Brands have been embarking on the journey of producing podcasts for years now– Pacific Content will be celebrating our ten year anniversary next year (!!!). But still, compared to other marketing mediums, podcasts are still relatively new territory for a lot of marketers. Even as marketers intuit the power of producing a podcast, it can be challenging to measure this power. And that can make it difficult to justify the investment to their boss. (Though we’ve shared some helpful tips for convincing your boss to make a podcast on our blog in the past.)
Over the past year, there’s been way more scrutiny around marketing budgets. So when it comes time to assess where money is being spent, how do podcasts compare?
What are original podcasts from brands really good at?
There are some problems that podcasts can help you solve better than other mediums:
- Capturing your consumer’s full attention for an extended period of time
- Demonstrating brand values through rich storytelling
- Introducing potential customers to key thought leaders within your company
- Increasing brand affinity
- Building thought leadership
Many marketers have become accustomed to measuring success in terms of impressions delivered. Social media does a great job of putting big numbers in front of buyers– and you can grow those numbers simply by spending more money. When it comes to podcasts, we typically measure reach through downloads. But downloads don’t really tell the full story– they don’t measure any of the things that podcasts are actually good at.
Downloads tell you how many people came to your podcast party, but they don’t tell you how long they stayed or if they want to come back again. That’s where attention and unique listeners come in. Attention is the amount of time people spend with the podcast. You can break it down like this: If you have 100,000 downloads of your 30 minute podcast and each listener only spends ten minutes (33%) with the podcast, you have a million minutes of listen time. But if you have have 50,000 downloads and each of those people really like your show and spend 25 minutes (83%) with the podcast, you have 1.25 million minutes of listen time. That’s 250,000 extra minutes with your brand– with half the audience.
And if we’re looking to compare across mediums, 100,000 listens of your podcast episode could be worth much, much more than 100,000 scrolls past your Instagram post. Both are considered metrics that measure “impressions,” but really these two metrics don’t compare very well.
So, how can we take it a step further and get beyond just the downloads?
One of the most important metrics that we like to encourage all our clients to focus on is listener retention. Are listeners sticking through the entire episode? This is a much better metric to measure those “sitting-in-your-car-to-finish-the-episode” moments, the moments that really amount to actual benefits for your brand.
But for senior marketers unfamiliar with podcasts, this metric might feel a little hard to compare to other marketing initiatives. So how can we take this engagement metric and put it into terms that can be compared across other mediums? How can we measure the impact of your marketing dollars?
The Cost of Attention
We’d like to introduce you to a new metric to help highlight the power of podcasts in comparison to other marketing initiatives: Cost Per Minute of Attention.
Here’s a sample of the formula:
TOTAL TIME SPENT LISTENING/ COST OF PRODUCTION = COST PER MINUTE OF ATTENTION
To calculate total time spent listening for an episode of your podcast, we need three important data points:
- Episode length
- Average episode completion (we take this number from Apple, which typically accounts for 65–80% of a podcast’s audience and gives us a great number to extrapolate engagement numbers across other platforms)
With these data points, we can do some quick math to calculate total time listening.
First, let’s calculate the average amount of time each individual spends with the episode:
EPISODE LENGTH X AVERAGE EPISODE COMPLETION = EPISODE MINUTES LISTENED
Now, let’s take this number to find the total minutes of attention.
EPISODES MINUTES LISTENED X TOTAL DOWNLOADS = TOTAL MINUTES OF ATTENTION
Finally, we can calculate the cost of attention:
TOTAL MINUTES OF ATTENTION/ PRODUCTION COST= COST OF ATTENTION
When we calculate the cost of attention, it’s important to remember that price goes down over time. How is that? The long tail of podcasting and the evergreen nature of what we produce at PCC means new people come to the show even after it is not releasing new episodes. Which means the number of minutes of attention goes up, while the original production cost doesn’t.
How could we apply this formula to other mediums? We’ll use some numbers based on averages and best practices to demonstrate how you can apply this formula.
Let’s start with video
Let’s say your brand spent $15,000 producing a 5 minute video. Based on average audience retention metrics for video, audiences might on average watch about 50% of the video. Let’s generously say the video gets 10,000 views. Our calculations begin with determining total watch time:
(LENGTH OF VIDEO X AVERAGE WATCH TIME) X TOTAL VIEWS = TOTAL TIME SPENT
Using our example, this formula looks like:
(5 minutes x 50%) x 10,000 views = 25,000 minutes
We can then plug this number into our formula for Cost Per Minute of Attention:
15 minutes/ $15,000 = $1.67/ minute
How would this formula apply to other marketing initiatives?
How about blog posts?
Our formula for total time spent looks like:
37 seconds x 10,000 views = 370,000 seconds
If we plug this into our formula for Cost Per Minute of Attention, we get:
370,000 seconds/ $300 = $1233.33/ second OR $20.56/ minute
Now that you have this formula, we encourage you to try applying it to all of your marketing initiatives. How does your podcast compare to other mediums? Which medium is the winner?
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