The Coronavirus has truly touched every part of our lives from the personal to the professional.  In episode 13 of On the Mic with Ad Results Media, Ad Results partners Marshall Williams and Russell Lindley join Nathan Spell and Lindsay Boyd to discuss the changes that are being made in the audio advertising space, as well as the impacts we're all feeling.

Be sure to subscribe to the "On the Mic with Ad Results Media" podcast through iTunes.  It's a podcast about the business of podcasting and audio advertising.  We aim to educate, enlighten and push the industry forward.

Podcast Transcript

There's no argument that the Corona virus has been the cause of major disruptions in almost every industry, including Podcasting and Audio Advertising. The question that we're all asking is this, how has this affecting listenership and downloads our friends over at Magellan AI recently released some very interesting data indicating that while Ad volume has been decreasing since February, the overall changes have been minimal. And that after a dip at the end of March numbers actually bounced back. There's also been an increase in spend across various industries, such as gaming, which is up by 31% mental health, which is up by 39% hobbies and lifestyle, which is up by 78% and alcohol, which comes in at number one and is up by 85%.

Interestingly enough, Podcast genres are also experiencing a change with kids and family experiencing a 38% increase in ad revenue and true crime, which actually dropped by 7% and not only our ads adapting and changing, but the overall content is experiencing a shift as well. Podcast is, are actively engaging in discussions regarding the current pandemic. And while you would expect the new genre to top of the charts with Coronavirus mentions the comedy genre actually surprised us all with an uptick of 65% over the past three months. In this episode of On the Mic with Ad Results, Media Nathan Spell, and I are joined by Ad Results, Media partners, Marshall Williams, and Russell Lindley. As we discussed the changes in Podcasting and Advertising during the pandemic.

(1m 21s):
So let's get start. That's the great thing about They grow with you as much fun as I had. I wait to get back to my sleep number bed. I love my third love bras. They're hands down the most comfortable bras I've ever owned. I love making blue apron. I love it. It's my me time. So I've been following along with hot pods pandemic watch column. So I wanted to start by jumping in there. Marshall, I know that you were referenced in their column from April 14th. At that time, it seems that the overall trend for Podcasting was flat, which is encouraging giving the massive life changing shift that we're all experiencing.

(2m 8s):
Can you speak a bit on that listenership trend in what changes there have been since then, Happily, first of all, it's continuing to change. There was a lot of, a lot of prognostication that said, because we're all going to be at home. Normal commute patterns are going to change Podcasting, being something that people get habitualized to do. And they do at the same time every day, the potential was for downloads to decrease. So it was a little bit scary at first, if we we're going to look at an industry we've really made a market and concentrate on that the listenership might go down, but what, and there was a little bit of deterioration at first and what we found was the same amount of Podcast were being consumed relative to the January benchmark of downloads.

(2m 55s):
We were About at the same place in the middle of the Corona virus pandemic, you know, the first few weeks of it. So that was good because January was a high watermark. January of this year was the high water market in total Podcast downloads since we've been keeping track. So to be flat relative to that time period is very good. If you also take into consideration the fact that our commuter patterns dramatically changed, where we saw a number's in New York city, where mass transit was down almost 90% and traveled by car in Los Angeles was down 48%. These are enormous factors that could have potentially hurt Podcast listenership because people, we also found people with download their Podcast while they commuted and they would listen to them while they commuted.

(3m 45s):
What we're seeing now is a little bit more of a flatworm Podcast. Downloads don't take place as much in the 6:00 AM to 9:00 AM, Time period, and each individual markets. What we found is that there's a spike in the middle of the day, seemingly for whatever reason, corresponding with About lunchtime of noon to one o'clock, there's a spike. And then there's an additional spike that wasn't there before from four to 6:00 PM. Again, that's in the time zone that we all reside in. So again, the numbers are pretty flat from our January of benchmarks and considering these, you know, monumental changes that we've gone through, it's pretty promising that the Podcast face has been so sticky during this time period.

(4m 26s):
And that's interesting, especially about like the time of day changes. Have we noticed any additional changes faced by like genre or publisher or is it mostly just like downloads and listenership? No, I mean the great question we saw and this has to be expected and we always kind of look at these things with the sniff test. We saw a big spike in the news Podcast in the first few weeks of the pandemic. You know, some shows that concentrated on the pandemic, where we were just short news clips about what was going on were up 30, 40%. Some of the shows that you would expect to be down because of the way that the universe changed were down sport shows, they saw some deterioration, 12, 14, maybe 18%, depending on the topical nature of the show.

(5m 16s):
If you're talking about the NBA today and you don't have anything to talk about, then that surprised that your download numbers are down. We saw some interesting things take place in the first month. This was interesting to me, there was a lot of kind of lifestyle Podcast that were way up a lot that had to do with parenting, raising children, educating children. I'm a, again, this passes the sniff test because you've got all of these parents who formerly would send their kids off to school who now have to be responsible for the kids that take care of him all day long or including making sure that they're being educated so On and so forth. They're looking for resources. So that's why that segment went up. There's a lot of mental health things like the meditation and, you know, a better living, healthy lifestyle Podcast that were up pretty significantly.

(6m 6s):
We did see some deterioration with some podcasts that were kind of me Time Podcast, like, you know, guilty pleasures, if you will. Some of those shows that were about murder mystery or About a bad guy who conned some lady, and it was a serialized shows that were eight or nine episodes long. Those were done a little bit because frankly at the beginning of this army Time kind of went away and that's, you know, it's very interesting to see what's happened in this space. So a little bit about some of the genres that have done well and some that have been impacted, Hey, Marshall has to be interesting to see what was it, Joe Rogan's podcast yesterday that dropped with Elon Musk, how those numbers did, and then, you know, additional people that got brought into this space because of that, which, which will be great, right?

(6m 56s):
And that's, you know, you bring up a great point because one of the things that we have seen as these, these heavy personality based interview type shows have done very well during this, these people have become kind of narrators for people's lives. And these hosts are very sticky. These people tune in through thick and thin whether it's entertainment or show like Joe Rogan, which by the way, is the King of the mountain Podcast. I mean, his show is so much bigger than everybody else's, it's, it's, it's really remarkable. But then he also does things like scanning On one of the once in a lifetime guests like Elon Musk yesterday. So I'm really curious, like Russell, like you said, I'm really curious to see what he has downloaded numbers from like yesterday.

(7m 39s):
Yeah. It should be big. The other thing that, you know, we are talking about Audio, we have seen, you know, Marshall review and I've talked about this a lot, a bit of an impact of radio. Now that some of the data was suggest that, you know, radio listenership is, is, is not off. But I mean, if you put a little common sense onto it, you go drive on any of the freeways right now. There's not any traffic on it. You know, your commute time will be significantly less if, if any problem with the commute time. But you know, we've talked about many of our clients, the radio side of it significantly took an impact, at least for our clients on the performance side of it. And especially in, I think it's more impacted obviously the sports radio stations, which are some of our favorite radio station to advertise on.

(8m 27s):
Obviously there's no sports going on and your commute times are, are gone. And that is primarily where people listen to the radio has in their car with that in mind, let's talk more about Advertising in particular. Have we seen any shifts overall and you know, Ad revenue, we have, you know, it's kind of a, you know, total of two cities, you have some clients. So if you're in the home fitness side of it, we have, which we do to the business is, is very good. Everybody, you know, nobody's going to the gym right now. Everybody's to work out at home. So, you know, apps and fitness, you know, exercise equipment, they're all doing fantastic delivery. Businesses are doing great. But then on the other side of it, if you're retail location, retail store with the retail storefront, you're not doing great.

(9m 12s):
You're in a haze. You don't have any of your stores open. Hopefully we'll see that start to impact. Now that I just saw the headline before the stock market closed today, that Apple is opening up all the retail stores. Of course they're gonna limit the number of people in and things like that. But, you know, as, as retail starts to turn back on, you'll see those dollars come back into this space rapidly. Yeah, we have seen, as Russell mentioned, some of our, our advertisers that we've seen who are impacted by retail closures are, are they're suffering a little bit. And we have seen some of our direct to consumer brands that side of their demand is just through the roof. We've got some Neal delivery companies and some, a, one of our clients is in the direct to consumer meat, high quality meat delivery business.

(9m 56s):
They're, they're just, they're, they're booming, but I don't know. Am I going to put a little positive energy out there to try and get our retail environment open a little bit more? I'll I'll happily do that. I think Apple, Apple leading the way, and that will, will really be a big deal and then hopefully social distancing and, and all of those types of things will not cause any other problems with the state to state closures in the, in the future. What about overall trends we might be seeing? Are there any overarching trends regarding this Advertising number's in general? Well, I mean, the, you know, in the podcast space, the, the ad revenue did take ahead in March and April, and we'll probably see that through, through June.

(10m 42s):
So, you know, for clients who are opportunistic. So there are some that even their Business night may not be fully operational. They're taking this as an opportunity for a land grab. So to maybe capture opportunities that their competitor let go, because they didn't want to advertise. It allows them to be very opportunistic and, and get on those opportunities, you know, so they're there. And then as we mentioned in the, you know, in the fitness or delivery services or things like that, those people that are coming into this space in a big way, additionally, you know, the rates have gone down. So there are some, you know, where that, I would probably say on average, you know, Marshall, you, and I've talked about this a few times, but you know, you're seeing 25%, you know, 30%, some cases, even 50% rate reductions on some Podcast, that's gonna be a short-term opportunity.

(11m 37s):
And so for our clients, we want to get in, it's a, it's a great opportunity to get in and test. There are now of course, there's some of your bigger podcasts that are very popular ones that have no rate reductions, but it's a, it's a great opportunity to get in and take some ground or get in and do testing. I have said that any better Because there are opportunities out there in the Podcast space is very hot, still doing great. It's still a fantastic listenership levels of connectivity with the audience. We are seeing opportunities out there that are cost reductions over what their normal rate card might be a great opportunity to test this Media. If you have it, if you're an advertiser and thinking about Audio as a channel, a lot of additional opportunity that wasn't there in January.

(12m 21s):
So I know that we've seen a few new Podcast emerge, which are focused solely on the Corona virus pandemic have y'all noticed any shifts or changes in overall Podcasting content or even radio content. You know, we've, we've seen a real pivot towards shorter news programming from some of the larger NVRs and good example. They came up with two specific Podcast to deal with the Coronavirus seven to 14 minutes. So not long form if you will, but, and they've been very popular. People are creating that kind of, okay. I need to get some news updates. I think the Coronavirus stories are beginning to be tiring for a lot of people. Okay. I know that personally, I just dove into the numbers and I was looking at a number of, from four and five different verses every day.

(13m 3s):
You know, the sky is falling, what's going on? Well now we've got our hands and what the numbers are. We feel like we know that that just does not feel like, I mean, we've seen the results with social distancing in our staying at home policies and things like that. So I think you're going to your you're. I, I think you're going to see a pivot away from this Coronavirus specific news content back to the more general news stuff, maybe economic and financial in nature. And then hopefully, hopefully, hopefully fingers crossed. We can get some professional sports back out there just because I personally miss it. And it's good for the industry. So what, you know, Marshall, additionally, I think you're going to, you know, in the upcoming months, obviously the elections just around the corner, I think, you know, politics, I mean, obviously The, the virus has taken center stage right.

(13m 53s):
Or right now, but I think that it's quickly going to change to the election in November. So I'm sure you're going to see that really ramp up the big heavyweights, your Ben Shapiro's your pod save America. You're probably seeing gigantic increases in downloads. I'm interested to see how that all plays out from a political standpoint. This is, this is all new to all of us. And so the smart ones let's see how they pivot, let's see what they do from a political standpoint and how that affects their Podcast content. I'm really interested in that. It's going to be very interesting rest of this year from a political standpoint. So with all the shifts and changes within our lives, how have you found that advertisers have kind of refocused their, their Ad messaging and Nathan, you might be able to speak to this too.

(14m 38s):
Yeah. I mean, I can say on the creative side, what I've noticed is kind of a mixed response, but the overall trend I would say is that it does vary on the client, how they decide to handle this in terms of their messaging. But as brands, you don't Want to ignore the elephant in the room. I think it's so obvious that it's on everyone's minds and it's changed everyone's daily life. So, you know, there's messaging changes to meet people and be relevant where they are. It depends on the product of the service, how brands decide to do that. But one thing that I've seen is, you know, some real caring attention put in to how the crisis is referenced. The overall sense that at the same time, people are tired of, of just talking about Coronavirus all the time.

(15m 24s):
And there may be tired focusing solely on that one. There are other things. So I think brands are having a balancing act between meeting people where they are, which is, there's almost a trope now About in these uncertain times. And then also not harping on the uncertainty that we're all aware of. That's the biggest change I've seen. I think you'll see, as well as, you know, California is opening up some things like that. I think you're going to see a curbside pickup to be promoted a lot more by retailers before that, as this is starting to go down a, went to a best buy, got PlayStation for everybody in the house and they games and stuff like that. So I had to go, you know, park out front, blah, blah, blah, go through that whole process, which, which was fine.

(16m 9s):
It was a little bit problematic, but Hey, I've got the game's and it worked out great. I think you're going to see that in being practiced in the States that have been closed, you know, it's going to be interesting for New York as they open up and then how the creative will evolve. They're there. They're probably going to be the one state that's going to have the, the most problems and you know, and how we tackle that creatively in the copy will, will change as well. Now that that just reminds me, you know, I feel before all of this, I was never interested in curbside or delivery and that's something that I've taken use of. I think it's interesting to think of ways that brands can even, you know, come up with creative ways and they are coming up with creative ways to deliver their products and services in these times too.

(16m 55s):
Yeah, Well, no. I mean, it's everything, it's a lot of stuff at home Business. We really didn't go over that. But at home business related products, obviously zoom, things like that, that's going to change, you know, so it'll, it'll be, it'll be very interesting to see how things evolve and how we evolve it for our clients as well. Well, let me, let me ask you guys this relative to your stay at home experience, because everybody who's listening to this has had a similar experience. You obviously, your, your patterns have changed from probably every battery and you have to sleep pattern, wake pattern when you go to bed, that kind of thing, because there's no specific commute time, you find yourself more productive, less productive, the longer time windows of paying attention to information and communication devices, how's that affected your habits.

(17m 47s):
And I'm going to ask that question because I know we're all Podcast consumers here. How has it affected how you guys, you know, listen to your favorite podcasts? I have always been a listener at work, so I don't feel like it's really affected me too much. I still listen. You know, during the day while I work, I mean, obviously it's clearly affected binge listening cause both my husband and I like to take long road trips and we would save podcasts like the Ron burgundy podcast. We listened to the entirety on our drive to big bend. And so clearly we're not doing that anymore, but I'm still keeping up regularly with the podcasts that I listened to weekly, like, like crime junkie.

(18m 28s):
Like I know that they drop at the beginning of the week. So I'm usually listening, you know, Monday morning. Okay. I mean, I ask that question anecdotally, because I think there will be in return to normalcy, to some form of normalcy for all of us. I mean the long road trips we'll probably come back. I don't know when, but they'll probably come back and I get it. I tend to queue my podcasts up and listen to them when I fly on airplanes. And obviously that's not that's that's that means I'm sure that's expanding, but it was, you know, you couldn't fly on an airplane for eight weeks or whatever it was. So I'm curious about that. Nathan, what about you To your first question in terms of like my, my schedule in my productivity? I think I have had some experience in the past with working from home, but this is really different.

(19m 13s):
This is not working from home. This is working in a very different situation where you stay home and you don't go anywhere after you're done working really. So that has required or has brought about this requirement for me to be even more intentional about how I spend and how I deviate or sorry to divide my time between work and not work. So for me, I've always had a difficult time actually working while listening to Podcast specifically because it's difficult to write while you're consuming so that, you know, I do listen, but one of the things I've started to do is after work or even on my lunch, I'll take a walk and I'll queue something up.

(20m 1s):
And that kind of two birds with one stone for me, gives me some, some movement some time outside, if the weather's nice enough in Houston, you know, you take it when you can get it. And I try to get outside and soak up any cool air that there is, and listen to, you know, something that is preferably a little lighter than some of the new stuff for me personally right now, just cause I, I like to read my news more, those trends about people listening to some of the different genres that, that really spoke to me for what I'm, you know, what I'm looking for whenever I'm consuming media is not necessarily an escape from the reality, but definitely some sort of respect from just how much anxiety there could be.

(20m 45s):
If I was listening to the news or some, some other shows, I find the productivity aspect is really all about being really intentional about where you work. If you're working from home and, and keeping that boundary between not working and working very, very clear, Good answers, good answers. And then I agree with you. If you just paid attention to just the news and, and read solely Coronavirus ask, are there specific content in where you out? You'd be like, Oh, the sky is truly falling well, it's, it's, it's not falling. We gotta be careful and prudent, but it's not falling Well, thank you guys for joining us today.

(21m 28s):
I really appreciate it. And I feel like there was a lot of good information and, and good conversation shared today. Awesome. Well, happy to do it. I'm sure Russell and I are plenty glibs so you can get us, you can probably ask us anything. And when we would happily help you to fill out the Podcast, If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe for updates on future episodes and leave us a comment with your feedback, questions, or ideas for future segments. If you would like more info on Ad Results Media and what we do, please visit us online at Ad Results. Media dot com. This podcast is an Ad Results, Media production.