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By: Molly Donovan on February 6th, 2020

These 6 or 7 Tech Issues Will Shape the Future of Podcasting for Marketers

3 Clips is the official podcast of Marketing Showrunners. Every week, we deconstruct episodes of shows that inspire us, one clip at a time, so we can all learn to build our audience’s favorite show…and become their favorite brand. 

In this series, MSR founder Jay Acunzo and managing editor Molly Donovan chat about the highlights of this week’s episode of 3 Clips: a conversation with founder Justin Jackson.

What’s your tweet-long summary of the episode?

Molly: The business behind the show(running) business: what to know (and watch out for) vis a vis podcasting technology.

Jay: Marketing and advertising tech has a way of ruining the medium. Let’s face it: Nobody is pumped to hear the marketers have arrived. Podcasting has a chance to change all that, so long as we pay attention to what’s discussed in this episode.

What’s one thing someone in the episode said that marketers need written across their desks?

Molly: About 20 minutes into the show, Justin started waxing poetic about why podcasting as a medium resonates with him so strongly on a philosophical level. In quick succession, he said a number of things that I scribbled down as notes to myself, but one stood out above all: “This is a medium where you have to earn the trust of the audience. You don’t get to grab it. You don’t get to steal it. You don’t get to slide an ad in when they’re not expecting [it]. You don’t get to trick them.” 

Yes! Yes. There aren’t shortcuts in podcasting. It’s so easy for people to stop listening — and it’s such a choice for them to continue. You can’t risk having someone hit “stop” because you’ve done something salesy that sullies the rest of your narrative. You need to earn the right to attention, which means you have to create better content in the first place. 

That’s exactly the message we’re trying to spread at MSR. Creating better content and earning your audience’s trust is a challenge — it’s definitely not as easy as sliding a banner ad or a looming CTA into digital content. But the challenge is part of what makes it exciting for the most creative marketers — and the payout, in terms of customer loyalty and LTV, is worth it.

Jay: “You don’t get to trick them.” If marketers looked themselves in the mirror more often and simply admitted how often they voluntarily (or out of fear of losing their job) decided to do something that was less-than-honest, fewer marketers would do it. (C’mon, serial LinkedIn DM-er, are you REALLY private messaging 45 people today because you think you’re trying to help them and show them a transformative product? And seriously, PR manager trying to get the CEO placed on podcasts, did you ACTUALLY listen to the show and enjoy it, or was that a stock line used in your copy/paste template?)

The need to trick others to pay attention is a way of hiding. You sell mass products to the masses, without differentiation, without a story, so you have to brute-force your way in. Or you sell a niche product to a niche audience, without having stopped to learn about how to add value to their lives before you try and extract value. Both modes of operating are dying. Both create one last gasp from the people clinging to the old ways before the old ways wash away.

“You don’t get to trick them.” The sooner everyone embraces that, the better.

What’s something this company does well that most marketers don’t?

Molly: So many companies — particularly tech companies — trumpet the value and necessity of data. I was struck by Justin’s healthy skepticism of data tracking and its benefits. He applied significant pressure to the idea that more data = more insights = better for the brand, which also sparked a broader conversation about how much access brands should have to the behaviors and actions of current or prospective customers. 

I think it’s a good reminder to push back on conventional wisdom in order to create a world and an industry that works better for everyone involved.

Jay: Justin knows the value of product-market fit as much as anyone, but more so, he talks about the need to look for momentum. Does a market have momentum? It’s a great place to build tech. Does a mission or message have momentum? It’s a great time to publish content. The thing is, we want to lead the momentum, to steward it in our own vision because we understand the way the world should or could be. We want to lead the movement. But we don’t need to create it. I was struck by Justin willingly admitted that he observed what was happening in the podcast landscape and simply … stepped into that. He didn’t create a category. He didn’t invent a new type of product. He saw pain in an existing and growing niche, and he decided to step in.

What’s something new you learned?

Molly: I learned that there seems to be a philosophical schism in the podcast technology space. It was fascinating to hear Justin talk about the two different “religions” of podcast hosting: First, the traditional approach, in which hosts provide certain aggregated data points to their customers while seamlessly publishing their shows to places like Apple podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, etc. Then there’s a sect that’s emerged more recently, which champions a new layer of targeting. These companies are offering targeting, ads, etc. 

I didn’t realize that there was such an important existential question underway, but it makes sense, particularly for this medium. How can purists like Justin justify targeted ads and salesy-feeling tactics in this specific medium, which demands the establishment of trust?

Jay: Agreed with your take here, Molly. NO NOTES! 

Okay, I can’t resist: My one note is that the schism in podcast technology — like most debates in marketing — tend to be driven by a few loud people, not most people. I believe MOST people, and most marketers — a fine subset of the “people” category — genuinely want to do the right thing. They genuinely want a medium like podcasting to continue to be high quality, to welcome creativity, and to continue to focus on serving audiences, not short-term gains for a business. 

When you stop to think about it, very few brands drive the bulk of the conversation around brand advertising. The vast majority of companies (I’d wager 99.9%) will never run a national TV ad. The vast majority (I’d say 99.999999999%) will never go to Cannes. And yet, these are the brands who heavily influence discussions around the industry, because these are the brands the most people can name. But assuming their activities accurately represent the state of marketing overall is foolish and misguided, like those who look at the success of the Fortune 500 and assume that most humans must have gainful employment and plenty of income.

So, in podcasting, 99.9% of advertisers are not ZipRecruiter. They’re not State Farm. They’re not Casper mattresses. The vast majority of brands thinking about advertising might indeed do so with tact and taste, and fall on the side of those like Justin (and me and you, Molly) who give a damn about the craft, the quality, and the service to the audience.

But damn if we don’t have to fight against the lesser urges of a loud few.

Where did you want to go deeper?

Molly: One thing Justin said almost in passing toward the end of the episode was that if you’re not a billion-dollar company, you can actually be punished from tracking your customers’ data. The conversation quickly turned to other ways smaller companies could benefit from more permission-based marketing approaches, which was great, but I would have loved to hear more of Justin’s analysis on why tracking can not just be unhelpful, but can actually have an active negative effect on smaller companies.

Jay: I really, deeply want to understand how platforms like Transistor and its competitive set are thinking about helping podcasters commune with their audience, not just “grow” their audience. Often, growth in podcasting turns into two things: put the link to the show in more places, and snip a bunch of quotes (in graphics or video form) — then put those in more places.

But podcasting is about resonance, not reach. Audio is an intimate medium. Shows turn passive audience into active superfans. It’s about depth, not casual breadth. So how can a platform help us as marketers actually build community with an audience, offering chances to engage more deeply and get exclusive access to stuff, and to each other? I don’t want more tools to blast the world. I want more tools to build community.

Because that’s what podcasts are for.

Listen to the full episode of 3 Clips:

Apple Podcasts Spotify | Overcast | Stitcher


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A somewhat accidental marketer, I’m first and foremost a writer. I’ve spent a decade working with global brands to craft on-target content and streamline complex ideas into clear (and even…exciting?!) language. Now, I get to spend every day immersed in content and strategy here, as Managing Editor of Marketing Showrunners, at my company, Molly Donovan Content & Communications. I’m thrilled to be a part of this community of eager next-generation marketers and marketing showrunners.

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