From Print to Podcasts and Back: Kathy Doyle of MacMillian



Kathy Doyle embodies the early bird that catches the worm. Early into her freshman year of college she aimed to give the commencement speech for her class in four years’ time. She got the honor — and forty-eight hours later was offered her first job in media. Then, as you’ll hear her describe in this episode, Doyle was part of the earliest team building out The Wall Street Journal Online (yes, I sing the dial up tones for her). Then, being an early riser, she started to listen to podcasts well before Serial was even a thing. And guess what? She was an early-stage employee on the podcast team of Macmillan Publishing.

The Macmillan division of morphed out of a prescient move to team up with Grammar Girl podcast phenom Mignon Fogarty – and quickly evolved into the Quick and Dirty Tips Network of short form helpful content. (Perhaps it’s fitting that Doyle’s career was launched with a speech.) Now, with the addition of a narrative network, their podcasts garner millions of monthly listens – and recently also scored an inaugural Ambie Award for their stunning show, Driving The Green Book.

Macmillan is the only one of the “big five” publishers with its own podcast network. As Doyle says, “It’s been our vision to serve our authors the best way possible. And audio emerging the way that it did certainly created an opportunity for us to use podcasting as best advantage whether that’s through an audio book excerpt or interviews or guest series…” In a media world where everyone is aiming to flow content cross platform it’s a surprising exclusive advantage. (As a matter of fact, we discuss the conference I’m producing for NATPE about the proliferation of TV brands leveraging podcasting, as well. Please register free to attend ContentCast on July 14th!)

While she provided many serious business takeaways, we also learned how one phone call, and frequent dog walking, helped lead to Doyle’s career success, and of the drama of “dial-up days” during early-stage internet jobs.

And you won’t believe what’s got Doyle’s gobsmacked about podcasting these days (yes, I checked the spelling, Grammar Girl fans out there): the evolution of the host read ad. I know, I wasn’t expecting that answer either. But you’ll appreciate how she illustrates the issue with an example from a men’s underwear advertiser.

In all seriousness, host read ads are a major topic in the business of podcasting as we balance the goal for perceived alignment with an influential personality with personalization enabled by companies like A Million Ads or Frequency. (Note: I’ll discuss the power of influencers in the upcoming Epi 32 with Danielle Wiley of Sway.)

For Doyle, the learning was about balance: how to deliver a strong response while preserving the integrity of hosts and authors. But another balancing act is tied to revenue and the competition for ears and ad dollars.

Another business consideration is discoverability. That’s where Doyle and team did a wide scale collaboration with Apple for the notable Driving the Green Book. Hear how they did, in fact, leverage cross-platform promotion in innovative ways – from reading lists to playlists. (Note: Hear show producer Juleyka Lantigua Williams on this from Episode 12 of Insider Interviews.)

“I think it keeps a lot of us in this industry up at night. We talk about revenue diversification a lot. In fact, I just did a panel for Digital Hollywood on revenue diversification. …You can’t just rely on the ad model anymore. You have to find new ways — like exploiting a podcast into a book or a film and TV. I think it’s going to be fascinating to see how podcasters leverage new tools that are available now through Spotify and apple, which have been available through Stitcher and Luminary, to be strategic about your content and then finding ways to expand and enhance that through a premium subscription. I think three or four years ago, I would’ve said absolutely not, but now I think there’s probably opportunity for that.”

“As people expand their listening and really become hooked on some shows that have that have a big ad load then spending a few bucks for a premium subscription to eliminate that might be very attractive.”

(This was where I noted that you can support THIS podcast and just “buy me a coffee”. Just sayin’ …. )

But don’t worry; there was more: Doyle also prognosticated on the future of consolidation in podcasting…and shared some of her favorite shows these days. So, make like that early bird, and catch all of Doyle’s words. You’ll be ahead of the curve.

More about Macmillan Podcasts: https://linktr.ee/macmillanpodcasts
Kathy Doyle on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kdoyle2/
If you found this helpful, or liked any of my Insider Interviews episodes, please add a review on apple, share this episode, and of course, “buy me a coffee!”: https://buymeacoffee.com/mossappeal
If I can help you connect YOUR podcast/tv/content dots, or just get started, please reach out to me at podcasts@mossappeal.com

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