The Podcast News

Transcriptions, Submissions, Automations, Conversions, and More

Episode Summary

This week: Rev.com (popular online transcription service) lowers pay rates for their contract workers, Apple now allows you to hide new shows in Podcasts Connect while you wait for their review and approval, the podcast industry is grappling with the prospect of automated ads, Podsights looks at conversion rates for pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll podcast ads, and more.

Episode Notes

Welcome to The Podcast News, a weekly show for podcast producers and anyone who loves podcasting. My name is Aaron Dowd and here are the most interesting news articles and tutorials for the second week of November 2019.

This week: Rev.com (popular online transcription service) lowers pay rates for their contract workers, Apple now allows you to hide new shows in Podcasts Connect while you wait for their review and approval, the podcast industry is grappling with the prospect of automated ads, Podsights looks at conversion rates for pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll podcast ads, and more.

1

Rev.com (Popular Online Transcription Service) Lowers Pay Rates for Transcriptionists

I've been tracking this story since Monday, November 11th. It started with a tweet I saw from Andy Dehnart (@realityblurred):

If you use Rev for transcriptions, read this thread. I’d love to know how Rev justifies keeping 70 cents for every $1 customers pay, and giving the actual transcriptionist 30 cents per minute of audio.

Since Rev.com is the transcription service I've recommended and used before (I really liked the ease and quality of the service), I took a look at the message Andy retweeted from @thricedotted.

all right folks, i'm about to post a thread that's going to endanger the last reliable source of income i have. spoiler: it's yet another example of a gig economy startup brazenly mistreating its workers. let's go! - https://twitter.com/thricedotted/status/1193928787857039362?s=20

I'd encourage you to go read through the entire back and forth between all parties because it's worth understanding the details, but the short of it seems to be Rev.com made a change that lowered the pay for their contract workers to a point where they're not going to be able to make a livable wage.

I'm thinking about two things related to this.

The first being pay and benefits for people doing gig economy and skilled labor work full-time: They should be paid a living wage and provided benefits. Also, we need universal healthcare in the United States ASAP.

The second thing I'm thinking about is the alternative to transcriptionists, which is transcripts made by computers and software.

In my experience, these transcripts produced by computers require quite a bit of work to fix (depending on the show format and length, of course), so the end result is that you end up spending a non-trivial amount of time doing the same things you'd pay a transcriptionist to do. Except they do it better and faster than you, so you quickly realize why they're worth paying for.

I see automated computer-generated transcriptions getting more accurate over time, which means fewer requests for podcast transcripts. If I were currently working in podcast transcription, I would begin offering other related services, like creating show notes and blog posts, managing the admin work and social media accounts for the show, and so on.

Regardless, all workers deserve fair pay. Erika Hall summed it up perfectly in a tweet: Underpaying contract workers is not a technology.

Dig into what happened here:

Alternatives to Rev:

Finally, here's a petition to Rev's CEO Jason Chicola asking for fair wages for Rev.com workers. Please consider signing it.

•••

2

From Apple: You can now hide new shows in Podcasts Connect while waiting for them to be approved by Apple's team.

From an email from the Apple Podcasts team:

Manage Show Launches

You can now hide shows while being reviewed for approval. This way you can easily manage the launch of new shows directly from Podcasts Connect.

Simply select "Hide Podcast" after submitting it for review — this action will not impact or delay the feed’s review process. When approved, you can then select "Unhide Podcast" and allow up to 24 hours for your show to become searchable on Apple Podcasts.

Learn more about planning and promoting your new shows on Podcast Marketing Best Practices.

I'm very pleased by this update. In the past (and presently with other podcast directories), there wasn't a way to get a new show reviewed and approved and listed without also having it go public as soon as the show was approved. This meant that it wasn't really possible to coordinate the launch of a show with when the show would show up in Apple Podcasts and other podcast directories.

The best workaround was to publish a trailer episode and then submit the show feed for review and approval, and then publish the first full episodes when you were ready to "launch the show".

This new update solves that problem. Thanks Apple Podcasts team!

Also worth noting:

Holiday Submission Schedule

If you plan to release new shows on Apple Podcasts in November or December, be aware of the following periods of delayed submission activity:

•••

3

From The Wall Street Journal: Podcast Industry Grapples With the Prospect of Automated Ads

Couple excerpts from the article:

As podcasts attract more advertisers, podcast publishers and ad sellers are beginning to embrace tactics that are common on the internet, including the automated buying and selling of targeted ads.

The vast majority of podcast ads today are sold directly, not auctioned through programmatic technology vendors. Most also are read by hosts or producers and baked into episodes during the recording, though they are sometimes edited in afterward.

The trick is figuring out how to apply ad tech to podcasting without breaking what’s working, industry executives said.

Programmatic sales remain a sliver of the podcast ad business. They grew to 1.3% of U.S. sales last year from 0.7% in 2017, according to research by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

Couple thoughts I had after reading this:

  1. Almost anytime I hear a programmatically inserted ad, I start tapping the skip ahead 15 seconds button.
  2. I'd bet long-time hard-core podcast listeners are more sensitive to programmatic ads then people who recently started listening to podcasts, although no one likes ads for things they aren't interested in. The hard part is finding brands/services/products that your audience will be into.
  3. In my mind, the best option for the listener is having the hosts read the ads, and then dynamically inserting those recordings into various places in the show.
  4. From Marketingcharts.com: Podcast Listeners Open to Ads; Host-Read Perform Best

I like what Tom Webster wrote about ads in an article called The Secret Sauce of Podcast Advertising:

Second-by-second measurement of podcasts is coming. And when it does, the impact of a crappy ad, or too many ads, will be as clear as day.

Ads for irrelevant products, poorly-produced spots, and even host-read ads that ramble without a point for 4 minutes are all going to be skipped. And when ads get skipped, ads don’t perform. And when ads don’t perform, podcasting will suffer as an ad medium.

It will truly become that bane of all marketing — another thing we ruined with advertising.

What do you think? Would you put programatic ads for stuff your audience might not be into that were recorded by someone else into your show if it meant a little extra cash at the end of the month?

•••

4

From Podsights: Which Podcast Ad Placement Converts the Best?

We looked at four campaigns totaling 7.7 million impressions that purchased some combination of pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll spots.

We found pre-rolls were 47% more effective than mid-rolls, and post-rolls were 58% less effective than mid-rolls.

Interesting findings from Podsights. Now I'm wondering if I should be asking people to rate and review and share at the beginning of the episode instead of the end of the episode.

Hmmmm.

•••

5

From Reddit: Can someone explain to me why some podcasts are hard to physically listen to?

u/nosfaretwo: I find some of the episodes hard to listen to in a physical sense. I don't know if it's the way the audio is mixed or recorded or if the bit rate is low, but I'm often left with a headache if I listen to episodes that sound like this.

It isn't just this podcast either - several podcasts seem to sound like this and are difficult to listen to. It sounds compressed or condensed, or not equalized properly. I'm not sure how to describe it.

Can someone with some experience in audio engineering ELI5 (explain this like I'm 5) for me? I want to understand why some podcasts sound like this.

Another user responded, “It's called listener fatigue and depends on the quality of audio recording and it's editing” and shared a link to a Wikipedia article about listener fatigue.

I recommend learning about best practices for recording audio and common audio mistakes to avoid so you can make your show sound good. Good audio is worth investing in for a number of reasons, including preventing your potential fans from experiencing listener fatigue.

•••

Closing Thoughts and Notable Mentions:

From Podnews: Bots are scanning podcasts for music - How to use commercial music in your podcast.

Wordpress launches a Reocurring Payments feature.

From NPR and Edison Research: The Spoken Word Audio Report for 2019 - My favorite two points here:

From the IAB: Recommendations for Marketers in a Screenless World - I haven't had a chance to dig into this yet, but it looks interesting. Heckin long article, though.

My brother-in-law Casey shared a link to a YouTube video from the Computerphile channel that might be interesting to some of you: How Alexa Works (Probably!). Check out this gem from the comments section:

1960: “I hope the gov doesn't wiretap my house.”
2019: “Wiretap, what's on my shopping list?”

From Colin Gray (The Podcast Host): How to Be a Great Podcast Interviewee.

From Jay Acunzo on the Marketing Show Runners website: A CMO’s Business Case for Branded Shows: Data and Ideas to Get Buy-In.

From Katharine Kerr (Podcast Pioneers) on Medium: 10 Predictions for UK Podcasting in 2020.

From the New York Times: How to — Literally — Sound More Confident and Persuasive - Here's a summary for you folks who don't have a subscription:

According to a paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, you can come off as more persuasive by speaking slightly louder than you normally do, and by varying the overall volume of your voice (i.e., speaking both more loudly and softly).

•••

That's going to do it for the show this week: Thanks for listening to (or reading) this week's episode.

Please share the show with a friend and send feedback, thoughts, and cool stories or articles to aaron@thepodcastdude.com.

Until next time, have a great week, and happy podcasting.

Aaron Dowd
November 18, 2019

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This show was produced by me, Aaron Dowd.
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