Advertising, Magazines & Podcasts

Last year, Daniel Perez has this fantastic idea to get some group podcaster ads in Kobold Quarterly.  I was among those involved, and while I couldn’t tell you if I got any listeners from that ad, I can say that I was happy to be a part of that experiment and to have RPGPodcasts.com also in the mag. This year, Daniel’s looking to repeat the experiment, which I’m happy to partake in again.

Donald Dennis of On Board Games publicly responded to this, and in a way that I completely disagree with.  You can read is full text on his blog, but the part of want to respond to is this:

By charging podcasts for ad space the good folks producing the magazine are asserting they have greater value to us than we have for them, and that’s not a valuation I agree with. Why? It’s easy to skip advertisements in magazines without absorbing any content; it’s tougher to skip them in podcasts. Heck, if a podcast crew talks about a product, like a magazine, that’s about the same impact as a printed editorial or endorsement.

Donald, I think you’ve completely missed the point here. KQ hasn’t approached any of us looking for an ad-exchange or anything like that. KQ isn’t attempting to leverage us as a marketing tool in the way you mention. Sure, they could, and if they approached us as podcasters asking us to advertise, this argument would apply. But they didn’t — Daniel is looking for a few interested podcasters to take up a service KQ provides, that of advertising.  KQ is an entity looking to (I assume) be profitable, which includes meeting its target ad revenue, and we’re a group of entities looking to take advantage of that.

But the assertion that because less than a dozen of us are thinking “hey, let’s advertise on KQ” and that KQ is willing to take our money that somehow KQ is of “greater value” is assinine. That’s like saying that KQ has a greater value than the game companies that advertise with them — because that’s exactly what’s going on here. Just because it’s a different type of media outlet doesn’t change the advertiser-advertisee dynamic.

Let’s not stop there. Donald is saying that it’s wrong to claim that a professional magazine with an editorial staff is something “of greater value” than a group of amateur pseudo-radio nerds doing their own production and having an unverifiable listenership. That’s what 95% of us podcasters are — amateurs (perhaps with aspirations of professionalism, including myself) who do not answer to creditors if we miss an episode or come out late, and who cannot accurately verify listenership (as measuring downloads is a poor way to measure who is actually listening and who has just not bothered to stop subscribing, and have no reason to “catch up” since it’s a free show, removing that “I should get my money’s worth and check it out” sense).

But, is it wrong to assert that? I’m not so sure — it’s also easy to ignore ads on a podcast. Or after the podcast is over, on your commute, forget that the ad even played. Many podcast listeners aren’t in front of their computers when listening, so it’s potentially lost. And it’s rare that a podcast is listened to more than once by a person, so you don’t get repeat business potential in re-reading a magazine article. On the other hand, a print ad, while one can scan over it, exists in a way that’s referencable — people do re-read articles because print media makes referencing past data more convienent. So our ad is more likely to be seen again and again, even at a glance, by readers. And each impression comes with a more likelihood of follow-up. People are curious creatures (which is why my logo for Master Plan is meant to draw attention and make you wonder what I’m on about).

If you think you deserve some sort of free ad exchange because you’re a podcast, Donald, then why don’t you offer it rather than complain about a situation whose origins you’re not taking into consideration? And if you do, be prepared to justify that your show will bring an equivalent value to KQ that they believe they’re giving to you. Be prepared if someone tells you that “2000+ downloads isn’t 2000+ listeners.”

– Ryan


6 Responses to Advertising, Magazines & Podcasts

  1. Matt Hanson says:

    Good writing. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed my Google News Reader..

    Matt Hanson

  2. Judd says:

    Being professional is being beholden to creditors?

  3. Thanks for articulating something I couldn’t quite put my finger on, though. Let me chew on this and I’ll add more later.

  4. Burrowowl says:

    This reminds me of something George Carlin used to say about why he never used off-color language when he was on evening talk shows or morning variety shows. They were lending him their audience and he was lending them his name. It was a business transaction from which both benefit.

    With printed advertisements, the advertised company benefits from additional exposure to the print audience, but the printed product does not inherently benefit from placing the ads. To the contrary the ads take up space on the pages and can detract from the presentation of the primary content. The deal has to be sweetened, so money changes hands. The same applies to radio, television, web, or podcst advertising.

    When there is an interview on The Master Plan, both parties benefit (the implicit advertisement is the content). When Kobold Quarterly publishes an interview with Daniel Perez some day, both parties will benefit. Apples, oranges, and such.

    That all being said, if you’re willing to place a dollar value on putting an ad in somebody else’s product and they aren’t willing to place a dollar value on reciprocal advertising expenses, that makes a clear statement about how the two of you view your marketing budgets and each others’ audiences.

  5. Donald Dennis says:

    As specified on my blog I misunderstood the source of the Ad co-op. I think it’s reasonable that anyone get together and buy an ad if they desire. In the past I’d been asked to purchase an ad, and that apparently colored my understanding of this exchange.

    That being said, I wouldn’t put any more value on the CPM of print than a podcast, in fact I’d still put podcast CPM above print media.

  6. At this point in time, there is still substantially more legitimacy in print than in podcasts, especially in the gaming industry. It’s not that podcasts don’t have recognition; far from it, actually, as evidenced by how we have been embraced as proper press/media over the past 3 years by the big cons (as good a measuring stick as any). But there’s a legacy to print, again, especially in the gaming industry, that beats out the electronic format (very much the same uphill battle still being faced by e-books).

    What most puzzled me about your email to the group, Donald, is that I read the assumption that it had been sent by KQ, when it is clearly stated at the opening that *I* got that from Ed Healy and *I* was looking for coop ad participants. It’s no biggie, since we can all miss something, but it was there. This has allowed us, though, to talk about this topic, which I think is very valuable, so there’s some good coming out of it.

    At this point in history, in our industry, print has certain advantages of validity that digital doesn’t, so this is all about leveraging the power of one to bring more converts, and transplant some of that legitimacy, to the other.