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Podcast Monetization Strategies for Digital Newsrooms

Last updated on Apr 01, 2021

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Podcast Monetization Strategies for Digital Newsrooms


News publishing is surpassing fictional and essay podcasts. A report published by the International Bureau of Advertising has estimated that the total US podcast market revenue is about to reach $1 billion, where ‘News’ would be the leading genre for advertising. 

While most of it could be because of the pandemic and the political turmoil that the States has seen in the last two years, podcasting is scaling. Another report published by Edison Research has predicted that as much as 90 million people listen to podcasts in the US every month and that the number has almost doubled since 2015. 

Even in the UK, the podcast listeners (younger-generation) have increased by up to 40% in the last year itself. Only goes to prove how much more prominent advertisers need to become in the podcasting world. 

“This is a watershed moment for podcasting–a true milestone. With over half of Americans 12+ saying that they have ever listened to a podcast, the medium has firmly crossed into the mainstream,”

- Tom Webster, Senior Vice President at Edison Research

But advertising alone isn’t bringing the $$s home for most news podcasters. It is their membership model. Listeners look at podcasting as a DIY kind of medium so they trust it more than they’d trust any other content format. The audience feels a lot more connected to the podcast host as compared to an editor which means that they will be more willing to monetarily support the podcasts. 

How to monetize a podcast?

While there are hundreds of monetization playbooks out there for podcasting, the revenue source that would best suit your podcast depends on the podcast. Subscription and affiliate models would ideally work better for your podcasts that are offering high engagement. And for those that are comparatively driving fewer listens or witnessing higher drop-offs, an advertising model would seem fit.   

For Advertising -

If you are not using an advertising model, try making the maximum out of your social handles. Publish and engage on social media as much as you can. Don’t know the social platform your audience hangs out the most on? You’ve got surveys. Use them. 

Find out where your audience is when not with you. Remember that the number that makes you stand out in the eyes of an advertiser is the number of downloads that your podcast was able to generate in the first 30 days of getting published. So go crazy with the promotions and get your audience to listen to a new episode immediately. 

Want to try podcast advertising for your newsroom? Keep the CPMs in mind as you pitch the idea in your org. As per AdvertiseCast, the industry average rates (CPM) for podcast advertising are $18 for a 30-second ad and $25 for a 60 seconds ad. 

For Subscriptions -

If you are planning on putting your podcasts behind a paywall, go for crowdsourced funding using platforms like Patreon (a membership platform that provides tools that help content creators monetize their audience via a subscription service). You can generate a monthly income through your news podcasts by providing some exciting rewards and subscription benefits to your subscribers. 

Already aware but don’t have an audience base to enable this for? You don’t need to wait. A lot of creators believe in building a loyal audience base first and then create a Patreon profile. With podcasting, as I mentioned above, you don’t have to worry about audience loyalty. So just go ahead and sign up for Patreon, even before you have published your first episode. 

Podcast metrics you must track for better monetization

Assuming you didn’t skim the content above, you’d probably consider listens/30 days to be the utmost important metric for a podcaster. While it is an essential metric to keep an eye on but do remember that listens are counted differently on different platforms. There are podcast platforms that keep most of your subscribers to a specific podcast, but there are others that don’t (for example - Apple and Google). 

As per Podnews, some podcast platforms tell a listener’s device to check the host’s RSS feed, while others do it by default and check your RSS feed on a central server, and then inform a listener’s device when they have spotted a new episode. Now how do you get to be sure of the count? You can’t. But there’s another metric that ensures reliability and that is - engagement. Work on your social media following, see how many listeners engage with you on your posts. Look at the monthly reports.

See if there’s a pattern among your audience base. See if there’s a particular segment that makes 80% of the engagement happen. See if there isn’t. Podcasts at the least have a small number of diehard fan following. See what’s broken.

Producing hits that monetize better

Although there are no sure ways to find out if a news podcast will be a flop or a hit.

We recently interviewed Wil Williams, an independent podcast creator and a journalist based in Phoenix, AZ, US, to get more insights on podcast monetization and what makes a podcast do well. Here’s what she had to say - 

‘As someone who has worked in very specific niche news reporting, breaking a story a lot of times comes down to connection, luck, and timing. So in that sense, it’s a total gamble. But one thing that guarantees that a podcast will do well is how much is your team (host, producer, creators, etc) excited by the podcast and if they understand that podcasting is time intensive.’ 

She further added ‘I have heard some great podcasts that were produced beautifully but the creators just didn’t understand how time and labor-intensive podcasting is and therefore, it just kind of crumbled. And I have heard podcasts that are made by a huge team but nobody is putting in a ton of time, there is no excitement in the voices and it is produced in an uninteresting way. Only those that are in it for a long haul and are genuinely invested will be able to create interesting content.’ 

Ending Note

Bring maximum exposure to your podcast. Go wild on your socials. Syndicate your episodes on YouTube. Don’t let the surveys go underrated! You’re already collecting audience data and they’re involved enough to share their personal information, ask them what they’d like to hear next. 

Also, publish your transcripts along with podcasts. Be mindful of the keywords and podcast SEO will make your site/channel more easily found even when the user isn’t searching for your podcast. 

Good luck!

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Neha Tanwer
Neha Tanwer
Neha is a Product Marketer @iZooto who works with a single focus of helping publishers grow faster and better. Coming from the lap of Himalayas, she is a theatre artist, who loves dropping gears to travel the mountains. When not in office, she can be found roaming in the streets of Delhi finding next good cafeteria to eat at.

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