Can Listener Tipping Move the Needle for Podcasts?

86% of Survey Respondents said “They’d TIP the podcaster if it was EASY to do so”

I’ve been following Tanner Campbell’s post and the discussions on FB, where he talks about something many of us are concerned about.. paywalls, the necessary/imminent decrease of Ad CPMSs, and some suggestions on how to combat it.

Maybe 50 Calls to Action was a little much to motivate me

Sure, maybe the host would put a link in their show notes for their patreon or website, but I’d be super lucky to actually remember to go back and find it after getting to the parking garage, parking, walking to the office, etc. Or even after listening to a couple more podcasts. The received value to me was real, but the opportunity to take action on it was nearly non-existent, and was only on the other side of a LOT of different roadblocks. True, every once in a while I’d remember the name of a book or podcast that was mentioned, and go check it out. That’s how I finally read Play Bigger, which changed my thinking completely on how to create a product. Or I’d fiddle with my phone and leave myself a voice memo. But basically the conversion rate from me getting value to acting on that value on really SUCKED. Bigtime.

Things I wanted to see in a new podcast app:

  • I wanted the ability to bookmark sections of podcast episodes so I could go back later and get to the parts that were super useful.
  • I wanted to leave myself voice memos inspired by episodes, or send a voice message to a podcast host to answer one of their questions to the audience.
  • I wanted to react, be seen and heard by other listeners who I KNEW were out there.
  • I wanted to be able to answer questions, or as a podcaster, send questions directly to the listener and get a response IMMEDIATELY.
  • Most of all, I wanted to be able to support these shows in the moments I was feeling most generous.. those moments of joy or epiphany.

This was a really large and, to be honest, exciting number.

I didn’t intend for tipping to help ME make money personally, as I wanted the other features of the app to be useful enough to warrant some thousands of users to get a Pro subscription. I wanted tipping to be mostly for the artist, for their hard work, and to help keep things moving.

  • A user could tip, at any time while listening, by whacking a big ole Star Button, clearly labelled 5 Points
  • If they held DOWN the button, the tip would increase rapidly
  • A cool visual and audio effect would happen during tipping, and so we should also be able to see other people’s tip’s reactions
  • For people who REALLY enjoyed the episode, they’d get the opportunity to send a much larger tip (25, 50, 100, 500, or 1000 Stars) ie Star Bombs
  • I’d know if they liked the episode because of a Rating popup that I show on every episode 45–60 seconds before the end of the episode

But.. does it move the needle?

Next I had to figure out if that meant ANYTHING reasonable to a podcaster, and how did to compare to ad CPMs? Let’s say they told their listeners to listen using the Magnus Rush app, and 1,000 people came over. I’ve got a buttload of experience in the online ad world after being a gaming website publisher for several years, working on ad servers, video ads, interactive cinema advertising, and in actual ad operations for some Boston startups. So the CPM math was easy.

Theoretically this should both increase conversion rates for sponsored Calls to Action, and provide golden metrics for campaign efficacy.

In case the listener skips around and missed the Easy Action popup, I put another button in the interface to show all of the Easy Actions at once.

Yes, there is a rocket ship launching when a podcast starts playing. I like space ships.

To check out the Magnus Rush platform, visit the site. The links to the mobile apps are there as well if you feel so inclined. There is also pricing page to see what other features are in the platform, and I’m still happy to chat about setting up free accounts for awhile longer! I would LOVE to see someone take this and run with it, and start to earn some serious lifestyle revenue on their podcast.



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Dave Young

Dave Young


Home-schooling father of 4. I build hopefully useful things and try to get them into the world. Interactive cinema, learning, voice, podcast tech, CX, gaming.