That’s up from 28% of the business podcasting represents for Slate this year, Charlie Kammerer, Chief Revenue Officer, The Slate Group, told Steve Smith, vice president-editorial director of events at MediaPost’s Publishing Insider Summit yesterday.
Slate, which primarily coverspolitics and culture, chose to invest in podcasting over video, given that the company is “too small” to monetize video, which is “too expensive,” Kammerer said.
Slate had 150 million downloads this year and produced nine custom podcasts.
“We have a premium scale plan,” Kammerer said. “We’re not running after scale. We want to get big while delivering a premium audience.”
“Our strategy is portfolio-driven, fluent, educated, super-engaged, "Slow Burn" helped build hits,” he added later in the interview. “I don’t want scale for scale’s sake. I need focus scale.”
Panoply, Slate’s sister company, announced earlier this year it was stepping "out of the content business” to focus solely on its podcast hosting and ad services business. It no longer develops new podcasts. Its sales team now focuses on selling into its Megaphone Targeted Marketplace (MTM), a demographic audience targeting system. It no longer provides direct ad sales services for individual shows.
Podcasting “is an advertising-driven medium for now," Kammerer said. “There are a lot of revenue streams in audio that we don’t see in text.”
Programmatic represents 41% of Slate’s business. The media company uses Taboola to display advertising at the bottom of the page. “They’re a great partner. Kind of a third-party player is just one lever you pull in your programmatic business. Our private businesses tripled, quadrupled this year,” he said.
Podcasts are the best “conversion assists” to get Slate readers to become paying members for its Slate Plus program, which it launched in 2014.
Slate creates some podcasts that are exclusively for Slate Plus members. Slate Plus is growing 30% year-over-year, Kammerer said. “It’s a decent business for us — it accounts for 8% of our top line,” he noted.
Slate claims 20 million users a month.