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Steve is Founder/CEO of Amplifi Media; Jay is VP at Coleman Insights — this interview has been lightly edited for style and readability
This interview is from the Podnews Weekly Review
SG: We seem to be moving into a new era in podcasting. The question in front of us right now, with the ascension of YouTube: is a podcast just an RSS feed, or is it something different? Can it be video? The study that we just did demonstrates clearly that video can be a part of it.
JC: So you shared a study - The New Rules of Podcasting on YouTube. It’s obviously been a big week for YouTube this week with them talking to podcast hosts, rolling out RSS ingestion, emailing podcasters inviting them to submit their shows. Jay, what did the study say, and how did you conduct it?
JN: We made sure that it was a really big, broad sample, so we talked to a thousand podcast consumers, as young as 15 and as old as 64 across the United States.
When we were thinking about how to design it, we thought it was important that we didn’t use the word “listen”. We’ve seen in a lot of research that they ask “Do you listen to podcasts?” - if we’re asking how people are truly consuming podcasts and how they define them, we thought that question would be disingenuous and could potentially bias the sample. So, although we recognize it’s not the greatest word in the world, we use the word “consume” and “consumption”. So, particularly for the first half of it, we use that word, and then “listen” and “watch” a little bit later.
The study was designed as a full funnel for the first half, where all 1,000 podcast consumers got to answer the questions. Then, we got into the percentage of people that specifically use YouTube to consume their podcasts.
JC: So, Steve, what did the study say in terms of what a podcast is? Does everybody say it’s an RSS feed, or that it’s audio?
SG: I think it’s just Todd and Rob that talk about an RSS feed being essential! No, the question was: “Is podcast audio or video?” 75% said a podcast is audio or video, only 22% said audio only and only 3% said video.
JC: That’s quite a lot of people saying that podcasts can come with video now. I’m presuming the research says that YouTube was the preferred app for consuming podcasts? Is that what it ended up saying?
JN: Yeah, it was the biggest. 60% of all those podcast consumers say that they consume podcasts on YouTube. Spotify was not too far behind at 53%, and then Apple was a distant third.
When they talked about platforms they’re using to get their podcasts, YouTube Music showed up in the top 10. We were pretty intentional to make sure that we were specific, that YouTube and YouTube Music were different apps. Obviously, that’s not a perfect science; but YouTube Music showed up in ninth place already. 13% said that they were using it for podcasts - which considering they really only got in the game a few months ago was an impressive first showing for them.
JC: How did Google Podcasts do? Normally what happens when someone announces that they’re going to close something, everyone starts using it.
JN: (joking) It was number two! Actually, it was #5, with 18%, just behind Apple Podcasts - Ed
SG: In all seriousness, one of the big findings is that podcast consumption on an app is not binary. 72% of consumers are using multiple apps for consumption. I’m teaching a course at NYU: 100% of the students are on an Apple iPhone, but they are using Spotify and YouTube almost universally.
JC: You must have very rich students, Steve! Is there a difference between younger people and older people in terms of podcast consumption?
JN: One thing that was surprising to us was this kind of demarcation line at the age of 25. If you were over 25, you were more likely to use YouTube for podcasts; and if you were under the age of 25, Spotify was the one. I think a lot of people intuitively would have thought it’d be the other way around.
JC: Now Adam Bowie did some research last weekend, and suggested that only eight of the top 25 shows in the UK were on YouTube. Did you ask anything about whether people’s favorite shows were on YouTube already?
SG: We did. We zeroed in on people who use YouTube, and 24% said that they could not find their favorite podcast on YouTube. And, as I like to say about the lottery - you can’t win if you don’t play, so why not put the podcast up on YouTube?
JC: So what should we be doing as podcasters then?
JN: I think it’s different for every podcaster.
I think Steve and I felt it was very important to get across in this study that every podcaster should not be using YouTube the same way. Some podcasts are more conducive to using YouTube than others. It makes sense if you’re doing a sports podcast to have the two hosts talking in video. For a fiction storytelling podcast, that’s going to be something completely different. Sometimes you’re going to want to use animation, sometimes you’re going to want to show the live hosts, and sometimes maybe you don’t necessarily put your podcast on YouTube.
But we do think, from a marketing perspective, that there’s really no reason that a podcaster can’t find a way to be on YouTube. One of the things that we thought was quite stunning was how big the recognition and usage of YouTube Shorts was, particularly in the terms of how people are discovering new podcasts with that medium. So there’s some application for YouTube for every podcaster.
JC: I heard Bandrew Scott saying that you should re-edit the podcast that you put on to YouTube to get rid of the intro music, to get rid of the preamble, and go straight into the meat. Steve, you’re an ex-radio programmer - is that something that you would recommend?
SG: I think getting into the content fast is becoming more important in podcasting in general, but I would tend to agree that YouTube is a different monster. People are making their decisions in three or five seconds and so I’m now running across more podcasts that are doing the same thing in general, and I think that’s applicable to YouTube.
JC: What other data did you find out in this study? We’ve seen some of the top-line results. What else did you learn?
JN: Engagement and comments came up as a good thing about YouTube. I think that’s a super important factor that gives YouTube an advantage.
SG: One of the things that surprised me when we did the face-off between YouTube and Apple and Spotify was the recommendation engine. 68% of the people who used YouTube and Apple Podcasts said it makes better recommendations and 62% - so essentially the same number - on Spotify. That was a surprising find. The business has moved from a lot of different apps to consolidating into three apps. 72% in this study use either YouTube, apple or Spotify.
JN: As people search for podcasts on YouTube, the number one way they do that is they type in the name of the podcast in the search box. So, when you are promoting your podcast on another platform, you need make sure that potential listeners are aware that you’re on YouTube. The blanket term “wherever you get your podcasts” doesn’t necessarily include YouTube.
SG: I don’t know how it is in Australia, but in the US, it is a government mandate that you say “wherever you get your podcasts”.
JC: Yes - and let’s not ask what the Canadian government is planning! Jay Steve, thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it.
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