More than ever, publishers are looking for new ways to strengthen and diversify their content. Today we’ll explore how podcasts can allow them to do this. Over the last year, podcasts entered the mainstream world in a big way, with a whopping 73 million Americans - about 26% of the US population, listening every month! With podcasts being around for significantly longer than a year, it’s only natural to ask, why are they only taking off now? In this post we will walk through why publishers are investing in this form of content, as well as provide some examples of how publishers are utilizing podcasts to diversify their strategy.


Podcasts as an emerging trend 📈

In the last few years, podcasting emerged as a priority for major platforms such as Spotify and Apple. Smartphones made it easier to simply connect to the internet, and stream your podcast of choice. These platforms, and many others, make it extremely easy and convenient to both publish and download content. Additionally, podcasts are becoming far more diverse than the traditional radio interview format. Today we see styles ranging from the solo podcast, a panel, conversational, repurposed content, interviews, and more! Different podcasts and platforms also offer the option of including visuals alongside your episodes, such as the live video, an image, or a slideshow.

Although radio still reaches plenty more ears than podcasts (93% of Americans weekly), podcasts allow more control for publishers and offer more flexibility for listeners. They also allow users to find niche topics that are more specific to their interests. Additionally, podcasts usually have shorter ads, or none at all, making them more appealing to the listener. My personal favorite is their flexibility. You can always pause and pick up where you left off whenever you’re ready! Many devices such as cars and smart speakers (Amazon Echo, Google Home, etc.) now integrate podcast applications, providing a great opportunity to reach more consumers in different places. Accessibility and convenience are major factors in podcasting's continued growth. Since 2014, podcast listening on mobile devices has increased around 157%, and it’s still growing!

Why publishers are investing in podcasts

It’s no secret that many publishers are integrating podcasts into their strategy, sometimes even publishing alongside their articles to produce a coherent piece of content. Podcasts provide an opportunity to reach users on various new platforms like Spotify, Apple, Luminary, Brew, and more. This medium also gives readers new options to consume content while on the go! Whether you’re jogging, commuting to work, or driving, thousands of podcasts are available at the touch of a button - enabling publishers to reach audiences in various parts of their day!

The tremendous success of podcasts can largely be attributed to the unique nature of each one, individually branding their episodes audibly. Podcast hosts form a special relationship with their audience through the use of unique vocal nuances. Specific speech patterns, laughter, theme songs, and authentic conversations, allow for each podcast to act as a snowflake in a potentially saturated market. This also opens up an opportunity to connect with the consumer on a more personal level, and may even encourage your audience to rate and review-- increasing your viewership and engagement. Afterall, some of the real action takes place comments section, so whether your goal is to increase traffic or boost ad revenue, encouraging your audience to be involved is crucial.

Lastly, many publishers are earning significant revenue from podcasts in addition to their normal published content. The Economist reported that their revenue from podcast ads increased 50% in 2018. And they're not the only ones benefiting from this strategy, The Ringer announced that it made around $15 million from podcast ad sales in 2018 as well. The best part is that creating and producing podcasts can be relatively low cost, as opposed to creating an actual video or short film, for example. If done well, the ROI can be huge, and we already see advertisers jumping on this opportunity. “You don’t get clients saying they want to be on pre-roll, but you get clients saying they want to be on the Economist’s podcast,” said Charlie Yeates, head of investment at Mediacom.

Some of our favorite examples 🎧

Before you decide where and how to produce your podcast, it’s important to think about what kind of show you want to produce and which strategy that will work best for you. Social Media Examiner is a great example of a publisher with a diverse content strategy. Each week they publish 2 podcasts along with multiple daily articles. Each episode runs about 45 minutes and covers tips and tricks to help improve social media marketing strategies. They also integrate with Amazon Alexa (a series called Daily Alexa Flash Briefing), and are available on a number of platforms such as Stitcher, TuneIn, and of course the big ones like Apple and Spotify, casting a wide net for visibility.

Mother Jones, a publisher that covers a wide array of topics, produces and distributes two distinct, topic-specific, podcasts. The Mother Jones Podcast focuses on news, investigations, and interviews, catching the ear of listeners wanting to learn more about topics like politics, crypto, and much more. Their second podcast, Bite, focuses on food and agriculture. Bite caters to listeners that want to learn about food science, farming, recipes and the latest culinary trends -- literally from farm to phone. 😋

Another successful podcasting strategy is to host industry leaders to educate your audience. Introducing new voices offers a nice refresher to your listeners, and allows them to learn and connect on a more personal level with CEO’s, analysts, and experts that they wouldn’t be able to otherwise. PCMag produces a series called Fast Forward With Dan Costa, hosted by the CEO himself. He brings in entrepreneurs and high level influencers from the tech space, and speaks to the latest innovations in technology. Accessibility and convenience are crucial for podcast success, and PCMag is on top of it! Their series is broadcasted live on Facebook, downloadable as a podcast, and posted to YouTube.

Another area where we have seen high demand is the sports world! Sports podcasting offers a great opportunity to produce multiple shows around the same topic. For example, Wrestling Inc is a sports publisher that releases multiple podcasts a week, but rather than focusing on a diverse range of topics, they focus solely on different wrestling events throughout the week. Mondays they recap Post-WWE pay per view events, but Tuesdays they focus on the WWE SmackDown, etc. They also have extremely visible calls to action on every episode and page, prompting and allowing you to listen on Spotify, iTunes, or Google Play. They end each episode by asking the audience to rate them and leave a comment, thus increasing and encouraging engagement.  

This last publisher is somewhat of a special case, as they have the means to bring in big name celebrities, athletes, and influencers to comment on popular topics and news. Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post and Thrive Global, hosts the Thrive Global podcast. She tackle topics ranging from self-care, parenting, food, social justice issues, politics, and much more. This is a great example of how publishers can utilize podcasts to bring these seemingly out of reach and famous celebrities down to the level of a consumer. This podcast keeps their listeners coming back for more as they consistently offer the chance to hear from A-list names. Using famous influencers isn’t exactly a new strategy for brands, but in the podcast space, it allows the listener to form a personal connection to the host and their weekly guests.

So, are you thinking about starting your own podcast? We want to hear how you are taking advantage of this growing trend 📝