Getting Vocal

The Good, the Brand and the Ugly of Brand Podcasts

Since emerging on the scene in the early 2000’s podcasts are now a global phenomenon. Over one third of adults have listened to a podcast in the last month. On average a podcaster listens to seven podcasts a week. From Mike Skinner’s ‘In The Third Person’ and Russell Brand’s ‘Under the Skin’, to Dirty John and Serial, everyone is at it.

And there is plenty of evidence to show the landscape is changing at quite the pace. Investors claim Spotify is becoming the “Netflix of music”; the music streaming service has been investing heavily in third party licensing and original podcast development deals; their recent buy out of production giants Gimlet hit major headlines. This all points towards the continued year on year growth of podcasting.

These minutes of audio magic have a highly engaged audience – people watch a digital video for an average of 18 seconds but will listen to a podcast for 22 minutes. The E.W. Scripps Co. has collected their own survey data and found that podcast listeners make it through about 90% of a given episode, and relatively few are skipping through ads.

Combine these stats with the type of audience podcasts attract – those that are educated, affluent and tech savvy, the opportunity for brands is worth a closer look.

Producing a podcast isn’t a tough gig, however creating a good one that achieves scale can be a hard to crack. You don’t have to dig deep on Spotify or Apple for compelling brand -owned podcasts that have hit the sweet spot. Here are three examples at a glance;

In 2017 Land Rover launched a family-friendly podcast series that used immersive 3D sound experience to encourage adventurers of all ages to get out and experience a British outdoor adventure in the car.

Tinder launched DTR (Define The Relationship) with This American Life’s Jane Marie, a quick-witted and detail-obsessed host or, as she put it: “your guide through this wild new world of dating, love and sex in cyberspace”.

Mastercard created Fortune Favours the Bold; a five episode branded podcast series that explores the various ways our relationship with money is changing.

There were perhaps four elements that made these a success and offer guiderails for other brands seeking to dip their toes in the world of podcasting.

First, is the engagement Factor. Tell a story, educate the masses, do something that is more than a badging exercise or a recital of corporate key messages. Develop characters, a hook, create social currency.

Second, make it evergreen. When was the podcast you’re listening to first released? People come back to audio content in two weeks or even two years time. Don’t be led by trends.

Third comes distribution. Ensure you have a decent media budget to pull in your audience. Think about where your investing this, for example, consider advert placement in other podcasts of a similar theme. Your audience are already tuned in, use that to your advantage.

Finally, understand behaviours. Design your output to meet the listening habits of your audience. On average a podcaster listens to seven podcasts a week. According to Edison’s report on Podcast Consumer Behaviours, 49% of people listen at home, 22% in the car, 11% whilst at work and only 11% when on the move or in the gym.

So there is no denying that branded podcasts are booming. Brands are becoming both more aware of the podcast market and more savvy about it. They can be expensive, but the benefit of building brand advocacy by having a direct and emotional connection to your consumers over a long period of time is not one that should be ignored.

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