By Cole Lim Yong Ping, Student at Singapore Institute of Technology
Great stories can change the world. When young, we hear stories from our parents, friends, or make them up in our imagination. As we grow older, the way we consume stories evolves too. There is a new form of storytelling that is gaining traction in the realm of ads, brand collaborations and influencer marketing – Podcasts. As explained by Anna Ratala, CEO and co-founder of Zvook.co, people are starting to love listening to Podcasts as they can listen to them whenever they want, wherever they want, and to whomever they want. Podcasts create a very intimate and authentic medium for the “ear bud generation”.
Companies are starting to understand the power of storytelling and podcasts are a great way for them to reach out to their target audience. To give some perspective on how large the podcast consumer market is today:
- 44% of podcast listeners are Millennials and Generation Z
- 69% of podcast listeners agree that podcasts makes them aware of new products and services
- 54% of podcast listeners are more likely to consider a brand after hearing about it in a podcast
“Podcasts are exploding worldwide. South Korea has the biggest podcast listenership. This might come as a surprise, but people actually listen to the full episode and do not skip the advertisements. They love the branded content!”
Why are Podcasts so popular?
Why are podcasts taking off now? A huge part of this rise has to do with streaming. The last couple of years saw a rise in streaming services such as Apple Music and Spotify. Spotify in particular are playing a big role by buying podcast companies and talk shows to attract more listeners to their platform. Comparing the difference between podcast and radio, Anna says;
“People might slip into a podcast while listening to music, which is different from radio. Radio is not on-demand. Whatever comes on is whatever you are going to listen to.”
Instant gratification is the attractiveness of podcasts – people want things immediately. If an individual is interested in a niche topic, like fishing, there are probably several podcasts for that. From the company’s perspective, a niche podcast could have several hundred die-hard fans which is a good group of people to target if the company’s product or service is relatable.
How to reach your target audience
Podcast marketing is one of the many challenges that companies face – How to find customers? How to let your audience know you exist? For companies to reach out to new audiences, collaboration with other podcasters with a similar target audience is a good first step.
A great podcast is not just about having enriching content. The host plays an important role too. The host is why people listen to the podcast – he or she is part of the content. Listeners will decide how knowledgeable the host is and evaluate how great the host’s voice is.
“What we see in the podcast advertising space is that host-led advertisements are more effective than pre-produced ones. Listeners love it when the advertisement is read by the host. So, collaborating with great host is a really good idea.”
Tim Farriss from The Tim Farriss Show, a top business podcast on Apple Podcasts, carried out an experiment to test his listeners’ response to advertising. Quite simply, he paused his advertisements for six months. Surprisingly, his listeners asked him to bring the advertisements back, because they simply love him reading them! When the podcast’s content, the host, and the advertisement resonates with the listeners, that is the winning formula.
Making money from podcasts
One of the questions asked was how companies make money from podcasts. Anna stressed that companies should really focus on creating valuable content and work with interesting partners. Monetising can happen when there are around 1000 listeners. Ideally, the average length of a podcast should be around 30 minutes as anything longer than that requires a very engaged audience and in-depth conversation. It is important for companies not to make the podcast sound like a sales pitch – this is where narrative storytelling comes in. Have different personalities when delivering the content and create it as though it is like watching a movie, without the video part. Anna encourages companies to hop on board the podcast trend and said that:
“As podcasts become mainstream, it becomes more difficult for companies to stand out. There is so much written content, such as blogs and forums. Take this content and transform it into something easily digestible through audio.”
Despite content creators putting so much time and effort into their podcasts, there is, nevertheless, only around 15% of podcasters making money – a staggering number compared to the number of podcasts being produced. Patreon, for example, is a membership platform where content creators share their exclusive content or perks with subscribers in exchange for donations. Anna noted that the monthly subscription model may not attract many customers, as people are already paying for many other subscription-based services such as Netflix and Spotify. Hence, companies have to put out really high quality podcasts to attract paying listeners.
Inserting advertising is another way to earn money through podcasts. They can be added at the beginning of the podcast or in the middle to serve as a break. A good piece of news is that Google have recently added podcast results into their search engine. They also search through transcripts to find suitable podcasts for people. Hence, nowadays, it is much easier for people to discover new podcasts.
Anna sees the podcast trend increasing and encourages more companies to jump onboard to create more purposeful content for their audiences.
“It is going to be the new video from the way I see it.”