Podcasts reach audiences which traditional comms strategies cannot, so is it time for brands to listen in?

Latest research in the US and UK provides strong evidence that podcast listening is forming a key part of our weekly media diet.

Are some brands missing a trick by not trying out podcasting, asks Russell Goldsmith
Are some brands missing a trick by not trying out podcasting, asks Russell Goldsmith

Edison Research’s April 2017 Podcast Consumer Report claimed US monthly podcast listeners grew from 21 per cent to 24 per cent last year and Rajar’s Midas spring 2017 report showed that over 10 per cent of the UK’s adult population now listen to podcasts.

This increase in popularity is regularly attributed to the US podcast ‘Serial’ and whilst a lot has been written about that particular series, what stood out for me was McKinney’s research of the show’s listeners in June 2015, where almost a quarter said it was the first podcast they’d listened to.

Encouragingly, the vast majority of those first-time listeners were inspired to try other podcasts, with half now listening to podcasts on a weekly basis.

LinkedIn also found in October 2016 that over a third of their audience listen to podcasts and that consumption increases in line with seniority.

Podcasting provides a great way to reach audiences in places that other comms tactics struggle to, in a unique, personal and controlled format.

People listen to podcasts on their commute, in the gym, out running or walking and when relaxing on holiday.

There are a number of ways that brands can therefore get involved, and whether you are B2C or B2B, you’ll find an audience for your content, so long as you present it in an engaging format.

Ideally, your podcast should form part of an integrated strategy.

Therefore, while you can relatively easily produce a ‘pilot’ episode yourself, distribute it via the likes of iTunes and share it across social media, it’s worth remembering that it takes time and investment to build your audience to get the real benefits.

If you are considering producing your own show, think about what format it will take.

Will it be interview led, a panel discussion or just one or two people rambling on providing information?

Are you aiming to provide serious informative content or to be highly entertaining and funny – neither are necessarily easy to achieve.

Also, how long do you want it to last? There’s no golden rule in terms of duration but 30-40 mins works well to reach people on their commute.

However if it’s interesting enough, listeners can always pause and come back to it later.

Alternatively, you could work with an established series, either editorially or through sponsorship.

The main barrier to podcasting’s success is that it’s hard to measure, particularly in terms of understanding exactly who is listening - possibly one of the reasons the medium has taken so long to establish itself in the comms mix.

However, according to Bridge Ratings, podcasting earned $167 million in the US in 2016, with a projected market size closer to $300 million in 2017.

Clearly some brands believe it is working and so perhaps it is time for those who haven’t yet been tempted to get listening and try it out.

Russell Goldsmith is the founder of Audere Communications and presents the csuite podcast

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