Why Podcasts Are Kicking Butt In Adland

Why Podcasts Are Kicking Butt In Adland

Podcasts are a content marketer’s sweet spot, and brands and consumers are eagerly jumping on board. In this opinion piece, Josh Butt, head of content production for our specialist division, MediaCom Beyond Advertising (MBA), explains why podcasts are the new go-to for marketers.

Josh Butt
Posted by Josh Butt

Ok, here’s the thing: people who buy your products can’t always be bothered to have a conversation with you. They don’t necessarily care you have a cool new hashtag and they certainly won’t want to “join the conversation” unless you do something that they are actually interested in and have a point of view on.

TV audiences continue to decline. Netflix, Spotify and other subscription content services are increasing their members. People are paying — they prefer their content on demand and with as few ads as possible.

It’s not all about filmed content either.

Serial reshaped Podcasting, 100 million downloads and series two on its way, it was the tipping point for audio content on demand. A few companies made it their marketing strategy to support podcasts and since mid 2014, this cash injection has encouraged the industry to grow and delivered successful content for those brands.

MailChimp, first sponsor of Serial, is the most famous supporter of American podcasts and its charming sponsorship announcement had incredible levels of recall of the sponsor, and of what its service was because it didn’t push product or take itself too seriously (and it repeated its name incorrectly which helped). It fitted the context and content it sat within, and that is the key.

Start Up recently finished its second series, about companies starting up. In each episode, there are one or two sponsors with two or three opportunities for a plug. Start Up’s ads are unique to the medium – they are in the documentary style of the show. They educate the audience about the product without selling. Ford sponsored the 2nd series — its ads highlight features of the cars and how they’re “evolving the driving experience”. Its programmable key featured on one of the ads which was highly memorable and with distinct and relevant personality, which is key to effective podcast integration.

A spot in another Gimlet show, Reply All chronicled the host’s displeasure that his co-host hadn’t seen his new baby yet, so he created a website with Square Space (a sponsor) to encourage a visit (it worked).

An audience that is inspired, informed and involved will recall the brand that supported the show. That’s what the data shows us (yep, there’s data).

Few Australian podcasts have a critical mass, unfortunately. But to create them, we’re going to need brands involved so they’re being made outside the ABC. The audience is rising, thanks to the Podcast app on iPhone and Android. Digital car radio hasn’t hit a tipping point but it will soon, so get ready.

For now, there are many podcasts in their embryonic stages with opportunities for brands to cleverly integrate and help with distribution.

ABC’s ‘Rum, Rebel and Ratbags’ a podcast about Australian history and ‘Science Vs’ is a shining example of excellently produced content. Mamamia have gone podcast crazy with shows on parenting, successful women and women over 40.

Brands are starting to get involved. Colonial First State and Macquarie Radio created a podcast series for people 45+ on how to prepare for retirement (The Road Next Traveled). It was excellent. Word is a second series is coming. 

I consume little TV when it’s programmed, preferring to watch it when it suits me. The same goes for my radio listening – which is now about 80 per cent podcasts. Now, I might be more into podcasts than your average listener, but the trend is definitely turning.

As more people evolve their perspective of audio content from programmed radio / Spotify to shows available on demand, they will seek out podcasts, the series will go for longer and new shows will emerge. Australians are early adopters of technology and they are holding a great distribution platform in their hands or holstering it when they drive. So, next time you’re thinking about your brand’s content remember, the best brand content informs, involves or inspires your audience — whatever form it takes, make sure it’s something your audience wants.