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Five on Friday: White Noise, Jewelry and Gaming

Featuring Spotify, Samsung, The Wall Street Journal and Rocksbox

In this week’s edition of Five on Friday, Spotify podcasters have found a surprising way to make money, and a study done by DeepIntent and LG Ads Solutions about CTV viewers shows how they are cutting costs by watching ad-supported streaming services. Rocksbox has a new president who wants to expand their offerings under new parent Signet, The Wall Street Journal is debuting a new website to talk about their favorite things, and Samsung launches a gaming hub.

A Surprising Way to Earn Revenue Makes Noise on Spotify

Spotify podcasters have seen ways to generate revenue come and go with the platform, but one that seems almost too easy is making waves: white noise podcasts. Those who use white noise machines to fall asleep will rejoice, because Spotify may have an option for them. New on the scene are white noise podcasts like Calming White Noise, Best Noise Labs, and Deep Sleep Sounds, according to Bloomberg. So far, these new ventures seem to be coming from independent creators and have not been introduced to larger podcast creators. 

Todd Moore of TMsoft’s White Noise Sleep Sounds attracts 50,000 listens per day, which could rank him in the top 25% of all podcasts. He is able to comfortably support a team of employees and contractors, and he also offers a subscription plan. Moore hosts his podcast through Spotify-owned Anchor, and it helps him to net roughly $18,000 per month just streaming podcasts. In addition to his podcast, Moore also has a YouTube channel.

Brandon Reed has an alternative white noise podcast, called 12 Hour Sound Machines (no loops or fades). He was not aiming for podcast success with white noise, but he wanted to find something to help his baby fall asleep. Three years after he started, he has 100,000 daily listeners and has made the top charts in four different countries. Apple’s Podcasts app says his show has 26.6 million total listens. Reed offers a monthly subscription, which allows subscribers to request new sounds.

sleeping newborn baby on a blanket in hat open mouth black and white noise image
Source: Envato Elements

CTV Viewers Prefer Ads to Paying More

With the cost of living on the rise, more television viewers are looking for ways to cut costs. At the same time, advertisers are looking for ways to showcase their products to potential buyers. A study done by DeepIntent and LG Ads Solutions reveals that 64% of connected TV watchers would prefer to pay less for a subscription service and see ads rather than pay more for an ad-free tier.

In the study, according to FierceVideo, it was shown that viewers had a more positive feeling of ads on ad-supported streaming services versus those on cable TV. Users’ positive reception was due to ads on AVOD services feeling more relevant than those found on linear cable TV.

Ad spend on CTV appears to be more lucrative too. Ad spend was shown at a 57% year-over-year increase at $15.2 billion in 2021. A report from Innovoid showed that CTV ads made up 46% of video ad impressions in 2021, with linear TV ads declining. CTV ad spend made up nearly half of 2021 digital ad spending, reported IAB.  Based on these results, it seems that advertisers are pivoting quickly to meet viewers where they are and serving them relevant ads.

The study also showed that 77% of those surveyed said they would consider subscribing to a new service without an ad-free option, so long as it has the right content. Other reports have found that niche services are considered a “must-have” option and can make a service more sustainable and stand out more to consumers.

With services like HBO Max and Disney+ considering ad-supported tiers, the services talk about how little advertising they show compared to “other services” or cable TV. When talking about their ad-supported tier, Disney said they would put an ad load of four minutes per hour.

With Netflix planning to launch an ad-supported tier soon, the popular streaming service may be more accessible to users who couldn’t afford it before or who didn’t want to spend as much. Either way, Netflix wins. Yes, some ad-free subscribers may drop to the lower-priced, ad-supported option, but the streaming giant will gain advertising revenue to offset the switch. Mike Shields reports that Netflix reaches roughly 80 million US homes, and the company stands to convert a lot of nonsubscribers to ad-supported subscribers. Netflix could stand a lot to gain from offering ads to its consumers.

Man watching sports on streaming TV points remote
Source: Envato Elements

Rocksbox Aims to Grow

Rocksbox stepped on the scene 10 years ago as a jewelry rental service, and with a new president, the company is looking to grow. Their previous CEO Meaghan Rose founded the company, and sold it to Signet Jewelers last year, according to Professional Jeweller, and has handed off the brand to Allison Vigil. In an interview with JCK, Vigil shared that she stepped into her new role this spring. She is preparing the jewelry subscription service for its next growth phase which includes a focus on new products.

“I love working with emerging brands and have been focused in the subscription space for over 10 years, making it an easy transition for me to make the move to Rocksbox, where I have been for the past six years. After spending over three years in the role of SVP of member experience, I’ve become obsessed with the customer experience and journey as the brand has continued to grow,” Vigil told JCK.

Currently, Rocksbox operates as a jewelry rental membership that sends members three pieces of hand-selected jewelry from designers like Kate Spade, Kendra Scott and Aster. The service costs members $21 per month, and if a member loves a piece of jewelry, their monthly membership credit can be utilized toward the price of their jewelry. Rocksbox does not require a long-term commitment, and members can cancel any time. Perks of membership include unlimited rentals of designer jewelry, free shipping both ways on all sets, loyalty rewards, and more.

Vigil also shared that they plan to launch a new type of subscription in the summer. Previous expansions of the brand included the addition of demi-fine jewelry to their offerings, as well as diversifying their revenue by offering their items in Banter by Piercing Pagoda. Piercing Pagoda is also owned by Signet, and the 15-piece collection would provide more of a luxe experience to customers of Piercing Pagoda. Signet announced early last week that they were continuing to exceed sales targets, meaning the jewelry market could still have room to grow.

A sample of pendants a Rocksbox subscriber might receive in their monthly subscription box selection
Source: Rocksbox

The Wall Street Journal Debuts “Buy Side”

The Wall Street Journal recently unveiled their new commerce website, “Buy Side from WSJ.” Buy Side offers independent product and service recommendations, and like The New York Times’ Wirecutter, WSJ says this venture is separate from their newsroom. In other words, editorially, the recommendations are independent and not managed by newsroom staff. A first look at the front page of Buy Side looks at whether a coffee subscription is worth the money, shares their picks for the best workout leggings for every activity, and how to shop for a chair that provides proper back support.

Buy Side will remain free, while The Wall Street Journal will remain behind a paywall. This allows WSJ to diversify their income, because they will earn affiliate revenue (i.e., commissions) from products purchased through the site and from Google ad revenue.

Axios reported that Buy Side will have its own product and marketing teams and teams of writers and subject-matter experts. With Buy Side, freelancers will be given criteria to reference to ensure they are aligning with WSJ’s editorial mission and standards. The new site will review items that would cater to existing Wall Street Journal’s readers. In addition to learning about new products, readers can also find ways to help their finances. At launch, the site will feature roughly 250 products across consumer and personal finance categories.

“The launch of ‘Buy Side from WSJ’ offers our customers, readers and users trusted analysis and information to help with their purchasing decisions. It’s a natural extension of our mission – to provide the world’s most trusted source of journalism, data and analysis to help people make decisions. This mission extends to decisions in business, finance, policy, the workplace and life in general,” Almar Latour of Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal said in a press release.

Buy Side will also launch a newsletter shortly after launch, and will evaluate success of the new site based on traffic, return visits, sales conversions and revenue generated, shared Axios. We’re curious to see if will go the way of Wirecutter, which ultimately ended up behind a paywall.

Screenshot of Buy Side by WSJ home page on June 23, 2022
Source: Buy Side by WSJ
Screenshot of home page on 6/23/22

Samsung Launches a Gaming Hub

Samsung is working on expanding their offerings and get their share of the gaming sphere. They recently announced their foray into Samsung Gaming Hub, which would allow better gaming integration with their Samsung Smart TV. They have partnered with Xbox, Nvidia GeForce Now, Google Stadia and Utomik to offer game streaming from the television, with no console required. In a press release, Samsung announced the Gaming Hub will be powered by Tizen. With games, there will be minimized latency due to new game performance technology across the 2022 Samsung Smart TV lineup and Smart Monitor series.

Xbox Game Pass cloud streaming will be offered without a console, an offering gamers are interested in. Microsoft’s hardware revenue went up 92% last year alone, so bringing gaming to those possibly without a console could be a way to expand their market reach. Gaming is Microsoft’s fourth-largest category and expanding Game Pass’s reach could prove lucrative. Someone without Game Pass who would like to tap into Xbox’s content will have to subscribe to Game Pass at $10 a month but can still stream Xbox games without a console.

CNBC reported that gamers will be able to use the Xbox app with both Xbox controllers as well as PlayStation DualSense controllers. However, it’s unclear whether Sony will be bringing their own cloud streaming to Samsung’s TVs.

“Xbox has been an integral partner for Samsung and shares in our vision and dedication to bring the ultimate game streaming experience to everywhere in the home. We are excited to deepen our partnership with Xbox by adding the Xbox app to Samsung Gaming Hub, which now gives Samsung Smart TV users access to hundred of Xbox Game Pass games. With the same ease that our customers watch live sports and stream movies on Samsung Neo QLEDs and QLEDs, they can now play their favorite games,” Won-Jin Lee of Samsung Electronics said of the launch.

The Samsung Gaming Hub will be available in select regions globally on 2022 Samsung Smart TV models, beginning June 30, 2022, according to Barron’s.

Source: Samsung

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