Inside Insider’s new podcast venture

The show, The Refresh from Insider, exists as a feed of short audio clips, updated several times throughout the day to keep pace with the news cycle.
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Image: Francis Scialabba, Photo: Insider

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This week, a new podcast-tech company, Spooler, debuted its first podcast: The Refresh from Insider, a daily news brief produced in partnership with Insider* that’s updated consistently throughout the day, specifically 7am–1pm ET, Monday through Friday.

Spooler was co-founded by Insider Inc. CEO Henry Blodget and James Boggs, Apple’s former head of podcasts, as well as Andy Bowers, Insider’s head of audio. It’s backed by Insider’s parent company, Axel Springer, but operates as an independent company, Bowers told Marketing Brew.

How it works: Spooler’s tech is based on the same stuff that powers dynamic ad insertion in podcasting, Bowers said.

“We’ve taken the technology that, in part, my old company, Megaphone, and others developed to insert dynamic ads and stitch those together in real time, and we’ve given that technology to content creators,” he told us.

  • That tech is being used to create a “story-by-story playlist instead of a single newscast,” Bowers said, that’s composed of short audio clips—anywhere from about 15 seconds to five minutes—that can be changed, updated, removed, or inserted whenever and wherever in the playlist.
  • The pod can be listened to as one episode made up of different “chapters,” as Apple Podcasts calls them. But those who subscribe will see new clips appear as episodes of their own to indicate that the show has been updated.
  • Spooler’s tech solves a problem in podcast creation: The lag between the time a podcast is recorded, mixed, and delivered to listeners’ feeds.
  • Historically, if a story changes between the time a podcast is recorded and when it is posted, creators will sometimes add disclaimers addressing the timing, something Bowers said he dealt with during his time with Slate’s Political Gabfest, a podcast he created. With Spooler, he said, they can just swap out the podcast’s content instead.

On Tuesday, when The Refresh debuted, “there was news breaking all morning,” Bowers said, so the show was updated seven times in its first few hours in order to keep pace.

Ad implications: The Refresh only has one exclusive sponsor, Cisco’s Webex, but “we’re lining up others already,” Bowers said.

He thinks the format of the show—a compilation of very short, ever-changing audio clips—presents an opportunity for more specific targeting of podcast ads.

“You can drag and drop things wherever you want, so you can decide where the ad should go in a much more thoughtful way than you often can in a show where you just drop a dynamic ad marker,” he explained.—AM

*Insider acquired a majority stake in Morning Brew in 2020.

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