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Thursday, 18 February 2021

How to make buck off a podcast

The podcast industry is still figuring out how to make a buck. While podcasting is the fastest-growing advertising medium, few are able to make a living running a show as the industry brings in less than USD 1 bn in ad revenue annually, writes Axios. Meanwhile, consumer adoption continues to outpace monetization, with more than 90 million people in the US alone estimated to be listening to podcasts every month, according to a 2019 survey by Edison Research.

The top 1% of podcasts account for 99% of downloads. Only a few big players are making sizable earnings, including the podcasting department at The New York Times, which made USD 30 mn in revenue in 2019. Vox’s podcasting business has eight figures of annual turnover, and podcast host Joe Rogan recently signed a USD 100 mn exclusivity agreement with Spotify.

How is monetization done now? The podcast ecosystem was built in a decentralized manner via RSS feeds which deliver new episodes to podcast apps (like Apple Podcasts, Google and Spotify). Some platforms including Spotify use “streaming ad insertion,” to place host and voice talent-read ads within different podcasts. Others rely on radio-like audio ads that are automatically placed within episodes. As for podcasters themselves, monetization often means striking partnerships with brands to promote their products or services in audio form or through affiliate links. Less common methods of monetization include organizing events and meetups or selling merchandise, Entrepreneur writes.

Consolidation of services is key to building an advertising market. Major companies have begun investing to expand their podcast empires by aggregating podcast firms together and creating an end-to-end supply chain complete with advertising, distribution and hosting. Spotify acquired podcast advertising company Megaphone last year for USD 235 mn in a bid to make their streaming ad insertion technology available to podcast publishers themselves. Meanwhile, Apple last year reportedly acquired Scout FM, a startup that creates radio-like stations for podcasts to offer listeners a curated selection of podcasts and Amazon acquired Wondery in December after competing with Sony for the podcast publisher. ss

We’re seeing examples of this in MENA as well: Sowt Podcasts launched the Zamakan Podcast Network that aims to promote podcast discoverability and monetization for podcast producers, the platform said. Zamakan will consolidate all production services including hosting, outreach and publishing, ad sales, and live events for network members. The project received funding from the Google News Initiative under its Innovation Challenge fund.

We’re already making a buck on Making It: Our podcast about building a great business right here in Egypt has run for three seasons thanks to our friends at CIB, the United States Agency for International Development and EFG Hermes. We’ve sat down with high-profile business leaders from industries including fintech, manufacturing, investment banking, diagnostics, retail, and F&B. We try to have episodes to meet everyone’s taste, while exploring how the Egyptian economy fosters homegrown and multinational business.

Pictured above is Edita CEO Hani Berzi at our studio — you can listen to our chat here or check out episodes from season three:

You can check out all seasons of Making It on: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Anghami | Omny. We’re also available on Spotify, but only for non-MENA accounts. Subscribe to Making It on your podcatcher of choice here. Well be back for season four later this spring.

Local podcasts you should also give a listen:

  • Radical Contemporary Podcast by our friend Nour Hassan is about sharing, discovery and appreciation of artistic and personal expression in the MENA region and beyond.
  • Mommy’s Happy Hour is the first Egypt-based podcast produced by UAE’s Amaeya Media. Listen to mother-of-twins Heba Shunbo recall her experience with getting pregnant later on in life.
  • The Potcast is an Egyptian lifestyle podcast that covers issues such as mental health and addiction.
  • Egyptian Streets is out with their own podcast where they talk to Egyptians around the world driving social change. They’ve talked to satirist Bassem Youssef and graphic designer Deena Mohamed.

What to look forward to: Advertising spending in podcasts in the US is expected to increase 45% this year to USD 1.13 bn while the global podcast industry is expected to be worth USD 60.5 bn by 2027, reports CMC Markets.

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