The growth of podcasting started gently. There was no huge hype, no rushing to jump on the bandwagon, just a steady spread of enthusiasm. Podcasting has, however, become much more mainstream in the last couple of years, with over 25% of the US population listening on a monthly basis. Many people are suggesting that 2019 will be the year that podcasting joins other digital forms as a serious consideration for marketers. Here is our take on what marketers need to know about the second coming of podcasting.

Podcasting is long-form content, bucking the trend towards shorter attention spans

The growth of podcasting is proof positive that our attention spans are not getting shorter, as some have suggested. Instead, we are just more selective about what we consume. The average podcast is 45 minutes long, and over 85% of those who listen to podcasts listen right through to the end. What’s more, the average podcast listener listens to five podcasts per week, suggesting that it is habit-forming.

Podcast ads are very different from many other forms of advertising

The average podcast ad is around 90 seconds, which is much longer than most other ads. They also contain more information. Most podcast ads are read by the podcaster, which gives them added credibility. The presenter is likely to ‘spin’ them somewhat, making them more interesting and less predictable. There is also a practical difficulty of skipping through an ad and getting to the right place on the podcast. All these mean that podcast listeners are much more likely to listen to the whole ad.

Podcast ads also show better metrics than many other forms of advertising

Not only are podcast listeners more likely to listen to the whole of a podcast ad, but they also show better recall of the content, both aided and unaided. Other traditional ad metrics are also better for podcast ads, including key message registration, and the percentage of people listening to the whole ad. In other words, podcast ads reach more listeners, and they are remembered more effectively. The bottom line is that podcast advertising works.

Mainstream brands have now moved into podcast advertising

Direct response firms were the first to advertise on podcasts. However, the advertising metrics mean that it is no surprise that others have now moved in, and podcast ad revenue is growing rapidly year-on-year. One podcast company reports that over 50% of its advertising is now from traditional brands. Podcast advertising has very much moved into the marketing mainstream. 

Some brands are even creating their own podcasts

Advertising is not the only way that marketers are using podcasts. Some brands and companies have also created their own podcasts. The most successful, as you would expect, are those that provide interesting and useful content that is consistent with the brand’s values and position, and targeted at the right audience. Mastercard’s Fortune Favors the Bold, for example, discusses the future of money.

Some commentators are predicting the rise of paid-for content

Plenty of commentators are suggesting that podcasts will follow other forms of media, and separate free-to listen content supported by advertising, and ad-free paid-for content. If so, this would certainly change how advertisers and marketers approached podcasts and podcast ads. However, others suggest that this is either not going to happen, or a long way down the line. After all, 75% of people in the US do not even listen to free podcasts, so it is a stretch to suggest that they might be prepared to pay to listen. 

Podcasting is expected to change in the near future, with new forms of content

Suggestions for likely changes include new short-form podcasts, supported by the rise in smart speakers and speech-responsive systems. These mean that users do not need to keep going back to their phones to find new episodes. There are also suggestions that podcasts may become much more experimental, as more presenters try new ideas, as well as more specialised and niche. It is not clear exactly what will happen, but all these changes seem likely to open up new avenues for marketers.

Podcast creation is expected to spread around the world

At present, the vast majority of podcasters are based in the US. However, this is expected to change in the next year or so, as more people become aware of podcasting, and more presenters wake up to the potential audience. The creation of more local content is likely to help marketers to tailor their message and marketing more precisely. 

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