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Monday Memo: Attention Is Not for Sale

| September 21, 2020

By Holland Cooke


BLOCK ISLAND, RI — What’s for sale? Clicks, on Facebook and Twitter. Messages on your phone and computer find you based on what you’ve told the world via your posts. Advertisers are also buying Google keywords. They’re telling (or, if they’re smart, asking) you JUST enough to tempt you to click for more of the pitch.

If you’re podcasting – and if you’re broadcasting and not also podcasting, you’re late – this targeted advertising can be opportune. Be prepared for lots of message tinkering. And be ready to be judged brutally quickly.

The problem with advertising: There’s too much of it.

According to respected Yankelovich Research, each day we:

  • Are exposed to 5000+ messages…
  • Recognize 285 of them…
  • Remember 6.

This overwhelming wall of noise has conditioned us to lean-away-from pitches. Don’t misunderstand me. I write a lot of commercials, and I do so humbly, knowing how precious attention has become.

You’ve only bought sampling…maybe.

Your click funnel narrows sharply:

  1. For a couple hundred bucks, your ad might get a couple hundred thousand exposures…
  2. Several thousand, or several hundred, who see your ad will click…
  3. Some fraction of THEM will download your podcast…
  4. Some fraction of THEM will actually begin listening…
  5. Some fraction of THEM will listen to the whole thing.

Radio analogies: #1 is billboards in just the right location or TV spots in just the right shows, or other off-air cume promotion. #4 (what we call “Cume”) and #5 (“Time Spend Listening”) are ratings metrics less available to podcasters.

And about #5: if you think drivers channel-surfing AM/FM are short-attention button-pushers, notice how impatiently you yourself graze online content.

 What podcasters can do that broadcasters cannot?

Get an existing subscriber to share your podcast with her besties. There’s no Share button on AM/FM receivers.

Lots of podcasts that someone begins listening to never make it to the end, because of poor technique. The aircheck coaching process that began disappearing when single-station radio PDs were replaced by over-burdened brand managers never existed in podcasting.

And say it with me: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

 Listenability is leverage.

Because you’re expecting “fundamentals” from a consultant, there are 7 Tips in this 3-minute video:

Holland Cooke ( is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of the E-book “Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” available from Talkers books (click the banner on this page).  And he hosts “The Big Picture” TV show Friday nights at 7ET on RT America.  Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke

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Category: Advice