Episode 53: Beyond the Movement — A Conversation with Bryan Barletta and Andrea Schwarzbach

As podcasting continues to grow, the industry events are getting bigger and better. On today’s episode, Lindsay and Nate are joined by Bryan Barletta of Sounds Profitable and ARM’s own Andrea Schwarzbach to discuss their takeaways from Podcast Movement, as well as how they hope the event — and the podcast industry as a whole — continues to evolve in the years to come.

(0s): We actually use Scribd in our home

(3s): Do you really love your Sleep Number? And we do.

(24s): It’s no secret that the podcast industry has come a long way in the last few years. And with all the changes come bigger and better ways for brands, advertisers, and creators to connect. And that’s where podcast movement comes in

(36s): Today. We’re joined by Bryan Barletta of sounds Profitable and ARM own Andrea Schwarzbach to recap some of the highs and not so highs of the event, as well as how we all hope to see the industry and podcast movement continue to grow in the years to come. I’m Lindsay Smith

(51s): And I’m Nate spell and you’re listening to On the Mic with Ad Results Media.

(55s): Okay guys, thank you so much for joining us here on, On the Mic. I’m really excited to recap podcast movement. I know that we all had a great time. Andrea, let’s start by having you introduce yourself to our audience.

(1m 8s): All right. Hello. I am Andrea. Schwarzbach my closest friends and partners know me as Andrea and I have been at results media for nine years now. And I’m an associate account

(1m 21s): Director. Excellent. And Bryan, you need no introduction, but let’s go ahead and have one. Anyway.

(1m 28s): I’m Bryan Barletta. I’m one of the partners of sounds Profitable. We’re about to celebrate our two year anniversary. So we’re all about education and advisory and growing the podcast business as neutral and unbiased as possible through, you know, our newsletter, our podcast and all the things we collaborate with. Awesome people like yourselves.

(1m 47s): I still can’t believe it’s only been two years.

(1m 50s): It’s kind of wild that two years ago, I was Bryan yells into a cloud as a blog. And now Tom Webster is my partner on all of this. Thanks to support from people like you seriously.

(1m 60s): Well, Bryan, I kind of wanna start with you. I want to talk about the business leaders summit. I know that that was something that happened on Tuesday and I wanted to go over some of your favorite points and maybe some points that you wanna share with people who weren’t able to attend.

(2m 13s): Yeah, absolutely. So the business leaders summit was my attempt to kind of put everybody in the same room, all the business leaders and enable them to do as much business as possible because a lot of these events, I mean, every time I go to podcast movement, I have panel after panel, after panel. I wanna see, and I look at them and not only do they overlap, but then a meeting conflicts with them and I can never get to it. So the whole goal was what happens if a day before everything kicks off, we do four sessions, right research, and three sessions an hour break between each of them, which has food and drink and enables people to be there and stay there and to mingle, right?

To meet those people that you’ve been sending emails to for a long time to set up your follow up meetings for the rest of the week. I probably reduced meeting attendance because of this or the, the panel attendance because of it. But the whole goal for the business side, for us going there is really to do business. And sometimes the panels are helpful, but more than anything, it’s the fact that everybody’s there. And so I wanted to get us day one in front of as many people as possible. And it was very cool because sounds Profitable again, two years ago, had one sponsor. It was mid-roll at that point now SX M media and pod sites.

And for this event, you know, this was open, it was added value for all of our sponsors and it was 110 sponsor companies, each having three tickets. And there were about 300 people who showed up, which is awesome. I could not have asked for better. And the goal was let’s skip the 1 0 1 as much as possible. I think we’ve, we, we definitely went back to 1 0 1 for measurement on that panel there, but really just try and get everybody together to talk about what’s happening in video measurement and programmatic and how as an industry, we have to move things forward,

(3m 56s): Man, 300 people or at least 300.

(3m 59s): Yeah. I definitely have a bunch of people snuck in and I hope you really enjoyed it. You know, I would have 100% done that if it was me. So I can’t be too mad about it, but the goal was really no press, no recordings. Really just give people the opportunity to have that private space to say, Hey, video’s tough. It’s not a home run every time or programmatic. You know, we had a, we had a partner up there talk about programmatic and how maybe they don’t need to invest in programmatic, but maybe they realized the benefit of it for the whole industry. So allowing people to be really honest and not have anything attributed or quoted to them, I think allowed a lot of growth.

I think we’re gonna see a lot of benefit from that from the next year or so. And hopefully we’re able to continue these every quarter.

(4m 43s): I love the idea of being able to have that space because I mean, it’s just in events like this. It’s not really there for everybody. You know, everybody’s being recorded, you’re being filmed, you’re being interviewed. So I think that’s really amazing. Thank

(4m 56s): You. I mean, the, the dream of it sounds proper was written for the people, like all of us on this call, right? The people that might not have two or three years ago been invited to these events. And so it doesn’t make me incredibly happy that it’s just the business leaders and that we have to limit it to two or three people per company as we grow it because I really wanna reach everybody. I wanna reach that junior account manager. I wanna reach that sales, you know, executive. I wanna reach every single person who touches all of this. I have not quite figured out how to make that space work and get everybody to pay for the plane tickets for it.

I’ll figure that out in the future. But one step at a time, at least we have the right people in the right space. And we’re able to remind them that that account manager add ops person that you chose not to bring to this event. That was a mistake because they have way more contacts with people that you need to be talking to. That should be at this event too. And they can open up a better relationship and a stronger relationship with your clients.

(5m 49s): I had that same thought just going into the conference and being there even though at results, brought a very large army of people. Very large. We had a, we had a really great showing. I still felt like there were too many meetings and not enough bodies to attend. And, you know, on our Monday morning meeting that we had this week, it was a flow of information to the broader media team of what we took from the conference.

What we learned, who we talked to, just some important key takeaways internally, and I couldn’t help, but think, I wish that more people had gotten to attend because it just feels like an important part of what we do. And every day, I don’t think it resonates as much when you watch it virtually because you’re distracted by emails and slack. And it’s just a lot harder to really engage.

(6m 44s): I like, I don’t think for the people working in this space who are busting their butt 40 plus hours a week, I don’t think they actually can watch it virtually. I think that if you’re not physically there, no, one’s gonna give you the breathing room to watch it. You’re not gonna watch it on your own time, nor should you. And so it just falls away. So somebody doesn’t recap it and, and honestly the conversation right after when the panelist steps off the stage, that’s the most important. My dream is that the biggest companies in the space start doing their all hands right before podcast movement, evolutions, or podcast, movement prime, I guess we can call it in August and, and just do that.

Get your whole company there, get a benefit from the, the hotel rates the few days before and bring all of them because that obscure account manager, that you’ve never had a chance to meet in person, right. How cool is that? You’ve been exchanging emails for months or years. You wanna buy that person a drink or food. You wanna celebrate that. And they remember you favorably next time. I don’t think anybody has ever brought anybody to one of these events at a larger company and not had return on investment from it. And so I really encourage people to start doing that, bringing a wider breadth of people there because they all add value.

(7m 51s): That was something that I really took away. As most folks know I’ve been with ad results for a little over seven years now. And I started off as the obscure temp who just came in for two weeks to answer some emails and listen to some air checks. And so there are a lot of people within the industry that I have emailed with back and forth, but have never actually had an opportunity to meet face to face. So I would literally bump into people, look at their name tag, and be like, wait a second. I know you, and it was great to, to have that moment to really get to connect and be able to, you know, actually just be in the same room as each other and, and be able to have those conversations that, you know, that we’ve sort of been dancing around these past few years, but yeah, don’t always get to have totally via email,

(8m 38s): A hundred percent agree.

(8m 40s): So Dre, was this your first podcast movement or had you gotten a go before?

(8m 44s): So it was my first podcast movement. I have attended the IAB upfronts a few times. It’s been several years. So this was definitely my first in person event since pandemic and having a kid and all that. So it was a lot, but it was really great. I went into it kind of with social anxiety because I was like, do I know how to network anymore? I haven’t how to do this in so long, but it was really great. You know, I love getting to do the business meetings in person with everyone, but even more than that, just being able to get together and kind of celebrate the relationships that we’ve built and fostered in this industry.

I can’t imagine working in any other space because the people that I have made connections with just via email and phone call are like lifelong friendships now. And I love being able to actually reenact our relationship in person because so much of it has been done virtually for so long, even before the pandemic, we didn’t have big conferences to attend all the time. And when we did, it would just be a couple of people going, like not a big presence like we did this time.

So yeah, I felt very grateful to have been chosen to go. And it was an honor to be able to represent ad results, but it was also just a thrill really like the whole week was so much energy and I just, the relationships were amazing. So that was my favorite.

(10m 16s): What year was the IAB upfront that you went to?

(10m 18s): I went to two or three. I definitely went to 2017 and 2018. I really, I can’t remember if I went to 2019 or not. I think that I did, but it’s a blur

(10m 32s): That, I mean, it’s a whole new industry. I mean, we probably have added four times the amount of people working in the space since then, if not more, since that time period. So that’s wild, like it’s completely different and, and you know, you’re talking so passionately about podcasting. The truth is, is we’re all very qualified individuals. And if we decided to do something besides podcasting, which is a lot of advocacy work about the industry, I’m pretty sure we would work less hours and potentially make more money.

So it’s, you know, when we say this, like when we want people to come out to these things, it’s because we’re passionate. We all want to interact. It’s held on for this long. I mean, you know, in three years how big it’s grown, I think it can continue to hold on. I think it can feel like a different industry. I think it can feel like a lot of people, the ad side, our business side, we’re so close to the content. And I can’t imagine CTV feels like that. I can’t imagine the ad agencies and technology partners get up there and like, feel like they’re close with the Acast from, this is us.

Whereas we’re like we get off the stage and someone from our favorite podcast takes the next panel. It’s, it’s the same environment. And I think that that’s what makes a difference. So hopefully we’re able to hold onto that.

(11m 44s): Yeah, absolutely. I think just comparing the two, I always felt like the panels at the IAB upfronts were very, I don’t wanna use the word stale, but that’s what comes to mind. It was very much the networks sharing, how they’re the best, every single network was doing a, this is why we’re the best. We’re the number one. That’s, we’re the number one that

(12m 8s): Everybody’s in first place. Yeah.

(12m 9s): And it was trying to get people to like recognize that they’re strong in the industry. Whereas this was much more of a, here are the problems, how do we solve them? And it, I didn’t realize going into podcast movement, that it was so much more geared towards creators. And I really loved that approach because I think it takes away all of the, let’s all throw money at these panels and bring in the top celebrity and instead take a step back and say, okay, like on a more granular level, what are we doing for podcast?

What’s working for our clients, what’s working for creators and publishers. Like it was just a really refreshing take that I, I just didn’t expect it going into it. So I really enjoyed it. I thought it was way more valuable than I’ve ever taken away from the upfronts, which maybe I shouldn’t say that. And we won’t put in the podcast, but I, I really loved it. And I hope I get to go back to the next one. Well,

(13m 11s): To Jim this in there so that you can’t edit it out, I think the fronts are, are a paid sales environment. I mean, I think that they’re paying a substantial amount of money to get up there for 20 minutes. And they’re hoping that you’re gonna sit in all 20 of the presentations that they have there. And that’s the IAB model, right? The buyers get to come to the table for free. All of the sellers are up there and are paying a premium to do it. We’ve continued to do it digitally, which is a huge miss. It’s a different environment. There’s no room to talk about growth when everybody’s competing for attention. But if you talk about growth and then you give room to communicate, everybody can sell privately selling loud and publicly on a stage is kind of gross.

Like nobody enjoys that, talking about how you wanna fix and grow the industry. And then having a quiet conversation, great way to win business.

(13m 58s): I kind of had the same realization, Andrea, I wasn’t expecting so many panels to be Creator focused. And so I realized about halfway through, I was just sitting there and I’m like every panel that I’ve been to has been geared towards the Creator and, and how they can thrive in how they can be successful. And I’m not sitting here having anybody try to sell to me, which was something that I experienced at VidCon. There was a lot of, you know, we’re number one in this. This is why you should work with us, yada, yada, yada. And so I also really liked that approach.

(14m 29s): Yeah. And, and the setup was good too. We had that giant bridge to keep the people who were having a meetings away from the people who were trying to enjoy the conference. Yes. Right. And you know, and it’s neat, but I think we’re at the cusp of where it’s like, kind of like burning man, right. Which is now like a corporate ad tech event sometimes. Right. There’s a lot of CEOs and technology, people going to burning man and having their meetings and then partying in a separate area than the creative people. And that’s what we’re seeing with podcast movement. Right. There’s the two sides of it. And they can coexist. And sometimes it’s the responsibility of the business side to support and pay a little bit more and carry the weight so that the Creator side can thrive.

Now,

(15m 6s): Bryan, I don’t wanna totally put you on the spot by asking you what your favorite panel was. But I believe you said that you were on seven.

(15m 13s): Yes. I was on two on Tuesday. And then I was on five panels throughout the week. I definitely walked into one panel and said, what’s the topic for this one? And then they told me, and I said, who was the moderator? And they laughed. And I was like, oh, I’m the moderator I had, I had prepared notes beforehand. We had gone over questions. Everything was a great success. But truthfully, I wasn’t able to sit into any panels besides myself, like the ones that I was on and they were fun. I think they were really good. I think there were a lot of really cool people.

My favorite one personally, was the one I did with red circle on Friday because it was about creators and different monetization options. And I, I looked at the audience, there are about 20 people there. And I said to them, we’re gonna go quick into questions. We’re gonna do about half of it or talk on stage. I have some questions here, but this can become a workshop as a thank you for all of you being here. These are experts in monetization, from different models, whether add supported or Patreon or all these different options. And it was really nice. I think we got to answer questions from almost everyone.

We talked to everyone a little bit afterwards, and that felt really good because I definitely had one panel, which there was someone from ad results on as well, where it was baked in versus dynamic ad insertion. And I was just like, oh, they put me on here to pick a fight. This is fun.

(16m 32s): No.

(16m 32s): Yeah. But I mean, overall, overall, it was really good. I think that there were even the panels that I missed. I got to talk to people afterwards. They caught me up on them. I’m I’m gonna actually go back and watch some of them virtually. But I think, I think they did a really good job at curating them panels this year.

(16m 49s): I’m curious. Did you leave with any takeaways that just have you kind of looking forward to things that are coming down the pike for the industry or, you know, how did you leave at, you know, it sounds like it was an exciting time, but did you, you know, get fired up about anything that you learned while you were there?

(17m 3s): Yeah. So maybe Brian’s least favorite panel was probably my favorite. Granted, I didn’t attend as many as you were on. So my options are limited. I had a lot of meetings, I would say the entire approach to dynamic insertion ad buying. It is all over the place. It’s something that we have as an agency identified as a problem that needs to be solved. And I think a lot of others in the industry are collectively trying to solve that problem.

And it’s gonna be more of a focus for us going into 2023. I think just having a better understanding of how all of our publishers and partners are selling are even inserting ads would be super helpful in terms of understanding it for our clients and being able to make more educated recommendations on how to buy and how much to buy. I think a, a really big key is going to be finding out how to measure frequency, which some networks have shared that they’re able to do it.

And some networks have said they have no way of doing it. I don’t know what to believe there because I think it seems counterintuitive if you can’t measure frequency, but you’re dynamically inserting ads, but that’s probably the thing that I’m most eager to tackle. And I think it’s probably also one of the most imperative things that we need to address as an agency for our advertisers that we work with.

(18m 28s): Yeah. I, I think that was a big topic there and I think we have three competing factors. We have business decisions versus technology versus creative execution because the technology for dynamic ad insertion are baked in. It’s simple. Right. How does the file get to the hosting platform? Does it have the ads all in it, or do you do it unique per download request that doesn’t dictate the business decision? You can do an ad through dynamic ad insertion, which is creatively, the host reading it set to serve just like you would do a baked in ad, right?

There’s all of these terminology problems. And I think that there are a lot of people out there capitalizing on that because I get it putting an ad in, baked in and leaving it for years allows for a maximum return on investment and not really focusing on impressions, but on downloads or not looking at it past the window and getting some added value. But these tools need to be updated and we really need to separate the three of them. And we have to move towards a really defined version of like, what is a host red ad? What is a 62nd ad?

What are the options? Right? We, we need our banner unit. We need our three 20 by 50, whatever, whatever that standard unit is. We don’t have it in podcasting because there’s still too many options. And everybody kind of says, there’s the best. And as a buyer, that’s frustrating. And that goes into the second thing is, and I think Lindsay’s gonna love this. We need to prioritize creative execution aggressively. We need to put budgets towards it. This isn’t, here’s a bunch of bullet points and hope that the host hits a home run. This is a creative shop makes an ad.

And that ad is a valuable branding asset for that brand, regardless of who they buy from, right? Maybe the host stimulates it, maybe they don’t, and it runs programmatically dynamically inserted, locally sold all these different things. It can be even baked in if they want to. The execution, doesn’t matter on that. And outside of the creative and having that branding incredibly valuable. And I think that the agencies that buy into that and build that, I mean, just imagine the power of giving one of your clients, an Ad Results, Media, creative that you made, and then they go run it with other partners and then they always refer to the success of that ad run elsewhere if they do right as oh, the ad results ad ran really well.

That’s a great way to get them coming back to you.

(20m 46s): That’s probably something that Nate would probably get fired up to about as a senior copywriter.

(20m 52s): I just wanna say you’re preaching to the choir over here, but

(20m 54s): Exactly.

(20m 56s): Yeah.

(20m 57s): I mean, all of us here are really excited to just put that proposal together and be like, yes, we’d like to add $50,000 for creative execution. And then the sales people laugh at us, but that’s the first step, right? Rich media and mobile. Like we used to do that. We used to just make the ads and I, they did not support the buy, right. A $50,000 ad buy. And we would spend 250,000 on in people, hours on building the ad. Like it eventually falls apart. When the big companies come into play, they’re going to have an audio strategy or they’re gonna be looking for us to develop it.

They’re not going to be treating. Every host is just added value, creative execution.

(21m 34s): So I just wanted to add really quickly too, like talking about dynamic insertion to me, where it gets really fun is thinking about how does programmatic and, and these technologies that we’re talking about. How can that combined with really smart, creative execution just maximize the impact. And I think that feels like a frontier right now.

(21m 50s): Yeah. There’s dynamic creative, right at the time of request, determining what the ad is, how you compose it like a Madlibs almost, or like if you do an ad with team Coco and Conan reads the ad and it kills for his show, why can’t you do a slightly different version where he reads it and now you have a celebrity ad read somewhere else. We don’t have that. We don’t have, you know, like the Michael Jordan adre, we don’t have the major celebrity announcer at ad Reid. We dismiss it because it’s just an unknown voice. We can fix that.

(22m 20s): So I know that we’re coming up on time here. So my final question to you guys is what was missing from podcast movement this year that you would like to see in the future?

(22m 28s): That’s such a tough one. I, I think diversity and inclusion. And I think that it is, I think a lot of companies sounds properly included. I think ad results included are starting to realize that we really need to go out there and find the right people grow them appropriately or hire them at their higher wages. Because I think more diverse individuals out there as Tom webs are so well, put it in our summit, they have jobs, they’re crushing it and they’re in demand. You can’t just simply say, come apply to us and we’ll prioritize it.

We have to go find them and build them. And I think that we’re getting closer on the divide between male and female, but I think that we’re still a very white industry on the business side. And I think everybody is committed to it and we have time to improve. And I think we will. I really, I really think that we understand that the audience of podcast listeners is far more diverse than the people on the business side of it. And we realize that on the Creator side, we’re doing that. We’re, we’re empowering that. But I think on the business side we need to too.

And I think it’s starting to happen more and more.

(23m 32s): I totally agree.

(23m 33s): Well guys, thanks so much for joining. I hope that one day I will also be able to attend. I didn’t get to go this year. It sounds like podcast Mo was really great. And I hope our listeners got as much out of your takeaways as we

(23m 44s): Did. Thanks for having us.

(23m 47s): We hope you enjoyed the episode. If you did do us a favor and share it on your social feed of choice

(23m 52s): And for a limited time click the subscribe button to get the latest episode sent right to your favorite podcast app.

(23m 59s): Okay. So there’s not really a time limit, but what would a show like ours be without a bit of urgency sprinkled on top of the call to action

(24m 5s): While you’re at it, please leave us a review. We’d love to hear your thoughts, questions, or ideas for future episodes. So feel free to email us directly at onthemic@adresultsmedia.com.

(24m 15s): 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 LinkedIn.

(24m 29s): We’re proud to be a part of the Ad Week Podcast Network and the Acast Creator Network. Find more podcasts like this one at adweek.com/podcasts.

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