While everyone seems to be binge-watching the latest episode of Westworld or Game of Thrones, a large portion of the population are also tuning into podcasts. Podcasts or as I like to call them, “pods,” have been around for many years and I have to admit I am addicted.
While mainstream radio is dishing out ads and pop songs for drivers on their commute home, I am entertained by Hamish and Andy highlights, HowStuffWorks’ “Stuff you missed in history class” and updated on my favourite dysfunctional family, The Osbournes. There are now so many pods out there ranging in topics from sports, interviews, comedy, crime, education, news, science and technology… there really is something for everyone.
On-demand audio is becoming more and more mainstream, with people not just listening in their cars, but also at home and while exercising. Podcast listenership in Australia is on the rise, with 76% of Australians having trialled podcasts in the last year and 16% of these people tuning in during the past week. As a great way to reach a variety of audiences, many brands have acknowledged this and are getting on board the podcast train, not just through sponsorships and collaborations, but also as content curators.
Podcasts create a new platform for brands to communicate with consumers away from the traditional visual channels, helping to build brand awareness, increase engagement and strengthen relationships in a native environment. According to Nielsen, podcasts have also been attributed to increasing purchase intent by 7-14%.
Some brands have taken “branded” podcasts to another level. General Electric (GE) is one such company, receiving just under 8 million downloads last year across two branded podcasts that they released. GE used a Sci-Fi podcast called The Message to entertain listeners, while also promoting their ‘sonic healing technology’. By going down the storytelling path, GE was able to connect to a new audience in a unique way, while also subtly promoting a new product.
GE have also launched a podcast in Australia alongside Fairfax Media. Decoding Genius which is hosted by Australian mathematician, Lily Serna, and showcases the lives of six young innovators. The podcast has been downloaded over 150,000 times and was ranked in the Apple iTunes’ Top 10 podcasts.
Finance and banking is not typically considered to be entertaining for most people. However, Umpqua Bank in the US has seen success with their podcast ‘Open Account’. The pod is aimed specifically at the millennial audience with topics around making, losing and living with money.
Tinder has also ventured into the world of podcasts with ‘DTR’ (Define The Relationship). DTR concentrates on the finer aspects of dating advice and tips, all while subtly promoting its brand proposition to an engaged audience.
Beauty podcasts are also on the rise. Sephora launched a custom podcast series alongside Girlboss radio called #LIPSTORIES. The podcasts feature inspirational women telling stories of their memorable moments and celebrating Sephora’s 40 colours of lipsticks, each inspired by a real-life story.
eBay tapped into the entrepreneur audience with their podcast ‘Open for Business’. The pod focuses on building a business and tips for up and coming entrepreneurs, while also highlighting the benefits of eBay’s storefront marketplace.
It doesn’t stop there; Virgin Atlantic have also aimed their podcast at entrepreneurs. The Venture follows the adventure of different entrepreneurs and their journeys into creating a successful business.
Of course, it is always important to remember who you are trying to reach with a branded podcast. Mozilla (Firefox internet browser) have used their podcast to branch out to listeners who are not necessarily in the ‘tech world’. IRL shares real stories of life online in ‘layman’s terms’. The first season of IRL had over one million downloads.
You Can’t Make This Up is Netflix’s own podcast that showcases their upcoming shows. The pod is hosted by an array of panellists including comedians, journalists, producers and actors with behind the scene information and interviews of new shows available on the platform.
Alongside branded content, media companies are also jumping on board the growing audio channel. Mamamia, Pedestrian, Nine, News Corp, Southern Cross Austereo and Nova are all producing podcasts to suit a variety of audiences. Mamamia podcasts alone have grown year on year by over 300%.
When it comes to advertising within these types of podcasts it is important for brands to do so in innovative ways. You want the listener to be engaged with the podcast content and not even realise they are receiving an advertising message, otherwise they will quickly lose interest.
In a world where online learning and professional development is a must, podcasts offer a great way to learn while you are doing all of the other things on your daily list. You can learn about new technology while stacking the dishwasher, listen to a TED talk on your morning walk or learn about what the Osbourne’s have been up to while driving to work.
If you haven’t ventured into the world of podcasts yet, now is the time for you – and even your brand – to get on board!
Laura Furness is a Manager of Media & Programmatic at BCM