Podcasts are becoming increasingly popular, especially among ages 30 to 49. We can certainly attribute that to the overall convenience podcasts offer as a content platform. Due to the ongoing commercialization, podcasts are now also attracting the attention of marketers and advertisers. But what possibilities do podcasts offer when it comes to content marketing?
For some years now, the medium has been in a constant upswing. Podcasts have long since ceased to be just an alternative to traditional radio stations and have developed into one of the most popular streaming formats. In the meantime, more than ten million listeners (as of 2019) can be reached via this format. Podcasts are therefore an extremely attractive market for companies and industries. This boom in popularity has several reasons. In contrast to other media, podcasts are quite suitable for everyday use, as you can listen to them while exercising or travelling to the office. The possibility of “listening on the side” makes the podcast an ideal accompanying medium. Podcasts can also be produced with limited resources, which also contributes to their appeal.
Thanks to the low production costs, setting up a podcast is easy even for almost everyone. At the same time, on-demand content has also grown in popularity over the last several years. The download option also makes podcasts mobile and easy to listen to anywhere and anytime. This high degree of flexibility and user-friendliness as well as the high reach – in 2019 the number of podcast users in Germany was 26 percent – raises the question of whether podcasts could also open up new perspectives in content marketing. But what is behind the continuing boom?
WHAT MAKES PODCASTS SO APPEALING?
A good podcast needs one thing above all: a well told story. For no other medium is storytelling so essential. Users want specialized content that goes in depth and, above all, is well-structured and easy to understand. On the basis of unstaged and authentic dialogues, in which usually two people are involved (hosts or guests), an exciting exchange is created, in which differences of opinion or unexpected turns can often occur.
A study by the communications agency A&B One shows that it is precisely this uncut authenticity that makes podcasts so appealing. It seems as if listeners themselves are sitting at the table and taking part in the conversation, unfiltered and unembellished. This enables the listener to identify directly with the host and contributes significantly to their credibility. In addition, the authentic dialogues create strong sympathy among listeners. Where radio is too general, the podcast can provide deeper insights into specific topics and is characterised by a high trend affinity, topicality, and relevance. The mostly simple and conversational tone sets the podcast apart from other media and creates a relaxed atmosphere, which makes listening a relaxed experience and therefore, especially in the scientific field, a real alternative to complicated reading.
PODCASTS AND CONTENT MARKETING
In addition to comedy, society, health, and culture, podcasts on the subject of marketing and business are enjoying growing popularity. Although podcast marketing is still in its infancy, there are already numerous informative offers in the marketing sector that make relevant knowledge available free of charge and thus manage to combine the advertising activities of commercial organizations with added value. For this reason, podcasts are also becoming an increasingly attractive platform for companies, on which the transfer of knowledge is linked to an advertising message and thus new employees or customers can be acquired. It is important here that the focus of the podcast is clearly formulated, the host has sufficient experience in the respective topic and has the necessary language skills. The structural setup, as well as good sound quality, should also be ensured before starting the in-house production of a podcast.
EVALUATION OF PODCAST INSIGHTS
As far as the evaluation of podcast insights for marketing purposes is concerned, there are no uniform standards yet that allow for concrete and reliable statements about weekly downloads or listeners. Different platforms such as Spotify or Deezer work with statistics that sometimes differ greatly from each other, and a cross-platform tool is not yet available. Furthermore, no clear conclusions can be drawn from the KPIs, since, for example, the number of downloads or subscribers does not say anything about whether an episode has actually been listened to. Nevertheless, it is clear that the relevance of podcasts is constantly increasing and that they should not be ignored by marketers.
Podcasts currently reach a market of around ten million young listeners and thus offer an optimal platform for content distribution. The strongest target group is the 30 to 49-year olds, followed by the 14 to 29-year olds. 29 percent are 50 years and older.
However, since the aspect of further education plays a major role in podcasts, advertising needs to be well thought out and be linked exclusively to exciting, informative, or entertaining content.
PODCASTS AS AN ADVERTISING ENVIRONMENT
What makes podcasts such attractive advertising platforms is above all their concept: as described above, casual conversations as well as unscripted discussions create the impression of an almost intimate bond between listener and host, which also drastically increases the acceptance of advertising. According to a study by Podstars by OMR from 2018, 81.3 percent of those surveyed stated that they react well to advertising that is spoken by the host himself. To ensure that the podcast can continue to be offered free of charge, as many as 93 percent agree with advertising content.
Moreover, one in four listeners to a business podcast has already made at least one purchase, which is a very high purchase rate compared to podcasts of other genres. In addition, the average podcast listener is highly educated and therefore has purchasing power – 89.6 percent have a high school diploma or university entrance qualification. These figures show that podcast advertising is well received and, in contrast to advertising in other formats, much more readily accepted and even perceived in a positive way.
START YOUR OWN PODCAST OR COOPERATE?
There are several ways for companies to use podcasts as an advertising environment – either through their own podcast or through cooperation with relevant podcasts from their own subject area, whose listeners include their intended target group. Many listeners are loyal and active due to their personal relationship to the host, which is why podcast advertising should not be placed arbitrarily. Hosts should engage in cooperation with caution, in order to maintain their own credibility and remain authentic. An internal company podcast offers the advantage of being able to tailor any measures to one’s own purposes, but includes the challenge of first having to build up an active listener base. The high proportion of young users also makes podcasts an attractive channel for companies to use for recruiting purposes.
PODCASTS AND SOCIAL MEDIA
In an otherwise highly visual world, audio formats are currently experiencing a renaissance and are making a name for themselves as an antipole to the speed and superficiality of social media. Podcasts are characterized by a variety of topics, because there is now at least one for almost every niche. A decisive advantage of podcasts over social media is the intensive examination of a specific topic, which could only be dealt with superficially on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter due to formal guidelines.
Podcasts, on the other hand, offer the opportunity to delve deeper into a topic through conversation, as well as to discuss various aspects and explain them in detail. In addition, simply talking usually involves less effort than, for example, the production of a YouTube video, although the professionalisation of podcasts is advancing all the time and a great deal of know-how and good equipment are now essential for success in this area as well. Podcasts offer an authentic and decelerated alternative to the immaculate Instagram world, but for the distribution of podcast content, the well-known social media are essential and can significantly help building up the needed reach.