Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Podcast Campaign Results - You Cannot Depend on URLs/Offer Codes

We understand that sales teams want to work with ad partners that deliver the most value for every impression. When a potential sponsor approaches us, it's almost always with a prior understanding of how we position ourselves alongside them. Our sponsors know our network and want to connect with our qualified audience. 

You've heard it before; we frequently use the term “partners" because we look at each sponsor as a partnership, not only for the mutual benefit of our organizations but to benefit our audience. Because our fans are tech-savvy and security-focused, they expect more from our partners; generic landing pages and basic offer codes are insufficient to gauge the traction of a campaign on our network. 

Unless there is a specific, attractive offer for our audience (i.e., TWiT listeners get 50% off the first month of service), our audience will simply google the client's name and go directly to their website. Generic landing pages, weak offers, and the same offer as a partner's homepage are meaningless when tracking our network. Why would anyone type out a specific URL when you'd find the same offer by googling the company's name? Another issue is our audience is privacy-centered and may use a VPN when visiting our sponsors. Based on our annual survey reaching over 10,000 fans, we know that over 20% of our audience forget about landing pages or offer codes, and 50% that use them selects TWiT because it's our network name.

Therefore we recommend using ad tech on our network; we offer Podsights, providing additional attribution insight. We also clarify that you must wait eight weeks after every ad drops to reach its fullest impact (and into perpetuity). Podcast ads take time because you must wait for fans to download the episode, listen to it, see it elsewhere, and then act. It can take 8-15 touchpoints to motivate fans to convert, and we have the guidance to get them there.

We also recommend implementing a post-purchase survey before the campaign begins. Then you have multiple reports to review - ad impressions, Podsights traction, conversions, and results from a post-purchase survey. This is the only way to track a campaign on TWiT.tv effectively.

If you would like to learn more, please email advertise@twit.tv

Monday, March 27, 2023

Currently Sought After IT Skills And How TWiT.tv Can Help

LinkedIn's Opportunity Project recently produced 2023’s Most In-Demand Skills List. In the current economic climate, every business is either a tech firm or a tech-enabled company, whether they admit it or not. Thus, maintaining your technical skills is crucial whether you work in IT or not. Tech skills are the most widely sought-after quality across industries; according to LinkedIn statistics, skill sets for professions worldwide have changed by about 25% since 2015. By 2027, this percentage is predicted to double. New technologies are evolving how we do our tasks, and although not everyone has a background in technology, everyone should meet the basics of today's hiring standard. 

You can always get the most up-to-date analytics from experts on current tech news anywhere at TWiT.tv. With that in mind, a few of the top hot skills for IT work and our corresponding show recommendations are: 

Leadership & Management Skills: Check out TWiET and Security Now.

  • With 59% of the audience in leadership positions, This Week in Enterprise Tech explores the world of emerging enterprise tech in the global marketplace. Hosted by Lou Maresca, Brian Chee, and Curt Franklin. TWiET features IT professionals explaining the ins and outs of enterprise solutions.

  • And with 54% of this audience serving in a leadership position, Security Now could be the most critical show you watch all week. Security guru Steve Gibson joins Leo Laporte to guide us through the minefield of ransomware, viruses, cyber espionage, and hacking. 

Cloud Programming and Microsoft Office Skills: Check out Windows Weekly.

  • 90% of the Windows Weekly audience is involved with tech/IT decisions at work. Join Leo Laporte and two of the foremost Windows watchers, Paul Thurrot and Richard Campbell, looking at all things Microsoft, including Windows, Office, and much more. 

Analytical Skills: Check out This Week in Tech and Tech News Weekly.

  • This Week in Tech is our longest-running flagship show and your weekly cheat sheet for everything happening in the tech world. Join Leo Laporte and an ever-changing panel of experts as they discuss the who, what, and why of tech news.

  • With 74% of this audience working in Tech/IT, Tech News Weekly deeply looks at some of the week's biggest and most influential tech news. Hosted by Mikah Sargent and Jason Howell, TNW features interviews with people breaking or making the news worldwide. 

Tech Communication Skills: Check out iOS Today and All About Android.

  • On iOS Today, Mikah Sargent and Rosemary Orchard each explore a new topic through apps on your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV. Get all the latest iOS news, reviews, and answers to your burning iOS questions. With 68% of this audience working directly in tech/IT, you’ll find what you need to elevate your iOS experience here. 

  • All About Android is for fans of the world's most popular mobile operating system. Jason Howell, Ron Richards, and Huyen Tue Dao cover the latest Android news, review smartphones, showcase apps, and interview Google's top brass and independent developers. 86% of this audience is their company's tech-related decision-makers.  

Join Club TWiT, the most influential tech community offering exclusive network access to hosts, events, and more. 

Ready to partner your business with TWiT.tv? Start your most powerful campaign and reach out to advertise@twit.tv today.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Is TWiT.tv The Future of Media Convergence? - Repost From Flashes & Flames


This Blog Post is a Repost from Flashes & Flames Written By Colin Morrison

Today's blog post is only a repost from Colin Morrison from Flashes & Flames, who has permitted me to post his article on my blog for TWiT fans to see. Thank you, Colin! If you want to subscribe to Flashes & Flames, please check them out and sign up for a subscription.

Here is Colin's article in its entirety:

A decade before most had heard of Netflix, a team from Ofcom (the UK broadcasting regulator) swooped on the suburban US wine-making town of Petaluma, 35 miles north of San Francisco. They came back convinced they had seen the future of TV. What they had actually seen was a pioneering online service combining podcasts with live streaming.

The so-called TWiT ‘netcasting network’ had begun in 2005 (the year YouTube was launched) as a series of podcasts by tech journalist and Emmy-winning broadcaster, Leo Laporte.

He had dropped out of Yale in the final year of a Chinese history degree and turned to radio. He began specialising in talks on technology in 1990 and then turned to Tech TV. He stumbled into podcasting which became his low-cost route to media ownership – about the same time as the word ‘podcast’ was coined by The Guardian.

Within a few years, Laporte was producing 30 hours of podcasts per week, aiming to be “a 24-hour technology news network, the CNN of technology”.

Fast forward to 2023 and podcasts from his TWiT network (“This Week in Technology”) are being downloaded more than 2.5mn times a month. Its 13 podcasts are streamed throughout the day, linked by non-stop tech news and conversation for an engaged community of 2mn tech enthusiasts and professionals, 90% of whom are registered users. Some 75% of the audience is in the US.

TWiT produces some of the most popular podcasts in the world including: This Week in Tech, Security Now, Ask The Tech Guys, Tech News Weekly and The Week in Space. It broadcasts online as an audio and video stream. But, although Laporte has changed the self-description from “netcaster” to “podcaster”, TWiT is much more a TV channel than a mere “podcast network”. Relatively few podcast regulars will describe them as anything other than audio. And a “podcast network” might be Spotify, Apple, Pandora or YouTube – not a multi-media channel distributing its programme-podcasts far and wide.

Laporte: “The CNN of tech” or much more?

TWiT is a 24-hour online ‘TV’ channel most of whose programmes are re-distributed as podcasts in video and audio. It was big in video before YouTube. Most shows are recorded live and, at other times, recordings are screened. Once recorded, they are edited and posted to be downloaded and consumed “however our audience wants”. Until he withdrew this year, Leo Laporte’s own “The Tech Guy” programme/podcast had been broadcast on 200 radio stations across the US for almost two decades.

TWiT has come a long way since Laporte told his “aw shucks” story to a TED conference in 2010, where he spoke of “a little podcast network which I have built into an internet television and radio station in this little cottage in the middle of nowhere in Northern California.”

For all his New York upbringing, Leo Laporte is every bit the West Coast idealist, distinctly non-mogul. He told his TED audience: “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the internet, the most democratising force in the world. I started a little podcast network. Now I have a global internet TV and radio audience. But I don’t want to own it. I want to give it all away. I want all of you to do the same thing.”

Fans have been known to turn out in droves for Laporte’s personal appearances. In 2011, when TWiT’s new studio was being built down the road from the wooden cottage where he had started out, listeners reportedly sent a total of $250k to help fund it.

He had started out by eschewing advertising and asked fanbase listeners instead for contributions of up to $10 a month. But, as his audience grew, so did his ambition. He took on a business partner and started selling advertising. By the time companies like Ford, Visa, Microsoft, and AOL, were paying a premium price (of some $80 per 1,000 viewers/listeners compared with the then US average CPM of $15) to reach Laporte’s loyal, tech-savvy audience, the rest of the US media started to notice.

Despite his original aversion to ads, Laporte had a clear view of why blue-chip clients were lining up to pay TWiT’s premium advertising rates: “Our audience is authentic, genuine and enthusiastic. We treat them as intelligent and these are the smart people that advertisers really now want to reach. Advertising is moving away from the mainstream messages of ‘tricking’ people via mass media, to targeting people through Facebook and Google. Traditional mass media required the high costs of printing presses and transmitters but that’s all changing because of the low cost of digital production and widely-available distribution through the internet. As media consumers, we’ve been trained to sit down and shut up. And now it’s time to stand up and be heard.”

The irony of TWiT’s pioneering multi-platform success is that it operates in a world where hundreds of thousands of podcasts are launched every week. But most lack the content, targeting or even tech necessary to sustain themselves. There are many notable exceptions, of course, but much of the real opportunity for audio-video podcasting may be more in channels like TWiT than on platforms like Spotify or Apple.

But here’s the bit that will get your attention.

TWiT employs a mere 20 fulltime staffers (unlike mainstream TV, “consistently many more people in front of the camera rather than behind it”) and “several independent contractors to make it all happen”. Total operating costs are some $3mn annually. Even with revenue that has fluctuated $5-10mn in volatile times, TWiT is a consistently profitable media business, generating positive cashflow of more than $2mn a year.

It’s a performance – even during the pandemic slowdown – that owes much to the increased professionalism brought by CEO Lisa Laporte, a former management consultant who has turned TWiT into a highly-successful media business: “Our audience is very loyal, and the advertising industry likes it. We don’t do market research with our users, but we know that they are above average and have a high income.”

Interestingly, all ads are read by the programme/ podcast expert presenters (rather than a third party voice) which, the CEO reasons, conveys the network’s trust on behalf of the advertiser: “TWiT’s host-read ads stand out”. It also means that ads are embedded and live in perpetuity with the content – and are free to clients after they have paid for the audience reached in the first 45 days.

Although TWiT is primarily ads and sponsor-funded, increasing numbers of its audience are paying $7 per month to become members of the TWiT club – and get their programming without the ads.

Laporte has been able to prove the viability of this real-life cottage industry TV because he, his colleagues and audience are enthusiasts discussing the technologies that have millions riveted. But look beyond that. There could be hundreds of other enthusiast and business networks just like TWiT. It is easy to imagine the development of truly narrow-cast ‘live’ channels for food, finance, travel, relationships, and a hundred other ‘enthusiast’ topics. Serious niche-interest news channels are another possibility, as are local networks to fill the gap left by the collapse of regional newspapers.

The TWiT track record proves that an online TV/audio network can be sustained for not that much more than the cost of a high-quality magazine – if you have a team that can produce compelling content and connect with its audience. It could be ‘specpub’ heaven. Even TWiT might be expanding its horizons: its recent launch of The Week in Space looks like a tentative challenge to Discovery cable TV.

The TWiT network is significant because:

  • The tech is simple, highly effective and combines TV-like viewing with the interactivity and accessibility of the web and social media, and the convenience of podcasts. While its multi-activity screen is (sort of) reminiscent of Bloomberg, TWiT may also be the most experienced media company when it comes to ‘simulcasting’ – content that is made for audio and/or video, as the audience wants.

  • The operations are, by any broadcast standards, stunningly low-cost. In what Lisa Laporte describes as the “wild west” of podcasts with variable audio-video quality, limited navigation tools, and frequently poor marketing/ scheduling, TWiT is the benchmark of podcasting. It’s a real “podcast network” unlike Spotify et al which (as Leo Laporte says) are more determined to audience data than build communities.

  • This is dynamic, open-access TV where viewers Zoom in and engage in dialogue online and on-screen. TWiT offers its viewers not just friendliness but also authenticity: controversial views are challenged and corrected in real-time in ways which appeal to many consumers reared on the untouchability of mass media and the echo chamber fakery of social networks.

It is easy to see how TWiT has become an addictive network for the tech obsessed in a country accustomed to decades of tech TV. But there are many more topics than technology with millions of followers who would like nothing more than their own channel on which to learn and participate.

For all the inevitable future of broadcasting via the web rather than through the air, TWiT is the very definition of how the internet is made for specialists. It points to a future of digital media convergence that seems to have been a long time coming.

We’re just waiting for many more low-cost specialist and business media – whether aimed at gamers, boaties, petrol heads or hoteliers, retailers and travel agents – to soak up the lessons of Leo Laporte. In some cases, the tentative first steps could be “TV channels” broadcast online from trade shows to worldwide audiences. In others, it could start as a daily few hours of programming to an audience of enthusiasts or business people.

This mix of live programming and audio-video podcasts could so easily become a (sort of) template for a service like Mail+, the UK Daily Mail’s fledgling subscription-funded sister to its huge celeb-fuelled MailOnline. The TV-audio-online news channels GBNews and TalkTV may also be pushing towards TWiT’s multi-platform distributed model. But, as Leo Laporte wants you to know, you don’t need TV broadcasting budgets to compete.

What are you waiting for?