Akshit Pushkarna

What’s the standard of a good podcast?

Industry experts discuss how the upsurge in consumption has led to transparency challenges in India’s podcasting space.

Fuelled by the increasing consumption of digital content, podcasting has rapidly ascended to become a cultural and informational cornerstone in today's digital landscape.

The consumption of podcasts has increased from 274.8 million in 2019 to 424.4 million in 2022 at a global level, according to an Oberlo research.

The numbers for India are in correspondence with the global trend. The listener base in India has grown from being just about four million in 2016 to an estimated 90 million in 2022. The listenership boost is on the back of more content creators getting into the business.

Media companies have followed suit too. Many top media companies have established a plethora of podcasts. Indian Express produces 25 podcast shows, Livemint has 24, and the Times of India has 9 such offerings. 

Rapid growth also entails some challenges. Eminent personalities from the podcasting ecosphere discussed this growth and challenges at a panel discussion during Afaqs! Digipub. 

Gaining advertiser trust is a gap that media houses looking to monetise podcasting, are currently looking at.  Ananth Nath Sharma, Senior Product Manager - Multimedia (Audio & Video), The Indian Express, opines that the industry is grappling with a pressing issue of podcast measurement and transparency. 

“Brands often try to compare podcast and video audience sizes, but it's not a straightforward comparison. To make a fair comparison, the industry needs to openly share podcast numbers. Without this transparency, we can't define what makes a successful podcast. Solving this transparency issue is essential to set a clear standard for good podcasts,” he says.

Even though standardisation of podcasts is a process that the industry is undergoing at the moment, brand interest in the medium is on the up. 

Rohan Chincholi, Managing Partner - Digital, India, Havas Media Group, shares that brands have always had a tendency to go behind audiences on whatever platform they are heading towards. Currently, there is more interest in podcasts due to their presence on social media platforms. 

“For brands, it has always been about going behind the audience on platforms where they are. Podcasts often become popular due to snippets of them circulating on social media. That drives curiosity ,which in turn drives audience interest towards the medium,” he opines. 

To promote its podcasts, the Indian Express uses the notifications on their app.  Its newsletters also have slots reserved for its various audio offerings.

Sharma disagrees with Chincholi on the influence of short form content in driving listenership for podcasts. He observes that it is quite difficult to get people to go out of scrolling and go to a different website for content consumption.

Aditya Kuber, co-founder and CEO, Ideabrew Studios, mentions that podcasting is still a new phenomenon for India. The format is currently expanding in the country.

"There's a ton of growth opportunities in podcasts, as a lot of headroom is available. Since it's relatively new, it is a little early to judge the growth of the medium at the moment. However, the listenership of podcasts in India currently stands anywhere between 70 to 80 million which is a sizable audience. While distribution challenges have largely been addressed, the key to sustained growth lies in catering to diverse content preferences, including the untapped potential of regional language podcasts," he says.

Kuber emphasises that while distribution challenges have largely been addressed, the key to sustained growth lies in catering to diverse content preferences, including the untapped potential of regional language podcasts.

For brands, experimentation with podcasts is happening in two ways, Chincholi elaborates. For many, the measurement of ad placements within podcasts, is yet to be realised. Therefore, brands are now focussing on content creation and collaboration with podcast hosts, rather than merely seeking ad spots.

“The ecosystem needs to mature first before host reads sell well. For the placements to be effective, there needs to be a strong connection between the brand, content and creator."

Check the full conversation out here:

Event partners include MGID, YuktaMedia, Quintype, Chartbeat and Conscent.ai (Bronze Partners) and IndiaDotCom Digital (online partner).

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