Your shouty radio ads won’t work in podcasts, but unknown talent just might

Nova’s head of podcasting, Jay Walkerden, and Podcast One’s director of content, Jennifer Goggin, have warned podcasters to steer clear of “shouty”, radio-style ads, but claimed that you don’t always need big name talent for a podcast to take off.

Speaking on a panel at Mumbrella’s inaugural Audioland conference, they explained that while the likes of Osher Gunsberg and Hamish and Andy bring an immediate audience with them, the investment in unknown talent can pay off.

Nova’s Jay Walkerden, head of podcasting, Brisbane program director and market lead

Walkerden contrasted Gunsberg with Phoebe Parsons from ‘Confessions of a Twenty Something Train Wreck’, who began as a no-name but has built up a brand, complete with live tours and interactions beyond her podcast.

“It can go both ways,” agreed Sharon Taylor, CEO of Omny Studios, who stated that podcasts have launched with big name talent and “flopped”.

“Just because it’s a big name talent, doesn’t mean they’re going to be suited to the medium or they’re going to bring their audience across. So you just need to think about how you’re crafting a show and what you actually want out of it,” she said.

The panel (L-R): Sharon Taylor, Jay Walkerden, Alana Mahony, Jennifer Goggin and moderator Kim McKay

Alana Mahony, Whooshkaa’s content manager, agreed, adding: “We’ve got quite a few independents who compete with [big name talents’] numbers. I think it’s just taken longer for them to grow their audience, but it still comes down to content.

“They’ve done marketing. They’ve bought cross-promotional spots on other podcasts.”

Goggin said that Podcast One has a mix of high profile talent, who bring across an audience, and new talent, who require nurturing.

“When we go into something, with talent, it’s because they are talented, not because they have a big name,” Goggin said.

“The best example of this would be Hamish and Andy. Hamish and Andy were radio talent, they did what they did on radio, and then they came across to Podcast One and built a podcast format that is so strong and fanatical that they’ve tripled an audience that they previously had on radio. So it’s about the execution of it, it’s not about the talent per se.

“As I said, there’s an easy access to audience there, but we’re very careful to choose talented talent who have something authentic to say and will engage with the audience they’re speaking to. We have launched with talent who are unknown, who have just had this beautiful idea and something important to say, and we look to grow them. But that is a slower burn, and that’s the reality of it.”

Podcast One’s Jennifer Goggin speaking on the Audioland panel

As for including ads in podcast episodes, the panel agreed that they need to feel like a natural part of the intimate medium to connect with listeners.

“Make sure they’re fit for purpose for the podcast,” advised Walkerden.

“Shouty ads are pretty hard to listen to in a podcast, so we try to steer clear of them, and we’ll go back to clients and say actually, you probably need to think through the messaging here to make sure it’s right for this particular experience.”

Goggin agreed, adding: “It means that we may not get your 15 points into the mid roll, we could maybe get three very strong points spoken in the host’s voice and delivered so it actually feels native to the content. Disruptive radio ads, [in a] shouty-style is not working, and what you’re doing is you’re knocking people out of the podcast feel they have … and then you’re trying to get them back into this beautifully crafted content.

“That does the podcast host and podcast a disservice.”


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