Listen Up: The Audio Renaissance is Here

Written by Geenie Choy

How did podcasting become the hottest and latest paradigm shift in advertising? By being the most effective.

Rather than sharing the newest workout playlist, people are increasingly recommending friends to tune into new podcast series such as Serial and Pod Save America. In fact, a report from Edison Research released last year found that 21 percent of Americans older than 12 “will have listened to a podcast in the last month…while only 13 percent of Americans use Spotify on a monthly basis.” More importantly, this growth does not show signs of slowing down anytime soon, with research indicating that “one in three current podcast listeners plan to increase their podcast consumption over the next six months.”  

For brand and media companies, this shift is significant. New York City’s biggest podcast networks now include The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Buzzfeedthese networks provide condensed nuggets of information to millions of subscribers. For companies within other industries, the resurgence of podcasts is phenomenal. Podcast advertising grew at a rate of 72 percent between 2015 and 2016, and is estimated to reach $220 million by the end of this year.

How did podcasting become the hottest and latest paradigm shift in advertising? By being the most effective.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau and Edison Research study indicates that “45 percent of listeners said that they’re likely to visit an advertiser’s website after hearing an audio promo.” Impressive statistics such as this make podcast advertisements even more valuable than traditional television commercials, which supposedly boasts a much larger audience.

The secret behind podcast advertising’s successes is in podcast’s unique yet inherent model of audience engagement. Unlike listening to music, podcasting is a highly engaging medium. The need for listeners to pay attention avoids the issue of low click-rates or ignored advertisements that many other forms of traditional mediums struggle with.

Professor of Marketing in NYU Florence, Dr. Raffaele Donvito, believes that podcasts’ unique model enables the medium to achieve a “balance of presence and push” that many brands struggle to maintain today. He explains that consumers develop increasingly higher expectations for media; thus, companies must ensure their marketing content are readily available for consumers without coming off as “aggressive.” Podcasts maintain this balance by guaranteeing listeners’ freedom to control the volume, skip episodes, and choose series, hence increasing their control over the ads they are exposed to and increasing consumer satisfaction.

Additionally, podcast listeners have unparalleled loyalty. Dr. Donvito describes each advertisement as a message, and consequently compares the host as the sender and consumers, the receivers. Listeners’ respect and trust in the podcast series naturally increases the integrity of the message they receive. To capitalize on this bond, many hosts now read the advertisements and incorporate only specific advertisements that flow well within the context of the series. This allows for a more personalized experience for listeners and protection for hosts’ credibility.

It is still crucial to evaluate the medium has enough technological infrastructure to support its growth. Many startups have jumped on this gap to mold the developing podcast phenomenon. Podible, is one of these up-and-coming startups. With the goal of “democratizing podcasts,” Podible aims to use machine learning to “nurture the independent and entrepreneurial streak of the podcasting community.” Whether podcasts can successfully and permanently transition into mainstream media will rely on efforts from startups such as Podible. Living in New York City, the self-proclaimed ‘Heart of Podcasting’, it is up to us to watchand listenclosely for the exciting future of podcasting.

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