Ambuj Saxena

Brands and Podcasts - A Match Made in Heaven

Our guest author Ambuj Saxena says podcasts are the perfect medium to trigger behavioural change with the least amount of distraction.

Let me put a few stats in front of you! There are almost 1.14 billion websites in this world and almost three websites are created every second. In addition, there are 60 million active Facebook Pages and an equal number of LinkedIn company pages. Clearly, brands cannot be satisfied with having a mere online presence. 
After all, brands usually struggle with two factors: having a wider reach and having a deeper engagement with the community. It is usually difficult to achieve both and maintain a fine balance. 

What if I could let you in on a way to balance both? 

Back in 2013, during my MBA in MICA, I was taught that the opportunity cost of not being present where consumers are present, can be exponentially high. As brands seek wider and deeper avenues of engagement with their community, there are a few channels that brands can clearly not afford to miss in order to relay their message. 

As a curious branding professional, I am on the lookout for trends that increase brand engagement. Looking at the last six months, the hot and niche engagement channel is on podcasts. Now, what are podcasts and how has it come across as a coveted channel for engagement? 

So, I decided to dig up some stats. I chanced upon some reports that would give me a direction as to how podcasts are coming up as a marketing strategy and how they would benefit business owners. 

Online Audio as a sector

  • There are four main components of the spoken word audio sector or online audio sector. 

  • Online radio

  • Smart speaker

  • Audio books

  • Podcast

Podcast is the newest sub-sector within the online audio sector.

The Creator

Have you heard the name Dave Winer? Dave is a former researcher at NYU and Harvard, who pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software. Hailed as the Grandfather of Podcasts, Dave invented and propagated new media types including podcasts but is still fairly unknown in this part of the world! In a galaxy of Technology enablers, I won’t blame you if you haven't heard his name.

Decoding Podcasts

The word podcast comes from iPod and broadcast. The podcast is an audio file in M4A or MP3 format that creators can upload on the internet and users can avail of a free service to download, to listen to their favourite podcasts on their computers or personal digital audio players. Even though the term is derived from the iPod, you don't need an iPod to listen to a podcast. 

As specified earlier, people consume podcasts on the go. In other words, it is the perfect medium for millennials and Gen Z, most of whom are characterised by impatience and a thirst for knowledge.

Podcast: Global Consumption patterns

As we can see from the above image, North America, Australia, China, Saudi Arabia and parts of Europe are the highest consumers of Podcast content in 2019. The USA is ruling the roost in Podcast as per the latest research reports and many of the podcasting trends in the USA dictate the global trends as well. However, many parts of the world are fast picking up the trend especially South Korea, India, Saudi Arabia and Scandinavian countries. 

It has been observed that Podcasts are usually consumed in six ways: 

  • At home

  • In a car

  • On a walk

  • While working out

  • At work

  • In public transit 

People across all age groups depict the above six consumption patterns so a brand can cast a wider net by setting up a podcast channel. Since advertisements during a podcast episode are lower than in other media such as radio and TV, the focus of the listeners is maintained thereby increasing the engagement level.

Brands and Podcasts - A Match Made in Heaven

Decoding Podcasts for Brand Engagement

Now let's come to the real question... Is a podcast going to add value to your business? 
Before I answer the question for you, I want to ask you- 

If you are given a duration of mere 30 minutes to talk to a group of people about your business or product offering or service offering and convince them to transact with you; Just 30 minutes of uninterrupted/least-interrupted talk by you – Would you be able to do it?

If the answer is yes, then a podcast is the right medium of communication for you. Now, all you need to do is decode the podcast strategy. 

In the digital world, where the on-digital-screen time is ever increasing, a podcast is the perfect medium of behavioural change with the least amount of distraction. If you have a gift of the gab, people shall put on your podcast and keep working while listening to how you sell yourself in a subtle manner! 

The main advantage of hosting a podcast is that it is consumed by millennials, GenZ audiences and higher net worth individuals. Currently, urban residents form the majority of listeners of podcasts. When sorted by educational qualifications, we see 28% of podcast listeners hold an advanced degree and the majority of them also consume on-demand video streaming applications such as Netflix.

Podcasts for Indian Brands

In the Indian context, it is seen that an average urban dweller spends 90 minutes on road and in rural areas, the time of commute is 45 minutes. This is usually the peak time of podcast consumption and at such times, Podcast as a category faces stiff competition from Online Radio for consumption while on the go.
As of June 2019, PWC estimates the Indian podcast listener base was at 40 million by end of 2018, a 58% rise from the year before. It is estimated that by now, it would be 70+ million.

Ambuj Saxena, the author, is a serial Entrepreneur with a demonstrated history of working in the marketing and advertising industry. He has co-founded Social Buzz, a Digital Marketing agency, based in New Delhi that has pulled up amazing ROI for the clients since its inception in 2016.

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