Podcasts have been part of the media mainstream of our time for a while now. But still the medium stores many possibilities of bringing content to the people and more exactly to their ears. In the first part of our series we dive deep into the foundations of the phenomenon that is podcasts. And why they are so earnormously successful.
Let us be honest: the commute to work in a subway in the morning is never going to be a really joyful experience. However, for some people a little smile brightens their morning routine. Those lucky guys have found their perfect podcast! A fact one can only gratulate on. Because after all, there has been developing a huge selection of available audio-content for the last years, a selection that spreads out on countless platforms. In everyday life, many people have built a bubble of sound that is just as unique as it is hard to penetrate. In our series we want to analyze that bubble. To get a handle on this new media phenomenon. How did podcasts evolve? And who is listening to them?
Podcasts: A new Sound
The Invention of the iPod in 2001 not only laid the foundation of the global success of Apple as a company, but also counts as the birthday of podcasts. From then on it was possible to download music and spoken audio files and take them wherever needed and wanted. And while the iPod grew from being a lifestyle product to being an everyday object over the years, the popularity and distribution of podcasts and their content grew as well. As a next step the rapid development of the smartphone made the home based computer barely obsolete, content became accessible independent of time and place. This was necessary, also because the “old media” could not keep up with society: Today printed newspapers and radio broadcasting do not go well in a world that has become more flexible and less static over the years. Today a brief news podcast often replaces the old fashioned morning paper and the new episode of true crime the thriller at exactly 8:15 pm. The constant and easy accessibility of content of any kind seems like a logical answer to our modern time.
A young auditorium. Yet...
What was described above can also be shown by statistics quite well. 32% of the Austrians that were asked in a survey by Reuters declared that they had listened to at least one podcast in January and February of 2019. Impressive figures, but not when compared to the US-market. There, around 70% of the people are aware of the term ‘podcast’, more than 50% listen to a podcast on a regular basis and the numbers are only going up. The selection also continues to grow: Compared to 500 000 shows in 2018, the number increased to 800 000 podcast shows in 2019, according to Apple. Content in more than 100 languages.
But also the audience can be measured quite well. Most statistics and surveys show that the former user profile of persons owning an iPod is still relevant. 46% of the people listening to podcasts are in the age of 18 to 34 years, the share of persons above 55 years still is disproportional to the overall population. Podcast users therefore are younger than average, but it can be said a lot more about them. They are…
- Well educated and financially stable: At least in America there were more users of podcasts with a highschool degree than average. Oftentimes this is connected to an at least solid financial situation.
- Open to adventure: An average podcast user consumes up to seven different shows per week. This keeps them busy with their headphones at least six hours in one week.
- Well connected on Social Media: Podcast users got lost deep in the jungle that is Social Media. Virtually everyone (94%) is to be met on a Social Media platform. Of course this makes sharing a podcast via Social Media a lot more attractive.
- Eager to explore: One figure drew massive attention in the marketing sector: depending on the survey up to 80% of listeners say that they are not bothered by advertisement during a podcast. That’s remarkable, given the enormous rise of various adBlockers in the era of online marketing.
The result of this quick summary is clear: Podcasts are the medium of the moment, they (still) spread quickly and thereby have reached the medial mainstream. Their listeners are urban, very well connected in the online world and strongly involved in content. Especially while watching this through the lenses of marketing, one can not refuse to take podcasts as a platform for content very seriously.
Content and Inbound Marketing therefore hold the key assets. While classic marketing has a hard time advertising the medium podcast, Content Marketing has no problem with relying on the core competence of audio: the content.
Standing out of the sound bubble of more than 800 000 shows only is possible with innovation and a reliable content strategy. Content and Inbound Marketing can consequently perform what they are best in: telling good stories. But that is not an easy task. Standing out with an offer is incredibly hard, if the hype declines, even more so. Especially if you can not add an original idea to the yet existing content out there and if you cling to old radio and TV recipes. That is why the new formats that were brought to light by podcasts are worth a second look:
The most popular podcast formats in short:
- News: more detailed than the very quick summary on the radio, but not only at the full hour. Big and small daily news are presented informatively and appealingly at best. Often news podcasts are published by yet established news companys like the daily by the New York Times or Auf den Punkt by the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
- expert talks: the formula is 1+x. The rest: limitless. Whether done in a classical interview or by a more casual expert talk, the exchange during a dialogue opens up more perspectives on a topic. Spotify left space for a lot of creativity with their show called Talk-O-Mat: here discussion topics are generated randomly by a machine.
- “entertaining-conversational”: where journalists belittle seriousness, the talk begins. Like a chat between old friends and (seemingly) without any script, anecdotes are following serious observations. The most successful german podcast in that manner, Fest&Flauschig, created a fellowship of good and bad copycats.
- theme cast: Gaming, movies, model railways. Here it is all about one topic, every episode represents one chapter in a big audio book. The american podcast Serial earned its fair share of 50 million subscribers that way. Serial sheds light on unsolved murder cases and gave the foundation to a new podcast genre: true crime.
- Fiction: A mix between serial novel and drama for radio is often overlooked in a world saturated by conversational formats! The mystery series Homecomming (Spotify) even made it to screen adaption with the amazon prime series starring Julia Roberts.
Listen to the hype!
Podcasts have come to stick in the head and the media landscape. The easy sharing and accessibility of audio content changed the way content is distributed entirely. Creative formats opened up new ways of interacting with content, which also raises new questions: how can I stand out between this mass of content offers? Is anyone listening to me at all?
In our series we want to show how podcast as a medium is working and what to lay an eye on when it comes to new content. Because, despite the big selection it is not too late for good content! Especially if it works with strategies of Inbound and Content Marketing. In the five articles to come we discuss the facets of podcasting. Whether it’s conception, format or technical details: any podcast is an artwork on its own, where all aspects have to be well adjusted.
A good soundtrack needs everything: perfect sound quality, content, that is not boring the first time it is listened to, an appealing presentation and overall a compelling concept. Any smile in an overcrowded subway had to be worked for in advance. We want to help get this work done! In the next part we will be discussing formats and their relevance to podcast creation. So sharpen your pencils and ears!
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