Agencies need to be upfront about podcast success metrics, Octave podcast lead says

Matt Rouse says clients need to be in it for the long-term to see audience growth

Brands and agencies need to be more realistic about what a successful podcast or campaign looks like before investing in the medium, according to Octave Audio podcast lead Matt Rouse. 

Octave is an audio advertising company, created in partnership between publishers Bauer Media and News UK, which offers digital audio campaigns via inventory across both networks’ stable of shows, as well as Sirius XM’s UK inventory as part of new deal.

Rouse, who has experience in both the advertising and agency side, having previously served as business director for media agency Mindshare, told PodPod in the latest episode of the podcast that both the clients and advertisers have to agree in advance about what podcast success looks like when it comes to the results they’re expecting to get. 

“The thing about measuring success is you've got to lay out what that success is gonna look like before you've even done anything,” said Rouse. “The worst thing would be that you launched something or did something and then it gets, in the client's eyes, a minimal return, and in your mind, it’s the norm.” 

According to Buzzsprout, if a podcast episode gets 31 downloads within the first week of its release, this puts it in the top 50% of podcasts worldwide. 

“If your expectation is you're gonna do a thousand listens in a week, then just think about that,” he said; “even if you did a hundred in a month, you'd be in the top 20 or something like that, it’s small - as in, not the numbers you might expect.” 

In addition to being realistic about the numbers, Rouse also added that it’s important for brands to know what audience they’re trying to target and why people would be tuning in, rather than just creating a podcast for the sake of having one. The same argument applies to publishers; Immediate Media’s head of podcast Ben Youatt previously told PodPod that it’s unnecessary for everyone to have a podcast, especially in a medium that has become already oversaturated. 

“You'd get a client to come to you and say ‘I listen to podcasts, we love podcasts, we wanna start our own podcast,...’ and it's like, yeah great, but who's gonna listen to it?” said Rouse. “If it's a podcast all about mortgage rates or something and you're gonna get your CFO in the studio to talk about it, who actually is gonna listen to that?” 

To see real results, Rouse advises clients to invest in podcasting on a long term basis, in order to use that time to build a real audience and following rather than fixating on unrealistic targets. He also adds that it’s important to be transparent about the activation process of a podcast ad campaign and educate brands about how long it takes, and the scale of involvement.

“You've gotta build that audience, you've gotta promote it, and you've gotta make sure that people are discovering your podcast through advertising,” said Rouse. “No one really discovers podcasts outside of either word of mouth or advertised in another show.” 

“There's a real [need for] transparency in terms of what the expectations are, in terms of how much you will need to be involved, how much you'll need to approve, how much you'll need to agree to, and the timings across that, just so it doesn't get to a point where they're halfway through and think ‘podcasts are a nightmare and I never want advertise in them again’,” said Rouse. “It's about holding their hand through that entire process and making sure that they want to come back and spend their money again.”