Listen by the numbers
Podcasting is sounding better and better. And people are noticing.
Before anyone gets into a trend-chasing tizzy, remember that overall, podcast growth has been modest. Adults who listened to a podcast grew about 20% between 2006 and 2012. That’s nice, but it’s not setting Rome on fire.
But then podcasting reached an all-time high in 2014, with 15% of U.S. residents having listened to a podcast in the last month – almost 39 million people. Here’s the research, and it’s good.
Why it’s growing
Any victim of Serial addiction will talk your ear off about how great this podcasting series has been.
It tells the story of Adnan Syed, a high school student convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend. It’s told in real time, and his case is still in-process, so listeners feel like it’s actually unfolding – because it is. Serial has combined immediacy and drama in a way no other podcast ever has.
Podcasting is also something of a life-hack tool – a way of making daily life better by enabling people to gain information and be entertained during time that would otherwise be wasted. Look at how Esquire’s Top Podcasts recommend an esoteric mix of daily content in your diet.
Lowering the technical media drawbridge
As podcasting content and production quality have gone up, the cost of entry has gone down. It’s a great forum for creative risk and adventure.
Plus, devices are so ubiquitous that there are more and more opportunities to listen. Commuters are prime podcast consumers, and Edison research showed that people who listen to online audio content while commuting feel it is “new time” for them, i.e. it holds value.
The podcast leaders
Apple and ITunes are still dominant and holding steady as the resource for podcast search and access. But on the content side, podcasting’s standards are largely defined by – you guessed it – NPR.
This American Life, an NPR production with Ira Glass, began in 1995 but became widely available through the Public Radio Exchange in 2014. It examines a wide range of stories, often through 1st-person narrative. Along with RadioLab, This American Life has been a standard bearer for entertaining, educational, thought-provoking, and humorous content. Serial is a spin off of it.
How podcasting works best
Some podcasts with a commercial agenda seek only to inform. Nothing wrong with being informative, but podcasting, as Serial shows, adores a good story.
Marketers should know it, too.
4 things to think about before creating a podcast.
Decide what the purpose is. Get an objective. Is it to teach, to entertain, to cultivate followers? Content strategy will flow from this.
Craft the narrative. What is the story that is unfolding? How can it be dramatized or made relevant through anecdotes and allegory?
Create a calendar. Podcasts require planning. So brainstorm and plan to explore the bandwidth of the topic you’re considering.
Listen to other podcasts. Get immersed in podcasts you like to build a sense of what really works and what doesn’t.
Whenever the topic is marketing, we’re always ready to listen. Contact us for a conversation.