Success of advertising campaigns on TWiT

@Leo, during your prerecords yesterday you mentioned that advertising revenue for TWiT has been down causing the cancellation of some shows. This got me wondering, other than advertisers renewing their campaigns, do you get any other metrics as to how well an advertising campaign is doing for an advertiser?
Obviously since the start of the pandemic, TWiT has attracted advertisers that might not have advertised on TWiT (or previously been accepted as advertisers on TWiT, obviously, I have no inside knowledge to the inner workings of TWiT on this matter), and it’s kinda got me wondering if some of the campaigns have been successful enough for the advertiser to continue their advertising.

Again, this is purely curiosity on my part. I know at the end of the day if an advertiser keeps spending dollars with TWiT, that’s all that matters for you, but I’m kinda wondering if there has been success with these campaigns to keep the dollars flowing.

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I’ve always been curious about this myself. Not only for TWiT but for the advert industry in general. Without a view of the inner-workings, it seems like an industry full of snake oil.

That being said, there are several companies that I learned about thru TWiT adverts that I’ve been a return customer of for years. I feel like I’m pretty good about tuning out or otherwise avoiding advertising so the fact that TWiT has gotten through to me is pretty unique.

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Yes, TWiT has certainly introduced me to several services I’ve used regularly over the years:

  • Audible
  • Carbonite
  • GoTo Meeting (used it at a couple of employers, don’t use it any longer)
  • LastPass
  • a few others, I don’t remember.

I was a little surprised by some of the advertising choices in recent months (Manscape, for instance).

I also find it a little confusing/irritating that they talk up one product one month, then a competitor the next month (the razors, Harry’s(?) were then suddenly replaced by a rival, so they went from the best shave ever to a rival, but there was no reason given for why @Leo had swapped). I think Blue Apron also fell to this, being replaced by a competitor? But no word from @Leo as to why he switched (other than the new brand was willing to sponsor).

That is the only thing with TWiT’s advertising. I believe @Leo, when he says he chooses the advertisers carefully and they are products that he uses or believes in. But when he suddenly switches from one brand he has been praising for months or years to another, I’d like to know why he switched, other than income.

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@Leo sorry if I’m being a pest, but since you mentioned possibly doing Patreon in the future, I wanted to again suggest doing both Patreon but still keeping the advertisers. Don’t wait until you don’t have enough advertisers to keep going (not that they’d all disappear, but just to be prepared). Until you have a Patreon though, I’ll keep my tip jar contribution going.

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I’m definitely willing to chip on a monthly basis. How does tip jar work? Thanks.

I don’t see that @Leo has commented but from personal experience I can speculate. I often will use one item and brag it up to others, Harry’s Razors for instance. However Someone recommended to me Dollar Shave club, I purchased a trial kit from Dollar Shave club. I personally found that I prefer Harry’s. Keep in mind that when he recommends a product who is also a sponsor he may only have limited knowledge of the competitors or none at all. I do trust @Leo when he recommends a new product that he has tested it. There is only one sponsor that they still use from time to time that I think is scam, is Stamps.com

As I said, this question is morbid curiosity and quite possibly not something Leo can comment on.
I won’t comment on the sponsors. They are paying money for advertising on the network, something for which I applaud them for. No need to say anything positive or negative about them. I was just curious if there were any metrics available to TWiT stating how successful a specific campaign is, outside of additional sponsorship.

You can pay with either PayPal or Amazon Pay, and you can do a one time tip or a monthly one. Here’s the link:

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This is a long and complicated subject which deserves an essay length answer, but because you’re curious I’ll try to hit the highlights.

In a new and, as yet, not well understood medium, like podcasting (and TechTV before that) advertisers mostly do direct response advertising. Something with a phone number or an offer code or a custom URL that they can track. That’s the best way for them to assess the effectiveness of a campaign. Almost all podcast advertising is direct response. It’s imperfect - and sponsors often put too much reliance in the technique - but it’s all they’ve got.

There’s also research, either before or after. We’ve had some advertisers to “lift studies” wherein they check to see if the brand received any “lift” from the campaign.

TWiT generally does very well in these kinds of metrics.

More recently agencies have started asking for better ways to track ad success with a technique borrowed from banner advertising called pixel tracking. You may have heard about some trials we’ve been doing with companies like Chartable and Podsites along these lines. We’re chary of these because we understand our audience is very privacy focused, but we think we’ve found a way to do it in a privacy-forward way. In any event, ad agencies are increasingly demanding this and other ad tech from podcasters. It’s the primary reason for the rise of the podcast giants like I Heart and Spotify.

Ultimately, however they do it, advertisers want to see a return on investment. If they’re unhappy with the results, they’ll stop advertising. Budgets also change, as do marketing goals. We constantly need to find new advertisers to compensate for the attrition. This is completely normal. That’s why you have a sales team.

As advertisers come and go sometimes a product in a category gets replaced by another. Harry’s gets replaced by Dollar Shave Club, Carbonite by iDrive. AWS by Wasabi. As long as they’re good products we’re happy to take their ads. I’m not in a position to be “loyal” to a product that no longer advertises. If I say I use a product, I use it. Not all ads are endorsements, however. Increasingly we’re getting ads from enterprise companies I can’t use. Those are straight reads without endorsement.

Despite the rise of the stock market, the world economy has been very hard hit by Covid-19 and podcasting is far from exempt. In fact, I’d guess companies drop podcast advertising faster than they drop older, better understood, media. The entire industry has been cratering. It’s estimated 60% of small businesses will disappear due to quarantine. We are a very small business. And we rely on other businesses spending money on marketing. If they don’t, we lose revenue.

Thanks to Lisa’s very hard work, and innovative programs like selling naming rights, we’ve done better than most in 2020. But, we still lost 30% of our revenue year over year. There are many other media companies doing much worse. Have you seen how thin Vanity Fair is these days? Our prospects for next year are, at the moment, even worse. Ad sales for Q1 2021 are less than half of normal.

You may be used to seeing startups, like Uber, running massive deficits for years. We are not that kind of startup. We can only spend what we make. If revenue is down we need to tighten our belts. We laid off nine staffers this year, and if things don’t turn around we will probably have to cut shows and other costs for next year. Our goal is to survive until the economy turns around. No one knows how long that will take.

We may explore Patreon at some point, but I’m skeptical that we could run TWiT at its current level that way. It costs millions of dollars a year to keep the lights on at TWiT. For now, advertising is really the only way to generate that level of revenue.

I don’t want you to worry about us, however. TWiT is a little like a Lego house, there are all sorts of ways to configure it. As long as Lisa and I can scrape by, we will. There are very many people who have it a lot worse than us. As long as you keep listening, we’ll keep podcasting.

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Leo, thanks for the response.
2020 has definitely thrown everyone a curveball. The fact that you are still able to produce quality content, and manage to get paid somewhat for it, is great.
My question was more around whether or not you hear from the advertisers that “hey, this campaign we did with TWiT did great for our product, so here’s more money” or do you take the fact that they gave you more money as the record of success? There are a couple of advertisers I’m personally curious about, but I’m not going to name names.

Obviously you rely on advertisers to “keep the lights on” and the belt can only be tightened so much. Please continue to do what you do. We’ll keep listening if you keep producing.

Well for sure if an advertiser sticks around it means they consider their spend worth it. On the other hand, advertisers leave for many reasons. It does not necessarily follow that they’re unhappy with the results.

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That’s true. Though one has to think that if the results of the campaign were profitable, they would keep a good thing going (at least until they see a downturn in results, I mean how many “blanks” can your listeners buy)?

Also Leo, thank you for responding to the query. Obviously, we’re not expecting a posting of TWiT’s balance sheets, but even info like this might be considered something “held close”.

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I agree. I don’t see why @Leo can’t experiment at the moment with Patreon to suppliment the income he gets through advertising. They don’t have to be exclusive.

Edit: I got my Christmas bonus through this week, so I just donated through the tip jar.

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I’m personally happy to see consumer-facing brands like Mint Mobile and Manscaped advertising on TWIT. I work in tech, but am not an IT decision-maker, so all the enterprise sponsors like Barracuda, WWT, Wasabi and CacheFly are not going to get a sale from my listenership.

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LEO…as a small business owner, one of the things I really enjoy hearing u talk about is the business, which almost always happens just in the chatter between shows. I deal in a product, so Im on the other end, deciding where and how to advertise. Ive also read up on TWIT, the size of the company, advertising rates, etc.

You dont talk about it much, but its impressive as Hell that you’ve been able to build up an $ 8M a year business in a very competitive field, where most ppl never make a dime. Ive only been listening for about 2 years, but ive kind of tracked the progress of the company just from listening and reading. It’s very impressive, Dont sell yourself short.

I, too, would like to see more consumer advertisers. I buy from your consumer advertisers. Some i learned about from them advertising on your shows/podcasts. Some i knew about, but didnt purchase till i heard about them again on TWIT. OWC should be advertising with you!! Tell them I said so!!!

FWIW, Ive purchased 3 refurb’d macbookpro’s frm them in the last 5 years, and they have all performed flawlessly. I’m typing here on my 2011 macbook pro that I use for business, and it just keeps on ticking. 1654 cycles on the battery! Probably time for an M1 mac one of these days, but I have questions, and thats another story. You might be interested to know that the price on refurbed Intel macbooks has not declined at all, so far, and Apple is offering 13" macbookpro’s with the intel chip still, if desired.

Not to go on too long, but I also really enjoy your sense of humor, you voice imitations (I do that too. Im an improv and stand up comic in my spare time) You also are amazingly patient with the callers on the tech guy show. My only suggestion would be to change the intro music for your regular guests every week. There are a million songs out there about cars, or travel, etc. Lady Laura could easily come up with different tunes every week. Its something very small, but It would make that show more interesting. Just for example, every time I hear the same Johnny Cash intro for Johnny Jet, my mind says “same intro, same talk as last week”, and I kind of tune out… Just an idea.

I found TWIT about 2 years ago almost purely by accident, and I tell all my friends about the podcasts. I’m just thinking …is there any medium to u can use to advertise to get more listeners? I think there are a lot of ppl like myself out there (science/engineering oriented and a tech user, but not a tech enthusiast), who would like listening to or watching your podcasts. I dont want to learn how to code, or rebuild my machine, but I do like learning whats new in hardware and software, and how to better use what i have.

Once the covid is a thing of the past, I’ll drive up to Petaluma some day.

Thanks

Beth Marshall
(Delta Air Lines retired, LA comedy connection improv, SAG, small biz owner, Mom, etc. )
Paso Robles, CA

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That is another thing, with a large international audience, a lot of the advertisers (even when they are multinational) only have offers for the US audience. Despite that, I have used several of the advertisers’ services over the years, even if I didn’t get to use the offers that were given to US listeners/viewers.

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@Leo - love TwiT, and congratulations to you and all the team for keeping up the standards during the pandemic. I’ve listened for several years and Manscape is the first advertiser I have found to be at odds with what I thought was the culture of the show. I find hearing about Manscape from you on TWiT a bit uncomfortable. More power to them for helping you pay the bills and keep the show on the road, but please don’t become dominated by adverts for products for the nether regions :grinning:

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Just wait until he starts reading the ads from Womanscape :smiley: :smiley:

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I first heard about Manscape on a UK podcast about rugby, and that was much less unexpected :grinning:

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