U.S. podcast ad revenue grew by 53% in 2018

The market totaled $479 million last year and is predicted to exceed $1 billion in 2021.

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U.S. advertisers spent an all-time high of $479 million on podcast ads in 2018, up 53% from $314 million the year prior, according to research by IAB and PwC. The report also predicts that domestic podcast marketplace revenues will double to over $1 billion by 2021.

Why we should care

Fifty-one percent of Americans over the age of 12 have listened to a podcast and 22% have listened in the past week. Seventy-eight percent of listeners say they don’t mind branded sponsorships. Combine that with audio-first technologies baked into smart speakers and cars and advertisers are realizing that podcasts are a marketing platform that is a constant companion to millions of potential customers.

The report also indicates that tracked direct response ads have declined from 73% of all podcast ads in 2016 to 51.6% last year. This decline coincides with the rise of branded content campaigns and brand awareness ads, suggesting that podcasts may be more efficient for campaigns that do not require tracking via a unique code or URL.

More from the report

  • More than half of all ad revenue came from D2C retailers (22%), financial service providers (21%) and B2B (14%) ad buyers.
  • Baked-in ads still accounted for the majority (51.2%) of podcast ads delivered in 2018, although dynamically inserted ads did grow to 48.8% from 41.7% in 2017.
  • Host-read ads are still preferred over pre-produced and supplied ads, making up nearly two-thirds of ad types.
  • Cost-per-thousand remained the dominant pricing model in 2018, with cost-per-acquisition becoming no longer significant.

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Canva urges users to change passwords following data breach affecting up to 139 million users

The cyber attack comes on the heels of the company’s recent acquisition of Pexels and Pixabay, underscoring Canva’s efforts to engage more marketers and designers.

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Graphic design toolset Canva is advising users to change their login credentials after the company’s database was reportedly compromised in a cyber attack Friday.

The attack targeted usernames and email addresses, affecting up to 139 million users globally. Passwords were also obtained, but Canva assured users that passwords have been “salted and hashed with bcrypt,” meaning they remain unreadable by third parties. The platform recommends that users change their passwords as a precaution.

“Our teams have been working around the clock to investigate the attack and communicate with our customers,” Canva said on Monday. “We are continuing to investigate and are being thorough and methodical with our examinations… We have also engaged forensic experts to investigate the incident.”

Why we should care

Canva is known to provide a wide range of free (or low-cost) creative tools and stock designs, making it an attractive platform for small marketing teams and novice designers. The platform has been working to deliver more resources and graphic toolkits with the recent acquisition of stock photo services Pexels and Pixabay – as well as a recently-launched subscription service for premium images, Photos Unlimited.

While the new tools may prove to be a valuable creative resource for marketing teams, those who use (or have used) Canva should be wary of the security breach and change passwords before diving back in.

More on what happened

  • Canva said there is currently no indication that user designs were stolen by the hackers, and that credit card details remain safe and “confidential.”
  • Those using Facebook or Google to login to Canva were reportedly not affected by the breach.

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The 3 Ps to growing your agency – position, price and pitch

Want to grow your agency profitably? Setting your agency apart from the competition is all about knowing exactly what your client is looking for and being able to frame your pitch around those specific needs. Marketing automation can help you meet those needs. And adding marketing automation to your agency’s services can help you add […]

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Want to grow your agency profitably? Setting your agency apart from the competition is all about knowing exactly what your client is looking for and being able to frame your pitch around those specific needs. Marketing automation can help you meet those needs. And adding marketing automation to your agency’s services can help you add new clients and drive revenue from existing ones.

Renowned agency consultant and coach Karl Sakas discusses how to package marketing automation services within a proven framework. He explains how you can:

  • Segment your agency services into 3 easy tiers.
  • Price and bundle services within each tier.
  • Get more revenue per client by switching up your approach.

Visit Digital Marketing Depot to download “Position, Price & Pitch: The 3 Ps to Growing Your Agency.”

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Here’s why truth in brand storytelling matters

Everlane and The New York Times remind us that a call-to-action has to deliver on the story you’re sharing while Patagonia’s commitment to sustainability resonates with their customers.

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As urban millennials and self-proclaimed nature geeks, we look for brands that reflect who we are. Where we’ve been. What we care about.

Brands are catching on — particularly when it comes to environmental responsibility. From Nature Valley granola bars to Seventh Generation cleaning products, corporations are leaning into our generation’s collective call for corporate sustainability.

But as scholars and critics have noted, there’s more to being a sustainable brand than adding a recycling symbol to your packaging. We’ve noticed two brands that go beyond greenwashing — with very different approaches.

In April 2019, Everlane, a clothing brand known for its approach of “radical transparency,” teamed up with The New York Times to launch a microsite about fact-based climate reporting. The site offers a series of simple climate talking points linked to the New York Times reporting. Then, it asks the reader to purchase a New York Times-branded Everlane sweatshirt. Proceeds from the clothes support New York Times subscriptions for public schools.

With this activation, The New York Times and Everlane got some big things right. But they also missed the mark in a few key ways.

Throughout the site, the two brands balance their respective voices, seamlessly linking The New York Times’ iconic “Truth” campaign to frank, assertive language from Everlane. The microsite tells a story: table stakes for good brand activism. It’s an unexpected collaboration, but one that makes sense for both brands: one long-committed to fact-based reporting, and the other focused on sustainable, ethical production.

The microsite feels right for its customers. The messages arm Everlane’s educated, urban shoppers with talking points for coffee dates and Thanksgiving dinners. The sweatshirts are a uniform for sustainability virtue-signaling. And all of that’s important — because without a compelling reason for a consumer to engage, an activation can’t make an impact.

But there’s a disconnect. At the very top of the page, a rotating tagline for The New York Times asserts: “Truth. It affects us all. How we waste. What we buy.” Then, at the bottom, you face a link to buy a $50 sweatshirt.

Suddenly, the message feels hollow. After all, isn’t needless consumption part of the problem?

If “truth inspires action,” as the site reminds us, how does the action Everlane and The New York Times want their readers to take further the cause they’re highlighting? The short answer: it doesn’t.

In comparison, consider Patagonia: a poster child for authentic environmental stewardship. Sustainability is core to their purpose, their promise and their product. Their purpose statement, “We’re in business to save our home planet,” summarizes their commitment to sustainability and good business.

Their marketing promises authenticity by giving people new ways to connect with the brand while tangibly delivering on its mission. Notably, Patagonia does not want you to buy excess product – they’d rather customers reuse, resell and share. By accepting trade-in “Worn Wear,” repairing used products in their stores and ultimately extending the life of the products they sell, they send a powerful message about their commitment to sustainability. The classic “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign articulated this message succinctly.

And while the gear they do sell is sustainable (read: recycled, durable and efficiently produced), their product is bigger than trendy puffers and corporate vests. By offering its customers tangible ways to connect with real causes through its Patagonia Action Works platform, the company creates an opportunity to be part of a lifestyle and community committed to preserving the outdoors, no matter where the consumer actually lives. Calls-to-action across the experience emphasizes pledge-signing, event-going and petition-signing, not just buying.

Tying language to action allows Patagonia to truly own their position as an advocate for our planet. Whether you’re an adventurer or not, the approach resonates – because it’s real.

Brands win customer loyalty when messaging and experience work together seamlessly. One without the other is either an empty promise, or a missed opportunity. Everlane and The New York Times remind us that it’s not enough to have a call-to-action. That action has to deliver on the story you’re sharing.

With a two-pronged approach, Patagonia both talks the talk and walks the walk. We applaud them for their sustained commitment to sustainability that resonates with their customers.

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Airbnb’s new video strategy lets experience and branding drive profits

Airbnb is turning its eye towards developing original shows in an effort to create lasting relationships with travelers, Reuters reported last week. It seems like every company is getting into the media game these days, with the scope of projects limited only by their resources. But, by going all-in on video without a clear blueprint […]

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Airbnb is turning its eye towards developing original shows in an effort to create lasting relationships with travelers, Reuters reported last week.

It seems like every company is getting into the media game these days, with the scope of projects limited only by their resources. But, by going all-in on video without a clear blueprint or quantifiable expectations for what that content will do for the brand’s bottom line, is Airbnb just another startup with more money than sense?

The leap to creating shows and films may not be as big as it initially seems for the online rental property platform, and its success or failure may be a fascinating case study for ambitious content marketers across all industries.

Doubling down on content to drive business

“The more we put content out there, the more you’re going to bring people to the platform,” Chris Lehane, Airbnb’s senior vice president of global policy and communications, told Reuters.

The company is considering a variety of options, including streaming through its own app as well as through other video services.

“We’re very much in the R&D phase here,” Lehane said. “It’s not just limited to video. It could be audible. It could be physical.”

From a practical standpoint, unconventional marketing tactics could help set Airbnb apart from hotels and other online travel agencies. It could also generate interest for additional offerings such as restaurant reservations, transportation or community-led experiences that can all be booked through Airbnb’s platform.

airbnb experiences screenshot

Bookings through Airbnb now go well beyond rooms.

These add-ons, combined with its expansion into more traditional, high-end accommodations, have the potential to propagate the brand’s growth at a time when it’s facing regulatory pressures on its short-term rental business in multiple regions.

Airbnb’s content play is a long game

As with just about any content marketing strategy, there’s an emphasis on hard-to-quantify factors that could heavily influence customers’ perceptions and decisions.

Just under two years ago, Airbnb gambled that publishing its own branded magazine would bolster its travel lifestyle association. The circumstances back then mirror the present situation: an ambitious and costly content objective, limited experience with the format, and unpredictable outcomes in terms of revenue. Running a print publication isn’t suitable for every business, but it may have helped push its public perception beyond the confines of a booking app.

The nature of digital means it can have significantly broader reach than a custom magazine. Airbnb is betting that video content can inspire curiosity, convince viewers to plan trips in their heads, and then turn that daydreaming into real travel demand. A mix of vacation nostalgia and aspiration served up in video content can act as the foundation of the brand’s affinity with those feelings and long-term customer loyalty.

From curation to original video content

Airbnb launched its first YouTube video in October, 2010, and has steadily grown the channel to 172,000 subscribers by uploading over 500 videos in numerous languages and creating playlists like “Airbnb for Work” and “Not Yet Trending,” that are aimed at customers and hosts alike.

The company is testing the original video content waters with Gay Chorus Deep South, a feature-length documentary that will be premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival this week. It’s also working on a series entitled Home, which will be available on Apple’s upcoming TV Plus streaming service.

Airbnb’s forthcoming video offerings could be dismissed as just another branding effort — if there was a clear road map to return on investment. However, there’s not, and the company seems confident enough to experiment and committed to its audience enough to let experience drive profits (not the other way around).

Whether Airbnb’s gambit turns out to be a game changer or a total flop, it may just set a precedent for marketers, who stand to be emboldened by its successes or learn from its mistakes.

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Podcast ads projected to grow to 4.5% of global audio ad spending by 2022

Study reported that 78 percent of listeners say they don’t mind podcast ads.

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Podcast advertising spending is expected to double to $1.6 billion by 2022, according to a study by advertising research firm WARC. This figure accounts for 4.5 percent of global audio ad spending, up from 1.9 percent in 2018.

More stats. The study also found that:

  • 78 percent of listeners don’t mind branded sponsorships because they understand it supports the content.
  • Podcasts reach 62 million Americans (22 percent) weekly.
  • 41.7 percent of podcast ads are inserted dynamically, at the point of downloaded (instead of being pre-recorded).
  • 53 percent of listeners turn to YouTube to tune in.

Why we should care. Like advertising on other on-demand formats, podcasts are one way advertisers can reach a specific, engaged audience. If nearly four of five listeners don’t mind ads, this could be an even more effective way to connect with that audience.

As a podcast platform, YouTube may be overlooked: it doesn’t require users to log in or pre-download an episode and easily lends itself to subscriptions, social commenting and sharing. By providing a YouTube option for listeners, podcast producers and marketers can take advantage of these features, monetize with ads and make use of YouTube’s ad capabilities and analytics.

Despite the advantages and advancements (such as dynamic ad insertion), there are still trade-offs to consider before investing. Podcasts still lack real-time audience metrics – making it difficult to tell if ads are getting skipped over – and programmatic ad buying is almost non-existent.

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Screening the screenless: Marketing’s next frontier

Just as marketers have jockeyed for SEO position in the past decade, marketers may now look to do the same through personal assistant devices.

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I’ve caught myself a few times in recent weeks – sitting at my desk and flipping between looking at my computer screen and my phone in hand. Across the office, television news runs on mute. It’s hard to avoid screens in today’s age, and even harder to avoid their constant, almost gravitational pull for our attention.

On my commute home, though, I avoid screens. I throw my phone in my duffel bag and listen to podcasts and articles as a way to decompress while staying up to date on the latest news. Ironically, I recently listened to a story by New York Times writer Farhad Manjoo, titled “I Didn’t Write This Column. I Spoke It.” The column, which was originally dictated to a smartphone, details a trend that I was already taking part in, but didn’t realize: we’re moving away from screens. It may still be unconscious for most of us, but it’s happening nonetheless — whether we’re asking Alexa about the weather, having Siri set us a reminder, or listening to an audiobook.

Screens are simply a part of everyday life. But I think we’ve all experienced the fatigue that comes with constantly being glued to a screen: having our eyes strained, constantly responding to the endless pings of notifications and messages, being unable to sleep at night because we’ve been on our phone. Interacting with a screen, clearly, is not always a positive digital experience. I know that’s why I relish my commutes home, with nothing but sound. And I’m not alone. Nielsen found that online radio listening has grown steadily, and that “[a]s of early 2018, 64% of Americans ages 12 and older had listened to online radio in the past month, while 57% had listened in the past week.”

When the digital revolution exploded, it revolutionized marketing. Suddenly we had unparalleled insights into our email content, whitepapers, webinars — everything. We knew how many people watched our videos and for how long. It fundamentally transformed how marketers operated in this new data-driven world. And it all unfolded on screens. For a long time, it was hard to imagine how digital marketing would ever happen off screen.

But now we’re starting to see that the screenless internet is coming, and with it so will screenless marketing. What’s so intriguing about this, is that we’ve almost come full circle. Even though screenless marketing represents the next step in the evolution of digital marketing, ironically, it’s not really digital at all. Our screen fatigue has driven us offline: though we still want to consume content, we don’t always want to do that through our fingers on a keyboard or touchscreen.

As the screenless internet continues to grow, we marketers have to grow in parallel: audio can now be transcribed, translated, scaled and distributed largely in the same way content – from emails to whitepapers to case studies – can be. How will this reshape marketing? The implications are endless.

In a recent article, Harvard Business Review suggests that our loyalty will be less toward brands, and more toward AI assistants like Alexa, Google Home, and HomePod who we’ll converse with daily. “In fact, we predict that AI assistants will win consumers’ trust and loyalty better than any previous marketing technology. […] AI platforms will be able to predict what combination of features, price, and performance is most appealing to someone at a given moment.”

As a result, marketers will look to optimize their position on AI platforms and partner relationships with brands. Just as marketers have jockeyed for SEO position on search engines in the past decade, marketers may look to do the same through these personal assistant devices.

It’s up to us marketers how we shape this new marketing landscape – to understand how we will effectively “screen the screenless.” But while we don’t know what shape this will take, rest assured that the same principles of good marketing will hold steady. No matter who the medium or channel, a winning marketing strategy will always prioritize the customer and their needs, deliver them valuable and personalized content and engage them with the right message at the right time. As marketers venture into this new frontier, the ones who win – as always – will be those who abide by these proven marketing truths.

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Make your content better with social media and marketing automation

In the ebb and flow of content marketing trend analyses comes the return of the “content fatigue” narrative. We’re told content marketing doesn’t work as well as it used to, that it’s redundant and that there’s too much of it. But as long as we have the Internet, content is going to be the playing […]

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In the ebb and flow of content marketing trend analyses comes the return of the “content fatigue” narrative. We’re told content marketing doesn’t work as well as it used to, that it’s redundant and that there’s too much of it.

But as long as we have the Internet, content is going to be the playing field for our sport. We need to focus on making better content. Not less, not more—just better.

In this issue of Agency Perspectives from Sharpspring, you’ll learn:

  • How to develop content your target audience actually wants
  • Tips on sharing and distributing content across relevant channels
  • How to use marketing automation to optimize your content

Visit Digital Marketing Depot to download “Mission Possible: Quality Content Marketing.”

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We can’t live without digital media, but why would we want to?

We use digital media platforms for nearly all of our daily transactions – from how we live to how we work, play, communicate and connect.

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“But dad, I can’t live without them!”

My daughter Judy and I were once again locked in the battle over screen time by now familiar to many of today’s parents and significant others. We had turned a day of errands into some father-daughter time with a few fun diversions and I was hoping she would surface from her screens long enough for us to enjoy it.

Although her plea was not as heartfelt as Nilsson’s 1971 power hit, “Without You,” Judy was quite serious about not being able to live without her screens.

My oft-rehearsed “don’t be so dramatic” speech was at the tip of my tongue when it hit me: maybe she is right. With me behind the wheel and her behind a screen, we had effortlessly checked off errand after errand, leaving us with more time to appreciate our day together.

Pocket-sized portals to pervasive media

Judy got directions via Waze, checked store hours with Google, compared prices for a hair dryer she needed on Amazon, found an amazing taco place for lunch through Yelp, helped me install a new key fob battery with YouTube, searched LinkedIn to advise her brother on a resume entry, filled a prescription at CVS.com, chose a movie and theater on Fandango and amused us throughout with her friends’ Instagram posts and my Facebook feed.

Without our digital media screens, we likely would have spent most of the day on the phone with various customer service representatives, pouring through newspaper reviews, visiting retail location after location (arriving at times too early or too late) and grumbling all the while.

If we now rely so much on screens as individuals, can we as a society function without them?

Our smartphones and tablets are mobile portals to the digital media realm, where tools and resources that historically existed in separate spheres have been brought under a single roof. Though media has long played a role in specific social interactions, digital media consolidates almost all domains of social exchange in a manner previously unthinkable.

In the digital age, media is no longer merely the realm of entertainment or information; it is now pervasive, touching every aspect of our being, from how we live to how we work, play, communicate, connect – and even find love. We literally can’t live without media.

But wait, what exactly is media?

“Media” (sing. medium) is derived from the Latin word Medius, meaning “middle.”

Even in today’s digitally-driven usage, this connotation persists: media are the creative and physical infrastructure that connect content producers and consumers. Media can be more granularly understood as a process of mediation, whose stages progressively encode and then decode content “packages” as they move from producer to consumer.

Imagine writing a letter by hand, putting it in an envelope and sending it (crazy, right?). You take your thoughts and turn them into written words, which you then package in a form that the postal service can ship. The recipient must then invert the process: opening the envelope to read the letter and interpreting the written words back into thought.

Though undoubtedly more complicated, all media undertakes a largely similar project. It configures content so that it can be efficiently transferred to and then consumed by the recipient. Variations of this process have facilitated the exchange of entertainment and information for millennia, but the internet century’s technology-driven shifts profoundly expanded media’s role in society.

Back in the day, media was just for fun!

Since the beginning of history, media acted almost exclusively as a vehicle for information and entertainment, playing a singular and discrete role in people’s everyday lives. The earliest stories enthralled their audiences and imparted social values – much as they did later via network primetime – while town criers, and eventually newspapers, kept people informed.

Outside of these channels, people communicated largely in person. Politics were debated in town centers, dating and marriage were arranged by friends and relatives and shopping was done at public markets. In other words, most transactions have historically been unmediated: there was no person, process or technology that stood between us and the rest of society.

Over centuries, innovation increased the time we all spend with media, but its role in informing and entertaining mainly remained the same, as did its status as a distinct interactive mode, alongside politics, culture, healthcare, socialization, transportation, infrastructure and economics. Each of these was a distinct domain and transactions in one were conducted differently than in another.

The boundaries between domains were defined by time and space. We used writing to keep records and exchange messages, but these were stored in a physical location or sent to a physical address; likewise, theatrical performances took place in a space different from the one used to execute legal proceedings or exchange goods and services.

Most of the time, though, we were media-free as we participated in our community or the economy. Media certainly had no role in our health, transportation or infrastructure. We turned media on and off at well-defined times and in familiar contexts: reading the newspaper in the morning, listening to radio programs during our daily commute and watching television at night.

Digital technology disrupted this clear boundary between media and non-media interactions—today, media is pervasive.

Pervasive media isn’t just a new tool, it’s a new way

We need look no further than the latest election cycle to see that media is a part of politics; virtual doctor visits make healthcare immediately accessible; dating would be seemingly non-existent without a cache of apps; cars are becoming media platforms, as is our homes’ infrastructure; and, of course, our work lives are permeated with media from search to LinkedIn.

Today it is unthinkable to leave the house without a mobile media device. We use them to conduct a growing share of daily business. Living in an urban center, it is equally unthinkable to leave home without a credit card. Just as we can use credit cards to pay our rent and utilities, subscribe to streaming services and buy groceries, we use digital media to meet many of our daily needs.

Many of the transactions above are conducted not merely with a credit card, but specifically through digital media platforms. Few social exchanges have escaped digitization. Anything that isn’t material can be reduced to ones and zeroes and anything that can be ordered and shipped with them. Like water, digital is an almost universal conductor.

Mediating anytime, anywhere

The digital mediation of even our most intimate exchanges has atomized our relationship with society. No longer bound by conventions of time and space, we can consume entertainment, schedule appointments or satisfy our curiosity wherever and whenever we please.

It looks to me like Judy is always “on her phone” but, in truth, she’s organizing her time, connecting with friends, helping her brother nail an interview, vetting lunch spots or keeping up on current events. It’s just hard to tell without the myriad accouterment we needed in my day.

I’m still not thrilled about how much time she (or I, for that matter) spends on her media screens. It’s all too easy to get sucked in by our pocket-sized portals to everything. But it’s hard to imagine our day would have been better spent scouring maps or pouring through phone books, so maybe Judy is right – we really can’t live without them.

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