April 16, 2023 BY John Herrington in Newsletter
EV dreams and podcast nightmares: NL #137
Do podcasts have a pod-future?
Well, it looks like the days of the easy-money podcasting boom might be behind us, folks.
The tidal wave of production that began with NPR shows like Serial and Invisibilia eight years ago has since given rise to over 3 million podcasts. And with 160 million episodes floating around in the audioscape, it’s getting super tricky for consumers to find and stick with shows that they actually like.
This saturation in the market means that advertisers are also becoming more selective with their spending. With fewer acquisitions, smaller budgets, reduced dealmaking, and diminished incentives for creators, we’re seeing companies like Spotify, SiriusXM, and Amazon Music start to shift their media strategies. (The broader economic downturn that’s affecting media and tech companies across the board isn’t helping either.)
Despite the economic woes on the advertising and production side, podcast listeners haven’t gone anywhere, with 90 million (31% of the population) tuning in each week in the US alone. In fact, the Interactive Advertising Bureau predicts that podcast revenue in the US will surge to $4.2 billion in 2024, up from $3 billion this year and $708 million in 2019.
Ultimately, when it comes to the future of podcasting as a medium, the opportunity is still there. The audience is still there. But the strategies are going to have to get a lot more creative in order to win advertising dollars. As Eric Nuzum, a former NPR and Audible executive, puts it, “the dumb money is gone, the easy money has slowed down, and the smart money has seen some pullback.”
Considering the economic environment we’re in right now, I think we can expect to see companies become more strategic and selective with their investments, which could ultimately lead to a stronger and more sustainable podcast market in the future. Fingers crossed?
For now I’ll hold off on my podcast hosting dreams, but never say never. Afterall, who wouldn’t want to tune into a show all about losing sports teams and their ride-or-die fans? (You don’t have to answer that.)
Walmart is changing the EV game
Transportation is expensive. And unsurprisingly, Walmart wants to help with that.
The retail juggernaut just announced big plans to install EV charging stations at thousands of stores across the country by 2030. And with 90% of American households living within 10 miles of a Sam’s Club or Walmart, it certainly makes sense.
The decision is part of Walmart’s efforts to become a zero-emissions company by 2040 and is expected to encourage more people to purchase electric vehicles. Easy access, a highly recognizable brand, and locations spanning rural, suburban, and urban areas certainly doesn’t hurt their cause either. Personally, I’m in for the snack selection alone.
The ultra-fast charging stations will be available to EV owners 24/7 and will be located in Walmart’s parking lots. And the best part? It doesn’t matter if you own a Tesla, all EVs are welcome at Walmart.
The announcement is part of a larger trend among companies and governments, who are investing in EV charging infrastructure to support the transition away from fossil fuels. The Biden administration also plans to invest $7.5 billion in EV development as part of its infrastructure bill.
Besides being environmentally responsible, I think it’s safe to say that Mother Earth wasn’t the only consideration in this decision. Driving more traffic to Walmart charging stations means that EV drivers have the added convenience of shopping while they wait. Coincidence? I’m guessing not.
Walmart won’t be the only industry powerhouse to shift to greener pastures in the coming months, and for more reasons than one. Future waves of environmental legislation have the potential to create a ton of opportunities to drive sales and boost brands. From delivery services that make an effort to exclusively use EVs, to certain sectors of the ride-sharing economy becoming a vote for the planet, this is a trend (and a retail strategy) that isn’t going anywhere.
‘Operation Cookie Monster’ busts the bad guys
Sadly, there are no endearing blue monsters here, only real ones.
The US Department of Justice just released details on “Operation Cookie Monster,” an international effort that helped shut down Genesis Market, a dark web platform that has sold 80+ million stolen user account credentials to the highest bidder. Yikes is right.
Seventeen countries participated in the bust, which has led to the arrest of 119 users and counting. The marketplace, which has been online since 2018, sold usernames, passwords, and even access to users’ cookies and browser fingerprints as well. Hackers used the information to bypass protections like two-factor authentication, which is only slightly terrifying. The good news is that the shutdown will significantly curb cybercriminal activity for a bit.
I’m interested to see how this latest development will ultimately influence everyday user experience. Will two-factor authentication be ruled obsolete? What will replace it? Hopefully it’s not three-factor authentication. I don’t have the strength.
For now, it looks like the future of the dark web is up in the air. I guess that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.
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More News from the Week.
- Meta has big plans to use generative AI for ads.
- Wand-erful. The wizards at HBO are hoping to cast a spell on audiences with a seven-season Harry Potter TV show.
- Chipotle wants you to know that their guac isn’t the only thing that’ll cost you extra. The Tex-Mex chain just sued Sweetgreen for trademark infringement.
- Crash landing. Virgin Orbit, Richard Branson’s satellite launch company, filed for bankruptcy.
- Life in plastic, it’s fantastic. Warner Bros. dropped the trailer for the upcoming Barbie film starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling. This Ken is excited for the nostalgia.