Podcasts: What are the opportunities for brands?
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Podcasts: What are the opportunities for brands?

I don’t think I’ve had a meeting in the past 12 months where I haven’t discussed podcasts. Often, I’ve gone into a meeting to discuss something completely different, be it our voiceover agency, or audio post-production studios, and before the meeting has finished, the conversation has turned to podcasting. Everyone wants to do a podcast. Everyone feels they should be doing a podcast.

Podcasting in the UK has grown massively over the last few years. Around 4.7 million people in the UK now download a podcast every week. We are still playing catch-up with the US but we are getting there, and the opportunity for brands is significant. People are currently going out of their way to skip and ignore adverts; on-demand TV, internet ad-blockers, the decline in print - all of these, amongst other factors, are contributing.

The advertising opportunity

Podcasts offer a highly engaged audience. It’s a very personal experience. People tend to listen on their smartphones, with earphones, be it on their commute, whilst running or cooking. People are paying attention. They are tuned in. More importantly, people expect to hear adverts in podcasts. Many podcasters have mastered the art of casually dropping an ad into their episode. Listen to Adam Buxton and you may not know whether he’s doing an ad or mid-way through a conversation. Brands can play a part in people’s lives without interfering. And it works. A recent report showed that 42% of people would consider a new product or service that they found from a podcast and 45% are likely to visit the brand’s website. Those kinds of numbers should whet the appetite of many a marketing director.

The data opportunity

What else excites brands apart from not being ignored? Data. We work closely with leading third-party platforms to provide brands with statistics around who is listening, their age, gender and location. It’s not possible to get this exact and immediate feedback from most brand campaigns – and could  end up changing marketing strategy on future projects.

For example, working recently with Attitude Magazine on the Attitude Heroes podcast (celebrating the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England & Wales), we found that there were large spikes in listeners from countries where being homosexual isn’t as easy as it should be. People were also listening in countries where being homosexual wasn’t just difficult, but punishable by imprisonment. The podcast allowed Attitude to reach an audience that needed them more than most. Having access to this kind of data presented them with a new opportunity to explore.

How?

Over the past year we have worked with a variety of brands and agencies to understand why they want to do a podcast, if they should be doing one, and most importantly, how they can stand out. It’s starting to become an incredibly crowded marketplace. Brands want podcasts like they wanted apps. But the important question remains – ‘who cares and why would I listen?’

Before plunging into pre-production or sitting in front of a mic, there are a few factors to consider that can help from the get go:

  • Firstly, the length of your podcast. Think about commuter time. We often hear about the sweet spot of 25-35 mins an episode. Don’t make your episodes too long or people may tune out early.
  • Secondly, think about frequency. With so much on offer, once someone takes the step to press play or subscribe, they expect to be fed an episode regularly. If possible, aim for weekly or fortnightly. Or, think about the Netflix model of releasing a whole series in one go (something S Town did to great success).
  • Thirdly, audio quality. I know I’ve turned off and unsubscribed from many a podcast series that sounded great in theory but awful in terms of sound quality. By no means do all podcasts have to be perfectly polished, but they do need to be listenable, and if you’re a brand then the bar should be set higher than most.
  • Lastly, think about social media and what role it can play in your podcast. Do you dedicate a segment to answering questions from Twitter? Put a call out for questions 30 mins before recording and it feels very current. Alternatively, you could pose questions to listeners and discuss findings on the next episode. Think about creating a live element to the show using Facebook live. 

The opportunity for brands in podcasting is compelling. Whether that be in placing an advert into a successful series that reaches their target audience, or in creating their own series. Podcasts can be recorded and released very quickly, so it would be a missed opportunity not to take advantage of the immediacy of interaction with the public that this offers up.

Josh Adley Head of business development Wisebuddah
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