Like the sense of suspense in an old time radio drama, digital audio has been steadily establishing prominence over the past decade. According to eMarketer, in fact, digital audio accounted for most time spent on mobile apps in 2019—and it’s only continuing to grow.
Music streaming and podcasts have been at the forefront of this long-term trend. The latter has witnessed tremendous gains over the past few years: time spent listening to podcasts leapt from an average of seven minutes per day in 2018 to 11 minutes in 2019. Moreover, the number of heavy podcast listeners—those who listen to podcasts every day—grew by more than 3.6 million in 2019.
The question for marketers is: do podcasts present an opportunity for businesses to capitalize on?
Online audio penetration
According to the latest installment of The Infinite Dial, an annual report by Edison Research and Triton Digital, an estimated 192 million US individuals have listened to online audio in the last month. That is a very impressive 67% of the US population.
Spotify, followed by Pandora, are the most popular audio brands when it comes to listening to online audio; 28% indicate that they use Spotify the most.
Podcast familiarity leapt 30% in the last decade. In 2020, it is estimated that 212 million US individuals are familiar with podcasting. That is 75% of the US population, up from 70% in 2019.
The survey also found that an estimated 155 million US individuals have ever listened to podcasts; that is 55% of the US population, up from 51% in 2019.
The US and Canada rank at the top of surveyed countries when it comes to podcast penetration: 37% of adult respondents in the US and Canada were monthly podcast listeners. Impressively, monthly podcast US consumers grew by 16% YoY—while weekly podcast listeners in the US tuned into an average of six different podcasts each week.
In short, consumers appear to have a healthy appetite for audio content consumption. Brands looking to engage a growing audience need to consider podcasting.
Podcasts and marketing, together at last!
Branded podcasts are an effective means of advertising, and the favorable podcasting metrics tell a great story. According to a study commissioned by BBC StoryWorks, branded podcasts have resulted in an 89% increase in brand awareness, 57% in brand consideration, 24% in brand favorability, and 14% in purchasing intent.
Unsurprisingly, many brands across industries have invested in podcasts, and there are many examples of popular and successful ones, including Sephora’s #LIPSTORIES and Johnson and Johnson’s Innovation podcast.
There has been a spike in the use of podcasts as a marketing technique for both B2B and B2C companies. According to a report by Hinge, 8.5% of B2B professionals indicated that they have used podcasts and radio as a marketing technique in 2017. In 2019, this number jumped to 12.8%.
Moreover, 18% of marketing professionals worldwide indicated that podcasts are the most effective content type when it comes to building relationships to generate leads that convert.
There has also been a corresponding uptick in interest in podcast ads. According to eMarketer’s latest forecast, US podcast ad spending will cross the $1 billion mark next year. The report also states that “podcast advertising remains a bright spot of growth within digital radio. Spending on all types of podcast ads will rise by 10.4% this year to more than $780 million.”
Podcast ads offer untapped potential. The Podcast Playbook, published by Interactive Advertising Bureau, states that 67% of listeners could recall products and brands featured in podcast ads. Moreover, 61% paid for a product or service they learned about on podcasts.
Podcast ads are relatively less intrusive, which makes them a great way to reach engaged consumers. However, brands should do it in a way that is not too annoying or irrelevant to the listener: the ad should be relevant to the content and the topic of the podcast in order to best retain the listener’s attention.
While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy to podcasting, there are several things to keep in mind if and when you decide to create a branded podcast.
- Maintain a robust landing page. A landing page with a value proposition to house your podcast is the first step.
- Keep your buyer persona(s) in mind. What are they interested in? What are they looking for? Are you creating something of value for them?
- Provide valuable content. Podcasts can be incredibly engaging, and their audiences tend to be very loyal. Establish thought leadership and build credibility and reputation through the content that you deliver. Talk about topics that interest you and your audience.
- Post at strategic times. When are your listeners listening to your podcasts? When are you most likely to capture their attention? Your podcast analytics will hold answers to these questions. Find trends, and release episodes by following a consistent schedule that you can commit to.
- Have a strong CTA. Many podcasts prompt and encourage listeners to subscribe and share, either at the beginning or at the end of the episode. Be authentic and transparent: explain that this will help you grow your podcast and will enable you to continue to provide valuable content.
Podcasts have become a fixture in consumer media consumption, and podcasting is being embraced by marketers as a versatile and compelling media channel. In this relatively new world, branded podcasts are a great way to retain current customers and reach new ones. Just remember that trial and error is your best friend: don’t be afraid to experiment.
Hungry for more insights and revelations? Discover the DAC podcast, Inside the Funnel, in which three marketing leaders (and incorrigible rascals) reveal the unvarnished truth about an industry that evolves faster than any other. Listen now!