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Top 4 ways to monetize a podcast

In the past year, we’ve seen a considerable increase in terms of podcast consumption. As we speak, there are 62 million Americans listening to audio content each week. Around the world, there are 800,000 active podcasts with over 54 million episodes available. Due to a low cost of entry, a record of 192,000 new shows were launched in 2019.

This considerable increase in audio consumption is mainly due to innovative gadgets such as Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s AirPods. As more people are attracted by this relatively new trend, content creators keep on finding effective ways to monetize podcasts. Even if there are many was for that, we couldn’t find a dedicated platform capable of accepting several income sources and methods.

In this article, the focus will shift towards common and efficient ways in which content creators can begin to monetize their own podcasts.

1. Podcast Sponsorships

This seems to be the most common way to monetize podcasts. Popular shows can generate thousands of dollars per month through sponsorships. However, some creators and listeners feel like including sponsorship slots within their shows can get annoying. For this reason, it is important to contract sponsors that can relate with the presented content in your show.

If you start a podcast today, do not expect sponsors to line up at your doorstep tomorrow. Like most things in our lives, it takes time to reach a desired level. First, begin to host free podcasts in a niche you are passionate and knowledgeable about. The key is to be consistent, to build a captive and engaged audience before monetizing content through sponsorships.  So, what are the common standards for Podcast Sponsorships? Based on the CPM (cost per one thousand visitors), content creators can monetize through sponsorship based on the number of downloads (listens). Therefore, sponsors will pay different amounts for Pre-roll, Mid-roll, and Post-roll slots.

Pre-roll – In this stage, the host will talk about the sponsor’s product or service for 15 seconds before jumping into the main content. To give you an idea, a 15-second Pre-roll generates around $18/1000 listeners.

Mid-roll – This one comes with more flexibility and is included around the 40 – 70% mark of the podcast episode. It lasts for 60 seconds and the host talks about a specific product or service, most of the time sharing a personal story where possible, covering some of the features and benefits. Sponsors are willing to pay more for Mid-roll exposure and it tends to generate $25/1000 listeners.

Post-roll – This stage represents the last call to action your listeners will hear. It lasts around 15 to 30 seconds and purchasing behaviors are influenced the most within this stage, because of the final call to action. For 30 seconds of Post-roll exposure, sponsors pay $10/1000 listeners.

2. Ask for donations

Asking for donations might be the simplest way to monetize a podcast. If you are confident that your content is valued by listeners, you are set to succeed in terms of receiving contributions. Of course, it will only come from engaged, loyal and passionate audiences. Monetizing through donations is a good way to avoid giving portions of podcasts to advertisers. The simplest and most common way to receive donations from listeners is by adding a ‘donate’ button to your podcast page. Before asking for donations, make sure that your followers are well informed and aware of where the money goes. To keep inspiring them, you’ll certainly need to invest in equipment and other tools to deliver better and better content. Therefore, create an authentic call to action that makes it clear where you’ll spend money coming from donations and for what purposes.

As a host, you can receive donations by simply adding a PayPal button or by creating a Stripe account and add it to your page. At Streams.live, we have well-established partnerships with both PayPal and Stripe and opening up an account enables you as a host to receive donations within the platform.

3. Paid premium podcast content

Let’s say that you have some audio content that you’ve worked really hard on. This can be a longer podcast that provides high-value content for listeners. This is where you can add another layer of monetization and create paid membership tiers. Of course that reaching this level will take some time before your listeners pitch in to access such content.

Price customization is under the host’s complete control and the available platforms usually take a small percentage from the revenue earned. With Streams.live, you can add this small percentage on the customer’s side, meaning that you as a creator will end up with nothing to pay in exchange. Usually, creators consider lessons, bonus series, exclusive interviews and more to fall under the ‘exclusive content’ umbrella.

4. Sell products during your podcasts

According to a recent study, 65% of US listeners are very likely to further look into a company they find out about during a podcast and 64% of them have actually bought a presented product or service they’ve heard about during an audio show. It seems that audio tends to be a successful medium for sales due to its intimate relationship it creates between brand and listener. Without any images displayed, listeners can only imagine what is presented during a podcast, making them eager to see it for themselves. The one-on-one relationship audio creates is much stronger and effective than a 30 second TV commercial. There are different ways and techniques for selling products within podcasts and these are:

  • Branded Podcasts

With this method, there is no need to pay for external advertising and you can get as creative as it gets with the narrative of your podcast. Starbucks is among those using this method and it presents several stories about ordinary people doing impressive things, to create positive change. Afterwards, the important brand is immediately associated with positive social causes.

  • ‘Supply & Demand’ Podcasts

To fully take advantage of this method, you need to know what your customers like. This way, you can build a podcast around a theme which meets their interests. With ‘supply & demand’ podcasts you can even sell affiliate products which you are not in competition with. It is a great way to form collaborations that create a mutual benefit.

  • Podcast Guests

If you are hosting podcasts, you can have dedicated sessions for guests. You can give them the opportunity to market themselves as a brand and be an authority in a given sector. As a host, you can simply negotiate with your guests and receive a percentage from every sale that takes place during your sessions.

At Streams.live, our mission is to create a platform that enables content creator to easily monetize their passions and hard work. By looking more into the podcast world, we’ve identified a gap in terms of a dedicated platform designed to accommodate several monetization methods. Our goal is to accommodate these needs in a user friendly and intuitive environment.

Are Hybrid Events the new normal?

In the last couple of weeks, we saw a “pros & cons” contest between in-person and online events. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, no doubt here. But instead of having a fight between in-person versus online experiences, why don’t we turn the rhetorics toward in-person and online experiences? Why don’t we embrace the hybrid events just like retail embraced the Omni-channel strategy?

“An Omni-channel retail strategy is an approach to sales and marketing that provides customers with a fully-integrated shopping experience by uniting user experiences from brick-and-mortar to mobile-browsing and everything in between”

Today we want to showcase some of the benefits of combining in-person and virtual experiences. This “alliance” is not new and over the years it evolved from a one-way broadcast to today’s engaging activity.

Going back into history, the 1939 baseball game between the Columbia Lions and Princeton Tigers was the first USA televised sports event (and one of the first in the world). Of course, it was ‘just’ a televised event,  different from what we have now.  But events started having both in-person and remote attendees and it was one of the first steps that brought us here today.

Going to the 70s, “The Rumble in the Jungle” and “Thrilla in Manila” were two sporting events that made history. While over 80.000 people had the privilege of attending the fights in person, over 150 Million virtual attendees watched live on a pay-per-view system. Access for the event was bought for both experiences. Yes, still far from what we now call hybrid events, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Today’s technology allows us to create interactive hybrid-events, where attendees do not just watch a live broadcast but are also able to interact with the hosts or to each other. They can ask questions using chat features, buy access to private rooms, or even buy merchandise straight from the stream. A lot has changed over the years, transforming what once was a unidirectional message into an engaging experience.

Let’s take a look at the main benefits of creating Hybrid Events:

Increased attendance

Hybrid events are designed to provide engaging content for two separate audiences: those attending in-person and those attending virtually. For this reason, marketers can reach beyond their typical audience and promote the event anywhere in the world. Among the various reasons for someone not being able to attend the in-person event, the main one seems to be related to distance limitations. By hosting a hybrid event, location barriers are removed, and your audience can be as diverse as possible.

As an event organizer, you might think that hosting a hybrid event will cause physical attendance to decrease. Although it might seem natural, the good news is that’s not the case at all! According to a survey conducted by Digitell, Inc., over 100 professionals shared some interesting data related to attending hybrid events. It was concluded that 83% of virtual attendees had no intention of attending the in-person event due to various limitations.

Secure your online community

Today, having an online presence for your business is a must. And with 55% of customers checking for online reviews and 47% visiting the company’s website before making a purchase, it is easy to understand why. Your event’s website and social medial platforms will help create and nurture your community, making it easy to engage your existing followers and to attract new ones. But a hybrid event will do more. It will open a new revenue stream while consolidating your connection with the online community.

For some reason, part of your online community will never attend your in-person events. But will gladly buy a ticket to access the online experience. Will ask questions, will give feedback, and purchase event merchandise. From the comfort of their homes. 

This event format will tighten the bonds – the part of your community that was unable to physically attend the event can now be an integrated part of the experience. 

Valuable information

As a tech company, we focused on data from Day 1. As part of hundreds of events during the last years, we saw how relevant data can increase the overall experience. This is why we always focused on creating a tool that gathers all the relevant information. We have created a system that uses NFC technology, not just for cashless payments, but for access control and engagement as well. We saw this information being used to better understand the customer journey and purchasing habits, all in order to deliver personalized, high-octane experiences. Knowing what your attendees like is the perfect (and probably the only) way to create better and better events.

More than often, the in-person experience is different from the virtual one. And what we consider to be the best parts of our events are not necessarily the most appealing ones when viewed online. This is why the online part of a hybrid event is the one that will give us a better understanding of how the content can be used in our post-event communication. A powerful tool allows virtual attendees to interact during the online stream. Viewers can mark the most inspiring moments and offer relevant feedback.

Based on this information we see what works best for in-person experiences and what people appreciate from a virtual perspective.  

In-stream purchases

For the last 2 years, here at Oveit we focused on developing the closed-loop payment system that allows people to effortlessly buy the desired products. Now, given the circumstances, our focus is centered around online experiences and seamless transactions. By looking more into hybrid events and what it takes to host one, we came to the conclusion that our technology used for in-person experiences is a great fit in a virtual context as well. 

Hybrid events are not just events that are streamed live to an online audience. A real hybrid event uses technology to create similar experiences and opportunities for both online audiences and live participants. In other words, online participants get to participate in the event in the same way that live attendees do. 

Based on the event’s purpose and topic, participants might have the chance to purchase products or services for a discounted price during in-person events. To host a successful and authentic hybrid event, virtual attendees should have the same opportunities with in-person participants, including the ability to purchase featured products and services within the event’s venue. With Oveit, the in-stream purchase feature together with the ‘Perks, benefits, and add-ons’ feature enables virtual participants to order products in real-time within the live-streamed event. Addons are optional and they can be purchased during the registration process. On the other side, perks are usually included in the ticket price and might be offered only by purchasing a specific ticket category (e.g.: Gold Pass).

Improved ROI

Just because you decide to host a hybrid event, it doesn’t mean that online audiences are expected to pay $0 for the content you’ve prepared. Among other techniques, you can sell virtual access for a discounted price and boost your event ROI. To do that, you must assure that your audience is engaged throughout the event for a positive retention rate. As previously mentioned, it is not enough to simply broadcast your live event without providing the virtual audience with the right tools for engagement. To be able to monetize and expect paid tickets from online participants, utilize technology to provide them with similar in-person experiences.

Another way to improve the ROI for a hybrid event is to include sponsored content during sessions or other gaps. It can be any educational or event-related topic that provides value for virtual attendees and that enables sponsors to meet their marketing objectives. For example: A mobile provider might talk about the impact of smartphones on our daily lives. The topic is related to their expertise and it can educate virtual audiences while promoting its brand.

Since hybrid events are always recorded, improving ROI through captured content is another way that proves to be efficient. The available content within hybrid events tends to provide great value in return for those attending. For this reason, why not monetize recorded content and sell it after the event to attendees and others interested? One interesting finding is that free content has a low consumption rate among organizations vs. when they charge for it, meaning that viewers consider paid content to bring more value in return. 

Remote speakers

A hybrid event can bring new opportunities. So why have just virtual attendees, why not virtual speakers as well? While it’s uncommon for in-person events to have virtual sessions, the offline/online format lets your creativity sparkle. Create special sessions designed for the online attendees, but allow those that are physically present to take a look – you can have a very pleasant surprise. This option will allow new collaborations, with speakers and artists from all over the world. For example, create an interactive training session for your online attendance but imagine a special environment from which in-person attendees can watch the session  – some may find the information very useful. And some may want to want to use space to charge their powers – mingling can be exhausting.

Final thoughts

By focusing more on the digital side of an event, organizers can create opportunities, connect to a broader audience, increase ROI, and enable virtual attendees to feel like they almost attend in-person from all over the world. Of course, this can only be achieved by utilizing solutions that can accommodate those needs. As previously mentioned, Oveit was initially designed for mid-sized to large festivals and conferences. However, the current situation that we all deal with made us think out of the box and forced us to use our technology in a different context, that being online. For this reason, we came up with what we call Streams.live. It is a solution that enables content creators and event organizers to talk about their passions to a broad audience in real-time.

We are very positive, and we like to believe that in-person events will come back ASAP. However, people might get reluctant in the near future and might decide to stay away from large in-person gatherings. That’s why we believe that hybrid events can keep a balance and entertain large audiences from all over the world.

How can Live Stream Shopping help brands and influencers?

Live-streamed content is captivating young audiences more than ever. Twitch, the world’s leading live streaming platform for gamers has proved there is a big market for watching other people play video games in real-time. On the other side, influencers that partner up with brands to promote different products is nothing new. However, presenting those products within a live stream and enabling viewers to purchase featured items is a real success, especially in Asian countries. This is where Live Stream Shopping and influencers can do the magic.

In this article, we’re going to place the focus on influencers and brands in a Live Stream Shopping context. This partnership can revolutionize the way we shop and transform it into a social experience.

Live Stream Shopping for brands and influencers

An increasing number of brands begin to realize that live stream shopping is a powerful way to connect with consumers. As a result, Alibaba’s Taobao Marketplace has dominated so far, selling more than $15.1 billion in gross merchandise volume in 2018. Such platforms are great for fast-moving and practical consumer goods. As with any sales environment, as a marketer, it is truly important to find the most efficient way to reach potential buyers and therefore guide them through the purchasing process.

Beyond unboxing videos and try-on hauls, influencers can form partnerships with various brands and act as hosts during live-streamed shopping sessions. It can be looked at as the next step of making shopping a social experience. Influencers, also known as ‘key opinion leaders’ drive live shopping in China. Their role is to showcase products, try them on if possible, describe them for viewers, and answer live product related questions.

For brands, it is not enough to find an influencer with many followers to act as a host. Instead, the focus should be placed on finding influencers that inspire trust to their audiences. In China, Viya is the most known female Chinese influencer, with over 12 million followers on Taobao. Her followers trust her and are confident that she will never feature a product in her live stream unless she carefully tests it with her team. A successful influencer will most often have a team behind that success. In Viya’s case, her 200 employees filter products and strictly allow her to promote high-quality items from brands with a great reputation.

Another important aspect is to find an influencer with a follower base that matches your product and culture. Let’s assume that you own an outdoor brand. At first, you might think that an influencer with 2 million followers will be more efficient than one with 100k followers. That’s not true at all! If the one with 2 million followers is not passionate about outdoor activities, it is very likely that his/her followers are not either. On the other side, if the one with 100k is passionate about outdoor activities and apparel, his/her followers will most likely be as well.

Popular Live Stream Shopping solutions and Campaigns

Lazada (owned by Alibaba) – in South East Asia, Lazada has coined the term ‘Shoppertainment’. It is a term meant to highlight shopping with entertainment and social experiences, so that customers (viewers) can watch, play, and stay. Within this platform, live shopping streamers apply its ‘See Now Buy Now’ feature to complete sales. So far, 3000 live stream sessions were hosted on this platform in Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia. Among these sessions, there were streamed fashion shows involving both local and international designers. One of the most important events hosted by Lazada was its one-month Woman’s Festival (May 2019). It focused on female consumers aged 18 to 24 to support and highlight their roles as digital influencers.

Tmall (operated by Alibaba) – Tmall, formerly known as Taobao Mall is a Chinese online retail website for business-to-consumer. It serves local Chinese and international businesses to sell branded products to customers in mainland China. On 6 November 2019, Kim Kardashian partnered up with the famous Chinese influencer (Viya) and hosted a live streaming session on this platform. The main purpose of this partnership was to help Kim sell her KKW branded perfumes. It was a real success and the pair sold 150,000 units during a live streaming session. The partnership between Kim and Viya kicked off a bigger initiative, called the Wall of Fame program. It was created to attract Western brand founders to partner up with Chinese influencers and sell products within live stream shopping sessions.

Amazon LiveAmazon launched its Amazon Live Creator app, which enables sellers to live stream their own products available on the Amazon platform. Shoppers can buy featured products in real-time without leaving the stream and they can discover brands hosting live-streaming sessions on the product detail page and other placements where shoppers browse. The platform is intended for US professional sellers that are part of the Amazon Brand Registry and for US vendors.

In the long term, it is important for brands and influencers to diversify and find new partnerships when hosting live stream shopping sessions. As an individual streamer (influencer), featuring the same list of offerings over and over again will overlap the audience and will have a negative impact on sales. Today, live streams are widespread and are not restricted by a single channel anymore. Besides budgeting for such campaigns, brands and influencers can stream on more than one platform simultaneously, spreading out the message as accurately and effective as possible. 

What is the difference between 360 and VR Live Streaming?

We’re all used to the natural ways in which we perform things such as in-person interactions, tasks that require us to be physically present and travel to different places. However, there may be times when our willingness to perform such tasks is limited because of cost, time, or other unexpected circumstances. Even if the physical and digital worlds result in different levels of interaction and engagement, there is a lot of effort and creativity placed into eliminating these boundaries to deliver digital experiences and shape them in a way that our physical absence won’t change its outcome.

The variety of video chat and conferencing platforms are doing a great job to eliminate these boundaries between our physical and digital worlds. They enable us to share our thoughts and experiences from all over the world with little to no effort. Yet, there are also richer and more immersive ways for us to connect with one another, explore the world and feel like we are physically there. This is where 360-degree and VR live streaming have a saying. We’ve only seen a glimpse of how these technologies can influence our worlds. Virtual reality and its partner, 360° video, have been around for decades. They’ve been limited by computing power and bandwidth capabilities, but that’s not the case anymore.  

Virtual Reality Experience (VR)

Virtual Reality uses computer technology to create a simulated environment. Unlike other interfaces, VR positions the user inside an experience. It is delivered through an artificial environment or a real-life remote location that enables the user to interact with a 3D world by putting on a head-mounted display (glasses). Its main goal is to make us feel like we are there mentally and physically. As you turn your head while wearing the headset, the world turns with you in the same time.

Major events broadcasted in VR format

This immersive technology has already served some major events around the world, making it available for consumers in a live VR broadcast format.

BT Sport and the UEFA Champions League final – It was the first time ever when a major football event was broadcasted live in VR. The event was filmed using 360° cameras and viewers were able to watch the game as if they were part of it.

Fortnite’s Travis Scott virtual concert – Not long ago, Fortnite players put their guns down to watch a digital avatar of Travis Scott teleport around a beach, launching audience members into outer space. It was the game’s biggest event ever and it was all about a 10-minute virtual concert.

2016 Summer Olympics – Samsung and NBC partnered up to make the summer Olympics available in VR for the first time. Users were able to enjoy 85 hours of live immersive content, including all kinds of sports. It was a great opportunity for people around the world to have a sense of presence and participation, right from their own houses.

About 360° Videos

Similar to the VR Experience, 360-degree videos are designed as well to deliver immersive experiences for the end user. The media and marketing materials often promote these two technologies as a whole, but there are actually two separate experiences. While watching a 360 video, the viewer can move left or right, top or bottom within a defined space. On the contrary, a VR experience can seem endless, without a finish line. Unlike standard live video, the image that viewers see is not established by a cameraman. Instead, the viewer has total control regarding what is seen and when it is seen. Another difference lies in the fact that no special hardware is required to watch a 360° video. It can be viewed by using a headset, a mobile device, or a PC. In other words, viewers can watch 360-degree videos on a regular flat 2D screen, while VR requires those fancy glasses.

Compared to traditional live streaming, 360° live videos must be broadcasted through a special camera and software. Vimeo is among those platforms that decided to adapt and enable users to upload 360° content.

What is Live Stream Shopping?

Live streaming continues to become more and more popular in the online world. Viewers seem to be more interested and engaged while watching live videos compared to videos on demand. Due to its effectiveness and popularity, brands within Asian countries and not only decided to sell their products in a virtual environment, the so-called ‘Live Stream Shopping’ (LSS). Owned by Alibaba, Taobao Live has dominated the market so far, selling more than $15 billion in gross merchandise volume in 2018. In response, Amazon developed its own Live Stream Shopping channel, entitled ‘Amazon Live’, which is expected to change and introduce the US market to a different shopping approach. In this article, we are going to dive a bit deeper and identify different parties involved in the Live Stream Shopping model and how this trend gained so much interest in Asian countries.

What is Live Stream Shopping, exactly?

Many relate Live Stream Shopping to the traditional home shopping channels, where viewers can tune in, see what is for sale and proceed with the purchase immediately. Although the concept behind it is quite similar, Live Stream Shopping comes with additional features that make it more appealing and efficient for both end-users and businesses using it.

Key LSS Features

  • Live

As the name already suggests, most of the time, Live Stream Shopping is broadcasted in real-time (live). Instead of uploading pre-recorded videos (traditional teleshopping), Live Stream Shopping is designed to keep customers engaged and make promotions available only for the duration of the live stream. It can be presented to a broad audience as a ‘one-time deal’ that might not be available tomorrow. It creates a psychological effect, called “Fear of missing out” (FOMO), which creates an immediate reaction within 24 hours, especially among millennial consumers.

  • Highly Interactive Content

During shopping sessions, viewers can ask product related questions and leave comments (reviews) while the host presents specific product features. This makes it a two-way conversation which is a key differentiator between traditional teleshopping and Live Stream Shopping.

  • Embedded link to complete purchases

Including product links is a common way that enables viewers to check out and purchase presented items in real-time. Unlike traditional teleshopping where we would have to place an order by phone, Live Stream Shopping takes this step away and contributes to a user-friendly checkout process. Every product that is presented by the host has an embedded link included in the Live Stream. As a customer, you can consider yourself checked out just by clicking that associated product link.

  • Authenticity of Presented Products

Forget about video editing or Photoshopping. Live platforms provide the authenticity that modern buyers want. With shopping sessions taking place solely live, buyers are inclined to trust sellers, since they are watching them use, wear, and test their list of offerings in real-time. On the contrary, traditional teleshopping products can be very tricky because there is a lot of video editing and Photoshopping involved. You can only be certain regarding the quality of a placed order after it reaches your door. Product authenticity is another important feature that has a positive impact on purchase behavior and satisfaction.

Live Stream Shopping in China

There are predictions saying that just as online shopping transformed retail twenty years ago, live streaming promises to transform e-commerce today. In China, numerous farmers, business owners and freelancers present their list of offerings through live stream platforms rather than in physical stores. They hire influencers with a well-defined and relevant follower base to act as hosts and test out different products in front of the camera.

In 2019, live streaming commerce surpassed 433 billion yuan ($61 billion) in transactions and as we speak, it is getting a serious boost from the pandemic. In 2020, a report is projecting that China will hit 916 billion yuan ($129 billion) in transactions, which is a considerable increase. The Chinese population seem to appreciate the way in which Live Stream Shopping engages them with the product and sometimes with a well-known influencer. They consider the process of purchase to be more social and interactive compared to the traditional way of browsing web pages.