask people to think of the podcast they most recently started listening to and we ask them, so where did you first hear about that podcast? And that gives us a little bit of insight in terms of what marketing channels tend to be most effective at exposing people to new podcasts. And some of it is obvious and you hear it all the time. The number one advertising category in podcasts is other podcasts. So number one, typically at around 20%, say they discovered that podcast from hearing it promoted on another podcast. Or maybe it was a guest on that podcast who talked about their podcast. That's possible, right? The number two was word of mouth. Somebody told me about it, it was recommended to me. And I always think that sometimes podcasters miss that as an opportunity. If you love this podcast, tell a friend about it. If you think it's right for them, make sure do that for us. That would help us, right? Instead of just listen to it. Wherever you listen to podcasts, maybe that's one of the lines you could use at the back end of your podcast. Tell a friend about why you love this podcast. But we look then at what are the other levers that podcasters publishers are looking at to promote their podcast. Certainly a lot of money is spent on social media, and in fact, we do see social media come up. About 10% of the audience say they found out about the podcast on social media, but we do actually ask whether it was a sponsored post for that podcast or whether it was just someone they happen to follow on social media. Typically, it's seven to one. I heard about the podcast from the social media feed of someone that I follow, not advertised posts. There's a lot of money going to social media, but really and, you know, it's about earned, not owned social media that really helps to deliver that. And that's really important. A host has to work social media effectively. You know, that Matt and most good hosts with successful podcasts do that. Make sure your guests are promoting their appearance on social media. That's going to have more impact than whatever you might be able to buy on social media. And not to say that that's not helpful, but that's only part of the picture.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:18:25
And one of my favorite strategies is to go to their Facebook page on their birthday and thank them for joining me on the podcast earlier this year. Because everybody who knows that person is now going to go and listen to their friend on Facebook.
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:18:36
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:18:37
Go and listen to their friend on the podcast I mean.
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:18:39
Sounds like you were a radio programmer at one time.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:18:42
Yeah, it's still there.
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:18:43
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:18:44
And I think that's a great point about where did you find this podcast. So if you can't afford to work with Bumper and Jonas and Dan, one thing you can do is do perhaps a survey and just ask people, hey, how did you discover this podcast? What a great survey question to ask people.
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:19:02
If you're doing a listener survey, that's really the one must have question on your survey is, where did you first hear about this podcast? Because that really gives you a sense of your marketing efforts, whether paid or otherwise are paying off. If they say they heard another podcast, ask them, what podcast? So you get an idea of who was feeding that. Where are those natural symmetries between what you're doing and the podcast you're advertising on or guesting on, and how does that then connect back to your audience?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:19:35
Coming up, more with Jeff, including three of my favorite subjects, the role YouTube is playing in podcast discovery. What are some interesting traits about Canadian podcasting and podcasters, and how much do we know about who is listening to our shows? There's more. There's always more on the episode page, including some more fascinating podcast listening at email@example.com.
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Matt Cundill (Host) 00:20:31
Somebody pointed this out a few weeks ago and I think it came from Sounds Profitable and it was really asking people, do you really know who your audience is? And I'm here to tell you today, Jeff, that I'm glad we have people like you to go and find out this stuff for brands. I can't say that I have too much of an idea who and I'm very surprised at who might send me a boost or some SATS, for instance, on a Podcast 2.0 app. I'm surprised at the people who give me feedback. And I think it's not like a radio station where you can pick up the phone and start talking to a part of the listenership. It can be a very quiet medium, but I think there are ways now that we are beginning to discover and find out more about who is listening to our shows.
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:21:12
Absolutely. If I'm not mistaken, I think it was Tom Webster column or article that he had posted on the Sounds Profitable website and he extolled. What I believe is really important as well is as simple as doing your listener surveys. Yeah, you can hire companies like us, we can help do those listener surveys, but you can also do them yourself if you want to dig that up. Sounds Profitable article, Tom gives you free of charge, some of the great questions you can ask in a listener survey. For example, one that I really liked on that article was, and it's a simple question, is to say, so would you like the podcast to be longer or shorter than it is now? Now not really asking that because you want a sense of how long or the podcast should be or short is it all really depends on the individual and the person. It depends on the podcast and how much time it takes to do that podcast and make that podcast effective. But if they answer, well, I'd like it to be shorter, you then can ask them, oh, so what would you like to take out of the podcast? What do we do that really doesn't do it for you? If they say I want long, what is it that you'd like to hear more of? And it's a great way of just probing that question in a way that if you just ask the question, what would you like to hear more of or less of? Oh, it's all fine, right. But when you ask it that way, it makes the listener think a little bit about their answer and give you a better answer. And one of the advantages of those listener surveys, people who will respond to a call to action on your podcast to do a survey, those are super engaged listeners. And that's a great thing because it helps you understand that core of cores of your audience. The people who are the evangelists who will tell their friends about the podcast and they have an understanding of what is that one thing that your podcast does that no other podcast does, which is one of the most important things that any podcast we can have. What is that clear point of differentiation? Why do some people actually go that much out of their way to listen to your podcast? Hugely important. At the same time there is a danger in doing nothing but paying attention to that core. Of course, if you did nothing but follow what they wanted, you would probably never grow your audience. You might get deeper engagement from the audience you have, but I think you've got to temper that against what is it we can do that still is true to our purpose. So anyhow, that's the only qualifier to doing listener surveys. But to understand how they discovered your podcast, understand what it is that really brings those engaged listeners to your podcast, there's nothing better you can do to.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:23:54
Understand your audience wherever you get your podcast. One of my favorite questions because I think since about 2018, 2019 on a number of your surveys, and I think it was predominantly even the Canadian podcast Listener survey, people would answer, I get them on YouTube. And YouTube does not technically have podcasts. They've got shows. And some are podcasts if it's Joe Rogan or Dax Shepherd, but constantly. And it comes back all the time on a number of your surveys, Jeff, and that's people are getting their podcasts from YouTube. So how do we explain this to the people who are way too deep in the weeds when it comes to podcasting and the RSS feed?
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:24:38
It's part of reality. It's part of what people call a podcast. Just because it's video doesn't mean it's not an on demand content that they like. When we do ask the question on Canadian Podcast Listener about being a podcast listener, we do make sure that you are listening to digital audio files that you can download to listen to later or stream on demand. We don't qualify people who only listen to podcasts or ones they watch on YouTube. There's a large percentage of the population. Their number one go to source for entertainment and information, even on their smart TV is YouTube. It has some great tools for discovery. It's run by Google. They know how to give you more of what you like so you will discover content that you might not see elsewhere. And a lot of that is content that you can then take with you wherever you go when you're not in front of your smart TV or your computer or looking at the screen on your mobile phone. And you will go to an Apple podcast to download it so that you can listen to that later or click it on your Spotify app as a break from listening to music. YouTube is part of the reality of how people consume podcasts. And the industry is really now just kind of figuring out what to do with that was really interesting, actually, at the Podcast Movement Evolutions Conference in Las Vegas back in early March, you could really see from some of the panels how some of the podcasters were really making intelligent use of YouTube. Certainly there's a style of podcast that naturally lends itself towards having a video version, and quite simple, which is the conversation. Podcast, joe Rogan being the ultimate example that you get to see the conversation as well as hear the conversation, and you get to see the people who you get to see Elon Musk smoking pot on Joe Rogan. Those are things that you can do on YouTube and you can watch that on that and it's a simple, natural thing to do. Narrative podcasts is a lot tougher. I mean, if you're doing a true crime podcast, well, how do you tell the story visually without it costing you a fortune for camera work? And all of that involves making a TV show. But there are ways, and there's a lot of podcasters who are really understanding how they can still use YouTube, even in a narrative format. One example that was I wish I could remember who it was, I actually spoke with him after the session. But he had a podcast and he had was a military podcast and he was talking to someone who had done some amazing stunts. So what he did was he extended the brand of his podcast by making that video available on YouTube. So there's opportunities there for brand extensions. Tinkercast who make the podcast kids podcasts, wow in the World, they have content, it's an audio podcast, but they have content that lends itself towards visual and they'll put that visual stuff onto YouTube. So Guy Raz is one of the hosts. There's a cartoon animation of Guy Raz. Well, they'll do things with Guy Raz in animation on YouTube. They'll have games and things that they'll have on YouTube. And what that does is if you're on YouTube, you see wow in the World, you go, wow, this is amazing. Oh, it's a podcast. 29% of all podcast listeners in the last Canadian podcast listener study, and it's the same as the year before, said that they discovered a podcast on YouTube that they then went and listened to later on demand through a standard RSS feed. It expands your audience, really fundamentally, is what it's about.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:28:42
So we moved into that space after years of arguing with you and growing frustrated. Very simply, we created a presence on YouTube by adding some of the episodes. I think about the last hundred episodes. It's just a still image. Now, I could put this recording of you and I up there. We would get to see into your office and your living room and I don't know anybody needs to see anything in my basement. And our choice of microphones and headphones, I'm not sure how exciting that is. I haven't made that jump. Yet where I'm going to upload a copy of you and I looking at each other, but there's a still image up there and I only have another 200 or so episodes to repurpose and put into YouTube. But all that to say I'm a joiner.
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:29:29
Yeah, absolutely. It can be as simple as a static image. That again, if your destination for all of your entertainment information is YouTube, and you have content that connects to content they're interested in and it's just available in the static image, well, they may not listen to it at that point, but they go, oh, that's interesting, I want to listen to that podcast. We also ask listeners who do access podcasts on YouTube, we say, when you access a podcast on YouTube, what percentage of the time are you watching and what percentage of the time are you just listening? But 40% of the time, listeners say on average, they say 40% of the time they're listening, not watching. So think about it. And especially conversation podcasts, which are natural for YouTube, they're also the easiest ones to multitask to. If you're working at your computer, you can flip onto YouTube, you can put Joe Rogan or one of the many YouTube podcasts on, listen to it, but minimize the screen. And you're going about your work and you're listening to that podcast. You're not watching it, but it's there. It's right where you are and where you typically go for your content.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:30:42
I'll just share some of the things that have come across my desk involving YouTube and that's we started to get requests for the women of Ill Repute, which is with Wendy Mesley and Maureen Holloway.
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:30:54
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:30:55
Yeah, they've been in broadcast for so long, especially Wendy who's been on TV for years, and their audience began to ask for YouTube, can we see the interviews that are taking place? So after 25 episodes, we've obliged and now there is a video companion to go along with the audio. The other thing I'm getting here is I'm beginning to get a lot of YouTubers who have done this for a long time, maybe they've done it for a couple of years and they're like, can we convert this into a podcast? So it's going the other way as well?
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:31:27
Absolutely, yeah. Because if you're a YouTube creator and you're missing the opportunity of people listening to your podcast, of accessing your content when their eyes are busy, but their mind is free when they're somewhere where they can't actually watch it, but they can listen to it. What better way to do that than putting it on out as a podcast or an RSS feed that someone can listen to? Again, there's not cannibalized audience, it just expands the audience, a potential audience. And I think you're from Montreal originally, so Quebec is a really interesting kind of petri dish for culture, always has been. Quebec is a population of 6 million, 8 million people, most of whom speak French. We're at about 75, 80% being Francophone podcast. Listening in Quebec has always been lower than it is in the rest of Canada. The reason for that has traditionally been that there just wasn't that much content available. They don't want to listen to podcasts from France. It's a tiny percentage of podcasts that they would consume. Those who do consume podcasts, no, they'll consume other Canadian podcasts or actually more typically, American podcasts. But more and more they are listening to French Canadian podcasts. That's what they're interested in listening to. But again, it's a small market. So if you're a Francophone podcaster in Quebec, you can't just have a podcast. You've got to be multimedia. And Quebec entertainers are brilliant at doing that anyhow. They've always been on television, on radio, and doing live shows. Comedians in Quebec in particular. So taken to creating your own content, they are on YouTube. Almost all of the top French Canadian podcasts are on YouTube, as well as being podcasts that have an audience with downloads as well. Mike Ward is one example. Sexoral, which is kind of the French version of Color Daddy, is also a very big podcast. In fact, in the last Canadian podcast listener study, the number two and number three podcasts were Mike Ward and Sex or Al, Joe Rogan number one.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:33:36
Mike Ward has a huge YouTube presence.
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:33:39
His reach in Quebec is bigger than Joe Rogan is anywhere else. But a lot of it is there's just not that many other podcasts that they can listen to french Canadian podcasts. They aren't dealing with a universe of 4 million podcasts. They're dealing with a universe of a few hundred podcasts to choose from.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:33:59
Mike Ward sold out the Bell Center. Not a lot of people made a big deal about that, but that's a big deal.
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:34:07
I wasn't aware of that. That's huge.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:34:09
Also, when I look at Canada and you're the person here who can it's not just Quebec, by the way, where it's like that. Whether it's podcasts that I work with, like Dean Blondell or women of Ill repute, a lot of that listening is very Ontario centric. It's very GTA, it's very horseshoe. But then you go out to Alberta, and the minute we started to make podcasts that were specific to Alberta, we saw big numbers come in. So I'm looking at the breakdown with Nate Pike, Carrie Doll, who was a former CTV anchor who does a podcast. These are all very big Alberta shows. I think when we talk about a Canadian podcast, we think about something that's just going to go from coast to coast and sea to sea, but that's not the case. It's fairly regional with what we listen to.
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:34:57
Yeah, I think you talk about opportunities for podcasts going forward. There is still tremendous opportunity for local regional podcasts that do reflect particular region. And that's kind of what makes them unique, is they do something that may be done elsewhere, but they do it specific to their region and to the culture and the interests of that area as well. I mean, the challenge there is just how do you even with a very popular podcast in some of those areas, it's still hard to have enough audience to make it fly on its own. You really need to be part of a network where you can take advantage of the opportunity, the cross promotion opportunities, but also the opportunity of having someone out there helping to sell advertising for your podcast as well as the other podcasts in the network.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:35:47
Is podcasting a mass medium now?
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:35:49
I think it's getting awfully close to it, yeah. We work now with sounds profitable in the US. We're actually really pleased to be selected as a research partner. So the first study we had a chance to do, we'll be doing quarterly research studies with Sounds Profitable going forward. And our first study was the medium moves the message. Tom Webster has a webinar of that. And if you do get the chance to watch that webinar, you should, because it did reveal a lot of really interesting things about podcasting as an advertising medium. One of those things was just seeing how when you compare podcasting to TV and radio and recognizing that linear TV, linear radio is getting older, podcasting is younger, and it's because it's an on demand medium. And look at 18 to 34 year olds who listen to podcasting. The past week, 50% of Americans say that they listen. 18 to 34 say they listen to podcasts. That wasn't far behind either television or even radio for that matter. Radio is at 59% and television at just 54%. So suddenly we start looking at that and also see that that podcast audience is in fact an exclusive audience for a large part of that audience. They don't listen to linear radio. They don't watch linear TV. That if you are trying to reach 18 to 34 as part of your buy, let alone as your core demographic, then podcasting does make sense as a medium to add to that mix. Buying podcasting across, to take advantage of all of that reach with all of those podcasts still has a little ways to go. But I think these are things that technology and innovation will help to solve as well, so that it becomes as easy to reach that podcast audience that you're looking for as it is television radio. And even then, it's getting so much better. Measurement is better, delivery is better than it was. I mean, if you just look back five or six years, it's dramatically improved. We start looking at it that way. If TV and radio are mass media, well, podcasting is getting pretty close to that and podcast audience is growing. Linear TV, linear radio, well, they're struggling. It's a change, a shift in audience priorities. They want to be able to access their content on their own schedule. TV faces the same challenges with streaming video, obviously, Netflix and everything else. And really, what is podcasting? It's simply the same thing applied to audio medium.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:38:36
Can you give me one unique stat that is purely Canadian as it pertains to podcasting? One that if you met somebody from any other country, did you know that Canadians when it comes to podcasting?
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:38:50
So one of the questions we ask in Canadian podcast listener is asking podcast listeners to say, of all the podcasts you listen to, how much of that podcasting is to US. Podcasts, to Canadian podcasts, to podcasts from Britain, from France, or from elsewhere? 44 on average. Canadian podcast listeners say that 44% of the podcasts they listen to are Canadian. That was 38% four years ago, and it's gone up to 44%. It's getting awfully close to the percentage that they're listening to us. I think it's 48% for us, 44% for Canada. Imagine if it was like that for radio and music. There's no Canadian content quotas here for podcasting. But we're still at a situation where listeners say they are spending 44% of the time that they spend listen to podcasts or spent listening to Canadian podcasts. So there's something going on here. There's some good podcasts happening in Canada.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:39:52
Yeah. Have you let the people in the Senate and Parliament know about this as they're writing C-11?
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:39:57
Well, the Department of Heritage has been a subscriber to Canadian podcast Listener. They weren't this year. This is kind of a government thing. They go on one year off one year. So they have seen those numbers. They haven't seen that latest number. And even doing a presentation, even that, I knew it got their attention and they made the connection themselves. Oh, wow. Without even trying. It's happening naturally. So that's very encouraging.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:40:24
Well, I hope Pablo is listening to this right now.
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:40:26
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:40:28
Shout out to Pablo Rodriguez in the Heritage Department. Jeff, thanks so much for being on the show. I really appreciate you coming on and sharing all your insights.
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:40:38
Well, thank you very much for letting me on the show. To have a chance to chat and catch up, really enjoy the conversations and look forward to seeing you. Will you be in Denver for Podcast Movement even sooner?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:40:52
I'll see you in Toronto for radio days, North America, of course.
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:40:56
See you then. June 6 to 8.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:40:58
I'll be there.
Jeff Vidler (Guest) 00:40:59
Wonderful. Thank you, Matt.
Tara Sands (Voiceover) 00:41:00
The Sound Off podcast is written and hosted by Matt Cundill, produced by Evan Surminski, edited by Chloe Emond-Lane. Social media by Aidan Glassy. Another great creation from the Sound Off media company. There's always more at soundoffpodcast.com.