FYB 52 | Brand Safety

For marketing and advertising firms, there’s this big awareness for brand safety, thinking about your brand or your show and preparing it to be friendly for advertisers to want to have. It’s not just about the technical aspects but also the bigger picture issue regarding your brand and how it’s perceived and will be perceived by advertisers. You’re going into podcasting because you intend to be an influencer of some kind. Whether or not your intent is to take actual advertisement from major brands or brands that are out there, you’re going to be an advertising platform for your own joint venture partners. You want to be a good partner and a responsible influencer to your listeners. With that comes a lot of consideration from the beginning. Learn the considerations that you need to have some background information on and what brand safety really is all about.

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Brand Safety: Preparing Your Podcast for Advertisers

We’re going to cover a topic about preparing your podcast from the get go to be ready for advertisers. We’re not just talking about technical aspects, we’ve talking about a bigger picture issue regarding your brand and how it’s perceived and how it will be perceived by advertisers. Those that have advertising budgets like marketing and advertising firms that advise big advertisers whether your advertiser is PepsiCo or Coca-cola or any of those big brand names. It doesn’t matter at any level, there’s this big awareness of what they call brand safety. In other words, they don’t want to be associated with influencers, for instance, who are going to stream suicide or something like that, and that’s how this came about. This conversation going on about YouTube or who did that, and there were advertisers who immediately were so upset that they were streamed alongside that video. We see this happen as examples of this in television media all the time where you have so many of these talk show hosts or pundants and they make a controversial statement and then advertisers pull their advertising from the show. That’s the extreme case.

We’re not talking about pulling something that’s established, but there are similar issues here regarding thinking about your brand and your show and preparing it to be friendly for advertisers to want to advertise on it. This is something I’ve written like four or five articles just in the beginning of this year alone about the responsibility between the influencer and the potential advertiser or the association, the brand association with the influencer. If you’re going into podcasting, you’re going into podcasting because you intend to be an influencer of some kind. Whether or not your intent is to take actual advertisement from major brands or brands that are out there and other companies or if you’re going to be advertised, you’re going to be an advertising platform for your own joint venture partners, which is possible as well, you want to be a good partner and that you want to be responsible influencer to your listeners. With that comes a lot of consideration from the beginning.

That’s what we wanted to talk about. It is the idea of how to prepare. There’s little bit of a consideration of how you approach your show and how you tag it and some other things. Those are a little more on the technical side of things to be considering, but you want to consider it from the beginning. One of the biggest issues and one of the most basic issues that every podcast needs to make a decision on from the get go. It’s pretty hard to change it midstream or if you do, that can be risky and that is “Is your show going to need to be or do you even want to be classifying it as an explicit podcast or as what they call a clean or safe podcast?”

That is a decision based on your brand, based on the type of advertisers you want to attract, the type of your joint venture partners, and the type of listeners you have is most important, or the type of content that you’re going to be talking about. You have some podcasts depending on the content, the subject matter, you’re not going to have a choice. You’re going to have to market explicit if you’re going to have any meaningful discussions about the subject matter, but most of the podcasts that we work with are in some way subject matter expert or business-related. The subjects that they’re talking about, for the most part, don’t require using any explicit language.

We made a decision early on that we were hoping that our show, like our 3D Print Show, was educational. There might students on there, there might be teachers on there. We wanted to make sure that you could play this in the car with your kids in there and that’s because we have kids at home and that was the consideration for us. This is something you want to learn. You might be driving carpool, and so we thought about that and we said, “We’re going to have a clean show from the beginning.” Occasionally someone’s going to drop an F bomb, it’s going to happen. We’ll just edit it out. We can take that out and no one would ever know that that language was used in our actual interview and even the guest on our show probably wouldn’t even remember when they listen to the episode that, “They took out the swear that I said there.” I don’t think they’d even remember because the way things have changed culturally in America, a lot more explicit language is used in common speech that I would say is unnecessary, but just happens to be the way people talk and you can take that out.

We chose to do that even though our title is WTFFF which sounds like it’s going to be a swear and I always joke that that’s what my mom thought it was because she didn’t listen to the first 25 episodes. We were eighteen months into the show and she thought we were swearing at everyone, but it was a play on acronyms if we want to be accurate. It had nothing to do with that. We were clear to describe it in the description and people learned it immediately from our introduction, so they certainly felt comfortable that we were truly keeping it clean from the beginning. It’s a choice that we made because we also knew that we would one day perhaps be taking advertisers that it was a plan of ours to be able to have filament companies and printer companies and those kinds of things. They’re going to be selling into education and they’re going to be selling into families. We wanted to make sure that they felt comfortable with who we were as people and what influence we were having and that their brand wasn’t going to be associated with anything they didn’t want. That was a consideration. We did that from the very beginning.

Let’s talk briefly on the same subject about the consequences of not listing your podcast or your episode. You can do it on an episode by episode basis, so there are some differing opinions as to how effective that is, but let’s talk about the consequences if you put a podcast out there that has some explicit language in it and you do not mark it as explicit. The consequence is if you do have “The majority of my episodes are completely clean,” but you recorded one episode and somebody does swear once in one episode or once or twice, and you’re like “I’m not going to worry about that. Most of my episodes are fine. I’m going to put it out there.” The problem is, especially if I were a parent and I’m in the car listening to a podcast and my kid hears this word and like, “Daddy, what does that mean?” What happens is that parent may contact iTunes or Stitcher, whoever they listen through. You can report an episode. You can report it right on your app in some apps. There are a number of ways you can reach out and report a podcast that has listed itself as clean and has explicit language in it. It doesn’t have to be every episode. It could just be a single episode, but if you haven’t properly classified your episode, iTunes can shut your feet down and delist your show.

It is very hard to get it relisted once you do that. Even if you then edit that episode out and get back in there, it’s a big headache and a lot of work. You don’t want to put yourself in that position, so I do not recommend you do that. Make a decision from the get go. Is it going to be clean? Are you going to allow language and make it explicit? I don’t think the majority of listeners are turned off to listen to a show that’s marked as explicit. I don’t think it changes and reduces the number of audience you will ultimately have. Best practice and recommendation is to make a decision, be upfront about it, and stick with it. Make sure it’s relevant, so if it’s not necessary, if it’s not relevant too because it’s a mature topic or because of the types of audiences you’re looking to attract, then don’t do it. It’s not worth it. Clearly if you’ve got a subject matter that is clearly about mature subjects, every subject is probably legitimate in some way, shape or form, but if it’s a mature subject and strong language is going to be used, you don’t have a choice, you got to do it

FYB 52 | Brand Safety

Brand Safety: Make sure that you have a certain reverential tone, like you care so much about the subject.

Thinking about that in terms of brand safety, that some family wholesome brands, they don’t want to be advertising on anything that’s marked explicit anyway. It just doesn’t matter; that’s their policy, so it can limit your advertisers and so that’s something to consider from the get go if it’s unnecessary. If it’s necessary, it’s going to make sense and the right type of advertisers will be there for you because they want to connect with that audience. An example of that is drugs. Heavy amounts of drug content and discussions about drugs, those are shows that should be marked explicit. There are certain policies within the language about how you do that, but it’s also likely to come up that certain brands want to be associated with that because they want to help you recover if they’re in recovery or whatever that might be.

Another good example of a podcast that came to us recently for counsel, I forget the name of it honestly, but the podcast subject matter is about sex. Obviously, they’re going to be marked explicit. I’ll tell you what though, there are tons of advertisers lining up to want to advertise on those podcasts because of whatever products they sell that would appeal to that audience. It’s a right fit between the advertiser and the listening audience, and so the fact that it’s explicit isn’t going to reduce their monetization options at all. Just make sure it’s relevant for you and for your subject matter and the topics that you plan to cover, because sometimes that’s a brand safety X mark. In other words, if you tread on this, the brand won’t advertise with you. It’s a no-go.

The next one that is important is to make sure that you have a certain reverential tone, like you care so much about the subject that you’re going to take great care with how you address it, with who you bring on to associate with that, what topics you’re covering, and all of that. That it’s not just about chasing dollars are chasing click bait, that it’s about being the best service to your audience. When you have that reverential treatment of your audience, then the brands are going to likely feel that you’re going to take great care and/or if you made a mistake. It happens, don’t get me wrong, you made a mistake, you had an episode, you had a guest, and it wasn’t a great idea.

On our system, it’s great because we block ads from that particular guest, from that particular interview and you’re done with that and you don’t have to ever worry about it again, but not every system is like that because a lot of systems stream ads on there. If you’ve got one that was a mistake, take it down, just remove it, admit it was a mistake, re-record it, and do something different about it. It happens to everyone, but if all in all, you’re doing your very best to try to do the subject, be the expert that you are, and service your community well, then you’re going to be aligned with anyone else who might want to advertise to those people and be in line with that. That being said, on the brand side of advertising, they ought to listen to your show. They ought to know who you are.

They absolutely should but I bet you, too many of them don’t. That’s what I was going to say that my thing about it is sometimes when we get somebody asking to advertise, I’ll say, “Have you listened to the show? Do you know who we are and do you know what we’re about? Why do you want to advertise?” That sounds a little picky and it is, but the thing is my audience is valuable to us. I care about you. I care about whether or not you’re getting the best information out there and I want to make sure that someone isn’t just coming on because they’re tapping into some influence or document that showed that we showed up at the top of the influence lists, we had the highest clout score or whatever that might be. I don’t want it to be just because of that, or we had the right number of followers.

It’s not a sign of good influence and it’s not a sign of a good fit and sometimes those advertisers can hurt you. We find that happen a lot with JV partners and alliances that sometimes when we email out, they are not a good fit for us, they don’t serve us well, and if we didn’t take the time to check them out, we have a high unsubscribe rate on our email list. We care about that in our podcast advertising as well. Making sure that you’re vetting your advertisers is important for your brand as it is for theirs. The more you can align those interests, the more likely your listening audience is going to be a good fit for the advertiser and is going to respond to calls to actions and convert, which at the end of the day is what you want because you want your advertiser to be happy and you don’t want to come back to advertise again in the future or to be a good reference for other advertisers too.

The last thing that I want to leave everyone with is that if you’re planning from the get go to take advertisers to have this joint venture relationship in which you’re providing mixing of their offers with your offers or their offers on your podcast, like cross promotions, if you’re making that, if you’re going to be setting that out, then you better get your stats from the get go. You better go on, you better not be cheap about that, go in and make sure that your podcast host has the best stats out there, and those stats are accurate because there’s lots of them that are inaccurate. I would also say this goes beyond your podcast stats. You need your website stats as well. That’s what we do. We mix between our website so we do advertise on our website as well as on our podcast because we have a lot more traffic that goes to our site than to our podcast at all times or people who listen to our podcast on the site, so being served ads is a useful place in both areas. Not just audio ads even, but like cost per click, visual ads, but our own version of that. That makes a big difference, making sure that you’re tracking those stats from the very beginning of your podcast because that way you have good historical data. You know your growth rate month over month even if you don’t have a high amount of downloads.

This is how we sold our very first ad. We sold our very first ad when we only had 25,000 listeners a month and we sold that because we also knew that our growth rate was 40% month over month, so they felt that there was a good trajectory and so it made it a lot easier for us to close that advertiser. A lot of times people might get discouraged from some of these different platforms where you have to apply to be on them and to be able to have them place advertisers on your show, you have to have a minimum of 20,000 downloads per episode and all those things, and though those are programs that are not going to have a good match necessarily between your sponsor and the listening audience. It doesn’t take into account some of these other very real and tangible benefits for the sponsor, so they won’t look at the trajectory of a podcast but the others that understand the medium and understand the value will say, “There’s a good trend month over month to your growth. I want to be a part of this podcast because I know this is going get a lot of listeners in the future too.”

The other thing is that, from my perspective, the back catalog. What you call your own old episodes, your starter episodes, your beginning episodes, are very valuable to binge listeners, to people who are new to your show and those are some of the best to advertise on. They have the highest value. If you don’t have an ability to put ads across your entire platform, if you can only do it in and bake it into your new episodes or stream it on the ends of things, then you’re not doing a great service to your advertiser and so that has to do with hosting and who you place ads with and who you work with, or to your advertiser or to your listeners because they would not be listening to some of the best episodes with the current ad.

FYB 52 | Brand Safety

Brand Safety: Podcasts are some of the best and most influential and higher click-through rates.

These are the considerations we wanted you to have some background information on what we look for and what brand safety means because you’re going to be hearing more and more of that terminology as you go out there. Brands are getting a little bit more specific about who their advertising with and where they’re advertising. Podcasts are some of the best and most influential and higher click-through rates, if you want to call it that for the website portions of it, but higher conversion rates from calls to action, have the highest out of all the media, in everything that we’ve done in all the different ones that has the highest conversion for call to action, and so you have a lot of power and you can build that power in from the beginning, so we definitely want you to take advantage of that.

We hope you enjoyed that episode. If you have any questions or comments on it, please, you can go to the blog posts at FeedYourBrand.co or comment anywhere on social media, especially Facebook @FeedYourBrand.

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