What does it mean to be a podcast content leader?


Welcome to The Yard, a blog by Backyard Media that explains the podcast industry and podcast advertising.

Of the hundreds of thousands of published podcasts, we usually only hear about a few dozen big studio names. Podcasts from private studios like Gimlet Media or public radio stalwarts like This American Life may have millions of listeners, but the is a whole ecosystem of podcasts out there. Podcast content leaders are one such type of podcast. While they might not be on iTunes' Top 10 Charts, they have substantial, often very valuable audiences.

By "content leaders", we're referring to podcasts that excel in their particular subject matter: law, national security, philosophy, science, or cultural commentary, to name a few. At Backyard Media, we've partnered with a number of podcasts because they are leaders in their respective categories. They have the stellar content, high-profile guests, and specialized audiences that set them apart from other podcasts doing similar work. So let's look at what makes these particular shows so special and what sponsors need to know about them.


Podcast content leaders have consistently high listenership.

One of the primary indicators of an established podcast that leads a particular is that it attracts the same audience size week after week, no matter the topic. For example, Backyard Media's partner Rational Security is a panel discussion podcast that covers many topics within the realm of national security and foreign policy. The panel might discuss FBI investigations one week, Department of Defense news the next, and developments in Afghanistan and Yemen after that. Their audience will stay the same week to week. The folks at Rational Security know this because of the download numbers for each episode - a strong show will post similar numbers for each episode. More consistent numbers indicate a loyal listening audience, whereas spikes at the start or end of a podcast "season", or for episodes about particular topics, indicate lower engagement with the show as a whole.


They have specialized audiences that often work in a specific industry.

The value in these podcasts' audience isn't just in their size or loyalty, but in their demographics. Many listeners of Backyard Media's National Security podcast partners - War on the Rocks, Rational Security, and The Lawfare Podcast, for example - are DC and New York-based professionals who work in defense, foreign policy, and diplomacy. These podcasts are well-known within these industries as a source of industry-relevant analysis. For shows like War on the Rocks and The Lawfare Podcast, their connection with larger media organizations (War on the Rocks and Lawfare, respectively) has entrenched their status further as important sources of news that these professionals should be aware of. Outside of national security, our partner First Mondays has partnered with SCOTUSBlog, one of the most respected outlets for Supreme Court news and case analysis, to serve as its official podcast for the 2017-2018 term. Many of the journalists and legal professionals who consume SCOTUSBlog's content also listen to First Mondays, as it provides them with another way to keep up to date with the cases being heard and predictions about Court rulings.


Podcast content leaders feature high-quality, often ground-breaking content.

The real hallmark of podcasts that lead their respective content categories is the quality of their content. More specifically, for shows that rely on interviews or panels, that means getting knowledgeable guests.

The Rational Security podcast, for example, features three panel guests - Tamara Cofman Wittes, Benjamin Wittes, and Susan Hennessey, all of the Brookings Institution, who provide expert viewpoints of the week's legal or foreign policy news. The Lawfare Podcast, hosted by various Lawfare writers and editors, interviews contributors to the well-regarded Lawfare blog like Orin Kerr, as well as political scientists and legal scholars like University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck.

First Mondays, the podcast about the Supreme Court, features two hosts, Dan Epps and Ian Samuel, who are both respected law professors and former Supreme Court law clerks. Their podcast episodes not only draw upon their in-depth knowledge of case law, but their personal knowledge of the Court's inner workings and the habits of the Justices. The podcast often makes news within the legal community. In its current season, it regularly interviews NPR's legendary legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg for her unique perspective of oral arguments at the Court.


So, what do sponsors need to know about podcast content leaders?

Sponsors can leverage the respect and reputation of these podcast content leaders to gain valuable new customers. Because these podcast hosts have developed a strong voice on their shows, sponsors should make sure to respect the host-listener relationship. The best ads will come from working with the podcasts host and developing an ad that matches the tone of the show. These content leaders often have a higher CPM cost for their ad slots, which reflects the value of their audiences. Because their audiences are more uniform in their demographics, work in particular industries, and have higher-than-average incomes, they can be especially valuable for particular sponsors. Advertising to these audiences can be very valuable for companies hiring in this field or looking to promote a product relevant to industry professionals.


Do you want to hear your company's ad on one of Backyard Media's podcast content leaders and gain valuable new customers? Contact us to learn more about our podcast partners and learn how easy it is to get started.

Backyard Media is a marketplace for podcast advertising. We connect content creators of all shapes and sizes with awesome sponsors, providing them with the resources they need to do what they do best. Everyone wins.

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