Mac Power Users - Advertising


I recently saw the banner on this forum and on recent podcast episodes about the More Mac Power Users. This is a great initiative.

My query is about advertising. This is something David and Stephen may not want to share. One of the reasons to have a More Mac Power Users is due to advertising budgets being cut.

I had a look at the last 5-8 episodes and all of them had at-least 3 advertisers. This makes me think that the advertisers are still there, but they are paying less. Or future advertising has been cancelled or cut down.

Are there any insights that can be provided? I am simply curious.

Personally, I am currently considering which podcasts can I support. It’s getting like app subscriptions. Most of my Relay podcasts have optional subscriptions. I understand and appreciate why diversifying revenue streams is important and this is the right step forward. From a listener’s perspective, it is difficult to decide which podcasts to support as my financial resources are limited. I am torn in this regard :frowning:

Mods: if this kind of discussions is not permitted here, please feel free to delete this post.

I have no official / insider knowledge of any kind, but I believe that Myke and Stephen have both publicly that advertising budgets have been cut and they’ve been contacted by companies who are reducing their advertising budgets.

From that, I assume that some existing ads may have been pulled and that some future plans have been cancelled and that, going forward, it may be harder to sustain the level of funding that they’ve had in the past.

This may not affect all podcasts equally. For example, it may be easier to get advertisers who want their ads on MPU than for some of the other shows which haven’t been around as long, etc.

Most importantly, however…

Recently, Myke said (and I wish I could remember which show this was during) that what he (and Stephen) set out to create was “a podcast network” but a significant portion of their time and attention had necessarily been spent on “selling podcast ads”.

Myke added that they had wanted to focus more of their time and attention on doing more & better podcasting, and if they get to the point where they are largely “member-supported” then it’s much easier to spend their time creating content, because that’s what they are being paid to do, vs being paid by selling ads.

I think for some of the shows, such as Connected and Upgrade, you can get all of the content by listening live. You’ll still get the ads, too, of course, but that doesn’t bother me much. If you use a tool like Audio Hijack you can even record the shows live even if you can listen live, and then listen at your leisure.

However, with MPU, you’re going to get new content that wasn’t available before and isn’t available anywhere else.

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I share your concerns.

I love the podcasts I listen to and want to support them well, but I also cannot justify paying $5 a month each to support them all, both from a purely financial standpoint and a perceived value one.

So now, I’m thinking I have to choose who to support directly, and who to carry on listen to ads for (still a valid option). But, this makes me uncomfortable in an odd, wholly unexpected, and intangible way.

If I pay for SixColors and MPU, but also listen to The Adventure Zone on MaximumFun and to Upgrade, am I supporting some podcasts better than others? Plus I have 4 podcasts I really like, but I get to listen to two of them ad-free and 2 have ads. That’s not fair (not fair on whom I can’t say…I did mention intangible :wink: ).

Personally I’d like a SetApp/Music/Arcade kind of model where I pay a certain amount a month, get ad-free material (my priority over bonus content, btw) from a range of sources and someone else has to worry about how to spread out the money fairly!

p.s. I hope this doesn’t hijack your thread, as I’m also curious about any insight. Monetisation has become quite fascinating in recent times.


My biggest issue with subscriptions/contributions/membership: $5 might be the proverbial cup of coffee in the States or Europe, but down these parts – it’s the equivalent of 3/4/5/6 coffees a month, depending on exchange rate fluctuations…
So, four $5 subscriptions/membership plans, quickly adds up to 12/16/20/24 “cups of coffee” each and every month, and is by no means a trivial contribution…

That being said, this is not a criticism of MPU in the slightest, nor of any podcasts that are moving towards additional income streams with membership options – since this applies equally to newsletter subscriptions, and overall app subscription services.

The aspect of it all that is most frustrating for me, is that it is mostly beyond the control of any of the content providers, such as MPU/ATP/DF/Macstories etc. – unless they invest serious administration in verification behind the scenes – so, to be clear, I am not attributing blame in any manner.

It is what it is – but it remains a completely different decision process for me (and presumably, all those sitting in so-called “developing countries”), in terms of making choices on what I can justify in terms of support.

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I’ve noticed a lot of podcasts offering subscriptions and add-ons, mostly through Patreon, which offers creators donation tiers with tiered access to benefits. But the limit you’re reaching will or has hit others as well.

The indie podcast gold rush came and apparently has ended; it had a good run.

Now the business is shaking out, becoming more corporate: just look at the tens (hundreds?) of millions Spotify has recently spent to buy podcast networks (Anchor, Ringer, Gimlet), with content you’ll only be able to get there coming soon (like their recent deal multimillion dollar deal with Joe Rogan). Spotify was smart, and when Apple zigged and split off Podcasts from iTunes they zagged, incorporated them, and bought themselves a big podcasting network. (And every minute people spend listening to ad-supported podcasts is one minute Spotify doesn’t have to pay in royalties to musicians.)

The biggest podcast networks have large ad-sales departments, and contacts with major advertisers, and even some of them are hurting a bit. Scripps bought Midroll (Earwolf podcasts, Cracked) and the Stitcher network and app, planning to use the audience metrics in Stitcher to get higher rates… yet just a couple of days ago Scripps sold off the podcast business to SiriusXM. (Did they make a tidy profit, or were they feeling the pinch? TBD.)

And there are podcast behemoths you’ve never head of like Entercom which bought out podcast companies and now has programming partners including Conde Nast, Crooked Media, Entertainment Weekly, Goop, Sports Illustrated, TNT, and podcasters like David Axelrod, Kobe Bryant, and Deepak Chopra. Those podcasts are getting the auto and breakfast cereal ads, not small tech-oriented ones.

All the little podcast networks would have had it tough even if the economy hadn’t crashed. Indie tech podcasts have been able to concentrate on niche advertisers, but when the economy drops, they back off, and the more mass-market podcasts tend to retain their (higher-paying) advertisers.

Without good metrics on what people are listening to, as opposed to downloading, and given the current economic contraction, smaller advertisers are buckling down and in, and either not advertising or focusing on more proven streams. When the economy recovers, the big ad-buys will go to/stay with the big podcasting/radio businesses, and the small ones will have to scramble even more than they are now.

Will ‘plus’ subscribers save the day for indie podcasts? For some, yes, but if you listen to X number of podcasts with ads in them you’re only going to support a tiny few, at best.


Cortex. Episode 103.

I listen to podcasts every day while getting my daily exercise in. That’s usually a brisk two-mile walk with my dog. I also listen to podcasts while doing chores around the house.

Most all the podcasts that I listen too are Apple tech-related. In the past month, almost all of them have added a subscription or membership version of their podcast because their advertising dollars are down. This is bothering me because now I’m feeling like I should support them with my money. It’s like a guilt thing. I have no problem listening to these podcasts with ads and over the years I’ve supported them by purchasing products advertised on their podcast.

I’m retired and live on a limited income and can’t afford more subscriptions. Now I’m feeling like I’m going to get short-changed on content because I listen to the ad-supported version of a podcast instead of the subscription version. I think they call it bonus content for members. This is disappointing because I value the content of the podcasts that I listen to and don’t want to miss out on anything.

I know it may be difficult for podcaster’s to get advertising dollars right now but it’s not going to be this way forever. It’s also a difficult time financially for your listeners. We’re all struggling during this COVID-19 thing.


I can speak for Relay and MPU: we don’t want anyone to feel guilty about this. Please keep listening and enjoying the shows! Doing business with our sponsors is totally awesome, but even people who don’t do that should feel fine about listening to their favorite shows.

We’re looking to diversifying out business, but unlike what some are suggesting, the indie podcast game isn’t on its last legs here. Relay would continue to be fine without membership. Smaller, yes, but fine. We are looking to diversify like any other business would in uncertain times, but we’ve been planning this for a long time, and are grateful that it’s going well. But again, there’s no bad karma attached to not joining; that’s why we aren’t taking anything away from the free shows; all membership content is extra, new stuff.


Don’t worry about FOMO. There are plenty of podcasts, and plenty of blogs and articles and YouTube videos on whatever interests you. You’re not going to really miss any news or advice you can’t find with a search, or perhaps find mentioned here. If though you enjoy listening to the personalities enough the supernumerary podcasts will co$t.

As for it not being this way forever I’m not sure I agree, partly for reasons I outlined above. The podcast market is consolidating, and many advertisers are migrating to new models. There’s a reason Spotify just struck a $20 million advertising partnership with Omnicom, and why large podcast networks are building ad platforms to go along with their podcasts - to a large extent it’s become a part of the business. Small niches may continue to co-exist, but when you see that everyone from 5by5 to Relay to TheIncomparable to MaximumFun have things like memberships and exclusives and Patreon accounts and merch and donation buttons it’s clear that even before times got tough this year advertising alone wasn’t cutting it.


Indie podcasting (in extent indie anything), by definition, has a smaller scope than “mainstream” podcasting (i.e. podcasting backed by a big company - Spotify, dell, whatever).

Direct support like memberships aim to create a more direct relationship between the parties, focusing the transaction into a “if you like what I do you can give me direct money”, which is a good thing in the great scheme of things, IMO. It should focus the creator work on quality content.

Of course one could only support directly a certain number of podcast (YT channel, artist…), so it’s a good thing to diversify revenue streams.

The more choices for the listener the better. (and I don’t think someone should feel guilty if he cannot support with direct money instead of listening to ads. It’s a business relationship, after all).

OT: it’s strange to read Kobe’s name in such a “present” manner. (sorry for the ot, doesn’t mean to be a judgment or anything like that)

I didn’t say podcasting was contracting, I said it was consolidating. There’s a big difference. Just as there’s a big difference between ‘infancy’ and ‘teen’.

This argument would be stronger if it were the basis to begin with, not a supplement at a time of undeniable issues with advertising support.

If you’re having problems with the one you were depending on, definitely!

indeed, that’s where one should judge on a “per case” basis.

but it is wise to do it anyway, so you’re ready for difficult times :smiley:

The current ad slump is not on a per-case basis. Nor is the move by indie podcasts and networks to fund drives, memberships, Patreon, merch sales and donation buttons.

If you want to drill down to discuss MPU and Relay we see that as well, so feel free to focus there if you like.

sorry, I’ve been unclear: I mean where one should judge if that particular podcaster/youtuber is “worth” the direct support with his money or not. More a “consumer approach”…

with regard of Relay FM in particular, knowing nothing of their financial situation and without any evidence that gives me reasons not to trust @ismh statements (both in this topic and in the banner announcing the program), I have only to say that giving your customers more options without subtracting anything form the base experience is a good thing.

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At some point, talking about how a bunch of people make their living is weird, if not inappropriate.

I will share this and then we will all move on: Relay (and almost all other companies like it) have seen a dip in ad sales due to the economic situation we all find ourselves in. The ad inventory is better for some shows than others, and some of it will become more noticeable as we move into Q3 and Q4. We weren’t going to be shutting the doors without membership, but took this chance to lean into something we’ve wanted to do for a long time.

You can believe me or not, but that’s the truth. Anything else is just gossip.


Thanks for the reply. People talk about advertising-related topics from time to time (many wished someone from Relay would have joined in some of the discussions about the ScanSnap imbroglio, in the way you have here) but I imagine it can seem weird to read a discussion about ones’ own business during a dip.


We also addressed the scanner deal. David and I cut ties with the sponsor and addressed it here. We aren’t the bad guys, bud.


If anyone has any specific questions, feel free to reach out directly but I think we’ve run our course in this thread. Thanks for the support :orange_heart: