When you think of conversations happening around the podcasting space, Heather Osgood has to be at the top of your list of sources to turn to. As the founder of True Native Media, Heather is truly a podcast advertising maven. From True Native Media, to the Podcast Broker, and hosting The Podcast Advertising Playbook, Heather is an absolute specialist in the space.

In this episode of On the Mic with Ad Results Media, Lindsay and Nate sit down with Heather to discuss her hot takes on programmatic buying, dynamically inserted ad reads, her newest project The Podcast Broker, and of course, the lime green elephant in the room: Spotify.

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(23s): Well, Heather, thank you so much for joining us today on On The Mic. I'm sure you don't need any introduction to our listeners, but I do like to have everybody introduce themselves. So why don't we hear from you?

(34s): Yeah, hi, I'm, I'm excited to meet with you guys today. My name is Heather Osgood and I am the founder of True Native Media, which is a podcast representation firm. So I've been in this space now here almost seven years, and my main role has been to work with independent podcasters and connect them with advertisers.

(53s): That's awesome. We love working with you guys over here. I kind of wanna just jump right in and talk about the subject that's been on everyone's mind. It was all over podcast movement, host Red versus programmatic ad buying. What are your hot takes?

(1m 11s): Yeah, for sure. So we have done a ton of host red ads at True Native Media and I really believe in the influencer power of Host Red Ads and I don't think that that is ever gonna go away. And nor do I think that it ever should go away. I am a huge proponent for using dynamic ad insertion technology to insert those ads into podcasts because it allows you to get a higher number of frequency with your listeners from a podcaster's perspective. It certainly allows you to monetize all of those impressions.

And I do, you know, obviously really believe that programmatic is coming and I think that it is a good thing for the industry. And the reason that I think that it's a good thing is because the reality is, is that if we are trying to do everything manually, we are never gonna sell a hundred percent of the impressions out there. And so allowing us to really have those host red ads where we're trying to do our best to sell as much inventory as we can and then filling in with programmatic, I really feel like is a great approach and really is the approach that's gonna take the industry to the next level in terms of, of really generating income.

(2m 24s): You mentioned just a moment ago, DII and being a, a big proponent of that and I kind of want to talk a little bit about the pros of Dai. I remember several years ago when, when this really started coming up, a lot of us were very kind of skeptical about, is this going to be as powerful? Nothing can be be a baked in ad so, so let's talk about the pros of Dai a little bit. Yeah,

(2m 48s): So the pros of Dai are that, as I mentioned, you can get a higher frequency with your listeners, right? So you have this ability to reach the same person multiple times. Now I think that podcast advertising has traditionally been a very slow moving medium. And part of the reason for that is, you know, let's say I have a weekly podcast and I'm doing embedded ad reads and I get, you know, an ad read that comes out the first week of the month, maybe the third week of the month, and now you know, I'm gonna do month two, week one and three.

So we're waiting a really long time before we're actually getting a number of multiple impressions in front of that same listener. And so really it, it does take a lot of time. So the pros of Dai are that you can get a much higher frequency with that same listener within a shorter period of time. I think the other pros certainly are that you have a lot of control over your messaging. So of course you can use that technology to do host red ads and you can also use it to do announce a red ads, which you know, allows for the programmatic.

But you can as an advertiser say, We wanna run a special, you know, we have Black Friday coming up and we're gonna do this time limited offer that we want to run, you know, for these two weeks. And then when you're done, that ad goes away. So you know that your messaging is always super current and up to date. And then I also think from a brand safety perspective, you know, if you had partnered with a show, let's say last year and you really were happy with that show and you liked the partnership, that all of a sudden maybe the host kind of went sideways and now they're doing things or saying things you're not interested in, your ads still embedded.

So there's still kind of that connection. So there's just a lot more control that we have, especially from an advertiser perspective with that Dai, you know, functionality.

(4m 51s): I really like, you know, kind of the mention of of brand safety and being able to have that control in case that relationship just doesn't continue to move forward the way that you thought that it might. I feel like that is a conversation that not many people are having. And I love, I love that you, you mentioned it here.

(5m 9s): Yeah, no, I just think that it is a really important piece that is being talked about more and more lately and it really is a, an important feature of Dai.

(5m 19s): So on the note of all the technology and all the change that's coming in the industry, I also wanted to talk about the 1000 pound lime green elephant in the room. So Spotify has sort of come in in a big way relatively abruptly. You talked about how the industry has been in some ways slow to change and I think a lot of changes come as a result of the technology that Spotify's been bringing. I'm curious what you think their presence means for advertisers and for the industry as a whole.

(5m 48s): I think that their presence, as you said, is kind of like a neon green elephant in the room and we can't ignore that. The, the good parts about it are that people already have Spotify. They already use Spotify. I know I was at a dinner the other night and we were talking about, you know, podcasting and someone said, Oh, you can use Spotify to listen to podcasts, right? And I said, Yeah, exactly. So you know, I mean I think that obviously there's a lot of pros when it comes to having this large company investing in the space.

I think the other thing that they have done that has been really helpful is that they've been able to prove that by having this really rich data about who is listening, that we can get higher CPMs, right? I mean, for their span audience I hear that they're getting about $60 CPMs, which seems a little high, but you know, they're still getting a really good rate. And I think that they have this ability to, in some ways kind of prove out a model that we as an industry haven't been able to do because they have so much information.

So I think all of that has been a real positive. I think they also are getting advertisers and brands warmed up to the space. So if a brand or an, you know, an advertiser wouldn't have considered podcast advertising before and they go and they have a positive experience with Spotify that can then allow them, you know, to open up and look and consider other channels where they could, you know, potentially scale their campaigns or just, you know, explore other options in podcasts.

And so I think all of those are really positive things. The hardest part about it is that I really do feel like we're creating a bit of an us versus them mentality where it's like, oh, Spotify's over there, they're in their own little universe, they're doing what they're gonna do and then there's the rest of us. And you know, Spotify doesn't need to necessarily play nicely with us because they can do whatever they want, but I think it is kind of on us, you know, the rest of us in the industry to see how we can interact with them and how we can continue to all work together to move the industry forward.

(7m 59s): I think that's a great answer. And you know, admittedly the way I worded the question was intentionally to bring up that there's, it seems to be this us versus them thing going on in the background, but I love the way that you described the positives of this because it sounds like what you're saying is for some brands they might be a sort of a proving ground that then actually benefits the industry as a whole, if I understood you correctly there.

(8m 20s): Yeah, absolutely. I, I, I do think that that's the case and you know, we work pretty closely with Megaphone, which is of course owned by Spotify. And a lot of the things that Megaphone has and a lot of, you know, the characteristics that that Spotify has been able to bring into the space, they, they've been positive. I think one of the things that cracks me up is that we deal with lots of different hosting providers at True Native Media. We're hosting provider agnostic, which has given us this opportunity to kind of look behind the curtain and see how they all function.

And I, and especially a podcast movement, I had so many people say, Well, you know, Spotify doesn't sell post rolls. Well, you know, Spotify doesn't do this, it doesn't do that. And like, I mean I literally heard like three or four things that like with someone else kind of like talking down about the way that they do business. So then I'm going over, you know, to my megaphone rep saying, so, so I'm hearing that that you guys don't do this and you don't do that and, and you know, I wanna understand how all of this works.

And they're like, none of that is true. We do sell post rolls, People just don't buy them as often as they buy other positions. You know, I mean, just so different things. I think that it almost feels like there's a bit of a rumor meal, you know, in the industry about like what they do or don't do, just because I think people are feeling defensive.

(9m 46s): So a conversation that I've been having with quite a few people over the past couple of months is how brands can best integrate themselves not just into the podcast ecosystem, but the kind of the creator ecosystem. We had a lot of talks when I went to VidCon about kind of authenticity from brands and what like listeners are really wanting to hear from brands in order to, you know, really connect with them. What are your thoughts on how brands can best integrate themselves into the overall ecosystem?

(10m 19s): I think that you hit the nail on the head. I mean, it has so much to do with authenticity as consumers. We not only want to buy a really great product that we feel is gonna edify our lives in some way, but we wanna buy a product from a company that we feel really kind of mimic our own maybe morals or values. And I think that that's becoming a much bigger piece, especially as younger generations, you know, with the millennial generations and you know, the others coming up through the ranks.

That's a more important piece. And there is this desire to buy from companies that feel more like you and me, that feel more transparent. Of course you're gonna have the huge corporations and a lot of the smaller brands that we buy from, we maybe think they're smaller brands, but they're actually owned by a larger company. But I think that sometimes consumers want to feel that connection with the product that they're purchasing. And when we look at content creation specifically, it is so important, right?

I mean, there's a million different marketing channels you can go down or maybe that authentic connection piece isn't, shouldn't necessarily be the core of of what you're doing. But when, when we talk about content creators and we talk about entering the creator space, I think it's really important that the brands go to where the creator is instead of wanting the creator to go to the brand. And what I mean by that is, if you know that an audience is already responding to certain things at certain messagings or just types of communication, why not enter the space with that instead of, you know, trying to come in and, you know, just be in the faces of the audience in a more abrupt way.

The integration, the authenticity, meeting that consumer with a common connection point is where I think they're really gonna see traction.

(12m 16s): Yeah, we've had a lot of talks about Gen Z specifically. They, you know, are there for the creator and they are very understanding that like brand partnerships are, are how they're going to be able to continue to create and, and build their channels. So I totally agree about brands coming in and really kind of meeting in that very authentic, like meet the creator where they are and let the creator really present your brand in their own way that, you know, cuz they're the ones that know how to communicate with their listener.

So totally on board there. I've been encouraging a lot of the brands that we work with to, to work, you know, with the creators and really let them play to their strengths whenever, whenever we work together.

(13m 2s): So we've been talking about how brands can enter, you know, the creator ecosystem effectively, but you have so much experience through the last few years. You said seven years you've been in the industry. I'm curious if you're speaking to someone who is a creator themselves and you were to give them advice like you're trying to grow a podcast, what can they do either as a host, like how can they be thinking about being their best self as a host or maybe even thinking more broadly about, you know, some sort of strategy beyond just the content of their show to grow their audience?

(13m 36s): Yeah, audience growth certainly isn't nearly as easy as it used to be. I think that it could just be the quantity of shows that we have now that makes it more difficult. You know, everybody's constantly talking about discoverability, which I still don't see necessarily a good solution for that. But yeah, in terms of audience growth, I, I think that there are certainly some, some key tenants that you have to be aware of. So number one, you know, creating consistent quality content is always gonna be first and foremost, right?

If you're not creating that show that people wanna listen to and you're not posting it on a regular basis, you're just not gonna build an audience. And I, I think that, you know, that does maybe feel like an abc but sometimes they don't do that, right? The other thing that I think is really important in my opinion is that podcasters listen to podcasts. So when we look at the, you know, kind of landscape, especially across the US, only about 30 to 40% of people actively listen to podcasts.

And it's not like, Oh yeah, I listened to a podcast once last year or, you know, once three months ago. Like, we're talking about the people who are serious podcast listeners, you know, know that that group isn't as large as, as a lot of people I think wanna believe. And so my opinion is that if you can reach a podcast or listening to another podcast, you have a greater chance of actually, you know, really connecting with somebody who's gonna come and listen to your show. I think I've seen podcasters spend a lot of time on social media trying to grow audience or you know, on other channels that hasn't really moved the needle.

I will say I was on a call with a group of our shows last week, they said TikTok was working exceptionally well. We've heard that too. So, you know, I thought that was really interesting because I've not really ever heard Facebook or Instagram has really moved the needle much so, but I also really believe that if you wanna grow an audience, you need to come up with a marketing strategy about what you're gonna do to get your show out there because listeners aren't just gonna come to your show just because you created a podcast.

(15m 49s): Yeah. Especially now I feel like it's, it's not as simple as if you record it, people will listen. And I'm curious if that's kind of what you were getting at when you were talking about discoverability. I'm not sure if I know so much about the conversations that are having there, but I imagine it's just much more crowded than it used to be and that could be part of

(16m 5s): It. Yeah, absolutely. And I think, you know, when we talk about discoverability, I think so much about, you know, even just YouTube where if, you know, let's say like I listened to a book last week on Micro Adventures and I was like, oh this is awesome. I'm like, there's gotta be some cool podcasts about micro adventures too. Well if I go to YouTube and I type in micro adventures, I'm gonna come up with a list of videos that addressed that subject. But you know, going to my three different podcast players and entering micro adventures really didn't land me with any good results for shows I could listen to that addressed that subject.

(16m 44s): Yeah, that's a good point. And actually it made me think about one of the benefits of YouTube is their recommendation engine, although it's also sometimes one of the things that's criticized most about you. So it's an interesting problem and I, I totally get what you're saying, podcasts, there's not like a recommended show that comes up after you've been listening to your podcast cuz it's an RSS feed in your player for the most part.

(17m 7s): Yeah, exactly.

(17m 8s): Okay, so now let's imagine we're talking to someone who's already grown an audience to a substantial amount and they're starting to think about, hey, this podcast is taking off. How can I maybe turn this into something that is, you know, profitable? What are your thoughts about monetization generally? Obviously advertising is something that we're all, we're all believers in, but also I think there are other options. I'm curious what your thoughts are on the full range of options that are out there.

(17m 32s): Yeah, for sure. So, you know, I always, I always want podcasters to think about the different options because so often they just go straight to ads and as you mentioned, we're all in ads, we're all believers in ads. I think it's a great place to monetize your show, but the other ways that you can, can monetize your show are certainly just as a marketing vehicle. So if you have a business that you're already selling services or products in and you wanna use your podcast to market that business, it's a really good way to get new customers. If you have specific products like courses or books that you wanna sell, podcasts can do a really good job of that.

And so I always really want to advocate that people think that way. I, you know, and, and we might talk about this in a minute, but I, I did just start a new business, the podcast broker where we're buying and selling podcasts. And so I've gotten this big influx of podcasts that I've been reviewing. And to be honest, I'm shocked at some of these shows. I got one that came in yesterday and I wanna say they were getting like 7,500 downloads a month and they're making $186,000 a year. And I'm like, holy cow, this person is really doing an amazing job selling their show and they're really doing it through sponsored interviews, you know, where the, a brand is coming in and sponsoring the entire episode and in, in most cases they're, you know, they're getting extra, right?

They're probably getting social and, and newsletters and things. So you could just do traditional ads, but you can also go beyond and try to create more brand partnerships. I have found that if you wanna do something like that, it's best to do it on your own. Trying to find a rep firm to do that sort of thing isn't super easy because you have this really intimate connection with your content. You also know what you as a host are able to do and how you can really benefit the brand.

And then of course there are just, you know, listeners supported options that I feel like have been increasing throughout the years as well. So you can always just ask your listeners to subscribe to your show.

(19m 41s): I do want to talk about the podcast broker. I, I'm very curious how that came about and how that's going and yeah, so let's, let's just dive in a little bit

(19m 50s): There. Yeah, for sure. So I had been, obviously I've been interacting with podcasts for several years now, and as someone who has had multiple businesses, I think I, I approach everything with that business mindset and having people, you know, having podcasters come to me and say like, well I'm kind of over this, I don't think I'm gonna produce the show anymore. I'm like, are you kidding me? Like you have the number one bridal show on, on iTunes right now, like, you're just gonna stop doing it cuz you don't wanna talk about weddings anymore, you know, But I also get it right, like I think at some point every podcaster is like, I'm done.

I think talking about cats sounded really fun six years ago, but I don't think I can talk about cats anymore. So I was really always advocating that people sell their shows, but there really has not been a good platform for podcasters to do that. And on the flip side, there hasn't been a good platform for people to buy shows either, You know, you've got like those, the huge sales that happen like the Gimlets and the Wonders and stuff like that, but the average podcaster obviously isn't gonna be in that realm.

So I created the podcast broker with a couple of co-founders and we're, we're pretty excited. It's been a little over a month now and we've just really gotten a lot of traction in terms of people wanting to sell their shows. And then on the flip side, I've had actually quite a bit of activity from buyers as well, which has been kind of exciting.

(21m 19s): That's very cool. And these are hosts who, you know, like you said, they're like, Okay, I'm, I don't wanna talk about weddings anymore. So are people buying and putting a new host in place? And if so, does that translate to, to listeners? Do you find that there's a, like a transition period while listeners get used to a new host or how, how does that work?

(21m 42s): Yeah, so you know, you, you can look at it from a couple of different angles. So if, if you're buying a podcast, you certainly can, you know, keep the host on or you could replace the host. And I have had a handful of experiences where the host has been replaced and it hasn't had a detrimental impact on the audience. You know, listenership, I think it has a lot to do with how you transition hosts. If I am super, you know, used to hearing Lindsay and I come to the show because I like Lindsay and then next week there's Nate and I'm like, where'd Nate come from?

I don't know this guy. Like, this isn't a show I listen to. I think it, it's gonna be very abrupt, but if you are a loyal listener and Nate comes on as a co-host and you know, is introduced to the audience by the primary host, then the audience is like, oh gosh, somebody knew, this is interesting. Right? And then if the audience is then introduced to, oh, Nate's gonna actually be our primary host from now on, it's not as I think jarring to the audience. And so I do really think it's about the way that you transition.

Now we haven't had any situations come up yet where somebody is trying to sell what I would consider kind of like a personal branded podcast. You know, if you go into the Joe Rogan show and you take away Joe Rogan, what have you got? Right? Probably not a whole lot. Well, I don't know, I don't know about that. It's a, it's a pretty big show. I'm sure they could find a host too to at least, you know, keep some of the audience, maybe not a hundred percent, but you know, so I think it really does depend on the way the show is constructed. If it's a show that's about relationships or about weddings or about productivity in business, that's gonna be very different than, I really like the Sarah Fraser show and I listen because I like Sarah Fraser.

(23m 35s): I was curious because we've talked before about folks who kind of follow hosts and discoverability. Like are we, are we looking for hosts that are similar to hosts that we already like or are we looking for, you know, topics? And that's just kind of been like an internal conversation that we've had, like which one seems to be bringing in more listeners, you know, what is resonating more? So I was just curious,

(24m 2s): So I'm curious, what has, what have you seen? Have you, is it more content based or is it more host personality based in terms of like gaining results?

(24m 13s): So I have gotten kind of 50, 50 answers. Like I have talked to some listeners who are like, I like specific hosts and so I do seek out other hosts that are like them, or the same host. Actually an example that I have is the Macaroy family. People love them, they love their podcasts. They have my brother, my brother and me. They've got the adventure zone. And so even though my brother, my brother and me and the Adventure zone are totally different podcasts, they have a lot of overlap in listeners just because they are there for that family, they are there for those brothers they want to listen to, you know, whatever it is that they're creating.

But I've also had people say, you know, oh, well if I'm going to listen to, like we talked about sports recently, if we're gonna, if we're gonna talk about football, then I'm, I'm really just looking for football. It's not always about the host, it's about, you know, whatever football podcast is relevant to me, whether it be about a certain, you know, team or, or fantasy footballer or whatever. So it's kind of split 50 50. I, I think it's an interesting conversation and it's personally one that I would like to dive into a little more. But yeah, I just, a recent conversation we've been having.

(25m 18s): Yeah, that's really fascinating. I will say that I have been shocked though, at the buyers that I've been talking to, I would say so far a hundred percent of the buyers I've been talking to want the host to stay. So they're really more interested in buying the podcast with the host as opposed to buying the show and trying to find a new host. So we'll have to see how things kind of shake out.

(25m 41s): Well I think it's really cool and just like an interesting need that you're filling with the podcast record so that, that's awesome. Okay, so we're coming up on Q4 and you know, as an agency we're starting to plan 2023. I'm curious, as you look at the industry, do you have any thoughts or predictions for the next year how things are going? Maybe big picture challenges that you're seeing right now and and how we should be addressing them in the next year?

(26m 7s): Yeah, I would say the three challenges that I see us facing are, number one, the economy is softening. And as much as we would love to pretend that in podcasting everything is just rainbows and hearts, I do believe that the economy is affecting us. And the way that I see it affecting us is that advertisers don't seem as interested in making perhaps as long a buys as they had made or as big a buys as they had made.

And I also have, you know, seen as I'm sure you all have seen as well, that you know, CPMs are being more highly scrutinized now than they have been in the past. And so I do think that that's something we have to be really aware of. The economy is gonna affect us and we need to make sure that we can make buying easy and effective for our advertisers next. I definitely have have seen that in terms of, you know, moving forward, dynamic ad insertion is just a really big, I would say kind of almost question mark for a lot of people within the industry because we know that dynamic insertion is here, we know that we need it, we know that we need to make it effective, but there certainly are, you know, many advertisers out there who still are like, I'll only buy embedded, I'm not going to even consider, you know, dynamic ad insertion.

And I, I really, I think that that's unfortunate because I do believe that that's where the industry is headed and I believe that as an industry we really need to get together and say what makes effective ad campaigns when we're using dynamic ad insertion. You know, is it about frequency capping, Is it about flighting, is it about rate? You know, is it about host re ads and making sure that, you know, we're not playing the same ad for eight weeks straight. So I think that there are a lot of elements that need to go into defining how we can be more successful with dynamic ad insertion.

And then lastly, which we began the program with is programmatic, you know, what role is programmatic gonna play and you know, how can we potentially leverage programmatic to fill in the cracks and really help elevate the entire industry.

(28m 26s): Well that's a lot to look forward to. And Heather, you've given so much to think about, really appreciate your insight. Where can listeners find out more about you and the work you're doing?

(28m 36s): Yeah, the best place to connect with me is probably on LinkedIn. I'm really active over there, post a lot of content and you know, just information about podcast advertising. And then of course you can always go to our website, true native media.com.

(28m 50s): Awesome. Well thanks so much for joining us and definitely encourage our listeners to check you out on LinkedIn and to visit the website as well.

(28m 57s): Well, thanks for having me. I've really enjoyed it.

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(29m 29s): On the mic is hosted by Lindsay Smith and Nate Spell, edited by Jeffrey Stallings and produced by Ad Results Media. For more information about Ad Results Media, go to adresultsmedia.com or follow us on Twitter, Instagram and

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