Have We Entered Peak Podcasting? 2021 Predictions

Photo series of a japanese podcaster making video podcast from his home studio.

Henrik Isaksson is the regional managing director at Acast AU & NZ. In this opinion piece, he gives his top prediction on what 2021 will bring for the podcasting world.

Despite a volatile media environment in 2020, podcasting has continued to grow from strength to strength. We have seen record listen numbers month-on-month and advertising investment has eclipsed all industry forecasts. What a year it’s been for podcasting!

No longer just an add-on to radio, podcasting has cemented itself as a standalone channel for brands looking to invest in Audio.

As the medium continues to explode, here’s what we can expect in 2021:

Independent podcasting will take off

Podcasting is arguably the media darling of 2020. More than ever, Australians turned to podcasts for news and entertainment last year with Acast alone clocking an average of 25.1 million monthly listens in Australia. Not even a month into the new year and we are now seeing a large year-on-year increase in listenership.

Strategy will take centre stage

As podcasting becomes a strategic media priority, brands and agencies will continue to rely on
podcast players that can not just sell media units, but help input at a strategic and creative level
whilst providing scale and a diverse offering.

More and more, agencies and brands are asking for podcasting specialists who live and breathe
the medium as it evolves and becomes more complicated to navigate. Gone are the days when
podcasting simply is an added value line item on a plan, much like digital was close to 15 years
ago. The best media plans rightfully treat podcasting as its own media line – brands that
recognise this will continue to take centrestage.

Technology will continue to advance

As the industry matures, so too will the tech to enhance the podcast media experience. Tools
like Acast Marketplace already offer a self-service platform for advertisers to reach the right
audience in the right place at the right time.

Self-serve technology will continue to rule in 2021 as creators and brands seek to maintain this
unique voice. We anticipate the continued evolution of real-time analytical tools which allow
parties to learn more about their listenership and best tailor their products.

The rise of channel agnostic ad partners

Spotify, Amazon, Pandora and Tencent have made acquisitions and investments into
podcasting platforms and/or content businesses during 2020. But there is a shift toward
podcast players that are hosting channel agnostic.

In comparison to this network focussed model, Acast’s unlimited hosting and distribution
channels allows both independent and large scale productions to appear on every platform
possible. This ensures that our advertisers have the greatest listenership potential. While
content deals are becoming more lucrative, we anticipate ad partners will preference this
channel agnostic strategy and so will the end listener.

Australian podcasts go global

Podcasting is a border free zone, and the international players are already settling into
Australia. In 2020 we launched our integration with Patreon which gives partners and users
access to subscriber-only podcast content available across popular platforms.

This global integration is by no means the end of podcasting’s globalisation. With more local
content being heard overseas expect Australian advertisers and creators to demand autonomy
over how they customise and monetise their content.

With the consumer appetite for podcasting at fever pitch, in 2021 the battle for ears and dollars will become more ferocious and creative. Have we reached peak podcasting? For now the only way is up.


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