Podbites

Podbites Interview With Rob Walch

On May 15th 2019, we interviewed Rob Walch on his views of the following topics.

Podbites guest Rob Walch
(Rob Walch, VP Podcaster Relations at Libsyn)

You can listen to the exclusive interview episode here:

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Google

Question:
Google is going to put the podcast search on their homepage. What is the implication for all of us?

Rob:
“The latest news from Google about podcasting: they are going to put it in the search results. People are going to search for something and the search result is going to be podcast. This means that people that aren’t familiar with podcasts, are going to be exposed more and more to podcasts. It will give better visibility to podcasts. As people get more exposed to podcasts, some are going to try it, maybe like it, so they are going to listen to podcasts, so this is a good thing. If you are a podcaster and you want your podcasts to be one of those that they like and try, you’d better start rethinking how the beginning of your episode looks like. So you will have to optimize your intro, so it’s more appealing to people that are discovering you in a search result.”

Question:
What will be your rough guess on how many first-time users this will bring?

Rob:
“It will bring millions of new users, for sure, but it will bring just a few percent of growth. I would imagine, in the next year, it is not going to be huge, it is not going to double podcasts.”

Spotify and Apple

Question:
Do you think anything can influence the market share of Apple and Spotify?

Rob:
“Now Apple is about 61%-62%, and Spotify is around 9-9.5%. I think eventually, if Google releases a truly native app, you will see that percentage drops for Apple. I do expect Apple to get down to around 50%, but it is going to take a long time. It is not a huge drop if that goes from 62% to 50%, if the total number of downloads goes up. So I would say when Google podcast goes native, probably 3 years after that, the market share starts to come down a little bit.”

New players

Question:
What is your take on the competition between big players and new entrants, such as Brew app ?

Rob:
“Brew is one that shot themselves and keeps shooting. I don’t see that ever getting any uptake, because when you open the Brew app, it wants you to create an account. People don’t want to create accounts, the first thing they want to do is to listen to a podcast. So those apps are never going to get much uptake. It is just not a good user experience.”

Recent investments and acquisitions

Question:
What do you think of recent investments that came into podcasting space?

Rob:
“These companies got hundred millions of dollars, but they did not have any technology at that point in time, so that is by definition of a bubble. Speaking about Luminary, I do not think they are going to be around in 5 years. They have got a hundred million dollars means that they have to be valued at a billion dollars. And you are not going to become a billion dollar company by selling a dollar a month subscription to the podcast. There is no viable way to get to that kind of valuation. So they are still learning how to do things. But what Spotify spent is crazy money. I understand why they spent it for Gimlet a little bit, but people overthink that Gimlet was a huge network, always tons of downloads. But actually Gimlet is not very big. Although Spotify paid 200 plus millions for them for a reason as they wanted the team to create content. It wasn’t for the content that was already out there, so people need to understand that.”

Question:
Most of the people are critical about that, but is there anything any positive aspect of this enormous investments?

Rob:
“There’s going to be a lot more money and a lot more visibility coming into this space. This money creates interests. A lot of these companies that did not have a business model, are going to crash and burn, but there will be a lot of people listening to podcasts and that number is steadily growing. At Libsyn, we see growth on the number of people each month now listening to podcasts. Podcasts audience is larger than those other things that people consider mainstream. People want to call podcasting a niche medium, but it is a mass medium with a niche content. It is a huge medium now. There’s going to be more acquisitions in future.”

Advertising

Question:
Podcasters want to monetize. What is important to know about host-read ads?

Rob:
“First of all, it’s okay not to monetize. A lot of people get into podcasting and they think they need to monetize. I always ask somebody, why you want to monetize, do you need money? There are some people that get into the podcasting because it is a hobby and they just want to have fun; some people getting into the podcast because they are building a brand, or promoting their brand. Let’s take those off the table and talk for now, for the small percentage that can actually monetize. For these shows, host-read ads are always going to get you the higher CPM, but you have to have a show that is getting 5000 downloads an episode. Sometimes they will go a little bit lower if the show is a perfect psychographic match. Maybe you have a show that is about the iPhone and the person selling iPhone cases, that is a perfect match. But generally, 5000 downloads per episode within 30 days of the release of that episode is the minimum. Some ad agencies put in a rule of 50 000 downloads per episode, that is a top half percent of shows. But even if you have 5000, you are at top 7% of shows, so it is only about 7% of the shows really ever get to that 5000 number.”

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