How To Make Money on Podcasts Advertising or Subscription?

How To Make Money on Podcasts Advertising or Subscription? In the podcast industry, advertising and sponsorships have always been the main sources of income for creators. However, today podcast platforms offer new monetization tools that make podcasting a more promising high-yield media industry. Anna Musatova, marketing director of the Thereminvox podcast studio, helped us to deal with modern podcasting trends . This studio produces the most popular true crime podcast. “The Diaries of Laura Palna” , one of the first podcasts with a paid subscription in our country.

Podcasting is by far the fastest growing media, but still remains under-monetized. According to the consulting company Deloitte. The audience of audiobooks is two times less than the audience of podcasts. But at the same time, book marketplaces have a third more revenue. Obviously, it’s all about monetization models: in the podcast industry, advertising and sponsorships are still the main sources of income. while the purchase of individual content and subscriptions are ways to monetize in the audiobook industry.

The Future is Paid How Subscription Models are Revolutionizing the Podcast Industry

Meanwhile, in the US, which accounts for 53% of the entire podcast market, there has been a clear trend towards the creation of paid subscriptions. TechCrunch believes that the future of podcasting is in the transition from an ad-based model to a subscription-based model. Luminary and Stitcher were the first companies to use this model , which offer premium subscriptions with exclusive content, such as “Netflix-style”. Apple, Spotify and Amazon also announced the creation of paid services with premium content.

The possibility of monetization at the expense of the listener in Russia today is offered by two podcast platforms: Apple Podcasts and SoundStream, but this function can also be enabled on separate platforms (for example: Boosty or Patreon) and on the VKontakte social network. Dozens of independent authors and studios have their own paid subscriptions for both individual podcasts and as part of general tariffs.

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Anna, From What Season did you Decide to Sign Up?

From the fourth season. For the first three, we tried to implement an advertising monetization model. But the true-crime genre in Russia has its own characteristics: the Russian advertiser was not ready to get up with integrations into such content, although the genre is very popular with brands in the English-speaking segment. We did a lot of B2B work to show the effectiveness and safety of promotion in true-crime content.

However, by the end of the third season, it became clear that this wall cannot be broken through quickly, we need to look for an alternative for monetization and at the same time remain careful in relation to our audience. At the time of the launch of the subscription, we already had experiments with Patreon , where we offered to support the authors by providing early access to special issues and sold podcast merchandise. We relied on this experience when developing a subscription.

Were there any Concerns When you Decided to Pay for the Content?

Of course they were! We expected a wave of negativity from some of the listeners, and there was some negativity. On the one hand, the Russian audience is not used to paying for podcasts. On the other hand, there are objective economic reasons that affect the solvency of listeners. In any case, when you ask for money, part of the audience remains unhappy with this, and part understands everything, but cannot pay. There are always dissatisfied, it is impossible to be good for everyone.

It is important to understand what is being done and why for a particular product from a strategic point of view. This does not mean at all that you do not need to take care of your audience, hear its request and respond to it. We treat all our listeners with care, so we decided to remove only half of the content for subscription. But keeping the focus on the strategy allows us to move forward and develop the project to give the audience cool content and formats.

What Factors Eventually Formed the Commercial Success of the Project?

First of all, this is the quality of content and constant work with the community. In fact, a paid subscriber of Laura Palna gets everything that he received before the subscription appeared and even a little more: issues every week during the season and once every two weeks in the off-season.

Plus, starting with the fifth season, we started experimenting with subscription content formats. For example, in the off-season between the fifth and sixth seasons, there were interviews with experts from the world of forensics and forensics. This is not the classic format of The Diaries of Laura Palna, but we knew that the audience had such a request.

Which of the Two Ways to Make Money Advertising or Subscriptions is more Profitable?

We believe that subscription monetization is a more sustainable model for a product, as we (and our listeners) are less dependent on fluctuations in the advertising market. But the blocking of international payment systems on the territory of the Russian Federation, of course, also hit subscriptions. At the same time, subscriptions recovered faster than the advertising segment, due to the fact that Russian players quickly offered alternatives to authors and listeners.

It is also important to understand that if you remove content for a subscription, then there can be no advertising there. It’s just indecent. However, models can be combined: the same content can be with advertising on the platform in the public domain, and under a paid subscription the same content without ads. This model is popular with Western colleagues. But I’m not sure that the value of such a subscription will be high enough for the Russian audience. You “replaced” the advertising model of monetization on half of the issues with monetization through subscribers. 

Have you Compared the lost Revenue From Advertisers on this Content?

Here you need to look at specific numbers and take into account the crisis after the events of February 2022. According to the results of August-December 2021, the subscription of Laura Palna’s Diaries brought in more than 70% of the project’s revenue. According to preliminary estimates, the revenue structure in 2022 has changed, but we are not ready to talk about specific indicators before full data analytics.

By combining monetization models, you can create a certain financial cushion, because the advertising market is shaking harder and harder. As I said, even with the blocking of payment systems, it was the subscription that was the first to return to the indicators until February 24, 2022, which significantly supported the release of new seasons in 2022.You have launched a subscription to Apple Podcasts and SoundStream.

Where is More Profitable or More Convenient?

Unfortunately, on all sites where you post content under a subscription, you will have to upload it manually separately from hosting with open releases. The interface is more or less the same everywhere. And if we talk about the benefits, then until February 24, 2022. Apple Podcasts had a large audience and the number of subscribers there was significantly higher.  By July 2022, we reached the same indicators in terms of the number of subscriptions that we had before February – to understand the order, these are several thousand paid subscribers.

The share of subscriptions in Soundstream is obviously growing with those who leave Apple Podcasts and other platforms. Those who cannot pay and the new audience of the podcast. At the moment, the approximate distribution of paid subscribers is as follows: 30-35% in Apple Podcast, 35-38% in Soundstream and 20-25% in VK

How can an Author Decide if they Should Switch to a Business Plan that is Based on Subscriptions?

Each specific podcast is a separate media product with its own development strategy. There is no universal recipe. Work should be done with the audience and the community. Which is the basis for the conversion from a listener to a paid subscriber.

You can do as we do – not all content is taken away for a subscription. Yes, this reduces the value of a subscription compared to closing 100% of the content. But it allows you to increase the engaged audience and convert it into subscribers in the future.

How can an author decide if they should switch to a business plan that is based on subscriptions?

If the popularity of the project does not yet work for itself. then it is wrong to remove it entirely for subscription. But then again, maybe a specific project, due to its “niche”. The value of content for the audience, will become successful in such a radical version. If this is an independent author with a new project. You can first try to make a subscription with the provision of early access to content. This will allow you to see how much the audience is ready to support you, and at the same time. It will not take a lot of resources and time from working on the main free content.

The Company Also has a Podcast Called “Grim Tales,” Which Just Got its First Subscriber. Which ones Come Out First?

This subscription only started on March 25, 2023. The Grim Tales podcast consists of several formats: classic fairy tales from Mitya Lebedev, interviews with folklore experts. And episodes from invited guests who read fairy tales along with the author by roles. Under the subscription, we do not remove all content, but only classic fairy tales from Mitya. We are not yet ready to share the first results of this subscription, too little time has passed since the start. But as soon as we have something to tell, we will be happy to share the information.

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