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Sponsors, Ads, Lead Gen, Subs – These Podcasts Are Leading to Revenue

In a podcast last year for Putman Media’s International Women in Manufacturing series, Christine LaFave Grace spoke with Nandita Gupta, process controls engineer at Georgia-Pacific and a 2019 IWIM honoree. They talk about Gupta’s experience entering the workforce with a mentor, and “how she hopes to provide new engineers with a similar or better experience through a formal mentoring program at Georgia Pacific.”
An article on the Media Voices Podcast site last week gave eight ways publishers are bringing in revenue from podcasts. Number eight was promoting other revenue streams. “Whether it’s mentioning an upcoming event or referring to other products across a portfolio, a bit of self-promotion can help make podcast audiences—who are often a little different to online or print ones—aware of what else you offer. A podcast audience is a particularly strongly engaged user base, and is likely to be extra responsive to messages that fit their interests.”
Through IWIM, Putman Media has brought in significant sponsorship dollars, and happily, the popular program continues. So including one of the honorees as a speaker on a podcast amplified the program’s success.
Here are other ways podcasts are bringing in revenue.
Selling subscriptions. At the beginning of the pandemic, MedLearn Media increased their crisis coverage by boosting their popular podcast, Monitor Mondays—which just celebrated its 10-year anniversary—from 30 to 60 minutes. “Because of the pandemic, there was so much confusion to deal with and just a tangle of regulations,” said Chuck Buck, publisher of MedLearn’s RACmonitor. “So we would have 30 minutes of content with our regular panelists, and then field the questions, which just kept coming on a daily basis. We saw big audience numbers. Wanting to leverage that and create more engagement led us to doctors on frontlines dealing with these issues.” This has helped MedLearn Media sell more subscriptions.
Advertisements. According to the Media Voices article, revenue for The Economist from podcast ads increased by 50% in 2018 across its five podcasts. They use hosting and analytics platform Acast to serve podcast ads. “There has been so much demand for sponsorship that it more than pays for itself,” Economist’s head of digital strategy, Tom Standage, told NiemanLab. “The big change is commercial, which is that we had advertisers who started to come to us last year and say, ‘We are only going to buy two kinds of ads next year: print and podcast. What have you got?’”
Sponsors once a series gets going. Lessiter Media has enjoyed success with podcasts. They recently reposted one of their best ones with this intro: “In this episode of the Precision Farming Dealer podcast, ‘How We Did It: Conversations with Ag Equipment’s Entrepreneurs’ (sponsored by Osmundson Manufacturing), Executive Editor Dave Kanicki sat down with Frank, Pam and Mike Lessiter of Lessiter Media. Osmundson then gets another shout-out in the podcast’s opening.
Sponsors from the start. Some publishers have developed podcasts from scratch alongside a sponsor, Media Voices reported. “Mail Metro Media launched The Wellness Connection podcast in association with Pukka Tea, in order to leverage podcasting’s appeal to younger audiences. ‘Knowing that 71% of our audience leads a healthy lifestyle, we seized the opportunity to create a podcast and content series that would promote the product, while providing the health education that our readers love,’ Mail Metro Media said in a case study.” The series resulted in 50,000 downloads over the six episodes, with nearly 1 in 3 listeners buying Pukka teabags or searching for more information.
Good lead generation. Both Spidell and EB Medicine use their SIPAward-winning podcasts in this manner. “It’s a big lead gen and brand-building effort, and also adds value for our subscribers,” said EB Medicine CEO Stephanie Williford. [We] have “seen an increase in our renewal rates and revenue since we’ve launched it. We think it has played a significant role based on feedback we get.” One move that Spidell does to give subscribers more value is to offer them free access to transcripts. They have also done a Salvation Army Listener Drive where they contribute money for every new name that people send them.
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Weekly Features, Podcasts and Faster Load Times Can Increase Retention

Research last year from Northwestern’s Medill Local News Initiative looked at audience data from three major metro publications. Their conclusion, according to NiemanLab, the frequency with which a reader comes back to a publication’s website “is the single biggest predictor of retaining subscribers—more than the number of stories read or the time spent reading them.”
So with that established, the goal becomes to entice your subscribers and would-be subscribers to check in a lot with your website and resources. Here are some ways to make that happen:
Send an email quiz or post a puzzle. I received this email this week from Lessiter Media. “To test your knowledge of soil health practices, No-Till Farmer, with the support of Indigo Ag, created a 6-question quiz, ‘How Much Do You Know About Soil Enrichment Practices?’ Take the quiz.” For a previous quiz, they received 3,346 total submissions from Nov. 2019, through the end of March 2020. About 1,658 were new email addresses and 120 new subscribers. The Wall Street Journal studied how different reader habits affected subscriber churn. It looked into how various products and subscriber actions affected customer retention during the first 100 days after a reader had signed up. They found that “playing a puzzle had a more dramatic impact on reader retention than other actions the team had been promoting.
Start a podcast. This has certainly been a ripe couple months for podcasts. “Podcasts are interesting for publishers because they are much more likely to attract younger audiences, since they can be accessed conveniently through smartphones and they offer a diversity of perspectives and voices,” writes NiemanLab. “The deep connection that many podcasts seem to create could be opening up opportunities for paid podcasts, alongside public-service and advertising-driven models. In our data this year we find that almost four in ten Americans (38%) said they would be prepared to pay for podcasts they liked, and a similar number in Canada (37%).”
Start a weekly content feature that brings people back. Inc. launched a weekly webinar called “Real Talk.” “It’s people who have had success and are willing to give back to entrepreneurs and the small business community and answer questions for an hour,” said Scott Omelianuk, editor-in-chief. Haymarket’s PRWeek has two that they’ve started during the pandemic: Lockdown Life and Coffee Break. Episodes for Lockdown Life include: three PR people who have recovered from COVID-19; a diverse group of recent grads entering the PR workforce; the challenge of pitching remotely; and fun videos where kids say what they think their parents do for a living. Coffee Break is short, 15-minutes videos with people in the industry,” In one recent episode, Margenett Moore Roberts, chief diversity and inclusion officer at CMG, talks about what it takes to address diversity and inclusion at your company.
Get people “together.” One of our other divisions, AM&P, is hosting virtual get-togethers on Fridays at lunchtime to either talk about a topic—diversity, alternative revenue, accessibility—or just offer each other support. Joanne Persico, president of SIPA member ONEcount, has been holding “Bold Minds Virtual Mixers” every Wednesday at 5:30 pm. “Collaborate with other media execs, CEOs and industry colleagues to learn what others are doing, what’s working and creative ways to keep your customers and employees happy!” she writes.
Reduce your load times. According to a report from Twipe, The Telegraph in the UK found that reducing loading time from 9 to 5.5 seconds led to a 49% increase in subscriber conversion from those who visit the homepage. An initial analysis led them to push for faster homepage load times and a service to send audio summaries and news links to commuters through WhatsApp. Users who regularly listened on WhatsApp were 12 times more likely to become paid subscribers.
Steer people to products or platforms that will continue. Getting a COVID-19 readership bump? Then make sure your new visitors subscribe to at least one ongoing thing—even if it has to be free. Newsletters are a great example. People tune in now because maybe they have more time or because they’re in front of the computer more or feel more isolated. But “if you can get them to subscribe to a newsletter, you have a way to reach them even when they go back to in-person offices and in-person meetings,” said Jeremy Gilbert of The Washington Post. Ragan Communications turned much of their COVID coverage into a Crisis Leadership Board.
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Lessiter Media Scores a Big Lead Gen Win With an ‘Educational’ Quiz

I received an email from Lessiter Media Chairman Frank Lessiter over the weekend talking about the success they’ve been having with quizzes in the last few months. So, of course, I had to take it.
Quizzes are one engagement element that can still be effective now—and frankly can bring us a little relief. (I’ve read that jigsaw puzzles are also reaching new popularity heights.) In fact, this morning, a sports station here presented the most compelling content in weeks by doing quiz questions to callers. And trivia nights have already found a comfort zone online—one friend just gave a thumbs-up testimonial for one and forwarded it to me. They’re charging $18.
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“Hey, it’s Frank!” a pop-up emerges with his photo when I go to Lessiter’s no-tillfarmer.com. “Have you taken the 12-question quiz, ‘How Much Do You Actually Know About Cover Crops?'” It takes less than 5 minutes to complete and we’ll send you a copy of your quiz results in addition to a FREE PDF copy of our popular 28-page eGuide, ‘The Pluses & Minuses of Today’s Most Popular Cover Crops’ via email.”

The link takes me to “How Much Do You Actually Know About Cover Crops?” with a big sponsor logo—Schaeffer’s Crop Enhancements—up top.
“Take this quick 12-question quiz to find out. This quiz wasn’t created ‘just for fun,’ but to act as an educational tool.” I quickly answered the questions and then a final one asking if the sponsor can call me, before getting my results. I got 5 right! Wow, maybe I should play the lottery today. That makes me a “PLODDER.” One point lower and I would have been “McFLY.”
The quiz was fun, yes educational—who knew that forb is not a primary cover crop species?—and great lead gen for Lessiter Media.
“We have received 3,346 total submissions from Nov. 7, 2019, through March 31, 2020,” Lessiter wrote. Some 3,160 are unique. About 1,658 are new email addresses to our database which we are currently marketing to with subscriptions and event promotions. To date, there are 120 new NTF subscribers from this list of quiz takers with a first order date after the quiz launched.” I may have to opt out.
This was the first quiz that Lessiter Media launched with a sponsorship. “We launched [a quiz] last fall for our farmer audience that was a really tough quiz on soil health,” wrote Lessiter. “It was pulled together by No-Till Farmer senior editor John Dobberstein, while Joanne Volkert of our audience development staff handled the marketing aspects.”
Here’s the promo breakdown that Volkert developed…
  • 15 total promos in the weekly email newsletters (No-Till Farmer, Strip-Till Farmer and Cover Crop Strategies email newsletters;
  • 8 total promos in these three daily newsletters DEUs (NTF, STF, CCS);
  • 3 total email promos to our entire grower audience;
  • 2 Facebook posts (one on NTF and one on STF);
  • 6 total Facebook ad campaigns ($541 total expense);
    – Posted once each in several outside grower LinkedIn groups;
  • Was part of their National No-Tillage Conference event contest in November to earn more entries;
  • Posted in “Everything Cover Crops” Facebook Group, another outside grower group
  • Farm Babe (Michelle Miller, an ag influencer on social media) shared with her Facebook followers
I had to look up that last one, and there she is, The Farm Babe (thefarmbabe.com). “‘The Farm Babe’ unearths the truth behind modern farming… Big city globetrotter turned Iowa farm girl.” Given the state of my exciting evenings, I may watch one of her videos tonight.
Lessiter said that the quizzes will amp up a bit from here. “With our American Farriers Journal market, we’re starting a monthly quiz on specific areas of trimming and shoeing horses. Hopefully, we’ll find sponsors for this quiz series. As you would guess, we’re happy with the results.”
If you get a few extra minutes, I also urge you to listen to a Lessiter Media podcast titled How We Did It. For the final “bonus” episode of the series, longtime editor Dave Kanicki sat down with Frank Lessiter and wife Pam, along with their son, Mike Lessiter, president of Lessiter Media, to discuss the company past and present. It’s wonderful. And yes, there is a sponsor.
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January SIPA Member News

Lessiter Media Inc. Acquires Cover Crop Innovators From Farmer and Consultant Steve Groff

Lessiter Media Inc., publisher of No-Till Farmer, has acquired Cover Crop Innovators from farmer and consultant Steve Groff of Holtwood, Pa. The announcement was made Jan. 8 at the National No-Tillage Conference in St. Louis. The acquired property will be part of Lessiter Media’s Cover Crop Strategies division.

“We’re looking forward to continuing to assist farmers with cover crop knowledge through the next phase of our partnership that we unveiled at the 2019 National No-Tillage Conference in Indianapolis,” said Mike Lessiter (pictured), president, Lessiter Media.

Cover crops continue to be a growing trend in agriculture. A total of 15.3 million acres were seeded with cover crops in 2017, an increase of 49% from 2012. Groff will remain in a transitional consultative role.


BLR Launches Environmental and Safety Compliance and Training Platform, EHS Hero

Business and Legal Resources, an HCM division of Simplify Compliance, announces the release of its highly anticipated EHS compliance and workflow platform, EHS Hero. This new workflow solution revolutionizes how environmental, health, and safety organizations train their teams and stay informed and compliant with changing OSHA, EPA, and state-level regulations.

“Our current EHS product line, while continuing to meet the needs of our subscribers, needed an upgrade, as well,” said David Cella, chief product officer of Simplify Compliance. “EHS Hero includes the reliable and thorough compliance information and guidance our subscribers are used to, with enhanced UI/UX, upgraded tools, and greater opportunities to find answers to their challenging compliance and EHS management questions.”


Clarivate Analytics to Acquire Decision Resources Group, Creating a Leading Global Provider of Data-Driven Solutions to the Life Sciences Industry

Clarivate Analytics, the parent company of SIPA member BioWorld, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Decision Resources Group, a premier provider of high-value data, analytics and insights products and services to the healthcare industry, from Piramal Enterprises Limited. The $950 million purchase price includes $900 million in cash and approximately $50 million in Clarivate ordinary shares to be issued following the one-year anniversary of closing.

Jerre Stead, executive chairman and CEO, Clarivate Analytics, said: “This is a milestone acquisition which doubles the size of our life sciences business, is accretive to our 2020 earnings, and sets us up to become an essential, end-to-end, industry-leading data and analytics provider to the highly attractive Life Sciences ecosystem.”


Dure Hired as New Activist Reporter at Reorg

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Elana Dure has joined Reorg as an activist reporter. She is part of a seven-member team that will be covering shareholder activism for the organization.

Previously, Dure held the posts of data and financial reporter and senior financial reporter at Activist Insight Ltd. Before that, she interned at the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and at Modern Luxury. She also has experience working as a teaching fellow.


The Kovels Are Reorganizing Their Collection on Collecting!

After months of hard work, the Kovels’ antiques and collectibles team is looking forward to the unveiling of a new Kovels.com! Kovels’ readers belong to a community of more than a million enthusiastic collectors and many changes were made based on their feedback. One of the biggest is the reorganization of the Kovels’ information “library”—all of their articles, advice and tools—into logical categories that can help collectors identify, price, buy and sell.

The new Kovels.com will offer readers a more up-to-date look with sleek text and bigger pictures; and help users more easily find the resources on a PC or mobile device needed to be happier, more successful collectors.


Dennis Publishing Launches Innovative, Award-Winning Children’s News Magazine The Week Junior in America

Dennis Publishing, the company behind the weekly news magazine, The Week, and the parent company of SIPA member Kiplinger, has announced it will be launching a weekly news magazine for children—The Week Junior following its stunning success in the United Kingdom. The magazine will be the first news weekly print magazine in the United States since The Week launched in 2001. The magazine has one simple goal of making sense of the world to young people through intelligent and exciting content expertly written to grab children’s attention and get them reading.