– From SPJ Georgia
Podcasting is one of the fastest-growing categories of long-form journalism, with U.S. listeners rapidly trading in their playlists for daily podcasts. Roughly one quarter of Americans listen to podcasts on a monthly basis and, according to Statistica, there will be more than 100 million podcasts listeners nationally by 2021.
Interested in learning more about podcasting and learning how to podcast? SPJ Georgia is hosting a podcasting workshop on June 16 at 3 p.m. at Georgia Public Broadcasting headquarters, 260 14th Street NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30318. The workshop is free to SPJ members; $20 for non-members.
GPB Director of Podcasting Sean Powers will talk about what it takes to develop and produce a successful podcast, and will lead a group of speakers as they talk about the process of podcast creation and marketing it to a larger audience. Powers is also a producer and reporter for ‘On Second Thought’. His reporting has earned him about a dozen Associated Press awards, two regional Edward R. Murrow awards, five national PRNDI awards, and recognition from the Atlanta Press Club.
With the news industry in flux and business models quickly changing to meet the challenges in the industry, podcasting has shown to have a positive forward movement.
“Podcasting isn’t vulnerable to the technological pressures that are affecting the online news business, wrote Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for Inc.com.
“Podcasting isn’t vulnerable to the technological pressures that are affecting the online news business.” – Geoffrey James, Inc.com
“Podcasts can create a loyal audience that is willing to listen to ads without complaint. What’s more, high quality podcasts create binge listening, which means that listeners are exposed to the ad message multiple times in a short period of time,” he wrote.
The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) endorses the definition of a podcast as “an episodic series of digital audio files which a user can download and listen to. It is often available for subscription, so that new episodes are automatically downloaded via web syndication to the user’s own local computer, mobile application, or portable media player.”
Backyard Media reports that 2017 was the biggest year for podcasting with new podcast debuts, new production studios formed and new advertising companies came online. Backyard Media identified four trends in podcasting:
Content is still king
Podcasts are primarily a creative medium. The types of content that appear on podcasts can vary widely, from nonfiction storytelling to political news podcasts to expert panel discussions.
Backyard Media noted that many podcast listeners are drawn to the medium in part because they don’t think they can get the content anywhere else. And in many cases, they may be right. Podcast studios and larger media organizations are recognizing the value of podcasts as a digital medium and are creating podcast-only content.
The podcasts that have done well are those podcasts that have personalities. They have a particular sound or they engage topics with a particular structure or approach.
Podcasts also differentiate themselves with the personalities of their hosts. As we showed in this blog post, listeners feel they develop a relationship with the podcast host after having spent hours of time listening to their content.
Podcasts that did well in 2017 were those that explored ideas many listeners had never thought about – investigative podcasts like This American Life’s S-Town and the L.A. Times’ Dirty John, or narrative nonfiction podcasts like our podcast partner Hi-Phi Nation. Other successful podcasts informed and engaged listeners on issues like national security, like their partner War on the Rocks.
The host-listener relationship is paramount
This point is very crucial, and it differentiates podcasts as a digital medium from others like online video, Internet radio, and streaming TV. There’s something about the intimacy of podcasts that causes listeners to develop a connection with podcast hosts.
Hosts develop relationships with their audiences through their distinctive personalities and content. Podcast advertisers should respect this relationship by working with the podcasts they sponsor. They can do this by ensuring hosts have every opportunity to try and understand their product. An advertisers can also trust hosts’ judgement when it comes to ad reads if they are unsure how to market to a podcast audience. Backyard Media discussed in this blog post about providing flexibility for a host when crafting a podcast ad.
Backyard Media reports that the importance of leveraging this relationship in the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s data about podcast ad delivery. In 2016, host-read ads remained the most popular way to deliver ads to listeners. A full 60 percent of ads were host-read, with the number of “produced” ads (where either the sponsor or the podcast production company is responsible for the ad) ticking upward from 37 percent to 40 percent.
The benefits to sponsors are obvious when they understand and trust this relationship between podcast hosts and podcasts listeners. We’ve seen how audiences respect hosts’ product recommendations and see ads as a part of the show’s content. Furthermore, recent podcast advertising research tells us that podcast ads increase brand lift, brand awareness, and listeners’ likelihood to purchase.
Podcasts are growing, audiences are growing, and so is the potential for podcast advertising
Podcasting remains a high-growth media industry. Podcast listening audiences as a share of the US adult population continues to rise. The 2017 Infinite Dial Report showed that 67 million Americans, or 24 percent, listened to a podcast in the past month. Americans are also listening to more podcasts per week, and listen to them in a variety of locations and when doing other activities.
“67 million Americans, or 24 percent, listened to a podcast in the past month. – 2017 Infinite Dial Report
The year also saw continued innovation in the format of podcast content. They wrote about the structures that most podcasts take, but new ones took hold in 2017 like the daily news podcast (of which The New York Times‘ The Daily podcast is the most popular example).
Because of these trends, the amount of money that sponsors are spending on podcast ad campaigns continues to rise at a dizzying rate. The Interactive Advertising Bureau reported that the podcast industry’s advertising revenue in 2016 was $119 million. Its estimates for 2017 totaled $220 million – an 85 percent increase year-over-year.
In addition, companies’ marketing departments are seeing the growth in podcasting, its quality content and loyal audiences, and are shifting their budgets to ensure that podcasts comprise a significant portion of any ad campaign.
For more information on the SPJ Georgia podcast training program, contact SPJGeorgia@Gmail.com.