As Southern Cross Austereo prepares the party hats and cake to celebrate the first birthday of PodcastOne tomorrow, B&T sat down for an exclusive chat with its head of podcasting, Grant Tothill (pictured above, left), who reflected on the year gone by and did some crystal-balling on what is a rapidly emerging industry.
How would you rate PodcastOne’s performance since launching a year ago?
PodcastOne has had a brilliant first year. We have over achieved on all our expectations, except for the development of the commercial ecosystem, which is taking a little longer than expected due to the education required to understand the unique environment that original podcasting offers advertisers.
Our first quarter of this financial year is 300 per cent up on last year at the same time, which gives us great confidence the education and understanding is continuing to grow, resulting in stronger commercialisation for our premium podcasts.
What has been the biggest triumph for PodcastOne to date?
There have been a number of fantastic triumphs, so it would be impossible to choose just one, but here are my top three:
- We have developed a very strong Australian content slate that is driving 98 per cent of our downloads.
- We have established ourselves as the number one commercial podcast network
- We have built a sonic standard with our premium-quality domestic podcasts and advertisers are seeing genuine measurable results from podcast sponsorships.
What’s the biggest learning you’ve taken from launching PodcastOne?
We have learned to be nimble and constantly assess our approach. Whilst we have a clear vision of what we stand for and what we want to achieve, we need to ensure we continually assess and adjust our approach to achieve those ambitions.
We’ve had failures and we’ll probably continue to have them, but we continue to gain insights from these failures and get stronger and a lot smarter. We adopt a philosophy of fail quick, assess, learn, re-adjust, proceed. We know a hell of a lot more today than we did a year ago.
What’s the biggest challenge PodcastOne faces going forward?
There are a number of challenges that we face in the short and longer term.
One is helping to grow the awareness of podcasting in general so more Australians choose to podcast. It’s still an exciting new emerging medium.
Another challenge is educating CMOs and agencies on how to best use podcasting from a creative advertising point of view, as well as the unique difference podcasting offers compared to other mediums.
We also need to ensure we continually balance our content slate to grow our audience to reflect the interests of podcast listeners in Australia.
How does SCA plan to continue growing PodcastOne?
We have a very clear strategy in relation to marketing our PodcastOne content across our TV, radio, digital, and social SCA assets, along with other social and media options. This works together with investment into our internal infrastructure to increase content creation, commercialisation capacity and in-market education.
How do you see the podcasting ecosystem, particularly in Australia, evolving over the next five to 10 years?
Podcasting is just starting to gain momentum. PwC recently showed a very strong outlook up to 2022.
From our point of view, we have a strong belief that high-quality podcasts will continue to grow audiences, and we will see the current number of 17 per cent of Australians that podcast continue to rise.
Australia is doing very well in creating its own style of podcasts for Australian audiences. We’re seeing more and more publishers utilise podcasts as a new medium to connect with audiences.
Smart speakers will continue to grow, as will in-car technology and artificial intelligence, so it follows that on demand audio will play a more important role in people’s lives.
Audio is in a very strong position and can offer immense opportunity across emerging technologies and platforms. Radio is strong and dominant when it comes to being hyper-local. Audio on demand provides consumers the capacity to listen to what they want, when they want, where ever they want; while they’re commuting, at home or out and about. With that in mind, the future is extremely bright for audio in all its forms, and the next five years will only see the demand for audio continue to grow.