Listeners matter, especially when it comes to advertising

Six months ago, a number of producers came together with us here at Fable and Folly to change the way advertising is created and sold in the audio fiction space.

We were well aware of the risks that come with trying to innovate in what is soon to become a billion-dollar industry. Thanks to a few amazing folks willing to take a chance with us, we were able to work with some top-notch brands to achieve great results, but none of this mattered if our fans and listeners resented the introduction of advertising.

And, as expected, we did witness a bit of feedback from those who missed the days of free podcasts without any ads. We held the course as positive comments began to trickle and then pour in.

About a month ago, it culminated with the listeners of We Fix Space Junk, a founding member of the Fable and Folly Network, banding together to successfully nominate Sponsor Bot for an Audio Verse Award. And then today we learned that Sponsor Bot had made the 2020 finalists list.

List of finalists show Hedley Knights in his role as Sponsor Bot for We Fix Space Junk

Sponsor Bot was designed to let listeners know that a paid sponsorship was about to play. He was to appear at the top and tail of ad spots. That’s it.

A classic Sponsor Bot Introduction to a BattleBird Productions spot.

None of us expected fans to fall in love with the little guy, but that’s exactly what happened. He is such a hit that Hedley and Beth, the creators of We Fix Space Junk, have begun improvising with the bot more and they have even appeared in a regular episode of the show.

This kind of fan feedback has not been constrained to just one show.

Art by Sarah Cristel. @sarah_cristel on Instagram.

Fans of the absurdist, dark comedy Death by Dying have been sending in fan art based on a series of spots for Kitty Poo Club [use coupon code CRESTFALL to save 20%]. Evan and Niko, the creators of the show, were able to bring back the three adorable man-eating felines much to the delight of their listeners.

Death By Dying spot for Kitty Poo Club

Put the listener first

We began this journey with a simple idea – that the current state of podcast advertising was in need of innovation. You don’t have to spend much time listening to podcasts to hear the same talking points repeated show after show. Fatigue quickly sets in which can’t be great for the brands involved and it certainly isn’t good for the listeners.

We wanted to find a way to bring creativity and interesting stories to our fans, just as we do with our shows.

This isn’t to say we haven’t made mistakes. We have. But we’ve also been blown away by the response of our listeners as we experiment with new ways to fund our shows.

We certainly aren’t alone in our desire to create revenue for audio fiction producers, but we are proud to be a leader in doing so in ways that can entertain and even delight.

And we couldn’t have done any of this without the amazing talent, passion and dedication of some of the most amazing audio fiction producers on the planet.

And with that, we leave you with a Sponsor Bot’s first solo spot and their rant for Function of Beauty.

Sponsor Bot may have a thing for the Function of Beauty algorithm.