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Andy Goldsmith is the Managing Director at Adelicious, the premium podcast monetisation and hosting company. — this interview has been lightly edited for style and readability
AG: In a nutshell, we are a hosting and monetization network. The best-known hosting and monetization business is Acast. We are effectively a boutique version of Acast, but we are entirely independent and we are invitation only. So there is no backdoor into Adelicious, there’s no pay-to-play model, and it’s 100% curated.
JC: How do you choose some of the podcasts that are in the Adelicious network?
AG: There’s two ways in which we bring podcasts on. Obviously, you get a lot of incoming calls. They either come directly from the publisher or via agents, which are becoming a preeminent part of this world. So the first thing we do is look at the content. Is the content the type of content that we believe is additive to the network? But also within the content, is it content that we believe we feel has values, has got a mission, and has got a purpose? And then, thirdly, will brands want to work with this podcast? Because, at the end of the day, we are here to make money for our publishers and our partners. That’s exactly one of the values that Adelicious was built on.
From a mechanical and rational point of view, we also look at whether the numbers are strong enough. And in that sense, James, it’s a bit more fluid, because some of the content is incredibly well-produced and very premium, but might not have significant numbers - but do we believe it can grow? Will it stand on its own two legs, and is it additional to the other content that we’ve got out there?
So it’s a bit of a process that we go through in that respect.
JC: What are some of the biggest podcasts you work on?
AG: The biggest that we have is Stephen Bartlett’s, The Diary of a CEO. We’ve been working with them since the 1st of September and that’s going very well. It’s very rare that you get incoming briefs that are targeted to a specific podcast - usually you get the brief and it’s around demographics, age content, etc - but we are starting to see briefs that are written exclusively for the Diary of a CEO.
We have a relationship with Bauer, and we are the podcast support for Staying Relevant, which again is a significant podcast, huge growth, since Sam won King of the Jungle before Christmas, the numbers there continue to go up and up and up.
JC: I’m wondering what the difference is between podcasting and particular podcast ad sales between the UK, where you’re based, and the US.
AG: I think there’s a significant difference. The US treats podcasting in a very different way, almost as a very grown-up industry. We already know that it is a $2 billion industry over there, but recent research that was published said that the US is four times bigger than the UK on a like for like basis. That cannot be ignored.
The US has driven a lot by DR and D2C. They have a number of buying agencies that focus entirely on the podcast media landscape. In the UK, they don’t really exist and it is set up really more from a branding advertising point of view. I think this is where we have a lot of work to do.
We need to do a little bit more on the research and the evidence. I’m very passionate about the need for transparency in the numbers that we produce. We’re trying to win business from TV, from digital, from out of home, from broadcast radio. In order to do that, in order for us to really have a seat at the table, I think we need to start working together more as an industry to provide that evidence that’s going to allow us to effectively bring the agency along on our journeys.
JC: I guess one of the things about the US is that they don’t have the big BBC breathing down their neck. Would that be fair to say?
AG: I think that’s probably a fair assumption. BBC sounds and the output that they have there is phenomenal. It’s incredibly well produced, it’s premium content and it drives significant numbers of listens. In Britain we’re a little bit different to the rest of the world in that respect.
JC: I’m wondering in terms of the types of people who podcast advertisers want to reach. I don’t know, but I have a suspicion that they’re aiming for younger audiences rather than older audiences.
AG: I think that is a suspicion that is correct.
Age and ageism is something that I am taking on board as a bit of a project at the moment. There is always this desire to talk to the new generations that are coming through. You get a lot of briefs and a lot of brands looking to talk to Gen Z, and we’ve even got conversations moving around Generation Alpha. A piece of research was done recently by On Device Research with WaveMaker, and only 4% of any research budget goes into analyzing and looking into anybody over the age of 50. I think it’s a disproportionate amount of time and effort in targeting and spend onto a younger demographic that doesn’t have the same spending power or the same desire that the over 50s have. They are already holding the majority of the purse strings globally and that’s only going to get bigger as the population gets older. So when we talk to brands, there is always a it’s either Gen Z, millennial, or 25 to 34, is the predominant type of targeting that we see.
JC: There’s a radio station that I listen to occasionally here and it’s an oldies radio station, and whenever you hear the advert breaks it’s things like retirement homes or it’s pest control, or it’s even funeral homes.
AG: Oh, I’m insulted for you that they now feel like you’re not interested in the music or going out or buying cars or any kind of consumable goods. I just find this fascinating that they’re just completely skipped over and it’s like your life is dead and now it’s a slow march to your grave and it’s completely not true.
JC: Last week I wrote about the IAB, and that 80% of companies aren’t up to date with their compliance with the IAB. Perhaps the IAB isn’t relevant anymore: I’m wondering what you think.
AG: I think it would be remiss of me to say that they’re not important, because they fundamentally are to the future of Adelicious, to the future of the monetization side of this business. Podcasting is no longer niche, it’s arrived - but the spend behind them doesn’t support that at this stage.
It might be the standardization of those metrics, because we’ve got different businesses using slightly different language or putting slightly different numbers into the marketplace and I believe that once we can get over this, we will start to see agencies sit up and take podcasting as a media channel a bit more seriously versus other media.
If we can come together and provide a uniform system of measuring the performance of podcasts and the numbers that we are producing, then I think that we can step forward. My issue with those businesses that maybe are falling behind a little bit on the latest standards on IAB, where it becomes an issue, is definitely on the programmatic and automated spot-by-market. There are huge buying desks that demand, quite rightly, that the people that they work with are delivering the highest standards of metrics and efficacy and proof, and I think that that’s where there’s potentially going to be an issue.
One thing that we’ve got which is good is that attribution is pretty standard now for all campaigns, but that’s all that’s standard at this stage - the attribution side.
The more case studies that we’ve got, the better, and I think that IAB is doing a good job creating a portal where agencies, brands and us can publish our studies in a portal. So we started to build a bit more of a body of evidence aound brand lift studies. We found amazing results from the performance of podcast advertising, which shouldn’t be surprising, but it’s the proof that we need.
We’ve talked about a few things, James, about metrics, transparency, the issue around age in this industry, and we should be talking about more behaviors. I’d love to have a debate with people in the industry, and have a chat.
JC: Maybe we can do that at the Podcast Show in London in May. Andy, it’s been great to chat.
AG: See you in May, James. Great talking to you.
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