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Talking Minds with Bob Hunt, Senior Director, Audio at Hearts & Science

by Natalie Cummings

10 July 2020 16:52pm

1. What gets you excited about podcast advertising today?

I’m excited about the growing potential on both the content and measurement sides of things. Not only is podcasting a great way to reach people who otherwise consume a lot of ad-free media, we are finally starting to be able to show real results for clients to prove the medium’s worth.

2. We see podcasting with a seat at the big media table.

I don’t know if podcasting is fully there yet, but audio is heading in that direction in really the first time in my career. With podcasting, we really have seen a big change, particularly in the past 6-12 months. Prior to that, you could only have a serious conversation with clients who had a pre-existing belief in the space. Now, almost every client we work with is at the very least asking about it.

3. How has the pandemic changed your work-life balance?

Like everyone I’ve really enjoyed having the commute time back to myself and have tried to go running most mornings before work, but its also easy to never really turn off as you are always in the “office.”

4. How has this affected your client interactions?

Many of the clients I work with are not in New York, where I am based, so I got used to working with them remotely on a day-to-day basis before this. However, we have started to use a lot of video calls, which we never really did before, which I’ve actually enjoyed and could see myself doing a lot more going forward.

5. What guilty pleasure are you so looking forward to doing again?

Living in Brooklyn, I really enjoy discovering and going to new restaurants, and its been tough to not be able to go out for a fun, big meal with others but also see the immense challenges restaurant and bars owners have faced. Thankfully more businesses are starting to open back up again here, and I hope to be able to go for a big sit-down meal soon.

6. What’s your media diet?

For better or worse, I’m a pretty big news and current events junkie so I consume a lot of Twitter and a lot of podcasts. Both I think, if you know where to look, are a great way to get insider information on a lot of topics, including the media and advertising industry. I normally watch a lot of sports and am glad at least European soccer is back, but the lack of sports has certainly left a big hole in my media consumption. Although sports aren’t the first category people think of when it comes to podcasting, I think the quality of conversation and analysis in a lot of sports podcasts are really a step above what you find on TV.
That being said, my wife and I have almost binged through almost all seven seasons of 30 Rock over the past month and a half; I don’t know if we would have done that if we were not in a pandemic.

7. What are some aspects of podcast advertising that you have seen and like?

We have really taken to use podcasting to tell a deeper story with consumers than we normally do in a :30 TV spot or a Facebook ad. We have seen that people listen to expand their horizons, and if you can gauge their interest, you can make something that is both compelling but also consumed by a good amount of people.

8. Any other observations on podcasting?

I feel like people have been trying to predict a bubble in podcasting for the past year or so, and still strongly feel that, if anything, the medium is still severely underinvested in by advertisers. Unlike in video, where consumers have become accustomed to paying for content for years, with cable before streaming, people are used to having audio content and even music available to them either for free or at a low cost. Thus, while there are other revenue streams for podcasters to take advantage of, advertising is still going to be a significant portion of the equation going forward.

9. Any other things on your mind?

While there were some people for whom their podcast consumption dropped when the pandemic started, I think a major reason podcast downloads are back to pre-COVID levels is that many people see the podcasts they listen to as a community. And in a time when social interaction has been limited, podcasting has been a way for people to feel that connection that its harder to get during lockdown.


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