Episode 13: Boomboxes, Audiences, and Becoming a Media Company featuring Tom Webster of Edison Research

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Welcome to the (lucky) thirteenth episode of the Marketing Nation Podcast, presented by Marketo and hosted by Marketo’s Digital Marketing Evangelist, DJ Waldow.

Tom Webster, VP of Strategy at Edison Research, blogger at Brand Savant, and podcaster on The Marketing Companion, joins the Marketing Nation this week to discuss shared vs. individual content experiences, why an audience-driven approach is the key to online marketing success, and the death of the boombox.

Tom’s role at Edison involves a lot of numbers. He researches and studies human behavior in order to help companies and brands connect with them. In his experience, however, companies are focusing too much of their marketing strategy on their product or service rather than their people.

In a world where everyone is producing content, brands need to rise above the noise and become media publishers. It’s not enough to publish helpful content about your industry designed to help your buyers. Instead of a brand-centric approach, companies need to start understanding who their audiences are and, most importantly, why they care about their brand. They also need to remember that their audience isn’t necessarily their buyer; it’s anyone who could potentially become a customer.

As an example of a successful audience-driven approach, Tom cited the recent live airing of The Sound of Music on CBS, featuring Carrie Underwood. When preparing to air this special, we can speculate that CBS did their research and found that Carrie Underwood was an extremely popular and loved celebrity among their viewers. When the special aired, it was the most-watched non-sporting event in 5 years for CBS with over 22 million viewers. Even more compelling was the online reach: over 44 million Americans shared content about the special. The lesson? CBS figured out what their audience wanted and gave it to them. Their audience-centric approach paid off.

Tom gave a shout out to The Marketing Companion, a new podcast that features Tom and his friend Mark Schaefer as guests. It’s a conversational show the includes humor, storytelling, and marketing talk. 

Tune in to hear examples of companies whose audiences caught them by surprise and why the boombox mentality no longer exists.


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Tom Webster is Vice President, Strategy and Marketing of Edison Research with nearly 20 years of experience in media research, marketing strategy and product development. Webster’s duties at Edison also include strategic development and leading Edison’s new media research efforts. An expert in qualitative and quantitative research techniques, Webster has directed hundreds of studies in nearly every major U.S. market and worldwide.