With the rampant growth of digital advertising in the past years, the market has become even more competitive. Traditional marketing techniques are effective. However, using digital marketing platforms will expand your brand presence to reach more potential consumers. Among the most powerful digital advertising tools companies use today is a podcast. With 48 million Americans listening to podcasts weekly, investing in a branded podcast will help you gain access to new audiences and grow your business.
This first post of a two-part series will talk about why investing in branded podcast is beneficial to your brand’s growth. The second part will discuss how brands can partner with influencers. In addition, it will dive into podcast sponsorships and share examples of brands doing it right with sponsored podcasts.
What are Branded Podcasts?
Brands can use podcasts to their advantage through branded podcasts or sponsorships (the latter will be explored more in the second part of this series.) Branded podcasts, sometimes called original podcasts with brands, are created by or in conjunction with brands. Brands can either develop their own podcast or partner with podcasting companies to produce branded audio content.
Since podcasts can interact with their followers on a deeper level, branded podcasts allow brands to speak longer and directly to their audience. Podcast sponsorships are when brand advertisements are placed all around the show. Branded podcasts provide a more subtle marketing approach since they promote your brand and expertise while producing content that is useful and appealing.
Why Invest in Branded Podcasts?
Podcasts develop excessively over the past years. With podcasts’ popularity, companies are taking the leap and jumping on the trend of podcast advertising and branded podcasts. Above all, the success of big brands like GE, eBay, and Microsoft in creating their own podcasts support these fundamental reasons why branded podcasts are building up and should be integrated with your brand.
A rapidly growing podcast revenue
Though podcasts existed for more than a decade now (who can’t forget the release of Serial in 2014), podcast revenue grew exponentially only in recent years. In 2017, U.S. podcast advertising generated $314 million in revenue, an increase of 86 percent over $169 million in 2016. As media shifts to more mobile consumption, podcasts revenue is anticipated to surge in the coming years.
According to IAB/PwC Podcast Advertising Revenue Study, released in June by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), U.S. podcast revenue will reach $659 million by 2020. That’s an increase of more than 110 percent from 2017. Dan Franks, co-founder of Podcast Movement noted, “This study confirms what many of us inside the industry already know: podcast advertising works, and revenues are on the rise.”
An increasing number of podcast listeners
As mobile usage increases, podcasts become more popular. A research done by Edison Research Infinite Dial 2018 found that 64% of Americans are familiar with the term “podcasting.” That’s equivalent to 124 million people among which 44% has listened to a podcast, an increase of 4% in 2017. The Infinite Dial report also showed that about 26% of the U.S. population ages 12 and up, which represents 73 million Americans, listen to at least one podcast a month. Hence, the number of Americans listening to podcasts has nearly doubled in the past decade and is expected to grow in the foreseeable future. Both male and female populations listen to podcasts. Here’s the breakdown: 52% are men while 48% are women. That’s a growth of 14% from 2017 while remaining almost the same among the men population. Among the soaring number of podcast listeners, 6% are classified as podcast fans.
An effective way to directly reach your target audience
One of the advantages of having your own podcast is that you can use it to appeal to your preferred market. Listening to a podcast is very intentional. Podcast listeners usually select one podcast to listen to and eventually tune in. Audiences listen to a specific podcast because it piques their interest or has an affinity to the topic it presents, thus they are more receptive to your message.
Branded podcasts allow you to speak directly to your brand’s market or a niche audience with a topic relevant to them and turn your listeners to potential consumers.
Understanding your podcast listeners is vital in delivering brand awareness. Hence, it is important that the topics and style the podcast presents are specifically crafted with their interest in mind. If done right, branded podcasts can generate a high customer success rate.
Most podcasts feature their sponsors on the show’s home/landing page, which is another way for brands to venture into sponsored podcasts. Homepage advertising provides brand recall and awareness as listeners become exposed to your brand not only when they download and listen to the podcast but even when they visit the series’ landing page. Homepage advertising also gives brands opportunities to offer discount codes to listeners and direct them to a brand’s website which may lead to a product purchase.
Slack shows a perfect example of utilizing the use of branded podcasts to reach their target audience. Launched in 2015, the Slack Variety Pack accumulated great success attributed to understanding their listeners well. Within their 20 to 40 minute episodes, the podcast series tried to capture everything about life, work culture and people through work-life stories with Slack’s signature fun and curious way to engage their young, inquisitive and carefree target listeners. Before the show ended in 2016, Slack reached three million active users daily.
Podcasts are convenient
Digital advertising tools such as branded podcasts, allow your brand to connect with your listeners 24/7. Podcasts are easy to use and the audience can listen to them anywhere and any time of the day. Creating your own podcast provides an opportunity to engage with all types of listeners wherever they are. Though 49% of podcast listening is done at home, many podcast audiences listen in the car, in public transportation, in the gym, or at work.
Podcasts are portable and can be accessed easily. With the increasing consumption of smartphones, everyone can use podcasts freely. By simply downloading the podcast, listeners can access them anywhere. Time spent on commute, while working out in the gym or on the road became worthwhile with the availability of podcasts.
Highly engaging medium to convey a message
Branded podcasts can be a great way for advertisers to communicate their brand. Since podcasts are in audio form, listeners tend to be captivated. 80% of podcast listeners listen to an entire or most of podcast episodes and are seldom skipping on advertisements. With your own podcast, you can produce longer stories, or series that unfold over time which can effectively reach your audience in an engaging and entertaining way. Subscribing on a brand’s original podcast provides listeners a personal time to connect with the brand and create brand awareness.
A Nielsen study found that almost 70% of podcast listeners obtained brand awareness through podcast ads, 62% successfully recalled brand advertisements and another 62% considered purchasing new products or services advertised. A branded podcast can help you build a relationship with your audience that is crucial in successfully establishing brand recall and accumulating sales through podcast advertisements.
Tinder’s original podcast, DTR, showed how branded podcasts can engage its audience with its real and compelling stories. Tinder exhibits the brand’s expertise in exploring romance in the digital age. For instance, this podcast has episodes that tell specific dating stories or explore dating-related issues encountered in Tinder and other online dating platforms. The brand built brand awareness as they show the use of the dating app through its authentic and engaging message.
Brands can tell a story in a creative way
Podcasts offer a wide range of topics from comedy, fitness, love, business, arts, food to fan fiction and mystery. In addition, branded podcasts allow brands to tell their stories in a way that best fitted them while freely venturing in a genre, topic, and style they want. Therefore, with branded podcasts, brands are not governed with limitations that advertisements of sponsored existing podcasts may have. Hence, brands can come up with authentic stories that have a connection with the brand, speaks more to consumers and are easily recalled than a traditional advertisement.
General Electric, with its two original podcast series The Message and Life After, proved that branded podcasts provide a platform to showcase creativity through story-telling. Co-produced by Panoply and GE Podcast Theater, it aired in 2015. The story revolved around a group of cryptologists decoding a message from outer space obtained 70 years ago. With the success of the show with more than four million downloads over the course of eight weeks, GE launched another series in 2016 called the Life After, a 10-episodes series about the digital resurrection.
GE aimed to tell remarkable stories while displaying the company’s expertise in science and technology. Both of GE’s branded podcasts successfully engaged its listeners in a peculiar way through creative content. As a result, GE’s branded podcast brought the brand almost eight million downloads throughout the podcast series’ run.
3 Major Podcast Hosting Platforms
There has been an increasing number of podcasters who can easily be tapped through emails. Therefore, the growing availability of podcasting websites and platforms has made hosting branded podcasts easier.
Starting your own podcast requires several steps to take. Once you have decided to create your original podcast, one of the most vital things to do is to find the perfect podcast hosting platform for your brand to upload your podcast episodes and get out within reach of your target audience.
Let’s take a look at three of the most popular platforms that may suit your brand’s needs.
Buzzsprout is younger than its competitors but has proved itself competent by currently hosting 16,000 podcasts. The platform prides itself on its user-friendly and modernly designed dashboard. It makes uploading, sharing, and tracking shows convenient and easy even for those without technical expertise. This hosting site supplies branded podcasts with embeddable audio players, and a free starter website. Plus, you can receive directions for getting into iTunes, Stitcher, and other podcast directories. It also offers Facebook and Twitter integrations.
Buzzsprout is mobile-friendly which enables your brand to effortlessly manage ads and track your podcast statistics using your smartphones. They allow you to easily shift and import your podcast episodes from an existing platform. In addition, the site also provides an automatic listing on podcast directories including Apple and Stitcher. One of the things many podcasters love about this hosting platform is its prompt and very helpful customer support. Offering a 90-day free plan, you can upload 2-hours monthly which can be extended longer for $12.
Podbean is a podcast publishing and monetization service that delivers free and premium hosting packages for personal and company use. Operating for more than 10 years, Podbean is one of the most well-known and trusted hosting platforms. For brands starting to build their own podcasts, this site is an expert for supplying all necessary features to start a podcast including website builder and full-featured podcast site, among others.
Podbean offers sponsorship opportunities and is a perfect place for podcasters and advertisers to interact. Throughout the years, PodBean developed features that bigger hosting platforms have including video podcasts and mobile app management. One of its latest functionalities is Alexa integration.
Liberated Syndication, mostly known as Libsyn, is one of the pioneers of podcast hosting sites. Launched in 2004, Libsyn has established its name and became one of the most reliable platforms for podcast hosting. Above all, with a hosting plan that ranges from $5 to $75, Libsyn provides everything branded podcasts need including, publishing tools, media hosting and delivery, and RSS for Apple Podcasts and iTunes. In addition, this host tool also offers a website, stats, and a platform.
One of the outstanding features of Libsyn is YouTube integration. Thus, Libsyn allows automatic publishing of episodes to your brand’s YouTube channel which can be viewed by a wider audience. Above all, it hosts more than 25,000 shows with over 44 million monthly listeners.
With the increasing popularity of digital advertising tools, creating your own podcast will contribute to your brand’s growth. With the growing podcasts revenue and the number of podcast users, podcasts are effective in reaching your target audience. A podcast is a highly engaging medium that allows your brand to be creative in telling a story. Therefore, this is reason enough to start investing in branded podcasts.
How can investing in branded podcasts add value to your brand?